Stopping Photoshopping

Beauty Editor Lois Johnston delves into the world of beauty advertising and questions why, in 2017, photo enhancing technology is still being used to create unrealistic product expectations.

Lois Johnston
20th November 2017
Image Credit: @maybelline (Instagram)

Way back in 2011, L’Oreal was caught up in controversy after an advertising campaign with Julia Roberts was banned by ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for being too Photoshopped. Fast forward six years to June of this year and Rimmel’s advertising campaign for their ScandalEyes Reloaded Mascara has been banned for similar reasons. According to ASA, the television advert starring Cara Delevingne used production techniques that ‘exaggerated’ the results of the make-up.

So, why is this still happening? Do these multi-million pound companies not have the intelligence to realise that it’s misleading to Photoshop the results of a product? More importantly, in an age when 90% of girls aged 15-17 want to change at least one part of their body, why are they even allowed to use Photoshop at all?

On the one hand, I understand that other genres of adverts, such as those advertising cars or phones, for example, are allowed to use all the digital touching that they wish, so it is only fair that it is the same in terms of cosmetics. However, in this day and age, it is so important that we don’t promote content that could contribute to body confidence issues, especially amongst younger generations.

ASA’s guidelines for cosmetics advertising state that, ‘whilst our rules do allow for the use of airbrushing and other post-production techniques, advertisers should make clear that these techniques have been used through the use of superimposed qualifications or disclaimers.’ Additionally, before and after pictures are allowed but only if they remain completely un-touched.

This means, in other words, that they allow a model wearing false eyelashes to promote a mascara, but only if there’s a tiny note in the bottom corner. I personally don’t see how that is helping anyone and is, in effect, false advertising. You wouldn’t want to buy clothes that had been edited to an extent where they were unrecognisable, so why is it acceptable to buy mascaras based on an advert that uses false eyelashes?

I think the continued disregard for these rules by cosmetics giants and their need to edit images to the extent where the results look un-realistic is one of the contributing factors to the rise of the blogging industry. Consumers are now looking to bloggers for recommendations of products as they are more trust-worthy and show the effects of the products on real-life everyday people.

For example, if I were looking to buy a new bronzer and had to choose between a Photoshopped, airbrushed image of a supermodel and an un-biased, untouched image and review from a girl who I could easily relate to, I would choose the product used in the latter without a second thought.

For the purposes of this article, I researched brands that refuse to use Photoshop in their advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, however, my research proved fruitless and I couldn’t find a single one.

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