Why Johnson & Johnson is stopping the sale of skin-whitening creams

Johnson & Johnson will be pulling a number of skin-whitening products off the shelves, namely their Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clear Fairness by Clean & Clear lines. These products are not sold in the United States, but can be found in Asia and the Middle East where they are marketed as dark-spot reducers. Some consumers, however, purchase the products in order to lighten their skin tone.

The company announced their decision to stop selling the skin-whitening products in a statement (via The New York Times). "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," said Johnson & Johnson. "This was never our intention — healthy skin is beautiful skin."

Per The Guardian, the sale of products that lighten skin is a multi-billion dollar industry. Products include lightening creams, scrubs, pills, and injections, all of which are "designed to slow the production of melanin."

There has been a recent backlash against skin-whitening products

Many consumers have been holding companies accountable recently, criticizing them for selling skin-whitening products while claiming solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

A petition on Change.org has called for Unilever, which recently pledged $1 million "to organizations and activists working for social justice and racial equality," to stop selling Fair & Lovely, a skin-lightening product sold in the Middle East and India.

"This product has built upon, perpetuated and benefited from internalized racism and promotes anti-blackness sentiments amongst all its consumers," reads the petition. "The multi-million dollar ads for the product have depicted wheatish and dark complexion men & women as insecure who then become confident and successful in their everyday lives only by lightening the complexion of their skin with help of the product. Colorism, discrimination based on the color of your skin, is a direct by-product of racism affecting millions of people today, that fairness creams such as Fair & Lovely continue to advance."

Johnson & Johnson has committed itself to 'inclusivity'

Johnson & Johnson's decision to stop the sale of its skin-whitening products comes after Band-Aid, which is owned by the conglomerate, announced that it will start selling bandages that match a wide range of skin tones.

"⁣⁣We stand in solidarity with our Black colleagues, collaborators and community in the fight against racism, violence and injustice," Band-Aid wrote on Instagram. "⁣⁣We are committed to launching a range of bandages in light, medium and deep shades of Brown and Black skin tones that embrace the beauty of diverse skin. We are dedicated to inclusivity and providing the best healing solutions, better representing you."

The post concluded, "In addition, we will be making a donation to [Black Lives Matter].⁣ We promise that this is just the first among many steps together in the fight against systemic racism.⁣ We can, we must and we will do better."