Freida Pinto’s Pale Skin in L’Oreal Ad Raises Questions

Freida Pinto appears in new advertisement for L'Oreal Colors Take Flight make-up, and on right, Freida Pinto poses for a portrait during 2011 Toronto Film Festival on September 9, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.

UPDATE: On Thursday morning, L’Oreal told that Pinto’s whiter than usual appearance is the result of “powerful studio lightings.”

“Freida Pinto’s skin-tone in the campaign ‘Colors Take Flight Project Runway’ limited-edition collection has not been altered in any way,” a spokeswoman for L’Oreal said in a statement. “This campaign was meant to highlight Freida Pinto’s make-up colors applied on her eyes and lips. Thus, some powerful studio lightings with ring-flash have been used for this purpose to create a ‘runway’ effect on the picture. There has been no whitening retouching process whatsoever on Freida Pinto’s face. Freida Pinto has been a spokesperson for L’Oreal Paris brand since 2009. We highly value our relationship with Ms. Pinto.”

ORIGINAL POST: At right, we have Freida Pinto at an event earlier this month. At left, Pinto in L’Oreal’s Colors Take Flight campaign.

What’s going on here?

L’Oreal has been accused of lightening the skin of its models in the past, as when a paler-than-usual Beyonce appeared in a hair color advertisement for them in 2008. Then, as now, the cosmetics giant denied lightening skin tone.

“We highly value our relationship with Ms. Pinto,” the company said in a statement, according to the U.K.’s Daily Mail. “It is categorically untrue that L’Oreal Paris altered Ms. Pinto’s features or skin-tone in the campaign for Project Runway ‘Colors Take Flight’ limited-edition collection.”’s calls and e-mails to L’Oreal and Pinto’s rep were not immediately returned.

Despite L’Oreal’s statement, Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College and an expert in digital photo retouching, believes something was done to account for the “Slumdog Millionaire” star’s glowing, other-worldly appearance.

“In this most recent L’Oreal case, it is possible the difference in skin tone was achieved primarily with lighting and maybe some simple overall digital color/brightness adjustment,” Farid told “The fact is that advertising and fashion photos are fantasy — between the makeup, lighting, and, in almost every case, significant digital retouching, these photos have little to do with reality.”