Johnson & Johnson to cease sale of skin-whitening lotions

Consumer-products giant Johnson & Johnson said Friday that it would no longer sell certain products that are advertised as dark-spot reducers but have been used by some purchasers to lighten skin tone.
The product lines, Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clear Fairness by Clean & Clear, were not distributed in the United States but were sold in Asia and the Middle East.

“Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our Neutrogena and Clean & Clear dark-spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your own unique skin tone,” the company said in a statement. “This was never our intention — healthy skin is beautiful skin.”

The company said its website was being updated to remove links to both products, which may still appear on shelves “for a short while.”

“We will no longer produce or ship the product line,” the company said.

The statement followed a string of announcements this week by companies saying they would be removing brands that have been criticized for using racist imagery to sell products. On Wednesday, the owners of Cream of Wheat, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Mrs. Butterworth’s all said they would be reviewing how the brands’ products are packaged.

Those announcements came after Quaker Oats said it would retire Aunt Jemima, the pancake mix and syrup brand, after acknowledging that its logo, a grinning black woman, was based on a racial stereotype.

In India, where the Clean & Clear skin-lightening line is sold, consumers have posted reviews touting the products’ effects and their ability to lighten skin. In Asia, commercials advertising Neutrogena Fine Fairness have described how it allows a consumer to “whiten more thoroughly.”

More than 11,000 people have signed a petition calling on Unilever to stop selling Fair & Lovely, a skin-lightening product marketed in India and the Middle East. Commercials for the lotion have shown dark-skinned women using it to lighten their skin and then becoming more successful as a result.

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