“We highly value our relationship with Ms Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L’Oreal Paris altered Ms Knowles’ features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair colour,” the Paris-based company said in a statement.
The advert is in the current issues of Elle, Allure and Essence magazines.
L’Oreal, the maker of Garnier hair products and Lancome cosmetics, is the world’s largest cosmetics maker.
A representative for Beyonce said the singer would have no comment beyond L’Oreal’s statement.
In the two-page L’Oreal advert, Beyonce’s wind- swept hair is a reddish blond shade with highlights. A box of Feria features a white woman with a similar hair colour.
The ad created a stir after it was pointed out by celebrity gossip website TMZ, which is owned by Time Warner Inc’s AOL unit.
TMZ’s post showed side-by-side photos comparing the ad with a photo of Beyonce with noticeably darker skin and hair. It was the site’s most commented on post this week.
Beyonce’s lighter appearance in the L’Oreal ad may just be the result of creative touch-ups or lighting to balance her highlighted hair, said Cynthia Park, president of New York-based K&L Advertising
Still, she said companies need to be careful when playing with the images of ethnic minorities in ads.
“Or you end up falling victim to these types of situations,” Park said.
Beyonce has been a spokeswoman for L’Oreal since 2001. Other spokes- women for L’Oreal include Scarlett Johansson, Milla Jovovich, Eva Longoria Parker and Kerry Washington.
A representative for Elle said magazine ads are reviewed before they are printed, but wasn’t sure of the exact procedure for checking content. Representatives for Essence and Allure magazines were not immediately available for comment.