Beloved Beauty Brand Caught Selling BS ‘Slimming Lotion’

l'occitane-fraud

Oh, snap. Four companies—L’Occitane, Sensa Products, HCG Diet Direct and LeanSpa—have all been charged with deceptive weight-loss marketing tactics and false claims by the Federal Trade Commission. The four companies will have to pay a collective $34 million dollars to consumers. Damn!

The case is part of a broader F.T.C. crackdown on fake weight-loss products. It’s gone by several surprisingly cutesy names over the years, including “Operation Big Fat Lie,” “Operation Waistline” and the most recent, “Operation Failed Resolution.” Who knew the F.T.C. had such a cheeky little sense of humor?

But seriously, I’m happy to know that companies are being made to make reparations for this kind of bullshit marketing. It seems like products that claim you can lose weight by sprinkling powder on your food or taking a drop of a day of a skeevy liquid are becoming more and more common; Weight loss products apparently contributed to 13% of the fraud claims submitted to the F.T.C. in 2011, which is more than twice the amount in any other category.

I am, however, surprised to see L’Occitane included in the list. I associate the brand with a kind of fancy, slightly aspirational, French country chic—definitely not shady, sketchy weight loss claims! But apparently, the company was taken to task on for peddling Almond Beautiful Shape and Almond Shaping Delight, lotions that promised to “trim inches” from your shape in just a few weeks.

L’Occitane has to pay $450,000 in customer refunds. In a statement, they said:

The company “takes enormous care in developing our entire line of products and we want our customers to make well-informed decisions. As a result of the F.T.C. inquiry, L’Occitane has implemented a set of even more rigorous policies and procedures that will guide future clinical testing and ensure that our marketing and advertising comply with F.T.C. regulations and guidelines.”

Shame on you, L’Occitane! And shame on me for thinking a company like L’Occitane was above fradulent claims. I feel like an idiot for totally giving being swayed branding and marketing, by the power of fancy fonts and the smell of lavender! How naive to think that tres chic French companies that sell to well-to-do middle-aged ladies in upscale malls can’t also engage in blatant weight-loss shade.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images

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    • Kaitlin Reilly

      Honestly though, the thought that people would even believe that they could lose weight by smoothing something onto their skin is ridiculous. I do know a lot of brands that sell “skin tighteners” which are supposed to smooth out cellulite and give you the appearance of being slightly slimmer because of it, so I guess that’s the closest thing we have.

      • Anne Marie Hawkins

        But even then, cellulite has nothing to do with the skin and everything to do with the matrix in which human bodies store subcutaneous fat. The matrix is kind of honeycomb-shaped, hence the dimples. Putting something on your skin to “fix” cellulite is like taking eye drops for an upset stomach.

    • Lindsey Conklin

      I seriously am surprised about L’Occitane as well!!! Though I’m glad to see repercussions, even though I wasn’t invested in the BS weight loss products.