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UK advertising watchdog called on to ban editing and re-touching in skincare ads

Gaelle Walker
11 November 2020

The UK’s advertising watchdog is being pressed to ban photoshopping in skin advertising, in a bid to force beauty brands to show “real skin” and strengthen the skin and body positivity movement. 

A new petition, launched by Vegan skincare brand Skin Proud, urging the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to make the change, is slowly gaining traction on the site.

The removal of perceived “flaws” such as lines, blemishes, pigmentation, freckles, moles created a “false perception” of the results of skincare, by suggesting that products resolve these issues, Skin Proud added.

The current use of re-touched and edited images in skincare advertising was also encouraging an “unrealistic standard of beauty”, which was creating an “undercurrent of dissatisfaction”, in UK consumers, Skin Proud said.

“As a brand, we are passionate about portraying real skin, and feel that other skincare brands have a responsibility to do the same,” Skin Proud said.

“When the norm is real skin, rather than the computer-altered, smoothed-to-perfection skin we’re all used to seeing, we create a kinder and more inclusive society where people can be truly proud of the skin they’re in.”

Recent research by the brand, which offers a range of 100% vegan balms, masks tonics and serums, found that 53% of those questioned in the UK wished they were more confident in their natural skin.

The research also found that nearly one in two of those sampled edited their own photos to make themselves feel more confident.

“This is a dangerous combination, with people feeling less confident than ever before,” Skin Proud said.

“We at Skin Proud want to change this and ensure no-one feels insecure or inadequate by something on their skin, and to feel proud of who they are by not chasing perfection.

The movement has the support of dermatologists, who recognise the “phycological stress” that “unrealistic expectations of skin,” can create.

Speaking in support of the natural skin movement, dermatologist and expert in psychodermatology Dr Alia Ahmed said: “Psychological stress and skin are closely linked.”  

I see several patients who have unrealistic expectations of their skin. People are more than ever feeling pressured to conform to what is being perceived as the ‘norm’.”

Brands should consider inclusive advertising and work with people with a variety of skin conditions to minimise these feelings of inadequacy, Ahmed added.

The petition, which had more than 100 signatories and growing at the time of writing, is being shared on social media with the hashtag #iamskinproud

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