The new ‘normal’: How Lifebuoy and Lux are embracing Unilever’s Positive Beauty vision

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The Positive Beauty vision sets out several progressive commitments and actions for its beauty and personal care brands, aiming to champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet ©Unilever
The Positive Beauty vision sets out several progressive commitments and actions for its beauty and personal care brands, aiming to champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet ©Unilever

Related tags: Unilever, Lifebuoy, lux, Beauty, Sustainability

Unilever, which owns brands such as Lifebuoy, Lux, Dove, Vaseline and Sunsilk have committed to eliminate the word ‘normal’ from its packaging and advertising, as well as drive campaigns for gender inclusivity in line with its Positive Beauty vision.

The vision comprises of action plans for Unilever’s beauty and personal care brands to end discrimination in beauty, drive gender equity, and help to protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests and oceans by 2030.

One of the commitments is removing the word ‘normal’ from product packs and advertising.

‘Normal’ is commonly used as a description on hair care and skin care products.

But we know that the word perpetuates a narrow ideal of beauty, and makes people feel excluded​,” said Singapore-headquartered Lifebuoy spokeswoman, Poh Khim Yin, global brand vice president, disruptive hygiene, Unilever.

In a 10,000 people online survey conducted by Unilever across nine countries, eight in ten young people (18-35 years old) agree that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact.

Over half of people across China, India, Indonesia (55%) think that labels on beauty products such as normal hair, straight hair, or normal skin contribute to narrow beauty ideals.

The company said: “We have made the most progress with our hair products where we have either removed ‘normal’ or repositioned and replaced it with descriptions which highlight the benefit of the product for the consumer​.”

While we know that these actions alone will not fix the problem, we believe these are important steps towards a more inclusive definition of beauty.​”

Sauve, another Unilever brand will change its Daily Clarifying Conditioner which previously stated, ‘With light conditioners for normal to oily hair’ but would now display ‘Replenish hair’s moisture’.

In addition to removing the word ‘normal’, Unilever will increase the number of advertisements portraying people from diverse groups who are under-represented as well as stop digitally altering a person’s body shape, size, proportion or skin colour in its brand advertising.

For Singapore-headquartered Lux, it does not use ‘normal’ on any product packaging or advertising, according to Severine Vauleon, global brand vice president.

Driving gender inclusivity

Instead, Lux says it will embrace Unilever’s Positive Beauty vision through its campaigns to empower people and drive gender equity and inclusivity.

Its latest campaign in China, featuring popular local actress and Lux brand ambassador Dilraba Dilmurat, and is centered on a call for women to express their version of beauty and femininity unapologetically.

Launched in 2020 and still running, the campaign was built around how women in China face unwritten rules that determine what they wear, how they look and how they behave, and when not complied, they risk being labelled negatively.

In the Middle East, Lux also launched a style book of Saudi Arabian women driving to mark the first anniversary of women being allowed to drive in the emirate, as well as profiling female Saudi Arabian professionals working in male-dominated fields.

Earlier this month, Lux launched a campaign to support South African Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya, who was banned from competing in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games by the World Athletics ruling.

She was born with a genetic condition known as hyperandrogenism, producing higher-than-normal level of testosterone.

Sustainability

Part of the Positive Beauty vision is also developing a sustainable business, which contributes to Unilever’s broader 2025 packaging reduction commitments.

This include reducing more than 100,000 tonnes in plastic use, using reusable, recyclable or compostable for all its plastic packaging, and increasing the use of post-consumer recycled plastic material to at least 25%.

The current post-consumer recycled plastic (PCR) usage is 10%, with plans to double in the next year.

For Lux, its ongoing ‘Go Green, Go Lux’ campaign has been running in China since 2011, with a small portion from the purchase of every bottle of Lux shower gel going towards supporting rural Tibetan communities.

For every Chinese yuan donated, one square metre of grass is planted in Tibet’s degraded pastures to fight desertification.

In the 10 years since the project started, more than nine million square metres of grassland have been planted, helping over 9,693 residents improve their incomes and absorbing 50kT of CO2​ every year.

In 2020, Lux launched a new Lux Botanicals bodywash enriched with alfalfa, one of the grasses planted in Tibet. The move has helped more than 12,000 local farmers and herdsmen earn a more sustainable income and contributes to its goal of helping regenerate nature as part of the Positive Beauty vision.

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