CVS announced plans Thursday to remove controversial chemicals — parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde donors (preservative ingredients that can release formaldehyde over time) — from store-brand products, including nearly 600 beauty and personal care items from CVS Health, Beauty 360, Essence of Beauty, and Blade product lines. The Promise Organic line currently on shelves doesn’t contain any of these potential toxins.
“We completed extensive consumer research, and these were the ingredients our customers were most concerned about,” Cia Tucci, vice president of store brands and quality assurance at CVS Health, tells Yahoo Beauty. “We embarked on an extensive process to ensure we could maintain product efficacy while removing these ingredients,” she adds. The mega-retailer engaged a third party to help it to understand consumer feedback via social media and focus groups, among other forms of research.
Look for the new, cleaner products to roll out in CVS stores in the coming months, with all shipments that don’t meet the new standards to cease completely by the end of 2019. You’ll be able to recognize the new formulas by the redesigned packaging that will call out the free-from characteristics, explains Tucci. CVS has also made the current list of restricted substances available on its website, and it will continue to update the list so that customers can stay informed of which ingredients are now restricted, by product category.
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (SCHF), a consumer advocacy group, played a pivotal role in convincing the retail giant to clean up its grooming products. “We’ve been meeting with CVS over the past few years and offering recommendations … to safeguard our health from toxic chemicals linked to cancer, reproductive health problems, and learning and developmental disabilities,” Mike Schade, Mind the Store campaign director for SCHF, tells Yahoo Beauty. “We have appreciated CVS’s openness to engage with our coalition, and applaud their transparency and leadership,” he adds.
While all personal products on CVS shelves currently meet FDA standards — as would those of all major drugstore chains — Schade says that a growing body of scientific evidence has linked exposure to toxic chemicals in everyday products to an epidemic of the above-mentioned diseases on the rise. “A recent peer-reviewed study found that exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as flame retardants, phthalates, and bisphenol A (BPA) cost the United States more than $340 billion in health costs a year,” says Schade.
It’s a happy day for ingredient-conscious consumers and advocacy groups who are celebrating CVS’s actions, since the initiative could help drive a mass industry race to the top to promote safer, green chemistry solutions.
“We hope other large retailers like Walgreens will follow suit and develop policies to phase out these chemicals in their products,” says Schade. “Retailers can play an important role in working with their suppliers to eliminate harmful chemicals, just like CVS Health is doing with their own brand products.”