Home / Companies / News /  Now, L’Oréal Group to remove the tags ‘white’ and ‘fair’ from skincare products

L ’Oréal Group, the world’s biggest cosmetics company, Friday said it will remove the words ‘white’, ‘fair’, ‘light’, from all its “skin even-ing products", a day after Unilever decided to drop ‘fair’ from its popular face cream brand Fair & Lovely.

The announcements by the two firms come amid a growing global consensus to discourage conversations that promote racial stereotypes.

“The L’Oréal Group acknowledges the legitimate concerns about the terms used to describe skin even-ing products, and has therefore decided to remove the words white/whitening, fair/fairness, light/lightening from all its skin even-ing products," the French beauty company said.

L’Oréal Group owns some of the most popular skin and hair care, and cosmetics brands, including Garnier, L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline New York and NYX Professional Makeup.

L’Oréal did not say when it intends to drop the words ‘fair’ and ‘light’ from its products, but said the move will extend to all markets globally.

L’Oréal joins Unilever and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in toning down marketing of brands that essentially promote one skin type over the other.

The move was triggered by conversations around race that have gripped the world after the murder of George Floyd in the US that lent momentum to the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brands are being urged to take a stand and halt advocating any product that perpetuates idea of beauty that, in markets like India, is often is equated with fairness.

J&J led the move to discourage the sale of fairness products, after it said that it will stop selling the Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clean & Clear Fairness product line in India as “conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our dark spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your unique skin tone".

India’s largest packaged consumer goods firm Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) on Thursday said it will drop the word ‘fair’ from its more than four-decade-old skincare brand Fair & Lovely, India’s largest selling face care brand. The move will extend to other skincare brands sold by HUL, with words such as ‘fairness’ and ‘skin lightening’ being dropped from any marketing promotions, Sanjiv Mehta, chairman and managing director, HUL, said in an interview.

While J&J has decided to drop only a few products from its range and not discontinue the brands completely, L’Oréal and Unilever are essentially changing brand positioning.

However, consumers took to social media to question whether cosmetics companies intend to discontinue these products or change their formulations. They argued that mere change in name will do little to discourage the sale of such products and the strong biases they invoke.


Suneera Tandon

Suneera Tandon is a New Delhi based reporter covering consumer goods for Mint. Suneera reports on fast moving consumer goods makers, retailers as well as other consumer-facing businesses such as restaurants and malls. She is deeply interested in what consumers across urban and rural India buy, wear and eat. Suneera holds a masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi.
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