Nivea Ad Banned for Extreme Wrinkle Removal

Cindy Joseph for Nivea (Beiersdorf UK)Cindy Joseph for Nivea (Beiersdorf UK)

Leaving only a few worldly crow's-feet to signify maturity has become a standard tool in the belt of the photo retouchers who tweak pictures of middle-aged models to make them appear more youthful. On Tuesday, the Advertising Standards Authority in the U.K. banned an advertisement for Nivea Vital moisturizing cream bearing just such an image of 62-year-old model Cindy Joseph because it considered the brand's antiaging claims misleading.

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The ad shows a close-up of Joseph's face, and the copy reads, "Vital anti-age cream. Visibly reduces wrinkles, improves firmness, and helps prevent age spots." The product packaging promises the cream "reduces all major signs of mature skin [ageing]." The moisturizer is not sold in stores in the United States; however, a German version can be bought online.

According to the ASA, an independent watchdog group, the brand, "misleadingly exaggerated the effect that could be achieved by the product" by presenting its claims alongside a heavily retouched photo.

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The company Beiersdorf, which owns Nivea, provided the ASA with shots of Joseph both pre- and postproduction. The group determined that the image of the model in the ad had undergone "extensive retouching," including reducing lines and wrinkles and removing age spots. Beiersdorf did not respond to Yahoo! Shine's request for comment, but according to the Daily Mail, a Nivea spokesperson said, "We regret the fact that this image has been considered misleading, as this was never our intention."

Cindy JosephJoseph, who only started modeling at 49, is something of a poster child for older models. She calls herself "pro-age" and has spoken out against anti-aging products, Botox, and plastic surgery. In a video posted on her blog, boombycindyjoseph, she says, "It's time to see the beauty of aging and wear it with style and pride….We're not going to run to the products and the surgery to obliterate the very signs we carry from living a rich, full, and passionate life. I love my wrinkles and will wear them proudly." Last fall, Joseph led a band of silver-haired women in a "mini demonstration" in New York's Times Square to promote a more expansive notion of beauty. "We are the women that we wished we would have had in our lives," Joseph told the New York Times, "if they weren't busy getting their hair dyed."

Yahoo! Shine reached out to Joseph's representatives for comment, and they responded that it would be violating her contract with Nivea to discuss the ban.

In 2011, L'Oreal was forced to remove ads in the UK featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington for being unrealistically retouched. At the time, Member of Parliament Jo Swinson, who lodged the complaint with the ASA, told the Guardian, "Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don't reflect reality….Both Christy Turlington and Julia Roberts are naturally beautiful women who don't need retouching to look great. This ban sends a powerful message to advertisers—let's get back to reality."

In the United States, regulators have taken baby steps toward shutting down misleading cosmetics ads. In 2011, the National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus Claims banned a CoverGirl mascara ad featuring Taylor Swift for false claims. However, for skincare campaigns, it's rare to see anything but skin that resembles velvet, and actresses and models are sometimes airbrushed beyond recognition.