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When is a razor a 'facial hair remover'? When it's for women

Flawless facial hair remover advert.
Flawless facial hair remover advert.

Willem Swanepoel complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that a TV commercial for Verimark’s Flawless Facial Hair Remover was misleading‚ because the device was simply a small electric razor.

“There is a huge difference between a hair remover and a razor. A razor ‘cuts’ the hair against the skin‚ and it removes nothing‚ therefore this is false or at least misleading advertising‚” said Swanepoel.

A model in the ad says: “With an 18-carat gold plated head‚ it’s hypoallergenic and gentle on all skin types and tones. A built-in light makes it easy to see and remove every single hair from your upper lip‚ cheek or chin. No nicks‚ burns or irritation. Just perfectly smooth‚ flawless skin.”

Verimark told the ASA directorate the product was “one of many forms of epilation which falls into a broader category of hair removal.”

After consulting Wikipedia to discover the difference between epilation (removal of the entire hair‚ including the part beneath the skin) and depilation (removal of hair above the surface of the skin)‚ the directorate said: “The hypothetical reasonable person who has ever engaged in hair removal will know that no product that tweaks hair out by the root could be described as ‘gentle’ or ‘pain free’.

“The directorate always endeavours to understand why consumers are misled‚ and in this case speculated that perhaps the pricing of the product led [Swanepoel] to expect something fancier than an electric razor.”

It said Swanepoel may have been confused by the impression given in the ad that the device was innovative‚ when in fact it is just a razor.

“This must be understood against the background that the commercial and product packaging are quite clearly aimed at women and the challenge of women’s fine facial hair‚” it said.

“While men have traditionally used electric razors on their faces‚ it is not regarded as usual for a woman to do so. The women on the directorate agreed that they would associate facial hair removing with waxing and plucking.

“The solution is therefore‚ in this context‚ innovative.”

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