Radical fragrance transparency–taking clean to the next level

Radical fragrance transparency–taking clean to the next level

Written by Mia Davis, VP of Impact and Sustainability at Credo

Body sprays, oils, face creams, moisturizers, shampoos and even deodorants—so many beauty products that we use on a daily basis contain “fragrance.” But, aside from the fact that fragrance adds a scent, what exactly “is” it?  This question has proven to be a tough one to answer because fragrance companies are not legally required to share the ingredients in their “fragrance mixtures.” It is, quite simply, status quo for beauty brands to keep their secret ingredients to themselves.

But did you know? Fragrances may contain up to dozens of ingredients, and while many are safe in small amounts, most others have actually not been assessed for their potential impact on human health and the environment. And approximately 1/3 of some 4,000 ingredients are potentially toxic, according to scientists. This did not smell right to us.

That’s why today, we are so excited to talk about our big, disruptive position on fragrance – the strongest position a retailer has ever taken.

Because at Credo, as the leader in clean beauty, we believe in transparency. And we believe our consumers–and everyone–has the right to know exactly what’s in the fragrances we breathe in and apply every single day.

As you may already know, every product on our shelves needs to comply with our comprehensive Credo Clean Standard, the foundation of which is The Dirty List. So, some of the most problematic fragrance ingredients (like phthalates, polycyclic musks and nitromusks) are already prohibited. But we’ve taken even bigger steps. In 2019, we introduced our groundbreaking Fragrance Transparency Policy.

Credo’s Fragrance Transparency Policy:

1. All 130+ brand partners are required to categorize the source of their fragrances for every product. The categories are: Fragrance Free, Essential Oils, Certified Organic, Natural, Naturally-Derived and Synthetic.

Why categorize? Because at a minimum you should know where the fragrance comes from. Many of our customers are looking for unscented products, or products only from natural sources. Now (and only at Credo), you can easily see this information for every single product.

2. Credo has challenged our brand partners to fully disclose all fragrance ingredients. And we are happy to report that 68% of them rose to the occasion (so far). This is unprecedented—not just in conventional beauty, but in clean beauty as well! Credo now clearly indicates the brands that are fully disclosing ingredients on the product pages, and you can find our fully disclosed collection here.

This big step on categorization and transparency does not only empower the consumer, but it shines a light on what has, for too long, been a dark and hidden industry norm. If fragrance companies are aware that certain chemicals are linked to health or environmental harm, they will likely think twice about using them – especially if retailers are pushing for complete disclosure.

Now, consumers who are sensitive to certain chemicals –which is commonplace – have a better opportunity to zero in on what triggers these reactions. Keep in mind that many of the chemicals named in fragrance blends may look long and scary, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t clean.

Transparency is a necessary step to learning about chemicals and, at Credo, we are devoted and will continue to push the envelope and educate you, as we educate ourselves.

We won’t stop until what you see on your label, is understandable, clean and ready to use.

The more we know about what’s in “fragrance” and the source of those ingredients, the better we can separate “clean” brands from the others. This is our mission and we’re just getting started. Onward.


Please note: you may still see the word “fragrance” on ingredient lists of even fully disclosing brands. This is actually the proper term for ingredient blends according to the International Nomenclature of Cosmetics Ingredients rules, which we support. You can always reference our website for the full list of ingredients, even if it’s not reflected on our brands actual packaging yet.

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