Credo beauty, extra clean?
Clean beauty is not a momentary trend
It’s a movement giving rise to some of today’s leading retail experts, most notably Credo Beauty.
Go check my article about Clean Beauty to understand all the fundamentals.
Let me explain. There is no clear definition for “clean,” particularly in the US, where only about a few cosmetics ingredients are banned (compared with hundreds in Europe). So the question is : “who is deciding which ingredients are clean or not?”
The answer is clear: founders and brands create their own interpretations of the label, building elaborate lists.
Being ‘Credo Clean’ is a concept that is slowly revolutionizing the business of beauty and skincare by setting the industry standard barre very high and giving clean brands a lasting foothold in the global market. Credo skillfully implements well-defined parameters surrounding what is non-toxic and how ingredients are to be sourced responsibly for production. Credo aims to educate its consumers; their “dirty list” of ingredients for instance, depicts all of the toxins and hormone disrupting agents that we find in so many of the products being marketed as ‘natural’ or ‘organic’.
This interview is not sponsored and you are free to subscribe to the concept of being Credo Clean.
I interviewed with Annie Jackson, Co-founder and COO of Credo Beauty. She started Credo in 2014 to grow clean beauty in a much bigger way.
Credo means ‘I believe’, so the question becomes ‘are you ready to believe?’
FZ ---> Annie, who is the typical Credo consumer?
A.J : She is savvy about what she purchases and is in charge of her health! Our typical Credo shopper is 25-45 – the majority typically in her mid-thirties. She has grown up with the internet, and has a passion for educating herself on ingredients – whether it is food or beauty. She makes conscientious purchases and prides herself on being informed about the products she uses. She lives a healthy lifestyle – exercises and eats healthy food. Her makeup bag is usually a mix of conventional and clean beauty because as she finishes a conventional product she swaps it out for a clean one.
FZ -- > 90% of the clean brands at Credo are led by women;
Tell us about the thought processes fueling this Girl Power.
A.J : Clean beauty was largely kicked off by female entrepreneurs and female public health activists in the late 90s/first decade of 2000. Knowing that women are more vulnerable to breast cancer and other illnesses that may be in part triggered by exposure to harmful chemicals – even in small doses like those found in personal care products. AND- these early movement builders also knew that the chemicals a pregnant woman is exposed to often cross over to the developing child.
And you are right! In particular, clean beauty is being driven by women. I can’t think of a single industry where 90% of the leadership comes from women. Certainly not conventional beauty, fashion apparel, art, technology or venture capital. At Credo too, our entire executive team is working mothers, and actually our entire HQ team is female. We care about making sure that our customers have non-toxic and safe options, because we are those customers and they are our friends, sisters, mothers and daughters.
FZ -- > What are the impediments Credo faces in educating consumers about ingredients and the veiled marketing ploys associated with them?
A.J : There are two big barriers we face often as we are gaining momentum on our mission: informing customers that the industry is under-regulated and companies can use chemicals linked to serious health and/or environmental issues. (Or they even imply that the products they make are safer or more natural than they really are.) And the second is the perception that you have to sacrifice efficacy for healthy ingredients. So here is how we tackle these:
Our job every single day is to reinforce in our messaging and our stores through our staff and events is that for clean to have an impact we need to define it and back it up with a strong standard. So, we created the Credo Clean Standard. Since inception, Credo has had an extensive Dirty List that is regularly updated as new information and studies about potentially harmful ingredients becomes available. The ingredients listed are linked to health or environmental issues and all of our brand partners agree to skip them when they formulate their products. And being Credo Clean means safer ingredients with an emphasis on sustainable, natural and ethical materials.
And then as far as efficacy – the mis-conception that these products are not as effective as conventional beauty is just not the case anymore. Labs are working hard to innovate using plant ingredients and brand founders are more informed and are formulating products that are good for people and our planet. Credo has physical stores (and will continue to) because we understand people need a place to explore, test and try the products from brands that are new to them and still very indie in size. But as merchants, our sole focus is to select the most innovative and effective products in the space, that meet our comprehensive standards.
