SKINCARE brands have been accused of making false claims that their products can help with acne.
The Advertising Standards Agency ruled last year that because acne is a medical condition treated by specialist supplements, brands were banned from claiming their products targeted the spots.
Despite this, a watchdog found that products made by Kiehl's, Origins, e.l.f and Burt's Bees still promise their creams deal with spots or acne.
Undercover reports who visited three Kiehl's stores found that in two of them, staff failed to give clear advice about their skincare products and honestly reveal what they could achieve in fighting spots.
E.l.f sells an 'acne fighting' gel that promises to 'banish zits' and help 'fight and prevent acne', which is also against the Advertising Standards Agency guidelines.
As part of the new Channel 4 show Supershoppers, the undercover team also found that Burt's Bees advertised a product that claims to be a treatment for 'spots'.
Dermatologist and GP Sara Ritchie said "Prescription treatments are much stronger and if you have anything more than a few spots, you need this for your acne."
She noted that using these products as an alternative could cause more damage than good, adding: "Your acne might get worse, you might have more psychological distress and even permanent scarring."
Mark Gardiner of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute agreed: "Presenting products in this way creates false equivalency between these products and approved medicines."
On the programme, a Kiehl's store assistant can be heard telling undercover reporters that products work on 'stubborn acne' – something the company has back up since seeing the footage.
A spokesman added: "Our representatives are trained to advise customers to seek the advice of a GP if they are suffering from a medical condition, including acne."
E.l.f responded: "We concluded the product image and copy on a retailer’s website had not been updated and we will further evaluate our acne fighting spot gel."
"Claims made on the packaging are cosmetic, rather than medicinal," a spokesperson from Origins argued.
While Burt's Bees insisted its products did not make a claim regarding acne treatment, despite advertising a herbal spot treatment which 'targeted the appearance of blemishes'.
You can watch Supershoppers on Channel 4 at 8.30pm on Monday.
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