Consumers have been clamoring for safe and natural beauty products, and retailers have taken notice. Sites like Birchbox offer a pretty decent array of natural brands, while Target has picked up brands like S.W. Basics. Gwyneth Paltrow, meanwhile, just catapulted organic line Juice Beauty into the Goop-y stratosphere by announcing that she was going into business with the brand. But it's been hard to find a really extensive selection of purely natural brands all in one place. Until now.
Credo Beauty, the brainchild of early Sephora hire Shashi Batra, launched in January. The site offers dozens of natural beauty brands, ranging from nail polish line RGB to color cosmetics from Ilia to skincare from Tammy Fender. It's an impressive lineup. The site also features a pretty unique "Healthy Swaps" feature, wherein you can search for alternatives to whatever conventional brand you're using. For example, the feature recommends you swap out your La Mer moisturizer for Indie Lee's Squalane Facial Cream.
I hopped on the phone with Annie Jackson, who worked with Batra at Sephora in 1998 and has had a long career in the beauty industry, including stints at Estée Lauder and Benefit Cosmetics. She officially came on board as part of the founding team of Credo a year ago, after she had taken time off to be with her kids. It was during this time that she had her "a-ha" moment and made the switch to natural brands. "As I started reading and researching like many women do, I was horrified by what I found out and even more so because I dedicated my entire career working for conventional beauty brands, in a blissfully unaware state of what was in them," Jackson says. "I got the Think Dirty app, and I went in my bathroom and started scanning everything in there and literally threw every single thing out. It was startling." So she's now living the lifestyle that Credo preaches.
The team chooses brands based on their "authenticity" and how transparent they are about their product ingredients. Credo has a pretty extensive list of banned ingredients, including all the usual suspects like formaldehyde and parabens. Brands also must not test their end products on animals, and they have to use 100 percent biodegradable, recyclable or reusable packaging. Credo is also drawn to so-called "artisanal" lines. "What was so fun for me was these brands have incredible founders behind them, these people who have taken such a risk," Jackson says. "Because most of them are boot-strapping this themselves and totally financing it and so they believe in this mission that they’re on. They get calls from Sephora and department stores and decline because they truly want to find a platform that supports their positioning, which I think is so brave."
Speaking of brave, I wanted to know if the Credo team had been nervous about calling out big commercial brands in the Healthy Swaps section. Brands like Clinique, MAC, and Bumble & Bumble are all there. Jackson says it's all in the name of educating the consumer. "We’re not trying to call out or disparage other brands, but on the other hand, we do feel strongly about educating women and consumers about the fact that they are exposing themselves to potentially harmful ingredients by using conventional brands," she explains. "I think people have that misconception that someone is looking out for them from a regulatory standpoint, vetting ingredients and making sure that what the package says is really true, and unfortunately it’s really not the case." Right now there are about 100 swaps listed, and Jackson says she and her team trying to add at least another 300.
Natural brands often get a reputation for not being as efficacious as more commercial brands. Jackson says we're in a sort of naturals 2.0 phase now. "There are beautiful brands out there, with beautiful packaging and efficacious formulas," she says. The one area where she would like to see more growth in naturals, though? Color cosmetics. "I think personally what we’re hoping to see evolve is the brands that we have in color will have the ability to embrace trends a little bit more and jump on the color bandwagon," she says. "They’ve spent so much time in development to make their formulas as great as they are, but now I hope that they can feel freer to evolve to the next level as far as innovation."
Homepage photo: A model at Mila Schoen. Matteo Valle/Getty Images