Exclusive Q&A: Jovy brand pioneers first and only EWG-verified makeup for kids

By Cassandra Stern

- Last updated on GMT

"When I embarked on creating Jovy, I wanted to establish a kids' brand I wished existed – one I could trust completely as a parent," said Thai-Ling Cahow. © CosmeticsDesign
"When I embarked on creating Jovy, I wanted to establish a kids' brand I wished existed – one I could trust completely as a parent," said Thai-Ling Cahow. © CosmeticsDesign

Related tags Ewg Cosmetics children cosmetics

We interviewed Thai-Ling Cahow, Founder and Owner of Jovy to discover the remarkable story behind the brand’s inspiration, challenges, and commitment to safety driving its creation.

During this year’s NYSCC Suppliers’ Day show, CosmeticsDesign met with Cahow for an exclusive Q&A to explore the journey behind Jovy's inception, learn more about Cahow’s personal inspiration, and hear about the meticulous process of obtaining EWG verification. From addressing the concerns of discerning parents to prioritizing full-label transparency and quality formulation, Jovy is working towards setting a new standard in the industry by ensuring that young minds can safely explore the world of makeup with confidence and joy.

CDU: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind creating Jovy, the first EWG verified kids makeup?

Thai-Ling Cahow (TLC)​: The inspiration for Jovy was my daughter. When she was born, her delicate skin would react to a lot of common products marketed for kids. This led me to scrutinize product ingredients obsessively, a truly exhausting task. I was fed up with the hidden toxins in kids’ products, especially ones marketed as safe.

When my daughter was four, she started asking to play with makeup. As a budding artist, I saw it as another avenue for creative play, which is essential for kids to learn and grow.  So I went on a hunt for a ‘clean’ ‘non-toxic’ kids makeup for her to play with safely. I bought several kits from best sellers list, with no success.

I still remember sitting on her bedroom floor, googling ingredient by ingredient, and growing increasingly mad about the harmful toxins included in these types of products for kids. I decided right then and there to create something actually clean and safe for kids to play with while relieving parents from the worry and frustration I had experienced with similar products.

Other play makeup option for kids claim​ that they are ‘clean,’ ‘non-toxic,’ or ‘natural’ but offer no real proof or evidence.  Only Jovy has independent, third-party certification to prove it. We are in fact the first and only EWG VERIFIED safe makeup option made just for kids.

CDU: What specific factors led you to pursue EWG verification for Jovy products?

TLC​: Navigating a vast consumer market filled with unregulated ‘clean’ and ‘non-toxic’ claims can be overwhelming as a parent, especially when seeking genuinely clean options for our kids.

When I embarked on creating Jovy, I wanted to establish a kids' brand I wished existed – one I could trust completely as a parent. While crafting products specifically for children's delicate skin was crucial, it wasn't enough on its own; I needed to go the extra mile to earn parents’ trust, lest my safety claims become just another ‘unsubstantiated’ product.

Our mission at Jovy extends beyond offering kids' products; it's about ensuring parents can make purchasing decisions stress-free. That's why obtaining third-party certification was paramount. We chose EWG VERIFIED because it perfectly aligns with our commitment to transparency and safety.

With the EWG VERIFIED mark, parents can confidently choose our products, knowing they've been scientifically vetted as safe and free from harmful substances. We voluntarily disclose every ingredient, including legally exempt ones like fragrance.

The EWG VERIFIED mark symbolizes our full commitment to meeting the highest standards for children's safety. With the EWG VERIFIED mark, we empower parents to make informed choices about the products they choose for their children’s health.

CDU: How does Jovy prioritize safety and transparency in its ingredient sourcing and product formulation?

TLC​: The FDA doesn’t require companies to disclose fragrance ingredients; these are protected as trade secrets.  Research from the National Academy of Sciences indicates that 95% of synthetic chemicals found in fragrances are petroleum-based and may pose risks to human health.

All of the toxic ingredients, that consumers are looking to avoid in an ingredient list can be added back into the products under the guise of the word “fragrance.”

At Jovy, we prioritize safety and transparency in our ingredient sourcing and product formulation. We voluntarily disclose every ingredient, including legally exempt ones like fragrance.  We were quite surprised to learn that none of our competitors choose to reveal the ingredients used in their fragrances.

