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She built the ‘Sephora of clean beauty.’ These are her favorite products

Annie Jackson is on a mission to make sure Credo Beauty’s products are good for you, the planet, and the people who make them.

She built the ‘Sephora of clean beauty.’ These are her favorite products
[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]

Annie Jackson has worked in beauty for nearly 30 years. 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,” Jackson, cofounder and COO of Credo Beauty, a retail industry leader in clean beauty products. “And I was just like everybody else—I didn’t think about ingredients for most of my career. The day I figured out why there were European formulas and American formulas of products I was working with, I hauled my garbage bag into my bathroom and threw out everything.”

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The FDA doesn’t do very much to oversee the products we put on our bodies daily. While laws in the European Union ban 1,328 chemicals from cosmetics that are known or suspected to cause cancer, genetic mutation, reproductive harm, and/or birth defects, the U.S. FDA has only banned or restricted 30 chemicals from being used in cosmetic formulas. And up to 60% of what we put on our skin gets absorbed.

[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
Jackson founded Credo Beauty after a career in cosmetics—she started her career at Estée Lauder before joining the founding team of Sephora, back when it was a “startup.” In 2014, she was approached by her colleague and friend of 20 years, Shashi Batra, while he was president of Victoria’s Secret Beauty to start a new concept: a Sephora of clean 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 Jackson’s hometown of San Francisco. It’s now the world’s largest clean beauty retailer, boasting partnerships with more than 130 brands that have changed the standard of what goes into products, onto your skin, and down the drain. Credo prides itself on its ability to operationalize the brand’s mission of providing clean beauty products that are safe for people and the environment. “We need clean to be a North Star and a pillar—not creating marketing bullshit,” Jackson says.

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.”

Annie Jackson, COO and founder of Credo Beauty

When Batra and Jackson founded Credo and first started finding brands to carry and partner with, Jackson made what she called “the dirty list” of toxic ingredients banned in the EU and known to cause environmental and human harm. If any brand formulated any product that contained anything on “the dirty list,” they were out. Today, The Dirty List bans more than 2,700 ingredients. In 2018, Credo rolled out the Credo Clean Standard and Sustainable Packaging Guidelines, which holds all brands that Credo partners with to a 27-page contract, guaranteeing that none of the 2,700 ingredients are being used, that all packaging has zero landfill waste, and that labor practices are fair and ethical.

“We have to make sure we know who is walking the walk as we choose brand partners,” Jackson explains. “This isn’t a recommendation, this is a standard for partnering with Credo. 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.”

2020 couldn’t have been a better time to make those strides. It’s a very surreal year, but now more than ever, there is an awareness of chemicals and their impact on human health and the environment. People are spending more time at home, and have the time and resources to learn more. And according to Credo’s Q1 and Q2 growth in 2020, it’s apparent that people are also willing to invest in their health.

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It doesn’t hurt that clean beauty products are better than they’ve ever been before. “The first clean beauty founders were visionary, but they were forcing someone to choose health over beauty,” Jackson says. “But people want beauty—and we are 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 finally, the price is right. These days, you can shop for products with high-quality ingredients that don’t break the bank. “It’s a much more friendly market,” Jackson says. “There are so many amazing clean products that are available at a $20 price point.” And that’s intentional, Jackson points out. “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.

[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
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.”

[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
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.”  

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[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
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.”

[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
Han Bronzer and Pressed Blush
“I can’t say enough about Han’s cosmetics line. They’re gorgeous colors, beautiful formulas, have amazing butters and oils, and are full of antioxidants.”

[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
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.

[Photo: courtesy Credo Beauty]
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.”

Looking for more recommendations? Check out our other handpicked suggestions.

Fast Company may receive revenue for some links to products on our site.

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