Unilever’s Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Unilever, has announced that its popular skin-lightening cream Fair & Lovely will be renamed Glow & Lovely. This rebrand isn’t shocking, as the company pledged a week ago to remove the words “white”, “light”, and “fair” from the packaging of their products after once again coming under scrutiny in the wake of the protests against police violence and anti-Black racism in the U.S. But of course, a name change doesn’t actually matter, because the product itself is still a skin-lightening cream, and its very existence perpetuates racist and colorist ideas about the superiority of lighter skin.
It’s not surprising that Unilever is attempting to rebrand as Glow & Lovely in an attempt to deflect criticism and obfuscate the actual nature of their product. In fact, many skincare products these days are advertised using similar language, promising to give you a healthy “glow”... though most of them aren’t skin lightening products.
Sunny Jain, the President of Beauty & Personal Care at Unilever, released a statement that reads:
“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. As we’re evolving the way that we communicate the skin benefits of our products that deliver radiant and even tone skin, it’s almost important to change the language we use.”
So, Unilever can recognize that the language they use to advertise their skin lightening product upholds racist beauty standards, but somehow sees no issue with the actual formulas of the products? They must have missed the message—lip service just isn’t cutting it anymore.