Unilever Takes a Stand in Changing Beauty Norms

By Nsi Amah

Representing Bronze Magazine, I had the pleasure again to attend Unilever’s recent 2021 virtual Innovation Preview across their Beauty and Personal Care portfolio. This year I was able to attend virtually in the comfort of my own home with my coffee. Although it was virtual, Unilever still put on a fantastic show. This company has been actively making moves to be more eco-friendly and more inclusive with their brands including Dove, Shea moisture, Tresemme, and AXE. The earth gets filled with toxic waste and plastic every single day from beauty companies. Unilever is aware that consumers now, especially Gen-Z, are all about preserving planet earth and keeping it green. However, they are not the only ones that care about our planet. Unilever cares just as much as consumers do. The company is working relentlessly to make their products as plastic-free as possible.

On the first day of the event, Unilever NA EVP and COO of Beauty and Personal Care, Esi Eggleston Bracey gave us a warm welcome. She discussed what Unilever has been up to this year. The mega multinational consumer goods company is working hard to be mindful of the Earth by reducing the use of plastic significantly in their packing, product containers, and even in their baby wipes! The brand strives to be people and planet positive. We must keep Earth clean and prevent pollution as much as we can. By 2030, Unilever should be producing no carbon emissions from their own operations. By 2039, there should be no emissions from every single one of their products. Unilever is playing no games with taking care of the Earth. We love it!

Dr. Ibram X.Kendi, author of How to be an Antiracist, made an appearance to speak briefly about his book and today’s beauty standards. The book contains many documents of a black person’s journey in society today. Black people living in America have it exceedingly difficult with finding a job, fitting in with today’s standards, health care, etc. The book goes into detail about how difficult that journey is. My own thoughts are that when it comes to standards of beauty, we should be appreciating beauty in all forms, no matter what color or size you are.

The next highlight of the conference was that Unilever is focused on skincare for all. The Vaseline brand is taking a stand in skin equity. Many dermatologists today are not educated in all skin types and skin tones, which leaves many women of color out of the skincare industry. Even I have a hard time finding a dermatologist I can trust with my skincare and skin tone. Black women have specific needs and different requests than their white counterparts. For example, we are more prone to dark spots, hyperpigmentation, eczema, etc. We are often misled or given the wrong treatment with our skin because dermatologists are not educated in all skin tones.

There are even black dermatologists who are not educated on black skin, but the industry is working its way to educate them or at least put it in the school curriculum. They want to be of service to the black community as much as they can. Black patients don’t have enough representation, so they are sometimes misled or given the wrong information about their skin issues. Some patients will even travel far to get the treatment they need. Black people have a lot of misconceptions about their own skin, one being that we don’t need SPF for the sun. We need SPF just like our white female counterparts. Actor and director Regina King even spoke about her experience with finding a dermatologist and how she struggled with her skincare.

On the second day, the focus was on children and men in terms of care as well as the environment. Shea Moisture worked to include everyone in this impactful movement. The personal care brand now has more skincare options for men because they are becoming more conscious about their skincare. Men love natural ingredients just as much as women do, and they love that Shea Moisture products are affordable. 1 in 4 men sees natural products as too expensive. Dove is working to improve self-esteem in children, who can start developing low esteem as young as the age of four years old. They worry about how pretty they are, their skin color, or even their weight. Kids get picked on in school and even sometimes at home. 37 % of 3 to 9-year-old children show signs of low body confidence. 8 out of 10 girls will opt out of important activities if they have low body confidence. Dove will be launching new products in 2021 that will make being a kid fun again and boost their confidence with affirmation products.

In conclusion, Unilever is on the way to bigger and better things to make an impact on everyone. I also love how they really focused on the lack of skincare for women of color with the new skincare brand MELE. It’s hard to find black certified Dermatologists for us, so I am happy that skincare brands are making note of that. I am loving the steady momentum of change and how beauty brands are taking a stand in protecting the environment as well as combating social beauty norms.

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