World’s Biggest Cosmetics Group Considered Removing ‘Whitening’ Words From Skin Products

Hanima Anand |Jul 01, 2020

L’Oreal and Unilever both announced that they would drop words as ‘whitening’ or ‘fair’ out of their skin products in response to global protests for the rights of coloured people.

Last week, the spokeswoman of the world’s biggest cosmetics group – L’Oreal informed that the brand would get rid of ‘whitening’ words such as ‘white, fair or light’ from their skin products, which are promoted as skin whitening creams. These products are mostly consumed in Asian and African markets where women generally prefer fair complexion.

Loreal Whitening Products
L'Oreal is selling a wide range of whitening products.

One day before L’Oreal’s announcement, Unilever also publicized a similar decision. This is one of the world’s oldest multinational companies, holding more than 400 brands including cosmetics products.

After the protests of Black Lives Matter broke out, both groups were slammed for their advertisement languages on skincare products which encourage girls to improve their appearance by making their skin lighter.

Unilever Whitening Product
Fair & Lovely by Unilever is experiencing a sales decline in India and some other markets.

Especially, Unilever is heavily criticized when it’s promoting the brand ‘Fair & Lovely’ at a sensitive moment. Indian Unilever brand named ‘Hindustan Unilever’ promised that they would rebrand this cosmetics line.

After L’Oreal and Unilever, Johnson & Johnson also joined the changes, with more drastic actions.

To be specific, Johnson & Johnson will stop selling their whitening creams in Asia and the Middle East regions. This is considered a bold step in removing the long-held ‘white standard’ or ‘white privileges’ in these parts of the world.

Johnson and Johnson Whitening Product
Whatever the product function is, 'fairness' is often highlighted.

Reacting on the decisions from L’Oreal, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson, most approve of the last while continue criticizing the first two companies. People don’t agree with the fact that those brands keep monetizing such skin whitening products just by changing some words. They believe those creams should be abandoned from the market forever.

More seriously, the movement from L’Oreal is also slammed to be hypocrisy when the brand was reported to drop Munroe Bergdorf after she made some revelations about the systematic racism inside the company.

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