FZ -- > Based on your research, what happens to people’s skin, generally speaking, when they use products incorporating one or more of the ingredients on your “dirty list”?
A.J : I think this is a bigger discussion. We are talking about toxic chemicals (note I said toxic chemicals, not chemicals) known to cause harm to someone’s health. Or the health of our planet. If you look at the average person’s exposure to these toxic chemicals over the course of time, beauty is likely a smaller piece of the puzzle. Air pollution, food, water….these are bigger issues. But they are also harder to take control of and there are not always cleaner, safer options available. In beauty there is.
FZ -- > Why is being Credo Clean a lasting concept, and not a fleeting trend?
A.J : This is a movement and not a trend. The only “trend” we seeing are the socio-cultural trends like the growing awareness that certain chemicals can impact health and the environment. And that corporate social responsibility is not just a “nice to have” anymore.
FZ -- > The Credo Clean Standard is a trailblazing blueprint in this clean beauty movement. How, do you feel, the market has responded thus far in terms of ingredient sourcing and product development?
A.J : We hear often that labs are using our restricted substance list (Credo’s Dirty List) and our Credo Clean Standard to formulate by – as well as brand founders just starting out with their brand concepts. And the list of labs becoming known as both “clean formulators” that are also innovative and efficacious is growing. Marry this with the wealth of information out there that empowers people to know what they are consuming and you have a demand from people voting with their wallet.
FZ -- > Being Credo Clean is an informed way to consume beauty. In your pursuit of becoming a leading retailer in the beauty and skincare market, what do you foresee will be your biggest challenges in terms of reaching a broader consumer base?
A.J : We are growing exponentially in digital, and that is an incredible vehicle to education and reach a wide swath of people. But customers have a demand for exploration, test and trial and like a physical location to do that. So, we will continue to grow in neighborhoods we feel fit our concept but we continue to bring ways of bringing these brands to life for people where we don’t have a store.
FZ -- > Tell us about the technologies Credo uses to heighten the personalization of the consumer experience, both in store and online.
A.J : *Staff expertise instore-each of our staff are licensed estheticians and/or makeup artists, so their knowledge about skin/skin physiology and ingredients is deep. You can receive a very in-depth skincare consultation, mini-facial or makeup application in any of our 8 stores, and book it online.
*Staff expertise online - if you can’t make it into a store, those same clean beauty experts are available via Credo Live chat through our website (powered by Hero technology). They have video capability and can shade-match or demonstrate product usage/skincare regimens live from one of our stores, make product recommendations or just chat about your questions. So, you can sit on your couch in Austin, Tx and get expert advice from our Soho, NYC store….live!
*Decoding ingredients-we just partnered with ingredient expert and digital innovators “Clear for Me” so a customer can search online for her favorite ingredient with ease – and see every product on our Credo website that contains that ingredient, or go on any product page and hover over an ingredient term and see the definition and also any other product on the site containing that ingredient. It is also a really useful tool if she wants to do her own research on a brand or product prior to coming in the store. Check it out via “Your Product Finder.”
FZ -- > Canadian values, in many ways, are closely aligned with those of Credo Beauty. Any plans to make Credo a staple in neighborhoods across Canada?
A.J : We would love to open a store, (or stores!) in Canada – and agree (more now than ever!) that Canada’s ethos and values mirror that of Credo. We also have quite a few brand founders from Canada that have been with us since day 1. However, we still have quite a few neighborhoods in the states ready for a Credo on our radar first – then, Canada!
FZ -- > Can you tell us about your ‘clean swaps program’, and how consumers benefit from it?
A.J : Clean Swaps are great for the customer that doesn’t know where to start with clean beauty and the most popular places to start are deodorant, SPF, moisturizer, mascara. Or clean swaps are really useful when a customer is using a conventional product and we can share the closest, clean option for them.