'Misleadingly exaggerated': Rachel Weisz advert banned after L'Oreal admits to airbrushing

By Sean Poulter

Oscar winning actress, Rachel Weisz, has taken a stand on the theme of natural beauty, even suggesting a ban on the use of Botox by fellow stars.

However, questions were asked when she appeared with perfectly smooth skin in a campaign for L’Oreal’s age-defying beauty products.

In fact the image of the 41-year-old, who married Daniel Craig last year, had been digitally enhanced or airbrushed to even out her complexion.

Unrealistic: Hollywood actress Rachel Weisz, 41, looks 20 years younger in this banned L'Oreal campaign

Today, the Advertising Standards Authority(ASA) has announced a ban on the magazine advertisement for L’Oreal’s Revitalift Repair 10.

It ruled the image ‘misleadingly exaggerated’ the performance of the product.

The decision has been welcomed by Lib-Dem MP Jo Swinson, who is campaigning against the use of airbrushing and unrealistic images of beauty in advertising.

The British actress is not the first renowned beauty to have her image digitally enhanced to give a false impression of the benefits of using popular beauty products.

An advertisement for an Olay anti-aging product featuring Twiggy was banned in 2009. Last year L’Oreal advertisements featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington were banned on the grounds they were misleading.

Miss Swinson, who is co-founder of the Campaign for Body Confidence, said: ‘The beauty and advertising industries need to stop ripping off consumers with dishonest images.

‘The banning of this advert, along with the previous ASA rulings banning heavily retouched ads featuring Twiggy, Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington, should act as a wake-up call.

‘Thankfully the advertising regulator has again acknowledged the fraudulent nature of excessive retouching.’

She said there was sound medical evidence that faked images cause harm.

‘The Royal College of Psychiatrists has spoken out about the harmful influence of the media on body image and has highlighted the airbrushing and digital enhancement used to portray physical perfection as an area of concern,’ she said.

‘There needs to be much more diversity in advertising – different skin colours, body shapes, sizes and ages. Studies show that people want to see more authenticity from brands. Images can be aspirational without being faked.’

The fact that the image has been digitally manipulated is at odds with the actress’s stated view that performers should do away with artificial help to prolong their youth. It is not known whether she approved the changes.

Speaking to Harper’s Bazaar magazine in 2009, she called for a ban on Botox for actors, saying: ‘Acting is all about expression; why would you want to iron out a frown?’

In the same interview she mentioned that English women were much less worried about their physical appearance than those in the US.

The marketing for L’Oreal’s Revitalift range claims it makes the skin feel firmer, toned, and more supple. The ASA did not challenge these, however it was unhappy that the actress’s image was used to substantiate the claims that the ‘Skin looks smoother’ and ‘Complexion looks more even’.

Also banned: This Twiggy Olay advert (left) and Julia Roberts L'Oreal advert (right) were both judged to have over-done the airbrushing

L’Oreal defended the way the image of the actress had been manipulated.

The firm said: ‘The ad sought to represent Rachel Weisz as favourably as possible and therefore every effort had gone into ensuring the most flattering set-up.

‘Rachel Weisz had been professionally styled and made-up and then lit and shot by a professional photographer in a studio setting.

‘The photo was shot using a lot of light in order to make the picture more flattering and to reduce the appearance of imperfections in the ensuing image by giving the image a soft focus and lower resolution.’

The company admitted the image had been subsequently retouched.

The ASA said: ‘We considered that the image had been altered in a way that substantially changed her complexion to make it appear smoother and more even.

‘We therefore concluded that the image in the ad misleadingly exaggerated the performance of the product.’

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