Johnson & Johnson Will Be Suspending the Sale of Alleged ‘Skin-Lightening’ Products

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Johnson & Johnson has discontinued the sale of controversial “skin-lightening” products sold in Asia.

This monolithic multinational corporation and worldwide distributor of consumer goods have been under attack for allegedly promoting “skin-lightening” products across Asia.  The company owns leading skincare and cosmetic lines Neutrogena and Clean & Clear and has begun discontinuing and withdrawing questionable products implicated with advertising and popularizing “skin-lightening.” 

Although possibly benign in nature, the beauty products in question, Neutrogena’s Fine Fairness line as well as Clean & Clear’s Clear Fairness, are designed to fade dark spots, to create a lighter, creamier complexion. Consequently, these products have nurtured unhealthy beauty standards: Most relevantly, the ever-prevailing, deeply-flawed, and painfully problematic perception of “white” as “aesthetically pleasing”, and “dark” as an “undesirable” trait. 

These controversial products have been abused to achieve an overall white-presenting appearance; they are undermining diversity by pushing homogeneity, or a singular prescription for beauty. Commercials capitalize on these new, problematic beauty ideals, this fixation with and fetishizing of whiteness, to reap profits.  According to The New York Times, an Asian commercial for the “skin-lightening” product even boasts it “allows a customer to whiten more thoroughly.”  

Johnson & Johnson has recently strived to promote diversity and has even expanded their band-aid colors to appeal to a wider range of consumers.

In response to public backlash and “colorist” implications, Johnson & Johnson commented, “This [skin-lightening] was never our intention — healthy skin is beautiful skin.”  In addition to their powerful press release, the company swiftly removed/ discontinued the products in question.  

Although the products in question are notably not sold in the United States, Neutrogena and Clean & Clear are extremely popular throughout America. Informed, ethical consumers must seriously consider which brands deserve their business, and focus on ones that champion customers of all races and celebrate diversity.