Consumers Score Victory in Collagen Skin Cream False Advertising Case Against L’Oreal

An opinion and order was issued on Tuesday in the Southern District of New York by Judge Andrew L. Carter, Jr. The initial suit was filed by plaintiffs Rocio Lopez and Rachel Lumbra (both individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated) against defendant L’Oreal USA, Inc. and asserted that the makeup company “materially mislead its customers about the nature of the collagen ingredients in its anti-aging products.”

Within the healthcare industry, collagen is an important ingredient. Specifically, the complaint explains that collagen has a billion-dollar market. Collagen is naturally produced in the human body, but production decreases with age. Consumers often turn to collagen-infused products as a way to supplement the natural collagen production they have lost. Defendant L’Oreal markets collagen as an ingredient in their products that has the potential to “improve the health and appearance of consumers’ skin.”

Despite the defendant’s marketing, the plaintiffs’ complaint explains that the defendant’s topical products were incapable of producing the results that L’Oreal was using in their marketing. Lopez and Lumbra’s complaint stated that “the molecules in topically-applied collagen are too large to fit through the uppermost layer of the skin.” The complaint cited violations of both New York and California General Business Laws, California’s Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law, False Advertising Law, and more.

L’Oreal filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing that the plaintiff’s interpretation of their products ignores the possibility that the topical collagen treatment could work to moisturize the skin.

Judge Carter determined that while collagen may have the inability to penetrate skin, it does not mean that the defendant’s packaging is misleading. Judge Carter contends that the plaintiff’s more compelling claim is that the defendant used the term collagen intentionally so that their products would be associated with the benefits of collagen. The Court ruled it to be “wholly plausible that a reasonable consumer saw a product named COLLAGEN MOISTURE FILLER, promising to “smooth wrinkles” and “restore skin’s cushion,” and associated this product with the cosmetic benefits of the collagen molecule.”

Judge Andrew L. Carter denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss the suit on Tuesday. The plaintiffs are represented in the suit by Bursor & Fisher, while defendant L’Oreal is represented by Farella Braun + Martel.