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L’Oreal To Remove Words ‘Whitening,’ ‘Fair,’ And ‘Lightening’ From Skin Products
Models present creations for L'Oreal during the Spring-Summer 2019 Ready-to-Wear collection fashion show in Paris, on September 30, 2018. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP) (Photo credit should read
ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images

The largest cosmetics company in the world announced on Saturday that it will remove words like “whitening,” “fair” and “lightening” on the packaging of its products.

A number of cosmetics brands have recently been bashed for offering skin-lightening products or identifying some as intended for “fair” skin.

“The L’Oreal Group has decided to remove the words white/whitening, fair/fairness, light/lightening from all its skin evening products,” the French cosmetics giant said in statement, according to The Associated Press.

The French company made headlines this month when it wrote on Instagram that it “stands in solidarity with the Black community, and injustice of any kind.”

L’Oreal’s latest move came after social media posts by British model Munroe Bergdorf, who was the company’s first transgender model before she was fired in 2017, re-emerged. The company had hired Bergdorf, who is black, as a consultant on their U.K. Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board.

“Your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color. Your entire existence is drenched in racism,” she wrote in 2017 in a message to white people. “Racism isn’t learned. It’s inherited, and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege. Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth, then we can talk.”

Bergdorf’s comments came before she was hired by L’Oreal. “The company has since rehired Bergdorf and she will serve on the diversity board,” CNN reported.

“L’Oreal’s promise for change comes a day after consumer products leader Unilever announced they’d be changing the name of their ‘Fair & Lovely’ cream that is popular in Asia for skin lightening,” Fox News reported.

The product reportedly generated $500 million in revenue in India last year, according to Yahoo News, but the brand says they are working to acknowledge how their terminology and branding perpetuates racist stereotypes.

“We are fully committed to having a global portfolio of skincare brands that is inclusive and cares for all skin tones, celebrating greater diversity of beauty,” Sunny Jain, the head of Unilever’s Beauty & Personal Care said. “We recognize 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.”

L’Oreal’s move comes as nationwide protests continue over the death of George Floyd, who died on Memorial Day while in the custody of the Minneapolis police. The protests have prompted companies to change their product names.

Quaker Oats announced last week that it would be removing Aunt Jemima from its 133-year-old brand of syrup and pancake mix. Then the company that makes Cream of Wheat said it is beginning a review of its brand and packaging, which features a black chef holding up a piping hot bowl of cereal. Meanwhile, the company that makes Uncle Ben’s rice said Wednesday that “now was the right time to evolve” the brand. Their package features an elderly black man in a tuxedo next to its trademark saying, “Perfect Every Time.”

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