The Best Buys At Credo Beauty (2023 review) – The Good Trade

Whenever a celebrity releases a buzzy new skincare or makeup line, I wince — please, no new beauty brands. I have enough trouble keeping track of the ones we already have. And if I want to focus on “natural” beauty products, it’s even trickier to know what is the real deal.

When it comes to beauty products, terms like organic, clean, non-toxic, and natural beauty don’t have hard and fast definitions. The beauty industry is largely self-regulated so it’s tough to know what a brand means when they use these terms. You could spend a lifetime researching ingredients and business practices, or you could have someone else do it for you. Enter Credo Clean Beauty.

“Credo is like the Sephora of clean beauty.”

Credo is like the Sephora of clean beauty. They carry skincare, makeup, hair care, and body care from dozens of clean beauty brands, selling both online and at a handful of brick & mortar stores countrywide. Credo is rigorous about its standards for brands in terms of ingredients, sourcing, working conditions, and packaging. Every product Credo sells is cruelty-free and free of its “Dirty List” of 2,700 potentially harmful cosmetic ingredients.

Their brand list reads like a who’s who of clean skincare — you’ll find all the heavy hitters, like OSEA, Ilia, and Moon Juice, along with some smaller brands that are harder to stumble across IRL. And just in time for the holiday season, Credo sent me a handful of their best-selling products to test for myself. Here are my honest opinions. 💋

Before we get started, a quick note about me and my skin, for context: I have acne-prone combination skin, so I struggle with an oily t-zone and dehydration everywhere else. I’m not typically sensitive. Now, let’s get into it!


Skincare

Osea Ocean Cleanser | $48

First up, a product from one of our editors’ favorite brands: OSEA. The Malibu-based brand infuses its super gentle skincare with seaweed, a natural source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants.

They call their Ocean Cleanser a “gel,” but it reads more like a gentle cream cleanser. It uses lactic acid and bentonite clay to remove surface impurities, but its oils and glycerin leave skin soft and supple. It has a strong lemon smell and a super subtle lather when worked, and it wasn’t stripping to my dehydrated skin. I liked using it as a second cleanse after my cleansing balm at night since it really gets off all that oil — but, to my surprise, I’ve found it gentle enough to use every day.


Follain Brightening Serum | $38

Follain, which was acquired by Credo in 2022, makes simple, effective skin care at affordable price points. Which is why I was thrilled that their vitamin C serum ticked all my boxes for a good brightening antioxidant serum: airtight packaging, both vitamin C and niacinamide, and a price point under $40. Its 5% vitamin C and niacinamide concentration effectively illuminated my skin — after a couple weeks of daily use, I noticed a slight (yes, slight) luster that was definitely new. This’ll probably be my new holy grail vitamin C.


Follain Eye Cream | $36

Follain’s eye cream was similarly box-checking for me, with caffeine, bakuchiol, and a luscious texture. The fresh scent is a huge plus for me, too. Designed to “brighten, depuff, and firm” the eye area, I can’t say I noticed huge improvements — but that’s the way of eye cream, I’ve found. Sure, caffeine subtly takes down my dark under eyes after a late night and bakuchiol (a plant-based retinol alternative) might smooth texture slightly over time. The biggest eye cream positive for me? Keeping the delicate eye area hydrated, and this one pulled through.


Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream | $52

To tell you the truth, I’d been eyeing the Vermont-based B-Corp’s rich cream for a while. This stuff has my ideal night cream texture: butter-like, solid in the jar but melting on contact with skin. They advertise it for daily use — its weight makes it more suited for my nightly routine with my combo skin, while a dryer person might like it during the day. Its texture and earthy, herbal neroli scent are to die for, but it left me with subtle stinging after the first couple applications. A few reviewers concur — turns out my stinging (which has since disappeared) is probably because I use adapalene, a strong retinoid. Exercise caution if you have recently exfoliated, use adapalene or tretinoin, spent the day in the sun or wind, or have sensitive skin.


Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil | $72

I love to pat in a few drops of oil after I moisturize each night, and this Le Prunier option feels lux. It has one ingredient, plum oil, it smells exactly like marzipan, and it leaves my skin noticeably softer the following morning than if I skipped the oil. The brand recommends using it everywhere — cuticles, hair, mixed into foundation — but I’ll be making this stuff last as long as possible.


