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The Natural Beauty

3 minute read

You have to hand it to Stella McCartney: she has forged her beliefs into her brand, consistently steering clear of the use of leather and fur in her ready-to-wear and accessory collections. The newest offering from this committed vegetarian and antifur campaigner is a range of luxurious beauty products that, she insists, don’t even use endangered plant species.

Care by Stella McCartney contains 100% active organic ingredients and comes with an 11-point charter guaranteeing no formulas tested on animals and no animal-derived or genetically modified ingredients. So far, so much like other laudable products on sale at your local health store. But the difference with McCartney, who from the beginning of her fashion career a decade ago has used her fame as Beatle Paul’s designing daughter as a soapbox for her principles, is that Care is also unashamedly glamorous.

“I always wanted to use organic skin care,” says McCartney, “but it had really bad textures, smelled awful, and the packaging was usually so unattractive, I would end up being seduced by all the conventional stuff, even though it’s full of silicone. So I wanted to know, If we ditch the silicone, will it feel lumpy?”

McCartney was also determined to rule out petrochemicals and parabens; the latter are preservatives red-flagged by those who suspect that they cause cancer (a direct link remains unproved). “Your skin is your largest organ, and up to 60% of what you put on it is absorbed into the system. Lots of skin products use the same petrochemicals as the antifreeze in your car!” says McCartney.

Three and a half years ago, McCartney took her quest to Yves Saint Laurent Beauté, which, like her eponymous label, is owned by the Gucci Group. Maggie Ciafardini, CEO and managing director of the U.S. division of YSL Beauté, admits that what the fashion designer had in mind presented unique challenges: “What was key for Stella was to show that you could have gain without pain, and it was indeed a challenge for the R&D team to develop luxurious textures without any petrochemicals or chemical preservatives. Some products are particularly difficult to formulate, and the research and development took longer. But the airless and opaque packaging enables the products to have the same shelf life as any other conventional product.”

While Ciafardini won’t go on record with sales projections, calling this launch “quite unpredictable; it is the beginning of a new era,” she is confident that the line—which for now is available in the U.S. only at Sephora—will meet a growing demand for natural yet luxurious products. “Stella McCartney has a great legitimacy in launching an organic skin-care line. Plus, the program is simple and serious, and those are two success factors for skin care.” The CEO also cites the range’s Ecocert label, “which is a guarantee of seriousness and honesty for the consumer in a market segment where codes are still blurry.”

As for McCartney, she is thrilled with the joint venture. “I want to have good skin,” she states, “but I do think people are increasingly discriminating and want to protect the environment. Why not do that with products that are really sexy?”

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