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We’re saying no to ‘normal’ and yes to Positive Beauty

New research reveals 74% of people want the beauty and personal care industry to reflect a broader definition of beauty. We’re taking action. Here’s how…

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From skin care to soap, shampoo and more, our beauty and personal care brands are removing the word ‘normal’ from advertising and packaging, all over the world.

It’s one of several commitments we’re making today as part of our new Positive Beauty vision and strategy – championing a new era of beauty that’s inclusive, equitable and sustainable.

Using our world-class innovation and technology, Positive Beauty will also shape how our products are designed and formulated, ensuring they do more good for both people and planet.

In a new survey of 10,000 people across nine countries,* seven in ten said that the word ‘normal’ on beauty product packaging has a negative effect on people. This figure rises to eight in ten among 18– 35-year-olds.

The research looked even deeper into people’s experiences of the beauty and personal care industry:

  • More than half of the people (56%) surveyed said that the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded.
  • More than seven in ten said the beauty and personal care industry must broaden its definition of beauty.
  • Six in ten said the industry creates a singular ideal of who or what is ‘normal’, and that made them feel they should look a certain way.
  • And more than seven in ten (74%) said they want to see the beauty and personal care industry focusing more on making people feel better rather than just look better.

Participants also told us that they wanted to see a more inclusive range of people reflected by beauty and personal care brands.

A more inclusive definition of beauty

“With one billion people using our beauty and personal care products every day, and even more seeing our advertising, our brands have the power to make a real difference to people’s lives. As part of this, we are committed to tackling harmful norms and stereotypes and shaping a broader, far more inclusive definition of beauty,” says Sunny Jain, President of Unilever Beauty & Personal Care.

“We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward. It’s just one of a number of actions we are taking as part of our Positive Beauty vision, which aims not only to do less harm, but more good for both people and the planet.

“With more consumers than ever rewarding brands which take action on the social and environmental issues they care about, we believe that Positive Beauty will make us a stronger, and more successful business,” Sunny adds.

In addition to removing ‘normal’ from ads and packs, our beauty and personal care brands are also committing to end all digital alterations that change a person’s body shape, size, proportions or skin colour, and to increase the number of ads portraying people from diverse, under-represented groups.

Our promises for people and the planet

Saying no to normal is just one action within the set of three commitments we have made to create real and measurable impact through our beauty and personal care brands:

We’re taking action to help improve health and wellbeing and advance equity and inclusion, reaching 1 billion people per year by 2030.

We’ll do so by helping to end discrimination in beauty and by championing inclusion, challenging narrow beauty ideals and building an inclusive portfolio of products which cater to a greater diversity of beauty.

We’ll drive gender equality by shattering stereotypes in our advertising, and by stepping up brand programmes that challenge the status quo. And we’ll improve health and wellbeing through our existing education initiatives in handwashing and oral hygiene, and by expanding our focus into new areas including mental and physical wellbeing.

We’re helping to protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests and oceans by 2030.

That’s more land than is needed to grow the renewable ingredients found in our global beauty and personal care products.

Our beauty and personal care brands will also contribute to Unilever’s €1 billion dedicated Climate & Nature fund (Opens in a new window). And by 2025, any plastic we use in our packaging will be recyclable, reusable or compostable across every brand worldwide.

We’ll continue our support for a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023.

We’re working alongside law-makers, animal protection organisations and like-minded companies to do so. Already, 23 of our beauty and personal care brands are PETA-approved, with more working towards certification.

Committing to goals that support people and the planet isn’t new for Unilever, or for our beauty and personal care brands. Many have a long-established heritage of driving purpose-led growth. For example, Lifebuoy’s handwashing education programmes have reached more than 1 billion people since 2010, and Dove’s Self-Esteem Project has helped instil body confidence in more than 69 million young people across 150 countries in the past 15 years.

Underpinned by Positive Beauty, many more of our brands will now launch new programmes to benefit billions of lives and help transform systems by advocating for new policies, laws and social norms, to do more good for people, communities and the planet.

* Unilever’s Positive Beauty research was conducted with 10,000 participants from the USA, Brazil, UK, Nigeria, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, Indonesia and China.