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CVS Beauty Mark program hits milestone

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WOONSOCKET, RI — CVS Pharmacy said Friday that its beauty images are now fully compliant with the company’s commitment to be transparent with customers about the digital alteration of photos.

CVS promised in 2018 to educate customers about the difference between authentic and digitally altered photos, and to introduce a watermark — the CVS Beauty Mark — to identify photos that have not been materially altered.

As the first major retailer to implement these standards, CVS has driven a marked shift in industry standards for post-production alterations of beauty imagery, the company said.

CVS Beauty Mark“CVS Pharmacy is focused on helping our customers in their journey to better health and beauty is no exception,” said Neela Montgomery, president of CVS Pharmacy and executive vice president of CVS Health. “As we reach 100% completion of Beauty Mark in our beauty aisles, we are proud to lead the beauty industry in making a bold statement that supports the mental health of our customers, especially young women. We hope this authenticity will continue as the pandemic has created new and different issues in this space.”

CVS Pharmacy is also announcing the next phase of its Beauty Mark initiative, which is centered on the mental health impact women are facing due to increased screen time and the effects of turning the cameras on themselves. The CVS Beauty Mark mission was driven by data that connected the propagation of unrealistic body images to negative health effects. This year, CVS partnered with renowned media psychologist Dr. Pamela Rutledge to conduct an online survey through The Harris Poll among women ages 18-35. The survey aimed to uncover what transparency in beauty means for women now that the pandemic has changed how we work, attend school and socialize.

“We’re facing an elevated crisis around self-confidence, with 78% of women ages 18-35 now spending time on video calls each week, and many (37%) spending at least five hours on video calls in a typical week,” said Dr. Rutledge. “In addition to the external pressures on women are encountering, constantly evaluating one’s own reflection is having a significant impact on their mental health.”

Survey results of women ages 18-35 demonstrated the increased relevancy of the CVS Beauty Mark, while addressing the mental ramifications of not only viewing unrealistic imagery of others, but of constantly evaluating one’s own reflection during a period of heightened use of video calls and social media consumption:

  • 80% of women who spend at least one hour looking at their own image daily agree that they feel inspired when they see unaltered images of models online.
  • More than half (56%) say they would rather give up something they love for a week than post a photo online about which they don’t feel confident.
  • “Unaltered imagery” has taken on a new meaning, with nearly half of women who spend time on video calls in a typical week (45%) sharing that they use filters to touch up or alter their appearance on these calls.
  • This isn’t surprising when you consider that one in three (34%) say that they are less confident in their appearance than they were a year ago (i.e. before the COVID-19 pandemic).

The survey also indicated that spending time looking at photos of others on social media may be compounding the negative impact of looking at oneself on screen. Insights show that women who spend at least one hour looking at their own image daily seem particularly impacted by the types of photos they see vs. those who do not – they’re more likely to agree it’s impossible not to compare themselves to others they see online (74% vs. 66%) and that after seeing digitally altered photos of women online, they feel worse about their own appearance (58% vs. 46%). Since 2018, CVS Pharmacy has enlisted nearly 600 influencer partners to share over 50 million impressions of unaltered social media imagery.

According to Dr. Rutledge, the simple act of investing in oneself through self-care activities can help counteract the negative impact, as 68% of women ages 18-35 report that they feel positively about themselves after doing beauty practices. Further, 83% agree that they feel better about themselves when they do a beauty routine and 79% say that doing a regular beauty routine during the COVID-19 pandemic gives them a sense of control.

In the three years since its groundbreaking announcement, CVS Pharmacy has worked closely with all brand partners to redefine industry standards in its beauty aisles and beyond, with the goal of reflecting a more authentic representation of beauty and promoting healthy self-esteem. Today, many of those brands, including COVERGIRL and others from Coty, are now using unaltered, CVS Beauty Mark compliant imagery across all retailers. In 2020, CVS also inspired Olay’s commitment to “zero skin retouching” in advertising materials as it debuted the “Olay Skin Promise” mark on its own unaltered imagery. The Olay Skin Promise is aligned with Beauty Mark standards across all marketing channels, including content created by influencer partners of the brand.

This week CVS Pharmacy also announced that Nyma Tang, a long-standing partner and CVS Beauty Mark supporter, will become its very first Beauty Inclusivity Consultant, a reflection of its ongoing commitment to transparency and equity in the beauty aisles. “I was so proud to be one of the first partners to help CVS Pharmacy launch its game-changing Beauty Mark commitment. The company has created a destination for the next generation of beauty lovers to embrace their unfiltered beauty, and I’m thrilled to be a part of the evolution of its mission,” said Tang. “In my new role, I am excited to help CVS make its beauty aisles even more inclusive and a place where customers can see themselves reflected not only in the imagery they see, but in the products they find on the shelves.”

Drew Barrymore, Founder of FLOWER Beauty, which has embraced unaltered imagery since the brand launched at CVS stores last year, also took to social media to celebrate CVS’ efforts, sharing some of the brand’s new Beauty Mark compliant images in CVS.

“It means so much to me to have FLOWER Beauty stand with CVS in its Beauty Mark mission. FLOWER Beauty is all about spreading joy and positivity, and the CVS Beauty Mark is a true extension of our core values,” Barrymore said. “Creating authenticity and transparency in the beauty aisle is incredibly important as the mental health ramifications of repeatedly seeing unrealistic beauty standards can be extremely detrimental to one’s own self-image. This hits particularly close to home for me as a mother of two young girls. This mission is taking us one step closer towards ensuring a more inclusive, more realistic representation in beauty, and it is something I am so immensely proud to be a part of.”

To shed light on the confidence crisis uncovered by the survey, CVS Pharmacy will host in-depth conversations around mental health with Dr. Rutledge and key partners, including Victoria Garrick, Social Media Influencer and Mental Health Advocate. Additionally, CVS Health has announced other measures to prioritize the mental well-being of customers, including Aetna’s Here 4 U Sessions for WomenAetna Resources for Living’s Women’s Mental Health Resource Kit and access to Mental Health services at MinuteClinic® in select CVS® HealthHUB™ Stores currently offered in select Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas locations.


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