Photoshop is widely recognized as one of the most commonly-used beauty tools in the business, but retailer CVS has announced that it is putting down the airbrush for good.

The US pharmaceutical giant has pledged to stop digitally altering the images it uses in store, online and for social media and marketing materials — a move that means it will no longer digitally alter or change "a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin or eye colour or enhance or alter lines, wrinkles or other individual characteristics."

An original and a digitally altered image from a previous CVS campaign. -...

An original and a digitally altered image from a previous CVS campaign. - Photo: © CVS. All rights reserved.

"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 Vice President, CVS Health, in a statement. "The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established. 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."

To boost its message, the chain is also introducing the ‘CVS Beauty Mark’, a symbol that will appear on unaltered images to signify its authenticity to customers. The mark will make its debut in 2018, and CVS aims for all images in its store beauty sections to bear the symbol by the end of 2020. The brand has released imagery from a previous campaign to highlight the extent to which airbrushing can alter images, and according to Foulkes, the retailer has also reached out to several of its big-name beauty brand partners to encourage them to consider a change of approach.

Airbrushing has become a controversial topic within the fashion and beauty industries over the past few years, and CVS is by no means the first retailer to publicly instate an ‘all natural’ advertising policy. Lingerie brand Aerie is a longtime advocate of unretouched photos, while last year saw fast fashion giants Asos and Missguided both champion their models’ stretch marks. And back in 2015, allegedly unretouched images of Beyonce and Cindy Crawford were purportedly leaked online, provoking an outpouring of public support for the elimination of what many deem to be unrealistic beauty standards.