The San Francisco-based beauty retailer is issuing its new Brand Standards, a lengthy set of rules its vendors must comply with no later than October 2019. The standards range from label transparency to documentation from suppliers regarding good manufacturing practices and ingredient purity, to disclosure of fragrance ingredients on packaging.
Credo has updated its Dirty List — a lineup of ingredients found in mainstream beauty products the retailer has banned from selling in the store — to include cyclical silicones, which are often used for product slip.
The move is coming at a time when consumers are increasingly interested in the clean beauty category, but more confused than ever, said Credo cofounder and chief operating officer Annie Jackson. “With more brands [than ever] using the term, we knew we had to make sure that clean beauty meant something, [and was] more than just a marketing term,” she said.
Credo was founded in 2015 as an e-commerce site and brick-and-mortar emporium on San Francisco’s Fillmore Street, by Jackson and Shashi Batra, both Sephora veterans — there are now eight total locations, including Los Angeles, San New York, Chicago, Boston, Dallas and San Diego.
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Credo was designed as a more elegant alternative to shopping for beauty in natural grocers. At the time, consumers were becoming increasingly interested in making healthy choices, and the premise of the business was to focus on brands formulated without chemicals highlighted on the Dirty List, which includes animal by-products, chemical sunscreens, phthalates, parabens and more ingredients that are linked to health or environmental issues, in a high-end shopping environment.
Since then, consumer interest in clean beauty has grown exponentially and mainstream retailers from CVS and Target to Nordstrom and Sephora have introduced beauty initiatives labeled clean, natural or green.
Among one of the more prominent items in its new Brand Standards is requiring brands to eliminate the word “natural” on their packaging unless they can prove that a product is truly natural. “It’s hard to make a product that is 100 percent natural,” said Mia Davis, Credo’s director of mission. “We’re not going to use that terminology [in the store]. If a brand wants to make that claim, they have to present a composition and a flow chart.”
The terms are so confusing, said Jackson, because there are no industry standards or federal regulations to define what they actually mean. In May 2017, the Personal Care Products Safety Act, a bipartisan bill, was proposed to Congress by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Susan Collins. The bill would be the first in 80 years designed to improve the safety of cosmetic products in the U.S., but it has not yet passed.
In the meantime, Credo is playing the role of retailer as activist, joining Beautycounter founder and ceo’s Counteract Coalition, an alliance of companies that supports the new bill. Credo is also hosting a series of “Mission in Action” events in cities around the country, designed to raise awareness of the bill. A June 25 event in San Francisco will feature Ken Cook, president and cofounder of the Environmental Working Group. In February, Credo formed the Clean Beauty Council, a panel of industry experts. Credo shoppers can e-mail questions on clean beauty directly to panel members.