Unilever to end references to 'whitening' products and rename Fair & Lovely

Move follows Johnson & Johnson's decision to withdraw products promoting fair skin across Asia.

Fair & Lovely: available across Asia
Fair & Lovely: available across Asia

Unilever has announced that it will be renaming its Fair & Lovely skincare brand as it looks to end references to "whitening", "lightening" or "fairness".

The words will be removed from its products’ packaging and communication.

The new name for Fair & Lovely will be revealed in the coming months once legal and regulatory requirements are met in each country where the brand is available.

"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," Sunny Jain, Unilever's global president of beauty and personal care brands, said. "As we’re evolving the way that we communicate the skin benefits of our products that deliver radiant and even-toned skin, it’s also important to change the language we use."

Fair & Lovely, which is sold across Asia, had been shifting its communications towards a more inclusive vision of beauty revolving around skin glow. In India, for instance, Hindustan Unilever removed the before/after impressions and shade guides last year.

But the pace of change remained far too slow for many critics, who felt the brand continued to promote fairer skin that could ultimately contribute to racial biases.

A range of brands and organisations have promised to be more sensitive to race and colour as the Black Lives Matter movement regained momentum following the death of George Floyd. 

Last week, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would withdraw its Clean & Clear and Neutrogena fairness products from Asia.

While these products will not disappear from Unilever's stable, Jain called this a next step.

"We have changed the advertising, communication and – more recently – the packaging in south Asia, and we think it’s important that we now share the next step that we have been working on: changing the brand name."

Jain also promised its advertising would feature women of varying skin tones, "representative of the variety of beauty across India and other countries". He added: "We want Fair & Lovely to become a brand that celebrates glowing and radiant skin, regardless of skin tone."

A version of this story first appeared on Campaign Asia-Pacific

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