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Unilever to rename Fair & Lovely as public anger mounts over skin-lightening products

Consumer goods giant Unilever will rebrand its Fair & Lovely skin-lightening range, which is sold across Asia, and remove the terms ‘fair/fairness’, ‘white/whitening’, and ‘light/lightening’ from its packaging and marketing communications.

The move follows a decision by Johnson & Johnson to stop selling its Clean & Clear Fairness line of skin-whitening creams in Asia and the Middle East as consumers worldwide call for an end to racial stereotyping.

Unilever said the brand name will be changed in the next few months as part of a move to “a more inclusive vision 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. 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,” Sunny Jain, president Beauty & Personal Care, said in a statement.

Jain said the business has been working on the evolution of the brand, and in recent years has made changes to the advertising, communication and packaging.

“We think it’s important that we now share the next step that we have been working on: changing the brand name. 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. We want Fair & Lovely to become a brand that celebrates glowing and radiant skin, regardless of skin tone,” Jain added.

According to Bloomberg, the Fair & Lovely range makes more than US$500 million a year for the company in India alone.

A former advertising campaign from Fair & Lovely

Unilever said in a statement that Fair & Lovely upholds principles “that no association should be made between skin tone and a person’s achievement, potential or worth”.

“We are aware that historic advertising is available on the internet; these ads are not aligned with the current values of the brand.”

In 2019, the brand removed before-and-after impressions (above) and shade guides that could indicate a transformation and now uses terms such as “glow, even tone, skin clarity and radiance”.

The registration process for the new name is already underway and will be unveiled in the coming months, Unilever said.

The consumer goods giant also denied claims that Fair & Lovely is a skin bleaching product, saying it is designed to improve skin barrier function, skin firmness and texture.

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