We South Asians, as a society, suffer from a deep-rooted love for fair skin and have for decades, maintained to use all sorts of skin whitening goods to be “fairer”. After extensive resentment and debate about colourism, Unilever has decided to drop the term “fair” from its popular whitening cream “Fair & Lovely”.

Sunny Jain, President of Beauty & Personal Care at Unilever, said: “We are fully committed to having a global portfolio of skincare brands that is inclusive and cares for all skin tones, celebrating greater diversity of beauty.

“We recognise that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this.”

“The brand has never been and is not a bleaching product,” Unilever added.

The consumer goods giant also said that it had removed before-and-after impressions and “shade guides” on Fair & Lovely packaging in 2019. The skincare range is sold across countries such as India, Indonesia, Thailand and Pakistan.

Unilever’s move comes as cosmetics firms around the world reassess their product lines and marketing strategies in light of the Black Lives Matters movement, sparked by George Floyd’s death.

However, Unilever has done the bare minimum with regards to discussing the real topic at hand – colourism and products that promote it. And while they have announced the name change – people are NOT pleased. Come to think of it – a mere name change does very little to solve the problem at hand. It does little to cause awareness and encourage people to feel comfortable in their own skin.

On the other hand, another company has decided to discontinue its skin whitening products altogether. Reuters reports that Johnson & Johnson announced it will stop producing its Neutrogena Fine Fairness line, which is available in Asia and the Middle East, and its Clear Fairness by Clean & Clear line, which is available in India, both of which feature products that lighten skin tones.

Skin whitening products, such as the ones Johnson & Johnson produces, have been criticised time and time again for their perpetuation of racism and colourism, but the decision to finally discontinue such harmful products follows the impact of the current Black Lives Matter movement which has successfully made big brands such as Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and Mrs.Buterworht reconsider the racist product packaging that they’ve profited off for years and years.


Hafsa Adil Chughtai

Hafsa Adil Chughtai

Along with being an undergrad in Psychology, I also harbour a deep love for writing and research. I am always working to deliver authentic information to my readers.

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