Everyone is Fair; Hindustan Unilever to remove “Fair” from Fair and Lovely

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Fair and Lovely Cream
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Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), the Indian arm of British-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever has informed through its official twitter page that it will drop the word “Fair” from its Fair & Lovely brand of skin lightening products. 

The “Fair & Lovely” series which has been quite popular in South Asia has long been scrutinized for fostering negative stereotypes against people with darker skin.

Earlier this week, Johnson & Johnson, which sells Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clear Fairness brands said that it would no longer sell certain products that are advertised as dark-spot reducers, bringing Unilever under immense pressure for its line of skin-lightening products. The firm had excluded words such as fair/fairness, white/whitening, and light/lightening from its packaging last year.

Sanjiv Mehta
Chairman- Hindustan Unilever

“We are making our skincare portfolio more inclusive and want to lead the celebration of a more diverse portrayal of beauty. In 2019, we removed the cameo with two faces as well as the shade guides from the packaging of Fair & Lovely and the brand communication progressed from fairness to glow which is a more holistic and inclusive measure of healthy skin.”

Organizations all over the world are forced to reconsider their product lines which incline towards stereotypes of color following the recent backlash on social media triggered by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Due to a societal obsession with fairer skin tones, products sold as skin-lightening solutions have a huge market in South Asia but those sentiments are being questioned more frequently as user perceptions shift.

“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 Sunny Jain, President of Unilever’s Beauty and Personal care division, in another statement.

Unilever’s ‘Fair & Lovely’ brand rules the market in South Asia. Hindustan Unilever is predominantly owned by Unilever with a 67% stake in the unit. The company also sells the popular Dove range of products. L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble sell similar products under their individual brands.

The brand name change is subject to regulatory approvals and a name has not yet been revealed. The firm emphasized that there will not be any recall of the existing stock in the market. One of the sources reportedly said that “A recall is done when the product has a problem, please bear in mind the quality is not under the scanner, the name is.”