ASA orders supplement firm to remove skin claims from collagen drink ad

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags functional beverage beverage

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) rules that a collagen drink advertisement is in breach of marketing communication codes for making anti-ageing and wrinkle-reducing claims.

The claim, made by collagen supplement brand, Dermacoll, refers to its collagen drink, which the UK-based firm said in a series of claims would combat ageing and improve the appearance of skin.

However, in response to a complaint made by a dermatology consultant, the ASA ordered the firm to take down the advertisement from its website along with the offending wording.

“We told HealthArena Ltd (trading as Dermacoll) to ensure that future ads did not make efficacy claims about the cosmetic effects of Dermacoll in relation to anti-ageing and reducing wrinkles unless they held adequate documentary evidence to substantiate them,”​ ASA said

“We also told them to ensure that claims about the general benefits of their product for overall good skin health were accompanied by an authorised specific health claim, and that any specific health claims in the ads were authorised on the EU Register and appropriately worded.”

A trio of claims

In a breakdown of ASA’s ruling, the first offending claim, “Through supplementing our diet with extra collagen, we can help to combat skin ageing,”​ was unacceptable as it was unclear whether the claimed effect of combating “skin ageing”​ referred to a cosmetic effect only or to a general skin health benefit.

The claims “Plump and fill out fine lines”, “strengthen your skin from the outside in”​ and “Drench and hydrate your skin,” ​which were presented alongside an image of different skin layers breached the code as the wording implied the product had an action that was beneficial to skin function.

ASA said they had not seen evidence that the specific health claim, “Drench and hydrate your skin”​ was authorised on the EU Register for the product or any of its ingredients.

Further explanations as to why the claim “strengthen your skin from the outside in”​ was banned centred on the word “strengthen”.

“Consumers were likely to understand the claim to be a health claim rather than a claim about the cosmetic effects of the product, because of the implication that the product had a beneficial effect on the skin’s ability to act as a barrier,”​ ASA said.  

ASA added that the claim, “Plump and fill out fine lines”​ did not reference a specific effect on the function of the skin.

The Authority considered that consumers were likely to understand this to be a cosmetic claim about the product’s beneficial effect on the appearance of skin, specifically in smoothing the skin and reducing the appearance of wrinkles – a claim with which ASA could find no evidence.

‘Reduce wrinkles’

The Authority’s issue with the statement “Reduce wrinkles with this anti-ageing drink,” ​also came down to how consumers interpreted the product’s cosmetic effects over its function or physiological effects.

The statement, along with the other two claims, underwent an assessment by the ASA, who looked at the accompanying evidence in support of those, which ASA considered to be cosmetic claims.

Here, Dermacoll provided a double blinded trial amongst other studies, which investigated the efficacy of specific bioactive collagen peptides (BCP), on the cellulite treatment of 105 normal and overweight women.

Despite this, ASA expressed concern that the study’s aim did not sufficiently relate to the anti-ageing and reduction of wrinkles claims in the ad and considered that it was insufficient to support the claim.

Dermacoll also made avaible a second study assessing the efficacy of a specific BCP with regard to the volume of eye wrinkles after eight weeks of daily intake on 114 women aged between 45 and 65 years.

“We acknowledged that the study was placebo controlled, double blinded and randomised,” ​said ASA. “However, no information was provided about how the randomisation was carried out.”

“We were also concerned that the study specifically related to eye wrinkles on the left eye whereas the ad included general references to anti-ageing and did not specifically reference wrinkles around the eye.”

Dermacoll defence

Defending its position, Dermacoll said that Verisol hydrolysed collagen peptides reduced the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

ASA said the firm had provided various papers that related to the use of hydrolysed collagen peptides to treat anti-ageing, wrinkles and other skin-health related issues. They also confirmed that they were willing to remove the claims from their website.

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