Hindustan Unilever to drop word 'Fair' from skincare cream 'Fair & Lovely'

FMCG major Hindustan Unilever on Thursday said it will remove the word ‘Fair’ from its popular skincare brand ‘Fair & Lovely’, as part of a rebranding exercise in the wake of growing voices against racial stereotypes.

The company said its other skincare portfolio will also adopt a new holistic vision towards beauty that cares for everyone and celebrates all skin colours.

The issue had touched a crescendo and made a din in Parliament. In the line of fire was the beauty industry’s prized trophy: fairness creams, a segment whose annual market size in India is estimated at hundreds of crores. Singled out for action was Hindustan Lever Limited’s Fair & Lovely commercials long endorsed by leading Bollywood celebrities, as well as other popular youth icons.

In no time, feminists had jumped onto the bandwagon and rubbished the ads. With the rising chorus, I&B Ministry had sent notices to a few channels to take the ads off the air.

Chandana Hiran, who started the Change.org petition and calls herself a feminist and change-maker in her Twitter profile, said she thanks Unilever on behalf of more than 10,000 people who had signed her petition against such products.

As part of the decision, the Fair & Lovely brand name will be changed in the next few months. Commenting on the move, Unilever President (Beauty & Personal Care) Sunny Jain said, “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.’’

Skin-whitening creams is considered to be a big market in India in the personal care segment and several FMCG players, including Procter & Gamble, Garnier (L’Oréal), Emami and Himalaya operate in the segment with their respective products.  

As Black Lives Matter protests have gained momentum in recent days, several companies have been slammed for marketing products promoting colourism