I first came across The Stell, an online shop focusing on natural beauty, about 8 months ago when I was in the process of revamping my skincare and beauty routine. I fell in love with their unique product offering and beautiful aesthetic. I have found so many great brands and products through The Stell (like Soul Sunday Ricewash Cleanser, LVX Nail Polish Removing Wipes, Context Moisturizer, and Lauren Napier Cleansing Wipes) and wanted to get to know more about it and the shop's founder, Carol Hu.
WHAT DID YOU DO PRIOR TO STARTING THE STELL? WHAT MADE YOU START THE SHOP?
I studied visual arts and art history in college, and spent several years working in art galleries and with an interior designer. The Stell came from a personal need. Because of my chronic skin issues, I had experimented with natural DIY remedies and searched for products that worked for my skin. At the same time, I was sharing all my knowledge with friends and family. I was basically a personal shopper for everyone I know. Then about two years ago my co-founder and I started toying with the idea of combining that experience with my background in high-end aesthetics and knowledge of clean beauty to create The Stell.
WHEN STARTING THE STELL, WHAT MADE YOU FOCUS ON NATURAL BEAUTY PRODUCTS + BRANDS?
I've battled with skin issues throughout my life and it's about daily maintenance. Certain problems will come and go, but never fully go away. I learned that certain products just didn't work for me. Growing up, I was always told to use high-end products because they were better quality. Now I know that a price tag doesn't necessarily translate to effectiveness. I shifted to using natural products when I started paying attention to the ingredients on the labels. So, when I started The Stell, that was an essential part of our philosophy.
how do you choose the brands that you carry?
Some of the brands are ones my team and I have personally used, others we actually find through Instagram. I think Instagram, as a tool, has transformed the discovery process for us and other consumers. There are so many great clean brands that are independent and up and coming that we otherwise may not have discovered. Some brands we love have a huge cult following, but aren't mainstream. We narrow down the ones we really like and we test them ourselves to make sure they are truly effective and safe.
what are your favorite beauty products / brands?
It's so hard to choose! Every time we pick up a new brand, we all get obsessed. Currently, I am really into Indie Lee's skincare products. Indie's story is so inspiring—she battled a brain tumor that was caused by environmental toxins. From that experience, she created her namesake brand. These products are beautiful, luxurious and effective. I've been slathering on her Squalene Face Cream and Oil. It's noticeably evened out my skin tone, diminished sunspots and the beginnings of any wrinkles. For body, I'm hooked on Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Body Polish. It smells amazing and organic coconut oil leaves your skin super smooth and hydrated. Herbivore Botanicals was actually one of the first brands we started carrying.
what is in your makeup bag / what do you use daily?
My daily makeup routine is pretty uncomplicated. I like my makeup to look natural. Typically, I dab on a little Glossier Stretch Concealer, add some Herbivore Lip Tint to my cheeks, swipe on DiorShow Mascara and finish with Kosås lipstick in Stardust. If I'm feeling bold I use Glossier Boy Brow. I also always keep an extra Cleanse by Lauren Napier Facial Wipe in my makeup bag just in case.
WHAT ITEMS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND SOMEONE START WITH IF THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT SWITCHING TO A MORE NATURAL ROUTINE?
Start with the basics: a great cleanser, toner and day cream. Indie Lee makes a Brightening Cleanser, which is one of her most popular items. Toner is something a lot of people skip, but it's an essential step. It helps minimize pores, adds a boost of moisture when applied to damp skin and helps to further clean skin. It also balances the drying minerals in tap water. Grown Alchemist and Soul Sunday make great toners. Last, but not least, I love Indie Lee's Squalene Facial Cream. It's super light, but very effective. Plus, it doesn't hurt that it has all these great anti-aging properties.
images via The Stell's Instagram
P.S. Stay tuned for an upcoming post with my updated beauty + skincare routine!