• Antiaging Creams No Fountain of Youth, Suit Alleges
  • February 4, 2005
  • Law Firm: Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP - Los Angeles Office
  • Estée Lauder, the manufacturer of a $100-per-ounce "antiaging" cream, faces a potential class-action lawsuit for false advertising, brought by a woman who claims that the estimated $1,000 she spent on the pricey products did not halt or reverse the effects of time.

    Debra Scheufler, a 47-year-old San Diego lawyer, is suing Estée Lauder and several other companies, charging them with advertising false claims for their products' "antiaging" properties. Other defendants in the case, which was filed on December 29, 2004, in California state court in San Diego, include department stores Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, and a California company called Epicore Skin Care.

    Scheufler wants the companies to cease the alleged false advertising and reimburse her for the $1,000 or more she spent on Estée Lauder's La Mer-brand moisturizer. She's seeking class-action status for the suit.

    According to La Mer's advertising, the cream makes skin "softer, firmer, virtually creaseless. Aging lines and pores are noticeably less visible." Scheufler said that La Mer actually made her skin "rougher" and clogged her pores.

    The question boils down to what "antiaging" means. If a product has a sunscreen in it, it could be considered to have some antiaging properties, since the sun is known to age skin. Moisturizers can give the appearance of decreasing wrinkles. Exfoliation can help skin look younger and better by removing dead skin. And an individual's reaction to a product doesn't necessarily invalidate antiaging claims either, since different people's skin may respond differently to the same product.

    Significance: Since there is no regulatory standard for antiaging properties, proving the case could be challenging. Cosmetics exist in a regulatory gray area. Cosmetics are allowed to make claims, but they cannot make medical claims that a product will treat, cure, or prevent a disease. With the exception of Hollywood actors, aging is not typically considered a disease.