Unilever normal packaging digitally altering positive beauty

Dove and Vaseline maker, Unilever, ditches the word ‘normal’ from packaging and will stop Photoshopping people in adverts

10th March 2021 | Author: Victoria Woollaston-Webber

Unilever – the global beauty manufacturer that owns brands including Dove, Vaseline, Sure, Simple, and more – has removed the word ‘normal’ from all of its beauty and personal care packaging and advertising.


The Positive Beauty initiative builds on Unilever’s recent commitments to build a more equitable and inclusive society.

It’s been doing this by raising living standards across its value chain and creating more opportunities for under-represented groups.

It also has the Unstereotype initiative, which is helping its brands stop perpetuating stereotypes in its adverts.

The decision to remove the word is said to be “one of many steps” Unilever is taking to challenge narrow beauty ideals. It comes after the brand commissioned a 10,000-person study in nine countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the UK, and the USA.

Seven in ten people surveyed agreed that using the word ‘normal’ on product packaging and advertising has a negative impact. For younger people – those aged 18-35 – this rose to eight in ten.

It’s the idea that calling one type of hair or skin ‘normal’ suggests that any other type is not normal. This can leave people feeling excluded.

In addition to removing the word ‘normal’, Unilever has promised to stop digitally altering a person’s body shape, size, proportion, or skin colour in its brand advertising, and will increase the number of advertisements portraying people from diverse groups who are currently under-represented.

Both announcements form part of Unilever’s wider launch of its Positive Beauty vision and strategy.

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As the brand explains: “Positive Beauty, which sets out several progressive commitments and actions for our beauty and personal care brands, including Dove, Lifebuoy, Axe and Sunsilk, will champion a new era of beauty which is equitable and inclusive, as well as sustainable for the planet.”

Unilever adds that Positive Beauty will also help transform how its products are designed and formulated so they “do more good for both people and the planet.”

This includes developing products tailored specifically for the diverse needs of customers while using more natural, biodegradable, and regenerative ingredients – alongside packaging innovations that use less, or no plastic.

Other findings from the study showed that more than half of people (56%) think the beauty and personal care industry can make people feel excluded. While three-quarters said they want to see the beauty and personal care industry focusing more on making people feel better than just looking better.

Additionally, more than half of people (52%) said they now pay more attention to a company’s stance on societal issues before buying products.

This initiative plays directly into what we’re trying to do with mamabella – make beauty more accessible and help people make more informed choices about what they put on their skin, hair, and in their body.

“We know that removing ‘normal’ from our products and packaging will not fix the problem alone, but it is an important step forward,” said Sunny Jain, Unilever’s president of beauty and personal care, said. “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.

FURTHER READING: From Fenty Beauty to Thrive Causmetics, here are the makeup and skincare brands making beauty more inclusive

Positive Beauty

The Positive Beauty initiative promises to:1. Take action to improve health and wellbeing, advance equity and inclusion, reaching 1 billion people per year by 2030

  • This includes helping to end discrimination in beauty, and champion inclusion by challenging beauty ideals and building a more inclusive portfolio of products
  • Driving gender equality, including stepping up brand programmes
  • Improving health and wellbeing through existing educational initiatives in handwashing and oral hygiene and expanding focus into new areas, including physical health and mental wellbeing

2. Help protect and regenerate 1.5 million hectares of land, forests and oceans by 2030

3. Support a global ban on animal testing for cosmetics by 2023

Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women added: “Every day, we see and hear messages about how to ‘fit in’, how to be included in very narrow definitions of what is ‘normal’.

“In order to champion equity, we need to challenge these restrictive ‘norms’ and create societies and communities that celebrate diversity – and the unique qualities and ideas that each person brings. Beauty is no exception. We look forward to seeing Unilever advance these commitments and hold themselves to the high standards they have set out before them.”


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