ASCI publishes new guidelines for skin lightening products

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

ASCI publishes new guidelines for skin lightening products

Related tags Skin whitening

Skin lightening has been hitting the headlines in India for all the wrong reasons of late, which has prompted the country’s advertising standards board to publish new guidelines.

The Advertising Standards Board of India (ASCI) mooted the new guidelines back in June, when it outlined a draft proposal that included four principal guidelines for advertisers to consider when promoting skin lightening or ‘fairness’ products.

Those draft guidelines have now been formalised and have been published on the ASCI’s website as a formal document. 

Perpetuating notions about skin colour

“While all fairness products are licensed for manufacture and sale by relevant state Food & Drug Administrations (FDA) under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, there is a strong concern in certain sections of society that advertising of fairness products tends to communicate and perpetuate the notion that dark skin is inferior and undesirable,”​ the document states.

The draft for the guidelines remains the same for the final document. The draft was previously published on Cosmetics Design Asia in June, but we are re-publishing it here as a reminder:

  1. Advertisements should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour, which includes directly or implicitly showing people with darker skin as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned.
  2. Advertising should not use post production visual effects on the model/s to show exaggerated product efficacy, and the expression of the model/s before and after using the product should be the same.
  3. Advertising should not associate darker or lighter colour skin with any particular socio-economics strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity.
  4. Advertising should not perpetuate gender-based discrimination because of skin colour.

Is skin whitening on the demise in India?

The final document stresses that the guidelines are to be used when creating and assessing advertisements within the category, although they are not legally binding.

The global skin lightening market is estimated to reach $10 billion in 2015, and is being driven by increasing demand in emerging markets such as India, China and to a lesser extent some countries in Africa.

However, in 2012 the tables were turned in India, as the skin lightening market showed a decline of 4.5%, which according to researchers at Nielsen, indicated that many consumers were beginning to re-think their approach to lightening their skin.

Related topics Regulation & Safety

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