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Hindustan Unilever Limited to rename its skin-lightening cream

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Mumbai: The Indian unit Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) has announced on Thursday (June 25) that it will rename its skin-lightening cream ‘Fair & Lovely’ to make it more ‘inclusive and diverse’. The decision comes at a time when the company and other such product sellers have come under pressure for reinforcing racial stereotypes.

The new name will be announced after receiving regulatory approval, the company said. “Taking forward the brand’s journey towards a more inclusive vision of beauty, the company will stop using the word ‘Fair’ in the brand name,” HUL said in a statement. The brand is committed to celebrating all skin tones, the company said in the statement. “The company will continue to evolve its advertising, to feature women of different skin tones, representative of the variety of beauty across India,” it said.

“We are fully committed to having a global portfolio of skincare brands that is inclusive and cares for all skin tones, celebrating greater diversity 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,” Sunny Jain, president of Beauty & Personal Care, said in a statement. It added given that the company is evolving, it’s important for them to ‘change the language’.

Recently, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the US healthcare and FMCG giant decided to discontinue its skin-whitening creams amid the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests that happened a few days back following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a white policeman in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Other companies are unlikely to stop selling fairness or anti-aging products as the stakes are high, brand experts say.

J&J said it will stop selling the Clean & Clear Fairness line of products that are available in India. Earlier this month, the company discontinued its Neutrogena Fine Fairness line in Asia. The beauty industry has faced criticism for controversial products many times. In 2017, Nivea faced backlash in Africa for marketing a skin lightening lotion. As of 2012, Fair & Lovely has occupied 80 percent of the fairness cream market in India and is one of HUL’s most successful cosmetics lines. But it has faced criticisms and recently an online petition was circulated to stop its sales.

Recently, these products were primarily aimed at women. However, over the past decade, men too have become their target group, with many companies introducing separate fairness products. A source in the parent company told Reuters, “That alternatives like ‘Dare & Lovely’, ‘Care & Lovely,’ or ‘Fresh & Lovely’ were being considered, but products with the old brand name will not be recalled.”

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