Glow & Lovely

Glow & Lovely (formerly Fair & Lovely) is a skin-lightening cosmetic product of Hindustan Unilever introduced to the market in India in 1975. Glow & Lovely is available in India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and other parts of Asia and is also exported to other parts of the world, such as the West, where it is sold in Asian supermarkets.

Tube of Glow & Lovely (with the former branding) showing the branding and face of Yami Gautam.

Unilever patented the brand Fair & Lovely in 1971, after the patenting of niacinamide, a melanin suppressor,[1] which is the cream's main active ingredient. Glow & Lovely's website states the product contains vitamins B3, C, and E, along with multivitamins and UVB/UVA sunscreens.

Glow & Lovely was controversial under its previous name “Fair & Lovely”. Its promotions focus on Bollywood stars and marketing is oriented towards those who would buy skin lightening products over the counter, through friends, or online, without consulting a specialist.[2] The president of the company responded to concerns about the product calling for diverse representation, and has announced changes in advertising, communication and packaging in South Asia.[3]

Market ShareEdit

The target consumer profile for Glow & Lovely is the 18 and above age group, and the bulk of the users are in the age 21–35 category,[4] though there is evidence that girls as young as 12–14 also use the cream.[5] As of 2012 the brand occupied 80% of the lightening cream market in India and is one of Hindustan Unilever's most successful cosmetics lines.[6]


Glow & Lovely offers a range of product formulations including lotions, gels and soaps.[3] According to Glow & Lovely's website the product uses vitamin B3, glycerine, UVA and UVB sunscreens in its formula.[3][7] Glow & Lovely has also announced the addition of vitamins C, B6, E and allantoin to their product.[3]

Health concernsEdit

Glow & Lovely is widely considered a skin lightening cream, and skin lightening which is done for cosmetic reasons is associated with negative impacts on well-being and adverse effects on the skin.[8] Despite current regulations, lightening agents continue to dominate the cosmetic industry.[8] A study of skin lightening products globally found that cutaneous and systemic side effects are likely underestimated because the complete list of ingredients are undisclosed.[8] The same study also found that that side effects of systemic absorption of skin lightening products include disrupted hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, including Cushing syndrome, adrenal insufficiency, diabetes, and hypertension.[8]


Glow & Lovely suffered controversy under its previous name “Fair & Lovely”. Aggressive marketing campaigns in India are shown to use Bollywood celebrities to promote ‘fair’ as beautiful and ‘dark’ as ugly, leading critics to charge the firm with promoting colourism.[9] Fairness cream brand promotions in the Indian market use the same method of advertising, ridiculing a young girl for having dark skin and not doing enough to lighten it, pointing to the cream as the needed solution.[9]

Advertisements target middle to lower income groups of whom 20% to 30% buy skin lightening products over the counter, through friends, or online, without consulting a specialist.[2] Those who may not have a lot of income cannot opt to go for products that are expensive. Nor are they able to speak with specialists that may guide them in their skincare. So they opt to buy the first product they find, in this case 'Glow & Lovely.'

Marketing campaigns of the product have been criticized for promoting colorism.[10] Marketing for the product in all countries implies that whiter skin equates to beauty and self-confidence.[11] Hindustan Unilever Limited research claims that "90 per cent of Indian women want to use whiteners because it is aspirational, like losing weight. A fair skin is, like education, regarded as a social and economic step up."[12] Following this controversy, including a 2007 television advertisement for Ponds White Beauty[13] in which the actor Saif Ali Khan expressed preference for the fair-skinned Neha Dhupia over the darker-skinned Priyanka Chopra,[14] the company suspended television advertisements for the product.[15][16][17]

Company response and rebrandingEdit

In 2020, the manufacturer responded to criticism associating the product with colorism. Sunny Jain, President Beauty & Personal Care stated the company recognizes that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ is not ideal.[3] Jain also announced changes in advertising, communication and packaging in South Asia.[3] Glow & Lovely also announced in 2020, they plan to feature women of different skin tones, representative of the variety of beauty across India and other countries.

In 2020, Hindustan Unilever announced the rebranding of its flagship brand Fair & Lovely, removing the word 'Fair' and using 'Glow' instead.[18] The brand was renamed to 'Glow & Lovely'.[19]

At the time of the rebranding, Unilever stated that 'Fair & Lovely has never been, and is not, a skin bleaching product', instead it was intended to be a product which would 'improve skin barrier function, improve skin firmness, and smooth out skin texture'.[20]

Critical response to rebrandingEdit

Critics responded to the rebranding by criticizing the continuing sale of the product and expressing concerns that changing the name of the product does not address how colorism is still prevalent in the community.[21] Former Procter and Gamble executive Alex Malouf stated, “None of these companies has said we’re going to discontinue these products, despite the reputational challenge.”[22] Critic and activist Mirusha Yogarajah stated in response to Unilever's announcement, “If you’re changing the advertising to where they’re not promoting light skin, that’s reasonable, but if you’re still selling the product, that doesn’t mean much”.[21]


