Unilever has announced it will remove the word “Fair” from its “Fair & Lovely” skin lightening products, in response to a global backlash against racial prejudice.
In light of the Black Lives Matter movement, the promotion of skin lightening cosmetics has come into question. Skin lightening products has always had a huge market and customer base in South Asia.
Recently, multinational corporation, Johnson & Johnson also announced it would stop selling skin-whitening creams in Asia and the Middle East.
Unilever’s “Fair & Lovely” brand has dominated the market in South Asia. Similar products are also sold by beauty giant L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble (P&G).
President of Unilever’s beauty and personal care division, Sunny Jain said: “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.”
India is one of the largest and key markets for “Fair & Lovely” fairness products and have been endorsed by leading Bollywood celebrities and influencers for a long period of time.
Unilever’s Indian unit Hindustan Unilever, which owns a 67% stake, said it is moving away from such marketing in 2019 and would continue to feature women with different skin tones.
Nina Davuluri, who in 2014 became the first Indian American to be crowned Miss America, told Reuters: “This is a big win, but it’s only the beginning.”
“While Unilever removing words such as ‘fair, white, & lightening,’ and changing the … brand name is a step towards inclusion, it’s only one piece of a much larger fight to end colorism.”
Davuluri wrote an open letter to Unilever CEO Alan Jope, encouraging him to stop producing such products.
The name change is subject to regulatory approvals and Unilever’s India unit filed an application to trademark a logo for soaps, creams, shampoos and other products under the brand name “Glow & Lovely”.
In 2018, the business also registered trademarks to brand skincare and haircare products under the names “Even & Lovely”, “Always Lovely”, “Care & Lovely” and “I Am Lovely”, among others.