Taking a cue from the recent debates on skin colour after the murder of George Floyd and subsequent ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests, the American multinational company Johnson & Johnson has decided not to sell fairness and skin-whitening products any more.
Johnson & Johnson has said that it will stop the sale of Neutrogena Fine Fairness cream, which is being sold in Asia and the Middle East, and Clean & Clear fairness cream, which is being sold only 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. This was never our intention - healthy skin is beautiful skin,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
The company added that their website and retailer pages are being updated to remove links to purchase these products. However, though the products may still appear on a limited number of in-store shelves as stock runs through, the company will no longer produce or ship the product line.
India has been and continues to be a large market for fairness products, highlighting the society’s obsession with fair skin. The company’s decision comes even as over the past few weeks, social media has spoken out against Indian celebrities who have previously endorsed fairness creams and treatments.
A Reuters report quoting Euromonitor International has stated that around 6,277 tonnes of skin lightening products, including those labelled as ‘anti-ageing’ or ‘spot removal treatments', were sold across the world in 2019.
However, in India, Johnson & Johnson’s decision may not affect the fairness products market much, as it is dominated by Indian companies like Hindustan Unilever Limited, which sells the widely popular fairness product Fair & Lovely.
According to Moneycontrol, the Indian fairness cream market was worth about $450 million in 2019, with Hindustan Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Garnier (L’Oréal) being the major players. There is no word from Indian companies on whether they will take a similar decision to pull out.