L'Oréal is removing words like 'fair,' 'light,' and 'whitening' from marketing skin-tone products

Business Insider US
L'Oréal Group owns Garnier, SkinCeuticals, its namesake line L'Oréal Paris, and more.
John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
  • L'Oréal said Saturday that it "has decided to remove the words white/whitening, fair/fairness, light/lightening from all its skin evening products," according to the Associated Press.
  • L'Oréal Group owns beauty brands including Garnier, Maybelline New York, La Roche Posay, SkinCeuticals, and L'Oréal Paris, among others.
  • The company's announcement to stop labeling products with "whitening," "fair," and "lightening" follows similar moves from other large cosmetics companies.
  • For example, Johnson & Johnson recently stopped selling skin-lightening products that were available in Asia and the Middle East; and Nivea said it would change the name of its "Fair & Lovely" line to be more inclusive.
  • For more stories go to

L'Oréal is the latest major beauty and personal care company to reconsider wording for products used or marketed as skin-lighteners.

In a statement released on Saturday, the company said that it "has decided to remove the words white/whitening, fair/fairness, light/lightening from all its skin evening products," according to the Associated Press.

France-based L'Oréal Group owns beauty brands sold worldwide, including Garnier, Maybelline New York, La Roche Posay, SkinCeuticals, and L'Oréal Paris, among other lines of products sold to everyday consumers and beauty professionals alike.

L'Oréal's statement did not immediately specify products in particular that it plans to rename.

A screenshot of a website from L'Oréal Paris' Malaysian division, which includes products that are labeled with "whitening/white."

Other global companies have made similar changes to their products and messaging in recent weeks

Brand and creative leaders of all industries, from skincare to food to entertainment, are facing a modern reckoning that has sparked reconsiderations of deeply rooted racist origins of logos and messaging.

The announcement from L'Oréal follows moves made by other personal care corporations to give thought as to how products with skin-evening or lightening abilities are marketed, and whether or not they should be sold at all.

For example, Johnson & Johnson announced earlier in June that it discontinued two lines products that could be used for skin-lightening purposes: Neutrogena Fine Fairness, sold in Asia and the Middle East; and Clean & Clear's Clear Fairness, sold in India.

"Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our dark spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your own unique skin tone," Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. "This was never our intention - healthy skin is beautiful skin."

A Johnson & Johnson spokesperson previously told AdAge that the name of the Neutrogena Fine Fairness products "may be perceived in an unintended way."

Products that have been recently discontinued by Johnson & Johnson.
Clean & Clear, Neutrogena/Amazon
Additionally, Unilever - which owns Dove, Suave, St. Ives, and Vaseline, among hundreds of other household-name brands - said in a statement on Thursday that it will remove words that denote skin-lightening from its products.

"The evolution to a more inclusive vision of beauty that celebrates and cares for all skin tones, and no longer uses the words 'white/whitening', 'light/lightening or 'fair/fairness', will be a policy for all Unilever's Beauty & Personal Care brands," Unilever's announcement read.

"We're committed to a skincare portfolio that's inclusive of all skin tones, celebrating the diversity of beauty," Unilever said in a tweet.

Unilever also said it would rename its Fair & Lovely skin cream, which is sold across Asia.

Sunny Jain, Unilever's President Beauty & Personal Care, said in the statement that the company plans to make changes to how the Fair & Lovely product is advertised.

"We will also continue to evolve our advertising, to feature women of different skin tones, representative of the variety of beauty across India and other countries," Jain said. "We want Fair & Lovely to become a brand that celebrates glowing and radiant skin, regardless of skin tone."

The statement added that Fair & Lovely "has never been, and is not, a skin bleaching product."

The Fair & Lovely product has garnered criticism for being depicted in TV advertisements as giving people a lighter complexion, and as of June 28, more than 13,000 people signed a petition calling for the company to ban the product altogether.

ABC Journalist Siobhan Heanue wrote on Twitter that despite the name change of Fair & Lovely, as long as the cream continues to be sold, its purpose will stay the same.

Representatives for L'Oréal, Johnson & Johnson, and Unilever did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

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