Stephanie Shepherd (aka Steph Shep) is more than just an influencer: she’s using her star power to push for change. Between snapping selfies and interacting with her 1.6 million followers on Instagram, the former Kardashian assistant-turned-eco-activist is focusing her energies towards a more sustainable planet. She co-runs climate education platform Future Earth, serves as an advisor to Khana, a nonprofit that provides menstrual hygiene products to women in Uganda, and pens a plastic-free column for Kourtney Kardashian’s lifestyle platform Poosh. Now, Shep has scored a new gig hosting season 3 of sustainable beauty brand Biossance’s YouTube series, The Clean Academy, where she unpacks the world of clean beauty alongside industry experts. We got her to tell us all about her new role with Biossance, what clean beauty means to her and the skincare products she can’t live without.
Tell us about your relationship with skincare and why you got involved in the clean beauty industry.
It happened organically. When I first moved to L.A., a little over 10 years ago, I was 19 – I don’t know if it was the city, or the hormones, or whatever – I was having really awful breakouts, like, really, really bad. I saw several dermatologists and I tried a bunch of different products, and then I eventually started doing lasers. It was really out of necessity. I was breaking out so badly, in a way that I never had – I never had teenage breakouts or anything like that. It just sparked this curiosity. I dove into the research and I found it fascinating. Who doesn’t love to clear up their skin and find products that make their skin feel really nice? That evolved into what it is now, being able to partner with brands and continue that exploration.
Why did you choose to partner with Biossance?
Over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to do my research and use only products that are clean. This whole movement of clean beauty and clean ingredients that we’ve seen take off is something that I wanted to learn more about – Biossance really being a pioneer of that and leading the way. Their entire brand ethos is sustainable and clean, good for you and good for the planet it serves. Initially, I started watching their Clean Academy series on YouTube with Jonathan Van Ness and I learned so much. I was so excited to get to partner with them and actually host my own [Clean Academy season].I think there’s a real desire for people to choose good products, and I think people have become really conscious about their health and make their choices accordingly.
A lot of people have their own definition of what clean beauty means to them. What’s your spin on clean beauty?
Clean beauty is both good for me and good for the planet. I think it’s about finding ingredients that are safe to use and buying into brands that have a sustainable ethos and ethical business practices. It really is an all-encompassing idea, and I think Biossance definitely embodies that. Some brands check off a couple of boxes, and then maybe they’re lacking when it comes to their packaging, or they’re not super transparent with their sourcing. There are so many layers to the whole world of clean beauty. Biossance has taught me so much, and working on the Clean Academy series, I learned every little crevice of what truly being a clean beauty brand means. You really have to do your research.
What do you do to make your beauty routine more sustainable?
I definitely think less is more. Before, I was subscribing to a plan of using everything under the sun, and that might work for some people, but for me and my skin, it wasn’t beneficial. It was just excess. It’s more quality over quantity and less is more, honestly. And I think that’s a holistic approach to life.
Walk us through your morning and evening skincare routine.
They’re pretty similar. I use the Biossance Squalane + Elderberry Jelly Cleanser. I love it, I love the texture of it, I love the smell of it, I’m kind of obsessed. And then I’ll do a vitamin C serum [like the new Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum], and then I’ll do a hyaluronic serum, and then I’ll do a face oil, and then a moisturizer. I think I’ve kept a really good routine, and I’ve gotten to a good place where I’m not touching my face, I’m not picking my skin, I’m just kind of letting it breathe. I’m not wearing as much makeup, or any at all. And so I feel like subscribing to that plan, my skin’s been pretty good lately, knock on wood.
Squalane + 10% Vitamin C Dark Spot SerumBiossance
You mentioned that you started suffering from breakouts a bit later into your life. How do you combat them?
I leave it alone. That’s like the first and hardest thing for anyone to do when they have a breakout, is to just let it be. I do love drying creams. My dermatologist has a toner that has witch hazel in it that helps kill the bacteria. Being preventive with breakouts and getting different laser treatments has also really helped. I do one at my dermatologist Christie Kidd, in Beverly Hills, it’s called the Laser Genesis. There’s no downtime and it doesn’t hurt, which is why I love it, and it helps clean up the bacteria in your pores and stimulate the collagen. I swear by this laser, I tell everyone to get it. It’s helped me with pigmentation and some scarring that I had around my chin from the breakouts in my early 20s and it just helps to sustain clear skin. It’s really been a game changer for me.
What’s your can’t-live-without skincare ingredient?
Probably hyaluronic acid serum. I love the consistency and I love how hydrating it is without feeling thick or without having to use a heavy cream, which my skin doesn’t sit well with. I use it literally all over my face, all the way down to my chest and neck – you can’t forget about that part. I cannot live without it.
What’s one clean beauty myth that you want to debunk?
Clean beauty products aren’t effective, or must not work because they don’t have X, Y and Z in them. That’s not the case. There are so many great clean beauty products. I hope that people don’t think that just because they’re “clean” they’re not going to give results. I’ve been using clean beauty products for a couple of years now and I found that they’re just as effective as other products on the market.
What do you wish people knew about sustainability in the beauty industry?
I hope that consumers understand the power of their dollar. We as consumers, can choose and have a voice for products that are sustainable, that come in sustainable packaging, that are ethically made and use clean ingredients. When we, as consumers, buy into those products, and use our dollar as our voice, I think brands really respond to that. And if we stopped buying products that aren’t good for us, that aren’t good for the planet, they’re gonna stop making them. I hope that consumers realize how much power they have to shift the industry in a really progressive and sustainable way.
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