Have you ever wondered which major, huge, corporate cosmetic brands sell products that alter genes to suppress melanin so a person’s skin won’t be as dark?
Well, guess what? You might be surprised to find out that nearly all major cosmetic companies do so, because they say white skin is just more beautiful than dark skin is, and they push their products on people with dark skin, making them feel as though it is desirable to lighten their skin in order to achieve a better look.
We’ll start with a very old and established brand–Pond’s. Pond’s sells a product called–literally–White Beauty. This skin cream contains a product they call Genwhite, and they advertise it as a solution that actually alters a person’s genes so that their skin will be forced to make less melanin. Melanin is a substance that gives skin its pigment. The more melanin in someone’s skin, the darker their skin is. Products that suppress melanin literally cause someone to become whiter, and thus, as far as Pond’s is obviously concerned—more beautiful.
Oh Dove. Dove, Dove, Dove. What are we going to do with you? You’re doing it. You’re selling whitening cream to people with dark skin, and you’re hiding the fact from U.S. consumers by not including it on your U.S. based website. As a matter of fact, it was not very easy to find a picture or any information about this cream. Have you been hiring online reputation managers to hide search results for this cream from U.S. consumers? Hmm. Anyway, the more important question here is: what happened to “real beauty?”
But Pond’s and Dove are not the only major brands that say white skin is more beautiful than dark skin is—far from it. L’Oreal has another name for its skin whitening cream—White Perfect. The name just about sums it all up rather nicely. Apparently, according to L’Oreal, white is perfect. Dark is not. Note the blue eyes on the Indian model. Nice touch, L’Oreal.
Olay is another producer of this type of skin cream. The name of their product is slightly less offensive: Natural White. Because, of course, if one wants to alter the genetics they’ve had from birth, it’s ever so important that they are naturally white; or at least appear to be so.
A sort of (but not really) toned down name—Fine Fairness—comes from Neutrogena’s marketing department. “Fairness” is another way to say “if you’re born with dark skin, you’re ugly.” There are thousands of “fairness” creams on the market, and it seems to be more recently that some brands have plumb done away with the whole “fairness” concept and gone straight for “getting down to business” about the fact that “white is beautiful.” No need for hiding behind synonyms anymore, it appears. These brands have decided to just come right out and say white is “perfect.” Neutrogena, though, likes to stick with old-school racist terms instead.
Next up is Clarins with their White Plus cream. Clarins goes with the simple message that being white is a plus. This brand tends to hide their selling of this cream, though. They use a white model on their website, and their product is only available, according to one online reviewer “at a Clarins counter in a mall in a few select cities in India.” Clarins in the U.S. does not offer White Plus. The U.S. based Clarins website conveniently calls a similar cream Bright Plus. Bright skin and white skin are, of course, two entirely different things.
In general, it is almost impossible to find any of these brands peddling their racist wares in the U.S., probably because many in the U.S. would find the messages inherent in the sale of these creams to be horribly offensive.
Nivea puts some glamor into the name of its whitening face cream. It’s called Sparkling Glow Fairness Cream. Of course, as with all of the other brands, it’s only available on websites geared toward India and other locales where the majority of the residents have dark skin.
Garnier is a brand that doesn’t want to miss out on the skin whitening glory. As a matter of fact, they’re getting in on the “white is right” bus with their White Complete Multi Action Fairness Cream. One can assume that the multi action of this product ensures complete–and completely desirable–whiteness. And, of course, it is important that it be complete, because who wants to be only half white?
Estee Lauder, it is said, along with Clinique, offers over 15 different types of skin whitening products in the Indian market. However, Estee Lauder also seems to have gone the route of hiding this practice from Americans, because finding information about it is not as easy as simply typing some search terms into Google. In order to uncover the extent of Estee Lauder’s skin lightening product line, it’s necessary to delve into beauty bloggers’ reviews of these creams. Estee Lauder seems to have gone for a high-tech approach with its Cyber White cream. After all, if something is “cyber,” it can’t possibly be old-timey racist…can it?
Biore is also in on the game, and is marketing to not only Indian people, but also Asian consumers, as evidenced by the writing on this rare picture of Biore’s whitening cream called Aqua Whitening.
Well, that just about wraps up this really long and tremendously depressing list of racist skin creams from all of the top major cosmetic brands here in the U.S. The most disheartening, of course, is Dove, because the company’s “real beauty” campaign is all about being beautiful just the way you were born. Not in India or Asia, though, apparently.
For the record: dark skin is beautiful, and these products and brands suck; not only because the companies behind these creams are selling an inherently racist idea, but because they go to significant lengths to hide their actions from U.S. consumers.
Real beauty? Not by a longshot.
By: Rebecca Savastio