CVS to stop using touched-up photos in ads for its beauty products

CVS Health wants to be as authentic and transparent as possible with the women who shop its stores.

In a major move, the drug store giant announced it will not “materially alter” the beauty-related imagery it creates for its stores, websites, social media and any marketing materials. This means that the shape, size, proportion, skin, lines, wrinkles or eye color of the person featured in the imagery will not be enhanced or changed.

“As a woman, mother and president of a retail business whose customers predominantly are women, I realize we have a responsibility to think about the messages we send to the customers we reach each day," said Helena Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy and executive VP of CVS Health. "The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established.”

To indicate photo authenticity, the retailer will place a watermark, called “CVS Beauty Mark,” on images that have not been materially altered. The mark will start to appear on CVS Pharmacy-produced beauty imagery later this year.

But the chain is also looking beyond its in-house produced imagery. It is working with its beauty suppliers to ensure that any imagery they use that has been altered will be visibly labeled as such, with the goal of all images in the beauty sections of CVS stores transparent by the end of 2020.

“We've reached out to many of our beauty brand partners, many of whom are already thinking about this important issue, to work together to ensure that the beauty aisle is a place that represents and celebrates the authenticity and diversity of the communities we serve," Foulkes said.

CVS partnered with Girls Inc. on the move.

“As the national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold, Girls Inc. is honored to be a partner in CVS Pharmacy’s movement to counter limiting stereotypes too often faced by girls and women," Girls Inc. president and CEO Judy Vredenburgh said in a statement released by CVS. "Allowing diversity and natural beauty to shine will have an immensely positive impact on girls."

CVS has previously made other changes in its stores designed to support broad health issues. In 2014, it stopped selling tobacco products. Last year, it announced it would remove certain chemicals from about 600 beauty and personal-care products by the 2019 year-end.

“As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health,” Foulkes said.