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While skincare brands have long used terms like porcelain, caramel and mahogany — or in Brazil, 'extra clara, clara, morena and morena mais' — to denote product colors, L'Oréal Brasil is now switching to a numerical scale for its sunscreens. The new color codes offer the same function of indicating which skin tones products are for, but without potentially racist undertones.
The numerical system is being rolled out for Anthelios by La Roche-Posay, Capital Soleil by Vichy and Solar Expertise by L'Oréal Paris, all of which are owned by L'Oréal. The change follows an earlier, similar switch from color names to numbers for the group's make-up products.
The fair-skin bias is a fact of life for many dark-skinned people around the world, leading to every imaginable form of discrimination and racism. Will numerical codes for beauty and skincare products put an end to that? No. But every tiny step that removes value judgments related to skin color has the potential to move us towards a more equitable world.
Consumers are increasingly aware of how brands approach diversity. If your brand is still stuck in a previous century, people will call you out sooner or later. Or just spend their reais elsewhere ;-)
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