The desire for effective-yet-earth-friendly products is the fastest-growing benchmark for all beauty brands. Consumers are aware that efficacious and sustainable are not mutually exclusive—and if a Tupac hologram can close out the Coachella concert stage, creating a sustainable, powerful, cruelty-free moisturizer is not an outrageous ask in 2022.
Preserving and protecting the natural world has always been paramount to Stella McCartney. Throughout her much-lauded career as a fashion designer, she has consistently been on the forefront when it comes to developing sustainable, vegan, cruelty-free wares. The London-born, Scottish-bred mother of four has proven to the world that you can produce earth- and animal-conscious products that remain high-fashion, sexy, and edgy. Now, McCartney is taking that talent for marrying chicness with practicality, and launching her very own skincare brand, Stella by Stella McCartney, which will be available to shop in September. The clean beauty, “conscious luxury” line stems from inspiration McCartney gleaned from her late mother, Linda McCartney—the photographer, musician, and environmental activist. She was an active vegetarian and earth mother long before it was trendy to do so. “My mum raised me to see things from many different perspectives, to question and challenge conventions, and to find alternative ways to create while reducing the impact we have on the planet and without harming animals as well,” McCartney tells W. It’s hard to look at the designer—all vibrant hair, skin, and energy—and not be tempted to ask a thousand questions about her wellness routine for some inspiration of our own. Below, she shares a rundown on her new plant-powered skincare line and the components that make it gloriously effective and healing—both for your body and the earth.
How did your mother bring environmental awareness to you at such a young age?
I grew up in Scotland. We lived freely and in harmony with Mother Nature. The natural beauty of Scotland and my mum’s focus on the appreciation of it really instilled in me a set of core values that are reflected in my work today. Mother Nature is such a powerful force, and if we embrace symbiotically working with her, we can feed our body and our soul inside and out. [My mum] always had an appreciation for animals as well—and of course, that evolved and grew as she became a mother. She certainly was a pioneer within the animal rights movement, and she brought that awareness and consciousness to me, which has inspired my own journey.
How does this ethos translate to your new skincare line?
I’m used to challenging the norms and conventional ways of doing things in order to drive sustainable and ethical fashion with my fashion brand. The ambition behind Stella skincare was to create a responsible alternative to luxury skincare that cares for ourselves and Mother Earth equally.
Skin is really an ecosystem, just like nature. Our products promote long-term skin beauty and vitality, what we call Skin Sustainability. Each formula works in harmony with the skin, supporting its key functions of regeneration and protection.
I’ve heard from many beauty entrepreneurs that making vegan or sustainable skincare can be quite a demanding feat. Was it challenging to create effective products free of harsher ingredients that work well on the skin but would be terrible for the earth?
I have high standards; the formulas had to be vegan, cruelty-free, essential, effective, in harmony with the skin and, of course, with nature. It was a real challenge for the labs, and it took a long time to get a perfect formula matching my requirements. It was quite the explorative journey to create these products. It was three years in the making, and we banned almost 2000 ingredients to make sure our products were as harmonious with your skin and the planet as possible. I also didn’t want to compromise on results. Our clinical results are really impressive, and I wouldn’t use anything else on my skin now.
You worked with Francis Kurkdjian on the scent for Stella. What did that process look like?
When I spoke about the inspiration of the range to Francis, he understood immediately. I had rounds of tests across 2 years to test the sensorial quality and worked with him to create the scent for this launch, which is inspired by Scotland in April. Francis understood the vision, and considered our principle of sustainability when designing the scent. He developed a signature fragrance in harmony with skin and the planet that uses 89.6% natural-origin ingredients. It’s suitable for all skin types and tones, even the most sensitive ones.
What’s your personal wellness routine like?
I’ve always felt there is a beauty to effortlessness, and my wellness routine is a reflection of that. I keep my regime very streamlined and simple, and always look for products that are multifunctional and work naturally with my skin. When creating this range, the objective was to develop products that people really need, and I wanted to keep it essential.
Is there one skincare product you can’t live without?
Water! It accounts for 60% of your body weight and is essential for your cells, joints, and tissues to function properly, not to mention to keep your skin healthy. There are so many benefits to staying hydrated that you don’t even think about on a daily basis, but the harmony water keeps within our bodies is astounding.
What about beauty inspiration? Who do you find inspiring throughout the decades and why?
My mum was my biggest inspiration. She had the coolest style ever. She really knew herself and wasn’t afraid to be herself. She always had a very pared-back, minimalistic skincare regime and never really wore any makeup. Her skin was amazing! There was a real level of honesty with everything that she did.
You have a lot on your plate, and you have a big family. Don’t you ever get tired? What keeps you going?
I am busy, and of course I do get tired, but I’m lucky to still be inspired and motivated by my career. When I started creating this range, I was so excited to apply the learnings from my fashion line and do it for a beauty brand. To keep my energy up, I love to be in nature at our farm in the countryside and riding my horse on the weekends. I also do transcendental meditation and exercise regularly. In terms of diet, I follow a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet: lots of fruits, vegetables and nuts. And I absorb it all.