LONDON – Unilever is retooling its language, removing references to “white” and “whitening” in its skin-care products, and also plans to change the name of its Fair & Lovely brand, which is sold throughout Asia.
The consumer giant, parent of brands including Dove, Pond’s and Vaseline, said Thursday it wants to promote a “more inclusive vision of beauty,” and will also remove the words fair/fairness and light/lightening from all Unilever products.
The words most frequently appear on creams and treatments aimed at making Asian women’s skin lighter and more even-toned, conforming to a Western ideal of beauty, wealth and social status. Lightening and whitening creams from a variety of companies have long been marketed throughout Asia.
The Fair & Lovely name will be changed within the next few months, said Sunny Jain, president of beauty and personal care at 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,” he said.
“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. 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 said that Unilever has been working on the evolution of its Fair & Lovely brand, “progressively moving to a more inclusive vision of beauty that celebrates skin glow.”
Unilever has already 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,” he added.
Jain said Unilever will also continue to evolve its advertising and 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.”
Unilever said its advertising has been changing since 2014 to a message of women’s empowerment. 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,” he said.
Last year, Unilever said it removed before-and-after impressions and “shade guides” that could indicate a transformation from its Fair & Lovely packaging in India, and has been moving towards promoting the benefits of “glow, even tone, skin clarity and radiance.”
The new brand name will be revealed once legal and regulatory requirements are met in each country where the brand is available. The registration process is underway, he said.
The company clarified that Fair & Lovely has never been, and is not, a skin-bleaching product. Rather, it uses a combination of vitamin B3, glycerin, UVA and UVB sunscreens to protect skin.
“This was a much-needed move from harmful chemicals like mercury and bleach, which consumers were using,” Jain said, adding that the brand has been progressively changing its formulation, adding vitamins such as B6, C and E and allantoin, which are aimed at improving skin health and protecting the skin from external aggressors, UV rays and environmental pollution.