Beauty brands are facing more scrutiny from consumers due to the Black Lives Matter movement - and social media users are on a mission to hold them more accountable. One of the latest controversies is over products marketed as "skin whitening" creams.
L'Oreal, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson have all responded by either discontinuing products or removing specific words from its packaging and ads. (Unilever is renaming and rebranding Fair & Lovely after a petition.)
L’Oreal announced it is removing the word “white” from several of its products, replacing it with the word Glow -- and Jean-Paul Agon, CEO, says, “It’s been a “major misunderstanding.”
Agon commented on the issue during a question that was asked at L’Oreal’s 2020 Annual General Meeting, (the webcast is viewable to replay online), and he said "this is not the company’s intent," when referring to the issue.
He explained, “It’s not a matter of withdrawing the word ‘white’ or ‘whitening’ from our products or adverts, which would be pointless. The question is changing the name of skincare products sold mainly in Asia or India…and are mainly intended to protect against UV rays and protect from signs of skin aging.”
He continued, “These have been called ‘whitening’ or ‘fairness.’ These names are increasingly challenged by our local consumers, so we decided to adapt the wording to adapt to the change in mindset.”
The word "glow" will replace “white” and "fair." Agon said, “We will gradually, in the months ahead, change the words to Glow — and use words such as Glow, which are considered to be more appropriate."
He added, “I didn’t think there’s any reason for all the concern in the media--but I think we should better explain this.” Agon also noted that these products are not intended to lighten or bleach the skin, so words such as Glow and Radiance are a better fit for how they work.
At the same meeting, Jean Paul Agon also announced he will step down next year - and L'Oreal will name his successor this fall.
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