I’ve never said too much about my skincare routine here on the blog, except to say that it’s very, very simple. For the past four or five years, I’ve been washing with hot water and using some type of oil–sometimes coconut, sometimes argan, sometimes jojoba–to moisturize. I’m sure that there’s a lot more I could and should be doing, but what can I say: I’m a little lazy about this, and the routine has always served me well.
Still, there’s always room to be surprised in life. I never thought I’d utter words like “life-changing” or “amazing” about a skincare product, because changing up the products I use had never made a big difference for me. But this past summer, my friend Melanie gave me a skin care product that hasn’t quite changed my life, but it has changed my complexion for the better.
Behold, grapefruit cleanse + hydrate balm from Stark skincare. It is really and truly amazing, and it has made me a diehard fan of all products from this awesome company. Stark skincare was founded by Jess, who continues to make every single product by hand in a small studio in Montreal, and her husband Adri, who gave her the encouragement she needed to turn her passion into a full time endeavor. Jess is passionate about skincare, and she’s also passionate about veganism and animal rights. I love the way she describes her choice not to use animal products on her website:
The question should really be “why not vegan?”.
…The reason other companies use animal-based products, is that they work well, and they are in fact, natural.
For example, beeswax is a skin-loving material that is, as a product formulator, a dream to work with; honey is nothing short of a miracle in a jar; civet (from a weasel-like animal) and ambergris (from whales) are the most precious fragrances known to man; cochineal and carmine are natural pigments that come from insects; lanolin, from sheep, is a great moisturizer and barrier cream. In short, these “ingredients” do just as nature intended them to do, and as humans we feel it’s ok to simply take these from another living, sentient being, for our own uses.
Stark doesn’t think this is ok. We choose not to use any animal byproducts, and we do not compromise the quality of our products to do so.
I love this succinct, yet powerful vow of refusal to partake in animal commodification. It cuts right to the heart of what veganism is all about, and it makes me proud to support Stark’s products.
The grapefruit cleanse + hydrate balm is an oil based cleanser; you rub it into your skin, allow the moisturizing butters and oils to soak in, and then pat it away gently with a washcloth. To say that it leaves skin silky smooth is an understatement, and it has helped to keep my very sensitive, sensitive skin free of irritation all winter long (in past winters, I’ve been prone to patches of eczema and redness when temperatures are very cold). I tend toward dry skin, but the balm is totally safe for oily or combination skin, too.
The grapefruit balm is what started my love affair with Stark products, but after I wrote about it in my holiday roundup this past December, Jess got in touch to ask if I’d like to sample some other Stark products–and share a couple with my readers. I was thrilled to say yes.
I had been leaving some of the grapefruit balm on my skin to double it as a moisturizer, but now I’ve been introduced to Jess’ own AM and PM moisturizing duo: her cypress purity and defense oil and her neroli midnight oil. The former has a mellow herbal scent, the latter a refreshing, floral note. They’re both wonderfully nourishing, and they’ve become quite possibly my favorite Stark products (though it’s so hard to choose among Jess’ offerings).
These essential oil blends are moisturizing enough to last all day, but they’re light enough not to feel greasy (especially the cypress, which seems to melt into my complexion when I put it on in the morning). I also find that my skin still feels soft until the end of the day, which hasn’t always been true with other moisturizers.
I confess, I’m not good about masks. It’s the laziness thing. But Jess’ green tea mask may have changed my mind. It has a short list of powerful ingredients: Moroccan rhassoul lava clay, French green clay, green tea extract, apple fruit extract, and lime fruit extract. The mask is marketed to help cope with oily skin, but I’ve found it very helpful in soothing my aforementioned touchy complexion. It’s incredibly gentle and easy-to-use.
Behind the mask, you can see Jess’ meadowfoam oil. She calls this her “everybody oil,” and I can see why: it’s light, the fragrance is refreshing and neutral, and you can use the oil for anything: body, face, bath, or wash. I’ve been using it in place of lotion, and I’m totally smitten with the scent.
Finally, I’ve been lucky enough to try Jess’ argan oil lip treatment. It’s been moisturizing enough to keep my lips soft through the frigid temperatures of January and February. Enough said.
To learn more about Stark products and how you can use them, take some time to poke around Jess’ very informative website. If you’d like to explore Stark products for yourself, you have a couple of great options. First, Jess has created a new, customized skincare lab called the Stark Foundry. You log on, fill out a simple survey about your skin, and Jess follows up with you and folks with similar skin types to customize personalized products (which get crowd-funded on the site). It’s a way for more folks to get more customized products, and so far, it seems to be generating a lot of excitement.
Second: Jess is offering a discount for all CR readers for the next week! You’ll get 15% off all orders over $50.00 by entering the code “choosingraw” at checkout. The offer is valid until March 9th, at 11:59 PM EST (one full week from today), and it’s valid for Canadian, US and International orders.
Finally, Jess has generously offered one lucky CR reader her favorite AM/PM duo: the cypress and neroli oil blend. It’s a $114.00 value, and as you know, I think it’s swell. The oil duo giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers only, and it’ll last for one week. Good luck, and enter below!
I hope you’ll enjoy exploring Stark Skincare and it’s lovely offerings. That’s it for tonight, friends. Tomorrow, a new recipe.