Hair Care

Ceremonia Guava Leave-In Conditioner | $24

I’ve been loving Ceremonia’s shampoo for fine hair lately, and this leave-in fits the bill, too. It works like a standard leave-in conditioner, keeping my fine, shoulder length hair hydrated with just a pump or two and giving it protection when I heat style. It stands out for me with its intoxicating flowery, musky, bergamot-like scent, and its UV protection is essential for color-treated hair, in my (and my hairdresser’s) opinion.


Makeup

Tower 28 SunnyDays Tinted SPF Sunscreen Foundation | $32

Straddling the line between skincare and makeup, this Tower 28 tinted sunscreen will almost definitely be a repurchase for me (I’m shade “Montana,” fyi). It offers a skin-like light/medium coverage that I find ideal for daily wear, along with SPF 30 mineral sunscreen. I like to apply it all over with my fingers and then blend with a makeup sponge for a nice finish — and it even lasted throughout a 14-hour conference day, hardly budging at all. At $32, it clocks in cheaper than most comparable products.


RMS Eyelights Cream Eyeshadow | $28

Builable? Shimmery? Long-lasting? Easy to apply? What can’t this RMS eyeshadow do? I love a good one-shade, apply-with-your-fingers eyeshadow, so this is definitely a new fave. A little goes a super long way, and the buildable, luminous pigments make each shade great for either day or night. I tried out Strobe, a subtly lavender champagne, and Moondust, a warm, shiny beige. While most reviewers call the eyeshadow creaseless, I noticed some slight creasing by the end of the day — but I have America’s oiliest eyelids, so I’d never hold an eyeshadow to a creaseless claim. It still stayed put all day and removes cleanly with just water. Bonus: Each aluminum tube of product comes with a key to squeeze out every last drop!


Exa ten18 Lash Amplifying Mascara | $24

Exa’s Lash Amplifying Mascara has become my new going-out mascara, delivering impressive volume and length with just a few swipes. While slightly larger than I prefer, the brush has an hourglass shape and tapered tip to help you coat almost every last lash, and it’s made of a castor bean bio-plastic. Jet black from natural bamboo charcoal powder, it stays put throughout the day but rinses off easily with water.


Ilia Balmy Tint Hydrating Lip Balm | $28

Lipstick girls, listen up! Ilia’s Balmy Tint falls on the more pigmented side of the tinted balm spectrum, offering both silky hydration and a shot of buildable color. I’ve been loving the ‘90s vibes of “Faded,” a true cocoa brown, along with “Runaway,” a pinky-brown with neutral undertones for day-to-night wear. At $28 each, they’re not the cheapest option on the market, but I think they’re incredibly worth it for their ultra-flattering colors alone.


Olio e Osso Tinted Balms | $28

I’m always into a good no-fuss, multi-use product, which is why I’ve been loving Olio e Osso’s tinted balm in “Current” as a cheek tint and lip tint for a cohesive, daily autumn look. Made with a wonderfully short list of ingredients, the tint is on the opposite end of the tinted balm spectrum as Ilia’s — leaving a super subtle tint that works for parties and the grocery store alike. Its long shape makes it a bit challenging to apply to lips, but the larger product size means I’m willing to forgive. 😉 


Exa All Smiles Bare Lip Liner | $16

I’ve been all about lip liners lately — they flatter my thin lips and add a noticeable boost to any tinted balm look. I tried out Exa’s liner in shade “Bare Your Hopes,” and it matched every tinted lip balm with which I used it, including both of Ilia’s. It leaves a waterproof matte finish that lasts for hours, and that delicious lip liner pencil smell brought me straight back to my mother’s bathroom in the early 2000s. 


Key Takeaways

  • Credo sells dozens of brands of clean beauty products both online and at a handful of brick & mortar stores countrywide.
  • They offer skincare, makeup, body care, hair care, and fragrance.
  • Top brands include OSEA, Ilia, Goop, True Botanicals, Nécessaire, Moon Juice, and Tata Harper.
  • Every product they sell is cruelty-free and free of their “Dirty List” of 2,700 potentially harmful cosmetic ingredients.
  • Credo prohibits single-use packaging materials, and they make sure their supply chain is as gentle as possible, on both people (working conditions) and the planet.

Natalie Gale is a Boston-based freelance journalist. When she’s not writing about art, food, or sustainability, you can find her biking to the farmers’ market, baking, sewing, or planning her next Halloween costume. Say hi on Instagram!