Clean & Clear, Neutrogena/Amazon

  • Johnson & Johnson will discontinue lines of products that could be used for skin-lightening purposes, according to reports from AdAge and the New York Times.
  • The company will drop two lines: 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."
  • The products may still appear in limited quantities in stores where they're available, but the products aren't being shipped or produced, the Johnson & Johnson statement said.
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Johnson & Johnson will discontinue two product lines of skin-lightening products from Neutrogena and Clean & Clear.

The health and personal care corporation is no longer producing or shipping products in the Neutrogena Fine Fairness line, sold in Asia and the Middle East; as well as Clean & Clear's Clear Fairness line, sold in India; reported Jack Neff from AdAge on Thursday and Maria Cramer from the New York Times on Friday.

Johnson & Johnson issued a statement published by Reuters addressing the discontinuation of the skin-lightening products, saying: "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."

"This was never our intention - healthy skin is beautiful skin," the company's statement continued.

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

"Grounded in the belief that healthy skin is beautiful skin, we made the business decisions to no longer sell the Fine Fairness product line," the Johnson & Johnson spokesperson continued.

A spokesperson for Johnson & Johnson also said that neither the Neutrogena brand does not sell products that bleach the skin. Rather, ingredients like retinol can sometimes help to lighten dark spots on the skin.

It's far from the first time a brand has come under fire for products advertised as having skin-lightening capabilities

For example, in 2017, Nivea faced criticism for introducing a skin-lightening product line in Africa.

There's also a current Change.org petition to ban Unilever product Fair & Lovely, which is depicted in TV advertisements as giving people a lighter complexion.

Johnson & Johnson's announcement about stopping the production of its controversial skin-lightening products comes as a number of companies have made plans to rename products, or have given new thought to long-standing messaging or brand images with controversial origins, to be more inclusive.

For example, syrup brand Aunt Jemima will get a new name and mascot later this year, its parent company PepsiCo announced Wednesday after publicly recognising the branding's racist roots.

Representatives of Johnson & Johnson did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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