A Nivea cream that claimed to make users' skin appear more toned and would provide a "slimmer looking and more defined silhouette" doesn't actually do what it promises, Canada's Competition Bureau has determined. That's why it has levied a fine against the Canadian distributor for "false or misleading advertising."

The Competition Bureau announced Wednesday that Beiersdorf Canada Inc., Nivea's Canadian distributor, has agreed to stop making the claims about Nivea's "My Silhouette" product and to pull the product from shelves.

Beiersdorf has also agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty and to refund the purchase price and shipping costs to any Canadian customers who bought the product.

"Beiersdorf misled consumers by claiming a person could slim down by simply applying a skin cream," Melanie Aitken, Commissioner of Competition, said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, consumers who purchased My Silhouette learned the hard way that there was no such easy fix."

After conducting its own investigation, the Bureau decided Beiersdorf made a number of deceptive claims about "My Silhouette" on the product's packaging and on Nivea's website, creating the misleading impression that the product could make the skin more toned and elastic.

The representations stated that:

  • use of the product could lead to a "reduction of up to 3 centimetres on targeted body parts, such as thighs, hips, waist and stomach";
  • My Silhouette "contains a highly effective natural Bio-Slim Complex for a slimmer looking and more defined silhouette"; and
  • My Silhouette "combines high performance active ingredients for a dual effect of slimming & reshaping."

Montreal-based Beiersdorf Canada says while it agreed to address the Competition Bureau's concerns, it does not accept the agency's views. It says performance claims and testing have been supported by independent research.

But the Competition Bureau investigation reviewed those studies and concluded the product's claims were "not based on adequate and proper testing."

Beiersdorf Canada began the process of removing the product from store shelves in August.

Canadian consumers who bought "My Silhouette" can visit Nivea's Canadian website for refund information.

The Federal Trade Commission in the U.S. also cracked down on the product's claims earlier this year, announcing in June that it had reached a settlement with Beiersdorf Inc. requiring the company to stop claiming Nivea My Silhouette! Slimming and Reshaping Gel Cream can help consumers slim down.

The company was ordered to pay US$900,000 in compensation to consumers.