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Stella McCartney Raises the Bar on Beauty with “Conscious” Skin Care Line

"I want less, and I want it to work,” said the designer, who took a minimalist approach to the ingredients and the packaging.

LONDON — After 16 years, Stella McCartney is taking another run at beauty with the launch of a clean skin care line called Stella, created in close collaboration with her minority partners LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

True to McCartney’s minimalist mantra, the brand is launching with just three products: a cleanser, serum and cream.

The new line is an ambitious project that wants to tick as many eco-boxes as possible, with the fewest number of products and ingredients.

“I am not that person who wants to buy into a million products for different areas of my face. I don’t want all of that stuff in my life,” said McCartney.

“I want less, and I want it to work. I want it to be honest and to complement my way of thinking, and of living life. I obviously wanted to do the cleanest skin care that we could do in luxury, the purest of the pure,” she added.

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For the past three years McCartney and a dedicated team from LVMH worked on the formulations and packaging, with the products’ fresh, grassy scent developed by the perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Clove leaf, pine resin and mentholated eucalyptus are the chief notes.

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McCartney’s vision for the products was bound to a childhood spent in the Scottish outdoors, at her family’s farm on the Kintyre peninsula in western Scotland.

LVMH has set up a dedicated maison to host the collaboration. The maison sits within the group’s Luxury Beauty division, and aims to tackle the challenges inherent in building an ultra-clean, green collection.

“We want to raise the bar on sustainability in beauty,” said Stephane Delva, director of New Beauty Projects at LVMH Perfumes & Cosmetics.

Everything is cruelty-free, certified vegan and regulated.

The ingredients are sourced in northern Europe and made from upcycled food waste such as squalene, a byproduct of the olive oil industry; and cherry blossom extract, which is meant to function as an antioxidant. The skin care also includes organic rock samphire, which is said to be rich in unsaturated and saturated fatty acids, and phytosterols to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.

The packaging is a mix of the disposable, and long-lasting. The products come in squishy, baby food-style recyclable pouches that are made from wood waste and fit inside recycled glass bottles and jars.

When the pouches are spent, they can be thrown away, while the jars (which come with airtight pumps made from recycled plastic) live on, and they don’t get gunky.

The cream, including the glass jar, costs $105, while the refill is $85. The cleanser is $60, with the refill priced at $45. The eserum costs $140, with the refill costing $110.

The brand has banned ingredients where the production or extraction process was considered to be polluting. It has also decided to ship, rather than fly, products to the U.S., meaning the carbon footprint of the collection has been slashed by more than a third. The brand has also eliminated any need for cotton pads, or single-dose samples.

The new line will be direct-to-consumer, and launches this month on stellamccartneybeauty.com

McCartney will be supporting the NGO Wetlands International, donating one percent of the net sales of Stella skin care. The money will go toward peatlands, the largest carbon store on earth that covers around 23 percent of Scotland’s land mass.

She said that at LVMH there is a genuine passion for the future of the luxury industry,” adding that her beauty team at LVMH is pushing boundaries that she never thought were possible.

“They have been so hungry to find new ways, new solutions,” said the designer, who also serves as a special sustainability adviser to LVMH founder and chief Bernard Arnault and to the group’s executive committee members.

This isn’t McCartney’s first run at skin care, and she was eager to get back in the game after her first collection, Care, which launched in 2006 with YSL Beauté, was paused.

At the time McCartney was a pioneer in what is now known as clean beauty, and the first luxury fashion brand to take the organic route into skin care. Care had a cult following among consumers who were looking for natural alternatives beyond brands such as The Body Shop, Lush and Neal’s Yard Remedies.