Annie Jackson has worked in beauty for nearly 30 years, first at Estée Lauder and then as part of the founding team of Sephora. But she didn’t start thinking about what was in the products she used so religiously until the 2010s. “The consumer perception is that someone has vetted this product that’s made it all the way to the shelf for safety,” says Jackson, who cofounded and is the COO of the clean beauty retailer Credo Beauty.
In fact, the United States doesn’t do very much to oversee the products we put on our bodies daily. While laws in the European Union ban 1,328 known-toxic chemicals from cosmetics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has only banned or restricted 30 chemicals. “The day I figured out why there were European formulas and American formulas of products,” says Jackson, “I hauled my garbage bag into my bathroom and threw out everything.”
In 2014, Jackson was approached by her friend Shashi Batra, who had an idea for a new concept: What if they built a Sephora of clean beauty? At the time, Batra was at at Victoria’s Secret Beauty. “This idea of his started to percolate when he was in a place that was the absolute polar opposite of starting a clean beauty retailer,” Jackson says.
Credo’s first brick-and-mortar store opened in 2015 in San Francisco. The company is now the world’s largest clean beauty retailer, carrying some 130 brands that uphold the highest standards for what goes into products, onto your skin, and down the drain. “We need clean to be a North Star and a pillar—not creating marketing bullshit,” Jackson says.
Annie Jackson, COO and founder of Credo Beauty
To have a clean formula with virgin plastic packaging is not okay. It’s no longer okay to sit back and watch things happen around you.”
Jackson maintains what she calls “the dirty list” of toxic ingredients that are known to cause environmental and human harm. If any brand creates any product with something on that list, Credo won’t carry it. Today, the dirty list bans more than 2,700 ingredients. In 2018, Credo rolled out the Credo Clean Standard and Sustainable Packaging Guidelines, which ensure that all brands that the retailer carries avoid those 2,700 ingredients, along with any packaging that would end up in landfill. They must also maintain fair and ethical labor practices.
“This isn’t a recommendation,” Jackson explains. “This is a standard for partnering with Credo.”
2020 makes these efforts all the more relevant, as consumers become hyper aware of their health and how chemicals can impact their wellbeing. It doesn’t hurt that clean beauty products are better than ever. “The first clean beauty founders were visionary, but they were forcing someone to choose health over beauty,” Jackson says. “We are [now] in a time where it’s all clicking. People realize they can have skin-nourishing, great-smelling, beautifully packaged, incredibly effective everyday products that are not doing any harm to them or the planet.”
And the price is right. “There are so many amazing clean products that are available at a $20 price point,” Jackson says. “We don’t want to be untouchable—or for the 1%. We want it to be there for everyone.”
To Jackson, Credo is exactly what Batra, who passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer, would have wanted it to be. “I was driving to work today thinking about him and asking myself: Is it where he would expect it to be today? I think it is.”
Annie Jackson’s current favorites
Whether you’re looking for a few clean products to swap out your drugstore finds with or you’re a clean beauty guru, Jackson promises you’ll fall in love with these Credo favorites.
WLDKAT Mango Lip Balm
“The Mango butter lip balm from WLDKAT has super high-grade CBD in it and it color-corrects based on your pH level, so you always get a perfect shade of pink that is just really flattering.”
Routine Deodorant Stick with Activated Charcoal
“For some reason, deodorant sales have taken a nosedive during the pandemic—I can’t even imagine why. But you need to wear deodorant, people. This one is one of my all-time faves.”
Kinship Naked Papaya Cleanser
“Kinship did a fantastic job with this cleanser—it’s so good and gets rid of every trace of makeup without ever making your face feel tight or dry. My 18-year-old daughter, Hannah, and I both use it together at night.”
Bybi C-Caf Cream
“The team at Bybi is just doing it right—and this moisturizer is killer. The tube is made totally of biosresin. It’s made from sugarcane!” Jackson says.
Axiology Lid-to-Lip Balmie
“You can use this Balmie anywhere on your face and it instantly adds a perfect flush of color to your lips, cheeks, or lids.”
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