While the government regulates our food to ensure that citizens are not consuming toxic or harmful chemicals, personal care products remain largely unregulated. This means that the soaps and lotions that we slather on our skin—our largest organ—don’t need to pass any tests to ensure they are safe. Over the last few years, there’s been a movement among beauty brands to self-regulate. And third-party nonprofit organizations like the Environmental Working Group have developed certifications to which brands can voluntarily subject themselves, so that consumers an easily assess the safety of a product.
Today, Revlon said it will launch its very first product to meet the EWG’s rigorous criteria for safety. According to Debra Perelman, Revlon’s president and CEO, it took about a year to formulate and certify the $13.99 PhotoReady Prime Plus Perfecting + Smoothing Primer, which is designed to help improve makeup wear and the appearance of skin. It’s the first step for the brand, which hopes to quickly certify more of its products. Revlon is the very first mass market beauty brand to create a EWG certified product, paving the way for other brands in the drugstore aisles to follow suit.
And for the EWG, this is an important step in the right direction. “Our goal is to bring safe products to as much of the population as possible, and the best way to do this is by having affordable, mass-market brands on board,” says Ken Cook, EWG president and cofounder.
Certification at scale
Until now, many of the brands that have been leading the charge when it comes to safe personal care products have been startups selling premium products, including Beautycounter and True Botanicals. Revlon, which was founded in 1932 and generated $741 million in revenue in 2018, operates at a much larger scale than these smaller competitors. (Revlon’s sales have been in decline. Between 2017 and 2018, its profits went down by nearly 6%.)
Revlon’s product development team worked closely with EWG’s scientists to formulate the primer using ingredients proven to be safe and also effective. Then, Revlon submitted the product to EWG, along with a detailed list of ingredients and sourcing information to be audited. “We had to present details about where we sourced our raw ingredients to guarantee their purity,” says Keyla Lazardi, Revlon’s chief scientific officer.
Perelman says the company will now work closely with the EWG to certify more products within the line. “Revlon understands the changing needs of consumers,” she says in a statement about the primer’s launch. “More than just buying differently, consumers want added assurances about the products they buy and their ingredients.”
Besides moving to certify its products, Revlon has been actively lobbying Congress to better regulate the personal care sector. Last year, bipartisan senators Diane Feinstein of California and Susan Collins of Maine introduced the Personal Care Safety Act, which would empower the Food and Drug Administration to regulate ingredients in personal care products. Revlon was among several beauty companies that supported the bill.