In India, Skin Lightening Creams Are All the Rage

The Washington Post reports that American-style beautification obsessions are starting to make their way into India. Like this:

He’s the rugged type, with sculpted arm muscles. He rides a motorcycle and wears a trendy tank top, wraparound sunglasses and slicked-back hair. There’s only one problem: His skin color is a few shades too dark. His fair-skinned love interest won’t even accept his offer of a rose.

But in this popular Indian television ad, the protagonist is able to buy a magic cream that will change his status in life, turning his brown skin several shades lighter and causing his beloved to swoon.

The new product is called Fair and Handsome, and it’s among the male skin-lightening creams that are exploding in popularity in small towns and cities across India. While such products are nothing new among Indian women, for whom fair skin has long been a symbol of affluence and status, sales of the product for men are growing at nearly 150 percent annually in emerging markets, according to a recent study by Ernst & Young.

“It’s all lower-middle-class men who want the product now,” said Ajay Gupta, 52, a pharmacist, who said the creams often sell out. “What it really means is that the young and up-and-coming Indian male wants to look fair and therefore rich. He wants to be smart and good. The cream is now part of many men’s grooming routine and very popular at barbershops.”

It’s nice to know that bizarre beauty products are not the sole province of American marketing.

(link via Human Nature)

FILED UNDER: Asia, Health, Science & Technology,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. DC Loser says:

    They should get Michael Jackson to endorse the product.

  2. markm says:

    Well, skin cream is better than the latest Iranian fad. I guess they’ve taken to getting their nose trimmed down to look more “western”. Can’t find the linky right now but they are de-schnozzing.

  3. John Burgess says:

    A good part of Indian newspapers’ income comes from matrimonial ads, proffering would-be spouses. Always–i.e., every single one–describes skin color, tone, shade. ‘Wheaten’ is vastly preferable to ‘dark’ or anything in between.

    Racism is universal. Just which race (or presumed race) is favored/disfavored changes with the territory, but in the Northern hemisphere, at least, ‘lighter’ seems to be deemed ‘better’. China, SE Asia, S Asia, the Middle East, Europe, N. America… it doesn’t matter where.

  4. James Joyner says:

    I’m just curious why the Crest Whitening Strips, which are supposed to make your teeth whiter in 7 days, come in containers with 28 strips. Are they intended for a family of four?

  5. Bithead says:

    Eight hot dog buns to a package, but 12 hotdogs to a package.

  6. Michael says:

    I’m just curious why the Crest Whitening Strips, which are supposed to make your teeth whiter in 7 days, come in containers with 28 strips. Are they intended for a family of four?

    Now I’ve not purchased them, but is that 28 strips, or 28 _sets_ of strips? If only 28, then wouldn’t that be 14 for your top teeth and 14 for your bottom?

    Also, and again I’m not a consumer so I’m not sure, but do they claim to be done in 7 days, or just to start showing results in 7 days?

    From a marketing perspective, it wouldn’t make sense to give you _more_ in the box than you need, because then you’d never get repeat sales. I’m guessing that 28 strips will give you a “pretty good” whitening, but that you’ll end up buying another box to finish the job.

  7. Michael says:

    Eight hot dog buns to a package, but 12 hotdogs to a package.

    12 hotdogs? I haven’t seen to many of those packages. Usually they’re in packages of 10 (which is how I remember the joke going), but I’ve also seen many in packages of 8.

  8. John Burgess says:

    Not sure where Bithead lives or shops. Around the East Coast, it’s now predominantly 8 dogs/8 buns for sale. The exceptions are either the ‘Giant Economy Size’ packs of either or the premium dogs that are now being sold with five or six in a pack.

    It’s been at least five years since the bun/dog package ratio got, well, rationalized…

  9. Bithead says:

    Oooh, poop.
    I was sure it was 12. Now I gotta go check.
    Pppppffffftttttt…..