On August 1, the drugstore company announced that it will remove the ingredients known to harm coral reefs — oxybenzone and octinoxate — from nearly 60 CVS Health Store Brand sunscreen products by the end of 2020.
As exciting as this step forward is, it must be noted that it will only remove these ingredients from sunscreens with lower than an SPF 50. The brand claims this is because at this time there are no other ingredients as effective to deliver this type of high-level protection.
“CVS Pharmacy is highly attuned to our customers evolving needs and their desire for products that are more sustainable while still being efficacious,” SVP of Merchandising at CVS Health, George Coleman, said in a statement from the brand. “We are committed to continuing to monitor the ingredients in the products we carry and to ensure our consumers have access to a wide range of free-from products that deliver quality and value while also meeting their lifestyle preferences.”
Commonly found in chemical sunscreens, these synthetic molecules wash off in the ocean and are toxic to organisms like algae, sea urchins, fish and mammals that live in the coral reefs. In fact, it’s so damaging that within the past year Hawaii and Florida have banned the sale of items that include oxybenzone and octinoxate, going into effect starting in 2021.
It’s another step in the progress CVS has been making toward being a more health-forward brand. Besides just getting rid of tobacco products, you may remember that back in 2017 the retailer took away sunscreen skin care items below SPF 15 from the shelves in order to promote safer sun care practices.