The debate started by Hindustan Unilever’s skin whitening cream Fair & Lovely, that dropped ‘fair’ from its name but continued to sell the product which is viewed as anti-racism, was escalated by Johnson & Johnson who exited the fairness cream market altogether. Largely dominated by Hindustan Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Garnier (L’Oréal), the Indian fairness cream market was worth about $450 million in 2019 but despite the competition, Johnson & Johnson first pulled down Neutrogena Fine Fairness line and will now discontinue the production and shipping of Clean & Clear Fairness products after the existing stock is exhausted.
This huge yet positive decision has come at the heels of Black Lives Matter Protests that gripped America, after the gruesome murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, and trickled to the rest of the world. Years of systematic racism finally triggered evocative outrage despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and a social pressure mushroomed globally that stood against racial inequality.
In lieu of the same, Hindustan Unilever decided to drop the word ‘fair’ from Fair & Lovely but that did little to impress the people as many debated on how the hypocrisy continues as the company will still sell its skin whitening cream though, under a politically correct name now. The bold move by Johnson & Johnson left many awestruck as the company’s fairness products will altogether be pulled down from India and other Asian and Middle East countries.
Speaking to Reuters, Johnson & Johnson’s spokeswoman shared, “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.”