Deception in cosmetics advertising: Examining cosmetics advertising claims in fashion magazine ads

Jie G. Fowler, Timothy H. Reisenwitz, Les Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The FDA has only focused upon the physical safety of cosmetics and has ignored the significant reasonability of advertising claims. As such, the present article is intended to examine/ascertain the extent to which cosmetics claims contain deceptive content in fashion ads. Through a content analysis, the study reported herein revealed that cosmetics claims were not evenly distributed. To that end, the preponderance of the claims appeared to be described primarily by three categories (scientific, performance and subjective). The results also showed that more cosmetics claims were classified as deceptive than were deemed as acceptable. Close examination of these trends revealed that, for instance, most superiority claims were categorized as false, whereas scientific claims tended to be classified as vague or as omitting important information. Furthermore, performance claims were likely to be viewed as vague and endorsement claims were seen to be acceptable. The study concludes with practical and public policy suggestions that need to be addressed by advertisers and the FDA.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-206
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Global Fashion Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2015


  • Content analysis
  • Cosmetics
  • Deception
  • FDA
  • Fashion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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