Unilever says they don’t sell any products designed to lighten skin tone

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A large billboard Fair & Lovely in Jessore, Bangladesh. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
A large billboard Fair & Lovely in Jessore, Bangladesh. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
  • Keegan Alicks, Southern Africa beauty and personal care category director at Unilever, says the company does not sell products designed to lighten skin tone.
  • This comes after the company faced a series of backlash from the public for renaming its Fair & Lovely products to Glow & Lovely without changing its formula.
  • The owner of TRESemmé has now announced an inclusion strategy that will see the word 'normal' removed from its packaging and advertising months after its controversy with the hair care line's advertising in September 2020.

Beauty and personal care conglomerate Unilever says it does not produce products designed to lighten skin tone amid its rollout of a strategy that is meant to rectify exclusionary packaging and advertising of its beauty and personal care products. 

Following the announcement of the strategy, which the company said takes effect immediately, Keegan Alicks, Southern Africa beauty and personal care category director at Unilever, says the company is “working to end discrimination in the beauty and personal care industry”. 

“We don’t sell any products designed to lighten skin tone or which contain skin lightening compounds,” Keegan adds.

READ MORE | Sephora's racial bias report acknowledges profiling truths we can relate to as black South Africans 

The owner of controversial brands Dove and Glow & Lovely (previously named Fair & Lovely) also announced it will remove the word ‘normal’ from all packaging and advertising and will not digitally alter a person’s body shape, size, proportion of skin colour in its brand advertising and will stop digitally altering a people’s body shape, size, proportion of skin colour in its advertising.

This announcement comes on the heels of widespread backlash based on the issue of skin-lightening, when Unilever announced it will rename its Indian cosmetic product Fair & Lovely to Glow and Lovely while its formula. 

In tandem with its most recent global announcement, Unilever maintains it does not sell skin-lightening products but will be modifying its formula, however, only to accommodate changes in its packaging. 

In line with its new inclusion strategy Unilever has also announced plans to reduce its impact on the environment by modifying its packaging through increasing the amount of packaging that contains recycled materials. This is in addition to ensuring all packaging is designed to be recycled as the company works on creating alternatives that don’t need plastic at all. It is with regard to this that the formula and design of products are being reconsidered.

READ MORE | What you need to know about rebranded skin-whitening creams

“This transformation is about changes like using sustainable oils from deforestation-free sources, shifts in product formulation that work better in recycled packaging or finding ways to use more ingredients from local suppliers so we avoid shipping materials across the globe,” says Keegan.

After years of global public outcry about its various brands, most recently Dove and TRESemmé, Unilever commissioned a study, which found South Africans think labels on beauty products contribute to narrow beauty ideals. This is with 71 percent of those surveyed thinking that non-inclusive beauty product packaging and advertising has a negative impact on people.

Sunny Jain, Unilever president of beauty and personal care, says, “With more consumers than ever rewarding brands which take action on the social and environmental issues they care about, we believe that Positive Beauty will make us a stronger, and more successful business.” 

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