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Stella McCartney wants to create a genuinely sustainable skincare market

As more brands adopt sustainable practices in favour of environmentally damaging ones, the beauty industry looks to be on the cusp of foregoing greenwashing, a tactic that continues to hinder progress in our fight against the climate crisis.

This week, designer and sustainability champion Stella McCartney – who has, over the last two decades, built her reputation on being a pioneer of conscious fashion through her utilisation of fabrics like lab-grown spider silk and mylo – unveiled her new cruelty free, vegan skincare brand.

Amidst the beauty industry’s relentless greenwashing and never-ending stream of celebrity-endorsed products, the news did little to rouse my attention.

That is until I learned the line – aptly titled Stella by Stella McCartney – had been years in the making, meticulously developed to ensure it stays true to McCartney’s ethos of using ‘only the essentials.’

The last thing the world needs is yet another thoughtless self-proclaimed ‘clean’ beauty brand that’ll contribute further to the climate crisis.

‘When I started this project, I knew change in the industry was needed,’ she told Dazed in an interview. ‘The key factor is that when it comes to sustainability there is no magic solution.’

‘When producing you need to weigh your options at each step of the process to minimise your impact on the planet. So, at every stage I have challenged myself to make the most responsible decisions possible.’

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The range – which is inherently minimal, consisting of just a cleanser, serum, and moisturiser – prioritises longevity over short-term results.

And, steering clear of upholding the false promises of environmental devotion that other companies are renowned for, everything is refillable, packaging is recycled, ingredients are of 99% natural origins (any that could negatively impact the planet have been banned), and consumers will have their purchases shipped instead of flown to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint.

All credentials that McCartney herself has worked hard to guarantee, part of her refusal to avoid entering the market with the sole intention of forging an ecologically responsible image among the public.

‘Although the skincare industry is already established there are constant advancements in the industry and to be honest there’s still a lot that can be further improved,’ she continues.

‘People can over complicate and over consume skincare, and then when those products aren’t used many are thrown away and end up as landfill. That is why I have created a new essential skincare line and why I have launched with just three products.’

Now, what’s perhaps most exciting about McCartney’s foray into the realm of beauty is that it’s accompanied by various efforts industry-wide to forego a tactic which for too long has hindered our progress in the fight to avoid the Earth’s destruction.

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From brands incorporating compostable materials, to using regenerative agriculture as a means of mitigating their exploitation of nature, the tide appears to be turning.

Of course, we’ve a long way to go before the sector at large stops lazily greenwashing and touting itself as eco-friendly to reap the benefits of being ‘guilt-free,’ but this is certainly a start.

And McCartney’s pragmatic dedication to being more than just ‘conscious’ by highlighting the importance of authentic innovation and remaining vocal about what simply isn’t possible in beauty is leading the charge.

‘The truth is that everything we create has an impact, the choice we have is how much,’ she finishes, adding that with sustainability a never-ending venture when it comes to fashion and beauty, her overarching goal is to make it known that she isn’t 100% perfect, that there will always be room to grow.

‘It’s our responsibility to minimise this as much as possible, and, as an industry, to be honest and transparent about it. I do my best in all areas of my business to make sure I am conscious and creating the least impact as possible.’

‘Something is always better than nothing.’