It's vegan, conscious, refillable and luxe and fragranced by a famous 'nose'. Is the fashion designer's skincare worth your money? We put it to the test.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, the name Stella McCartney will undoubtedly be familiar to you. The daughter of Sir Paul McCartney and animal activist Linda McCartney, Stella is the brains and talent behind her uber-successful and eponymous vegan and sustainable fashion label and now she is pouring her design flair into her new luxury skincare range, Stella by Stella McCartney.
This is not Stella’s first foray into the beauty world. Those of a certain age will remember when she made perfumes, specifically her signature scent ‘Stella’ in 2003. It is sadly no longer in existence but very much should be.
About the new skincare range, Stella says: “It is now my wish to create a family and community outside of my own that feels the same need for a mindful alternative in beauty. Desirable products that truly work and reflect my values and commitment to living in harmony with nature.”
Stella by Stella McCartney: the products
It's founded around Stella’s personal sustainability philosophy of ‘only use what you need’, which means there are just three products in the collection; cleanser, serum and moisturiser. It will be interesting to see if more products are added later (we loved her original Stella deodorant) and whether commercial success will expand how many products we are then told we need to have.
All three products are on brand in terms of ingredients, branding and packaging. The formulations are Vegan Society approved and approved by Cruelty-Free International and the packaging is completely refillable and recyclable and sea freight transportation has been maximised over air freight to reduce the carbon impact.
In terms of the ingredients, they are 99% natural and sustainable origins with the remaining 1% being synthetic ingredients that are required to preserve and maintain the integrity of the products. A few specific ingredients have been highlighted as being of interest. First is organic rock samphire, which is packed with unsaturated and saturated fatty acids to plump up the skin and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles providing a retinol-like result. Then there's biotechnological lingonberry extract, a superfood skincare ingredient that helps restore an even complexion and support elasticity as well as wild harvested algae, known to help reduce dark circles and even out skin tone. The skin’s moisture maker, hyaluronic acid is in there along with olive squalane which helps strengthen the skin’s barrier.
All of them are scented, and this isn't any old fragrance. Stella worked with famous French perfumer, Francis Kurkdjian (the nose behind the iconic Baccarat Rouge 540 and Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male) to create a scent that was inspired by 'Scotland in April'. It has been formulated with 89.6% natural-origin ingredients to keep in line with the brand's vision of sustainability.
None of these ingredients is super active or potent, they’re not going to react with your skin or cause sensitivity. “Our formulas have been developed to not over-stimulate the skin. Prioritising long-term vitality and beauty over short-term results,” says Stella. “To achieve impressive, clinically-proven results, each product has been formulated to work in harmony with the skin, supporting its key functions of regeneration and protection, and ensuring ‘Skin sustainability’.”
But does that mean that they’re going to do anything worth your time and money? Because, as you would expect, these products come with a higher-end price tag.
Stella by Stella McCartney skincare: we tried it out
GTG Beauty Director, Sarah-Jane Corfield Smith has tested the range ahead of its as-yet unspecified launch date online and in the Stella McCartney flagship store in Old Bond Street, London.
Stella Reset Cleanser, £50 for 150ml; £38 for the refill
“This is a very luxe-looking product - as are all of them - it comes in a beautiful glass pump bottle which feels weighty and expensive. The texture of the cleanser is quite creamy and I used it both morning and night. At night it did a great job of melting away my makeup and SPF and in the morning it left my skin feeling hydrated and plump and not stripped or tight in any way.
"The scent is utterly gorgeous. I didn't know that Francis Kurkdjian had created the scent when I started using the products but on discovery, it made complete sense to me. Only a genius could make products that smell like this. Is this the best cleanser I’ve ever used? To be brutally honest: no. It was good, I liked using it and it performed just as I hoped it would, but I have other cleansers in my bathroom cabinet that perform equally well and are a fraction of the price.”
Stella Alter-Care Serum, £110 for 50ml, £90 for the refill
“If you have £110 to spare, this is the product you need to buy. It impressed me in multiple ways. First up, the serum is housed in a soft, squidgy pouch. You take the cap off and then screw it onto the pump and then insert that into the glass serum bottle. When you have used it all up, you then repeat the process with the refill. This is refillable beauty done exceptionally well. Now onto the product itself. It comes out more like a light lotion rather than your stereotypical serum consistency. However, as soon as you start to rub it into the skin it goes completely clear and immediately becomes silkier and really easy to massage in. It says to use two to three pumps but I actually found that was too much and that one-and-a-half covered my face and neck easily.
"Less is definitely more with this and for me, that’s always a good indicator of a well-made product. I think skin types who have previously found serums not hydrating enough could be converted with this because of the creamier consistency. In terms of the results, the first evening I applied it I had a random patch of sensitive skin that was sore to the touch on my forehead. I put this on and after reading my book for an hour I noticed the skin no longer felt sore. And as I’m writing now I’m on day six of solely using this serum morning and night and my skin looks really plump, fresh and feels really soft and velvety. It has the same scent as the cleanser making it an utter joy to use. This is undoubtedly luxe but I feel like it is for good reason.”
Stella Restore Cream, £85 for 50ml, £70 for the refill
“This is described on the outer packaging as a ‘comforting reparative moisturizer’ so I assumed it would be quite thick and rich and probably wouldn’t work for my oily, combination skin. Again, it comes in the genius squidgy pouch that you attach to the pump and then pops into the glass bottle. When I pumped it out I was surprised at how light the consistency was. It isn’t that far off the viscosity of the serum. It has the same gorgeous scent as the other two products and while it did work on my skin and didn’t feel heavy when layered on top of the serum (although again I only needed one and a half pumps as opposed to the two to three that it recommends), my skin just didn’t need it.
"Working with Stella’s philosophy of only using what you need, this moisturiser is a final step that my skin doesn’t require. However, drier skins would lap it up or if you have another serum you’re fiercely loyal to but haven’t found your dream moisturiser, this could be that.”
Our overall verdict:
“These are well-made skincare products that have serious sustainable, eco and environmental credentials that have been well thought out and are a joy to use. The stand-out product is the serum and the one I would recommend spending your money on if that falls in your price bracket.
"These aren’t skincare products that have really targeted results but there’s no reason why you can’t use those types of products alongside these. These will get your skin to a great place and keep it ticking over nicely all while reducing the impact on the planet, they just come with a bit of a price tag. I’m excited to see what comes next from the beauty arm of Stella McCartney, please let it be a Stella x Francis Kurkdjian fragrance collab.”