  1. ^ Miranda A. Farage, Kenneth W. Miller, Howard I. Maibach. Textbook of Aging Skin 540896554 (2009), p.498: "In a recent work, niacinamide and glucosamine (in particular, its derivative N-acetyl glucosamine [NAG]) have been determined to be effective in reducing melanin production in culture. In vitro, glucosamine reduces production of melanin."
  2. ^ a b Rusmadi, Siti Zulaikha; Syed Ismail, Sharifah Norkhadijah; Praveena, Sarva Mangala (2015). "Preliminary Study on the Skin Lightening Practice and Health Symptoms among Female Students in Malaysia". Journal of Environmental and Public Health. 2015: 591790. doi:10.1155/2015/591790. ISSN 1687-9805. PMC 4674599. PMID 26693230.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Unilever evolves skin care portfolio to embrace a more inclusive vision of beauty". Unilever. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  4. ^ Jham, Vimi. Cases on Consumer-Centric Marketing Management (2013) 1466643587, p. 102: "The target consumer profile for Fair & Lovely is in the age group of 18 and above. The bulk of the users are in the age group of 21-35 and brand communication has always been targeted at this age group."
  5. ^ Mike Peng. Global Strategy 0324590997 (2008), p. 414: "The target market for Fair & Lovely is predominantly young women aged 18–35 (Srisha, 2001). Disturbingly, “there is repeated evidence that schoolgirls in the 12–14 years category widely use fairness creams" (Ninan, 2003)."
  6. ^ Alma M. Garcia. Contested Images: Women of Color in Popular Culture (2012) 0759119635, p. 182: "Through its Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Lever Limited, Unilever patented Fair & Lovely in 1971 following the patenting of niacinamide, a melanin suppressor, which is its main active ingredient. Test market David "Unilever to Rename Fair & Lovely Skin-Lightening Cream in India," Bloomberg (June 25, 2020).
  7. ^ "Glow & Lovely Careers". Glow & Lovely Careers. Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  8. ^ a b c d Pollock, Samara; Taylor, Susan; Oyerinde, Oyetewa; Nurmohamed, Sabrina; Dlova, Ncoza; Sarkar, Rashmi; Galadari, Hassan; Manela-Azulay, Mônica; Chung, Hae Shin; Handog, Evangeline; Kourosh, A. Shadi (2020-09-17). "The dark side of skin lightening: An international collaboration and review of a public health issue affecting dermatology". International Journal of Women's Dermatology. 7 (2): 158–164. doi:10.1016/j.ijwd.2020.09.006. ISSN 2352-6475. PMC 8072511. PMID 33937483.
  9. ^ a b Anand, Amit (2021-06-30), Bhushan, Tripti (ed.), Skin Colour Bias:Understanding the Intersection of Media Representation and Advertising Ethics in India, India: Research Culture Society, pp. 23–29, ISBN 978-81-951481-3-4, retrieved 2023-01-19
  10. ^ Mariam, Simra (2017-03-27). "Daring To Be Dark: Fighting Against Colorism In South Asian Cultures". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2019-01-06.
  11. ^ Lynne Eagle, Stephan Dahl. Marketing Ethics & Society (2015) 1473934028: "Advertisements in all the countries in which Fair & Lovely is sold show product users getting better jobs, getting married or having a brighter future (and being noticeably happier) as a result of their lighter skin."
  12. ^ Aneel Karnani. Fighting Poverty Together: Rethinking Strategies 0230120237 (2011), p. 101: "Hindustan Unilever Limited, Unilever's Indian subsidiary, claims Fair & Lovely is doing good by fulfilling a social need. HUL research says that '90 per cent of Indian women want to use whiteners because it is aspirational, like losing weight. A fair skin is like education, regarded as a social and economic step up.'"
  13. ^ "Kabhi Kabhi Pyar Mein - Pond's White Beauty". Vimeo. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  14. ^ Sidharth Balakrishna Case Studies in Marketing Pearson 2011, 8131757978 Case Study 1: Fair & Lovely p.5 "... responding to an advertisement in which the actor Saif Ali Khan prefers the fair-skinned starlet Neha Dhupia over Priyanka Chopra, known for her dusky, wheatish complexion."
  15. ^ "Kabhi Kabhi Pyar Mein - Pond's White Beauty". Vimeo. Retrieved 2020-06-13.
  16. ^ Bagchi, Shrabonti. "The dark politics of fairness products in India," LiveMint (25 Jun 2020).
  17. ^ Jain, Rupam, Charlotte Greenfield, and Siddharth Cavale. "Unilever's 'Fair & Lovely' to get makeover after backlash," Reuters (JUNE 25, 2020).
  18. ^ "'Fair' To Be Axed From Hindustan Unilever Limited's Fair and Lovely". odisha TV. Retrieved Jun 25, 2020.
  19. ^ "HUL Replaces Fair With Glow. People React With 'Glow & Lovely' Memes". aTrendHub. 26 June 2020. Retrieved Jun 26, 2020.
  20. ^ "Unilever evolves skin care portfolio to embrace a more inclusive vision of beauty". Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Unilever Will Drop the Word 'Fair' From its Skin-Lightening Creams. Experts Say It Does Not Combat Colorism". Time. Retrieved 2023-02-04.
  22. ^ McEvoy, Jemima. "Critics Slam Unilever Rebrand Of 'Fair & Lovely' Skin Lightener As 'Glow & Lovely'". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-02-04.