U.K. Bans Two Retouched Makeup Ads For Being ‘Misleading’

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Lancome Ad

Turns out, not even celebrities have skin this nice.

A British advertising watchdog is cracking down on two L’Oreal foundation ads after a Liberal Democrat MP, Jo Swinson, complained that they pass off airbrushing as makeup results. Swinson, who’s known for crusading against advertisers who portray unrealistic and “misleading” images of women, has brought complaints against a Julia Roberts Lancôme ad and a Christy Turlington Maybelline ad (both Lancôme and Maybelline are owned by L’Oreal) to the Advertising Standards Authority, reports the Guardian.

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Her issue? The ads are purporting the effects of make-up, when in reality they’re showcasing the effects of Photoshop. “Pictures of flawless skin and super-slim bodies are all around, but they don’t reflect reality,” Swinson told the Guardian. “Excessive airbrushing and digital manipulation techniques have become the norm.”

Guy Parker, chief executive of the ASA, told the BBC, “if advertisers go too far in using airbrushing and other post-production techniques to alter the appearance of models and it’s likely to mislead people, then that’s wrong and we’ll stop the ads.”

The BBC reports that when the ASA took the complaints to L’Oreal and requested to see the untouched images for comparison, the cosmetics company refused. Since the company failed to come up with the before shots, which is a requirement for make-up advertisers, the ASA had no other choice but to ban the ads. Meanwhile, we have no other choice but to wonder: just how bad were the before shots?

Megan Gibson is a reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @MeganJGibson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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