Moreover, we are committed to vetting the sourcing of every ingredient we use. For instance, we ensured that mica, a component in some of our products, was ethically sourced before incorporating it into our formulas. Our dedication to transparency and ethical practices underscores our mission to empower parents in making informed choices for their children's health.

CDU: What challenges did you encounter in the process of creating EWG verified kids makeup, and how did you overcome them?

TLC​: Creating EWG VERIFIED kids makeup presented several challenges, primarily due to the stringent guidelines set by EWG. Adhering to these guidelines made the formulation process longer because even formulators used to developing ‘clean’ products aren’t used to the amount of ingredient restrictions EWG VERIFIED requires.

However, we remained unwavering in our commitment to achieving EWG VERIFIED status, with zero compromises. Additionally, we extended our restricted ingredient list beyond EWG’s restricted list to also include the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Red List.

One notable challenge arose when sourcing the aroma for our lip-gloss. Fragrance providers typically do not disclose all ingredient details, posing a hurdle in meeting EWG's transparency standards. Fortunately, we persevered and found a fragrance provider willing to share all necessary ingredient and sourcing details, enabling us to move forward with confidence.

CDU: Can you explain the significance of receiving EWG verification for Jovy in the context of children's health and safety?

TLC​: At Jovy, we are dedicated to elevating the standards for kids' cosmetics by prioritizing full-label transparency and formulating the cleanest, safest, and most effective products, one product at a time.

We take pride in being the first and only EWG VERIFIED safe makeup made just for kids. While other options in the market may claim to be ‘clean,’ ‘non-toxic,’ or ‘natural’ without tangible evidence, we are the only ones with third-party certification to prove our safety claims.

We aspire for other brands to follow our lead, offering proven safe products for kids and providing parents with confidence in their purchases. We view this as our brand's responsibility—to not just talk the talk but to walk the walk, in prioritizing children's health and safety.

CDU: What sets Jovy apart from other kids' makeup brands in terms of safety and quality?

TLC​: A truly clean and safe play makeup didn’t exist in the market, and that’s why I founded Jovy.

We are different because we:

  • Offer high-quality products made with kid-friendly ingredients, without ever compromising on safety and quality;
  • Provide full transparency regarding our ingredients, even when not legally required, such as with fragrance;
  • Guarantee that all our products undergo third-party safety certification, providing parents with tangible evidence of their safety. Jovy is committed to helping parents make informed decisions.

In addition to being mindfully crafted for young skin, our formulas have ingredients that nourish their young skin like blueberries, pomegranate and olive oil.

CDU: How do you ensure that Jovy products are both safe and enjoyable for children to use?

TLC​: In addition to our EWG VERIFIED certification, we have tested our products to be dermatologist and ophthalmologist approved.

I often refer to my daughter as Jovy’s ‘Chief Testing Officer,’ and many of the pieces in the Jovy Berry Bliss Play Makeup Kit are a direct result of her inspiration and feedback.

We tested many brushes, jars and lip gloss applicators to find ones that fit her small hands and could be easily manipulated by girls her age. Further, the makeup bag was an addition we knew would be useful for little kids to keep organized.

CDU: Are there any future plans or developments for Jovy that you can share with us?

TLC​: Future product launches will include the expansion of our play makeup collection, offering more fun colors and products for kids to play with. 

At Jovy, we will always prioritize the importance of using age-appropriate products on young skin. We are committed to developing formulations with proven safety and ingredients that protect and nourish developing young skin.

CDU: Finally, what message would you like to convey to parents who are concerned about the safety of children's makeup products? 

TLC​: Many children, like my daughter, will naturally become curious about makeup as they explore the world around them through dress-up and pretend play. Unfortunately, kids makeup often contains toxic ingredients.

Recent studies indicate that most children in the US are exposed to harmful chemicals found in makeup, particularly those used during play. Worse, kids are particularly vulnerable to the effects of these toxins due to their smaller size, developing skin barrier and play habits that lead to higher levels of ingestion.

With Jovy, parents now have access to the only certified-safe option for their kids to play and explore makeup without worry.

My advice to parents is to remain vigilant beyond vague safety claims. Whenever possible, opt for products with third-party certification and steer clear of overly bright colors, typically derived from petroleum, or products that don't openly disclose fragrance ingredients.

While makeup and other body products can be a fun avenue for creative play, it's not a necessity for children. If there's any uncertainty about a product's safety, I would advise against purchasing it and wait until you find a proven-safe product.

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