Walmart, Walgreens, And CVS Finally Vow To Stop Locking Up Black Beauty Products

by Leah Groth
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS have finally decided to stop locking up cosmetics and beauty products targeted at Black women and other “diverse backgrounds”

As a result of the renewed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, provoked by the tragic killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis police, the world is being majorly educated about systemic racism and white privilege. One example of a daily injustice that Black folk face in America is in the beauty aisle at your local drug store. In most stores, face creams, shampoos, and lotions targeted at white women are conveniently displayed on shelves, but in some shops, beauty products that generally cater to Black customers are often locked up or hid behind a cabinet. Now after years of complaints — and even one lawsuit — three major retailers have vowed to end this practice once and for all.

According NPR, Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS have issued three separate statements revealing their plans to stop locking up beauty and hair care products targeted at Black women and other people “from diverse backgrounds.”

“We’re sensitive to the issue and understand the concerns raised by our customers and members of the community,” a Walmart spokesperson said in their statement, “and have made the decision to discontinue placing multicultural hair care and beauty products — a practice in place in about a dozen of our 4,700 stores nationwide — in locked cases.”

Walgreens and CVS issued similar press releases, with CVS adding that over the last year it had expanded its stock of products that “appeal to communities of color” by 35 percent. However, they did try and point out that their “product protection measures” were not based on race or ethnicity, but were willing to make changes regardless. “We are taking steps in our stores to ensure that no hair, beauty or personal care products for communities of color are kept in locked displays or shelving units,” they added.

Recent events may have raised awareness about this discriminatory practice, however, there have been formal complaints for years. In fact, Essie Grundy filed a federal lawsuit against Walmart in 2018 after noticing the “hair and body products meant for

African-Americans had been locked away behind glass shelves, segregated from products for non African-Americans.”

“She felt shame and humiliation, as though people viewed her as a criminal,” read her complaint, which was dismissed in 2019. Walmart defended themselves in the lawsuit at the time, pointing out that they lock up and take “enhanced security measures” for any products — like razors and batteries — that have high rates of theft.

We hope other retailers who particiapte in similar acts of discrimination will follow suit and end this racist practice.