You may not be acquainted with Fair & Lovely; the Unilever brand is sold in Asia and has a huge following specifically in India, where darker skin has historically bore a pervasive and unjustifiable beauty stigma. But while the brand may not be familiar to consumers in the U.S., colorism and the disturbing belief that lighter skin is somehow better is prevalent worldwide — a belief that Unilever has been accused of perpetuating with Fair & Lovely's products and advertising. And now, after recent petitions and calls on social media to end the production of Fair & Lovely products, Unilever is hoping to make an impact on issue with some global and brand-specific changes.
"We recognize 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," said Unilever beauty and personal care president Sunny Jain in the statement. "As we're evolving the way that we communicate the skin benefits of our products that deliver radiant and even-tone skin, it's also important to change the language we use."
Jain goes on to explain that the advertising, communication, and packaging of Fair & Lovely had been undergoing a shift in India over the last few years to a more inclusive vision of beauty, but that now is the time to change the name of the brand altogether.
"We will also continue to evolve our advertising to feature women of different skin tones, representative of the variety of beauty across India and other countries," said Jain. "We want Fair & Lovely to become a brand that celebrates glowing and radiant skin, regardless of skin tone."
Unilever emphasizes that the Fair & Lovely portfolio — which includes the Advanced Multi-Vitamin Cream, BB Cream, Sun Protect, Anti Marks Cream, and more — was never intended to be skin-bleaching products, but rather formulas that help achieve even tone and skin clarity. According to the statement, the main ingredients used by the soon-to-be-renamed brand are vitamin B3 (also known as niacinamide), glycerin, and UVA/UVB filters to protect skin from sun damage, which can manifest as hyperpigmentation.
Unilever reports that the registration process for renaming Fair & Lovely is already underway, and it expects to announce the brand's new name within a few months — a change Jain suggests could be one of several across Unilever: "We are fully committed to having a global portfolio of skin-care brands that is inclusive and cares for all skin tones, celebrating greater diversity of beauty." That said, the demands to discontinue Fair & Lovely products have persisted from social media users and journalists who believe simply changing the name isn't enough.
More big changes in the beauty industry:
Johnson & Johnson to Cease Production of Skin-Lightening Products
Retailers Are Finally Unlocking "Multicultural" Beauty Products in Their Stores
Beauty Companies Are Revealing Their Own Lack of Diversity
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