Does Fair and lovely work?

2nd June 2013

If you are looking for a quick answer - it is a 'Yes' and a 'No'. Read further if you want to decide for yourself if it really works or not. I am trying to unwrap both the scientific and marketing side of this topic.

Browse the television and for sure you will bump in to an ad for a fairness cream (At least in India). Fair and Lovely became a generic trademark (genericized trademark or proprietary eponym) for skin fairness creams. But is it true if Fair and Lovely really make your skin fair?

First, let us start from the base. Humans are the only single mammal species to have a wide range of skin color. This is purely based on the selected evolution process. More the UV rays the skin need to handle, more darker the skin is. WHAT? Yes, before millions of years, people do not migrate between continents. They almost live in a more closed environment than how we are today. Each human race evolved as per their surrounding and the skin color evolved to adapt to its surrounding. Skin color is mainly determined by the melanin for darker colored people and for lighter colored people it is determined by the connecting tissues under the dermis. Don't worry about those unfamiliar terms. If you want to dig in deep about skin color, you can read this from wikipedia.
This is all to say, the color we are born with is based on millions of years of evolution. So why suddenly we need a fair skin? Have you ever thought if skin fairness cream will hold any place other Asian countries or Europian or even African countries? I guess definitely not. In fact, you will find products that gives you a dusty skin in few of those countries. They actually want to get a little dark. So, why this is a hot market in India.
As you may know Indian race is a blend between the Aryan and the Dravidian race. Dravidians have a varied skin complexion, it ranges from dark brown to light. Where as Arays are from Iran and Arab, they have lighter skin complexion.

Gap it with Fair and Lovely

Now that we know we have a mixture of color by evolution and also due to this Aryan and Dravidian blend we now see a gap. So, we need to take sides. Yes. We need to decide if dark skin is beautiful or the lighter ones. We were made to decide that pretty easily with the help of visual mass media. If you check any visual mass media, you will find lighter skin tone taking more prominent place. This was due to the fact that in the black and white film age, you need a fair skin for better light exposure than taking the trouble working with a dark complexion skin. It was around  the same time even the fair need to be fairer to address the gap in the way earlier film rolls expose to different reflected light. The save came in to real life with people trying to go for a whiter skin tone without knowing why all this started in the first place. You can take any yesteryear's actor you will find this true. It took years to turn this table when actors like Vijayakanth and Rajinikanth survival in movie industry was debated due to their darker skin color. It was to that extent the fair skin was widely accepted as more acceptable to appeal the masses. We were tuned to think that fair skin is beautiful than than darker skin tones. But I am dark, so how to become beautiful (fair). Answer: Fair and Lovely or other skin fairness creams.
This gap and the solution is a marketers snare (Here is another marketing snare targeting health drinks - Click here to read in a separate tab). You can promote this product in a thousand ways and there are people to buy it. So does fair and lovely really make you fair? It will not even be skin deep. As said before the skin tone is more due to the melanin for the dark tone people. Do you think Fair and Lovely is going to reverse a million year evolution process in days or even weeks. It is only a layer above your skin, and sure you are going to look fair with a light cream on your skin. This may reduce the amount of sun rays your skin may receive over a period of time and may change the skin tone to a very minimal effect. Again, this is not a permanent change. So you are doomed to use it continuously just to make sure your artificial color stays on for ever. So, let us say in the scale of 100 to 0 in skin tone, where 100 being the darkest and 0 being the lightest, you go from 75 to 70 by using Fair and Lovely. Do you think every one you meet are going to compare your color 3 months back to what you are now and feel you are fairer. The person looking at you when you are at 70 is going to see you and accept you as a person with a skin tone at 70. The same is the case if you were in 75 too. It is only your personal satisfaction and self esteem you are fueling by making you look fair.
It is best to accept what we are. If we try to change what we are, we will be forced to make lot many changes. The ads that promote these brands make it so compulsive for people to use it. They go to any extend to make it compulsive. You may start to think that not to use it is an injustice you are doing for yourself. On few occasions they have been forced to take those ads off, it is to that extent these marketers go.
In 2007 a Fair and Lovely ad was forced to withdraw. The ad showed a dark skin girl depressed after her employer and other guys ignore her. She then uses Fair and Lovely, gains a lighter complexion skin and gets a new boy friend and a new career. This ad clearly shown the shiny horns of the marketer.
In 2008 Priyanka Chopra was made a brand ambassador for Ponds White beauty. She was part of a series of commercials along with Saif and Neha Dhupia. The ad clearly intends to show the difference in the dark complexion of Priyanka vs the lighter skin tone Neha. This ad drew sharp criticism.
In this ad, they are making the fair fairer, as making the dark skin inferior marketing will not work in Arab nations where the majority are already fair:

Are you going to answer if Fair and lovely works or not?

Well... After going round this topic, I find no point in confirming if Fair and Lovely or any fairness cream for that matter works or not. I personally feel, it is a product born out of marketing and has no real use in the real world. Unless you feel you are better with it than without.

Please leave your comment if you do agree or disagree with this point of view.

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