Skin whitening market powers on despite Kanebo lawsuits


Four years on from the first complaint at Kanebo, the whitening products market is stronger than ever

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It’s been a rough few years for Kanebo in the skin whitening arena as thousands of consumers took the brand to task after suffering skin damage from the inclusion of the brightening ingredient Rhododenol in some of its products.

The subsidiary of Japanese cosmetics giant Kao Group was forced to pull 700,888 products from shelves across the globe after the artificial compound, 4-(4-hydroxyphenyl)-2-butanone, which is normally taken from the bark of the white birch tree, caused vitiligo-like symptoms of blotchy skin and discolouration.

Four years on from the first complaint, Kanebo has now made 15,350 settlement agreements with consumers affected by adverse skin damage, while 19,584 consumers have been confirmed as having suffered vitiligo-like symptoms (as of 13 May). Cosmetics Business caught up with Kanebo to discuss what business in the whitening sector looks like now for the company and what its plans are for securing consumer confidence again.

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