ASCI has issued guidelines dated August 14, 2014 with respect to advertising for skin lightening or fairness improvement products (“Guidelines”) in light of the concerns raised by certain sections of society on advertisements of fairness products communicating the notion that dark skin is inferior and undesirable. While the ASCI Code already provides that advertisements should not deride race, caste, colour, creed or nationality, in light of the widespread advertisements for fairness and skin lightening products, ASCI decided to issue specific Guidelines.

The Guidelines provide that no advertisement should communicate any discrimination and reinforce negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin colour. They should not portray people with darker skin as unattractive, unhappy and unsuccessful in aspects of matrimony, job placements, promotions and other prospects. Further, special care should be taken to ensure that the expressions of the models are not represented in a negative way which could be perceived as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned before using the product. .

According to the Guidelines, darker or lighter coloured skin should not be portrayed to be associated with any particular socio-economic strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity and should not perpetuate gender based discrimination based on skin colour.