PhotoCalifornia Naturel promotes its sunscreen as "all natural" even though eight percent of it is dimethicone, a synethic ingredient, the Federal Trade Commmission has ruled.

The FTC turned aside the company's argument that its ingredient list and a recent disclaimer added to its web page were enough to balance the much more prominent claims that the substance contains “only the purest, most luxurious and effective ingredients found in nature.”

The commission said that consumers should not have to search for and dig out information that contradicts what an advertisement expressly and prominently conveys. For example, the “all natural” claims were prominent on the webpage, while the disclaimer was added to the bottom of the webpage, was not visible without scrolling down, and was well below the “Add to Cart” button.

Similar language

It's not just the company's website that makes the "all-natural" claim. Other e-commerce sites use similar language. Amazon, for example, says: 

"This soft, luxurious and non-oily all natural sunscreen is formulated with Glacial Oceanic Minerals and Zinc Oxide to protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays. It is enriched with antioxidants from botanical sources such as Shea Butter, Pomegranate Extract and Marigold Flower Extract to increase skin-hydration, and protect it from environmental damage."

The Commission’s final order prohibits California Naturel from misrepresenting the ingredients or composition of its products; whether a product is “all natural” or “100% natural;” the extent to which a product contains any natural or synthetic ingredient or component; or the environmental or health benefits of such a product.

It also requires the company to have competent and reliable evidence to support any of the four foregoing claims it makes about any of its products.

The final order and accompanying opinion resulted from an administrative complaint issued against California Naturel in April 2016. FTC staff trying the case requested the summary decision.

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