Fans Call On JYP To Stop TWICE’s Skin Whitening Brand Endorsement

TWICE’s new endorsement is drawing criticism from those who say it promotes colorism.

Shortly after TWICE was named the new endorser for Scarlett Whitening, fans are calling on JYP Entertainment to terminate the contract—though not every ONCE agrees.

This week, TWICE was officially announced as the new ambassador for Indonesian cosmetics brand Scarlett Whitening. Launched by actress and singer Felicya Angelista, Scarlett Whitening sells a range of scrubs, toners, lotions, serums, and more—including some products which claim to whiten skin.

TWICE | Scarlett Whitening

For example, according to an ingredients analysis from COSMILY, the “Brightly Ever After” range of serums and creams contains three “Whitening” compounds designed to “improve skin tone“: nicotinamide, ascorbyl glucoside, and glutathione.

| Scarlett Whitening

Studies show nicotinamide (also known as niacinamide) lightens skin by inhibiting melanin cell transfer, while ascorbyl glucoside (a vitamin C derivative) is proven to inhibit melanin formation. Glutathione, meanwhile, is mainly used to lighten skin that has darkened over time. Some of these ingredients appear in many other Scarlett Whitening products, including their acne cream and their “Glowtening” serum.

| Scarlett Whitening

So far, TWICE is promoting two limited edition sets from Scarlett Whitening, both of which include products containing the aforementioned ingredients. Now, many fans are calling on JYP Entertainment to terminate the endorsement contract and cease TWICE’s promotion of Scarlett Whitening products.

| Scarlett Whitening

By TWICE joining Scarlett, we want to invite Scarlett’s Friends to be more confident to show the best version of themselves. Because we believe that everyone has their own charm and we should be proud of what we have🥰

— Scarlett Whitening’s message to TWICE fans, translated from Indonesian by @twiceindonesia on Twitter

Skin lightening products are a significant point of contention for many people due to the belief that they enforce colorism—discrimination or prejudice based on a person’s skin tone. Last year, cosmetics giants like Johnson & Johnson and Unilever pulled their skin whitening products from shelves after the #BlackLivesMatter movement ignited conversations about colorism. However, statistics still show that $8.6 billion USD was spent on skin bleaching creams in 2020.

| Scarlett Whitening

Many ONCEs around the world are now concerned that TWICE promoting Scarlett Whitening products will further contribute to the use of skin whitening treatments. In a mass email to JYP Entertainment, fans state, “We find it unethical that TWICE is promoting a brand with skin whitening products, knowing that they have fans with darker skin complexions.”

We ask you to please take this into consideration and think carefully about dropping out of this brand deal/promotion as it can be harmful to not only TWICE members’ image, but it can be deeply hurtful to the fans they have.

— Mass email from ONCE to JYP Entertainment

Other fans have taken to explaining why the endorsement can be considered “problematic,” stating that skin whitening products can perpetuate the impression that you need to have light skin to be beautiful.

Some have also expressed confusion over the release of TWICE’s English-language single, “The Feels,” asking why JYP Entertainment is allowing the group to promote skin whitening products after endeavoring to attract a global audience of all ethnicities.

That said, several fans from Indonesia believe the endorsement is not problematic. Some who use the brand themselves say that the products are intended to “brighten” skin and make it glow rather than lighten the pigment, despite the brand’s name. These fans say such products are widely used as a way to restore skin to its original color after sun exposure or eliminate hyperpigmentation.

One ONCE also says that celebrities who are considered darker skinned have promoted Scarlett Whitening in the past.

In response, others have denounced the normalization of skin whitening products, with some pointing out before-and-after photos from Scarlett Whitening’s Instagram which appear to show the products’ lightening effects.

While JYP Entertainment is yet to issue a statement on the controversy, they have deleted their initial tweet on @JYPETWICE regarding the endorsement.

Source: COSMILY, British Journal of Dermatology, Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology and The Conversation