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F is for Free of Synthetics 'n' Stuff: CARE by Stella McCartney, 100% Natural Skincare

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Stella McCartney has always been about kindness to animals and planet. A longtime vegetarian, she uses no animal products in her clothing line, and as an enviro advocate is a fierce supporter of recycling and earth-friendly, responsible lifestyle alternatives. CARE by Stella McCartney, the skincare line she launched in 2007, is rooted in those principles.

Each formula is 100% natural -- no petrochemicals, silicones, chemical preservatives, chemical fragrances, animal-derived ingredients, or endangered-plant ingredients, for that matter -- and contains ECOCERT-certified organic active ingredients.

The antioxident-rich range includes a gentle cleansing milk, foaming purifying cleanser, toning floral water, moisturizing cream, moisturizing fluid and three serums designed to address specific skincare needs: calming, nourishing and anti-aging. The Toning Floral Water and Nourishing Elixir are completely organic; each of the other products is at least 50 percent organic.

All right, enough about the products. Let's talk about me.

I've been using the Foaming Purifying Cleanser, Toning Floral Water, Moisturizing Fluid and Radiance & Youth Elixir.

The light, fresh natural fragrance of the cleanser got me first. Suddenly my black-and-white bathroom was a serene, upscale spa. A tiny, tragically understaffed spa, but serene and, when my eyes were closed, upscale.

Next came the refreshing Toning Floral Water. I like toner. Serums and moisturizer glide onto damp skin better than dry; I'm cool with that dampness coming from a 100-percent organic antioxidant spritz rather than tap water. With this toner in particular, I like the mist delivery -- no need for a cotton pad.

One pump of serum is enough for the whole face when it's applied over toner-misted skin. I chose the Radiance & Youth Elixir to try to offset my haphazard sleeping habits, which take a quick toll on my complexion these days (that's a whole other post). I finished with the Moisturizing Fluid (again, just one pump does the trick), which is an appropriate consistency for my oily skin. And did my skin look happy and healthy? Yep. And it felt clean, calm, fresh and hydrated.

I've been using the regimen for a few weeks now and my skin's still in a good mood. I augment with regular exfoliation and a glycolic-acid toner -- past experience has taught me not to omit those steps unless I want my skin to throw a mean tantrum. Slightly better snooze habits over the last few weeks help, too, of course, but in an odd way, I attribute some of that to CARE. Using a line that's all about chemical-free skin-and-planet health makes me try a little harder to get more regular sleep. Odd but true.

I've said before that I'm not entirely convinced that natural skincare is better for everyone. I still think it's down to what each person's skin can deal with or needs. But if natural and organic are what you're after, you'll find it -- along with luxurious textures, fresh natural scents, and looks-fab-in-your-bathroom packaging -- in CARE by Stella McCartney.

A prestige line, CARE is going to cost you some, but not quite as much as some other high-end designer brands. The cleansers and toner go for about $40 CAN/$35 US each, moisturizers hit at about $88 CAN/$76 US each, the elixirs are $74 CAN/$64 US per, and a newer Nourishing Night & Day Cream for drier complexions rings in at $90 CAN/$80 US.

CARE by Stella McCartney is available in Canada at Holt Renfrew and The Bay, and in the US at Sephora. Image courtesy of YSL Beauté.