Johnson & Johnson to stop selling skin-lightening creams in the Middle East

The beauty giant will drop Clean & Clear's Clear Fairness line, as well as the Neutrogena Fine Fairness range, from its offerings

Amid the backdrop of ongoing anti-racism protests in the US and beyond, one beauty brand has announced it will discontinue two skincare lines that seemingly promote fairer skin.

Johnson & Johnson confirmed it will stop selling its Clean & Clear Fairness line of products, as well as its Neutrogena Fine Fairness range, both of which are marketed as helping to reduce dark spots.

The ranges were not available in the US, but 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 multinational confirmed it would update its websites to remove the lines, though clarified products may be available in stores "for a short while".

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

As of Saturday, June 20, a listing for Clean & Clear's Fairness Moisturiser was still present on the brand's Johnson & Johnson Middle East website.

The product, which contains SPF15, is marketed for "those who want fair, healthy, hydrated skin".

"This moisturising cream helps to lighten the skin and protects the skin from sunlight, improving overall fairness in four weeks," the product description states.

On Neutrogena's Middle East site, there is still a product listing for the Fairness Boost Hydrogel Recovery Mask, a sheet mask designed to "leave your skin looking luminous, evenly toned and radiant".

Johnson & Johnson conformed to Ad Age that while it promotes products that use retinol and other ingredients to fade dark spots cause by age and sun exposure, the company does not sell products that bleach the skin.

The decision to scrap both product lines comes amid widespread criticism of skin-lightening products, with Unilever, L'Oreal and Procter & Gamble also called out for ranges that promise to lighten or brighten skin tones.

More than 11,000 people have signed a petition that urges Unilever to stop selling Fair & Lovely, a skin-lightening product sold in Asia and the Middle East.