Stark Skincare Review & Giveaway!

Stark collage

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!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you’ll enjoy exploring Stark Skincare and it’s lovely offerings. That’s it for tonight, friends. Tomorrow, a new recipe.


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  1. My ideal custom skin care product would be a face cleanser. I have sensitive skin, oily in some parts, dry in others, and I’ve yet to find anything perfect!

  2. Those products sound fabulous! I love their design, too, as well as their perspective on vegan skin care. And I adore that it comes from Montreal. It’s pretty awesome! I have no idea how I hadn’t heard of Stark before, but thank you, Gena, for introducing us to their product line, and thanks to Jess too for giving you the opportunity to do so.
    For a customised product, I’d hesitate between a cleanser and a moisturizer. Something for my chapped hands and lips would be terrific, too. Well, I’d probably decide not to choose, and just get all of those needs met, one at a time, as funds allow!

  3. would love a customized cleanser since it’s hard for me to find any that my skin likes.

  4. These look so cool! I never really paid attention before if a product was “natural” vs “vegan” I will now, and probably through this company.

  5. Thanks for sharing, Gena! I can’t wait to explore Stark’s website. I’ve been on the hunt for skincare products that I feel great about using. A customized face lotion with SPF for sensitive skin would certainly excite me 🙂

  6. Well, I would love to have a product customized that would help my sensitive skin not be so prone to redness in the t-zone area. 🙂 Thank you, for introducing us to this lovely company, Gena

  7. Definitely under eye treatments, definitely. I can’t find anything that actually helps.

  8. I would love o have a customized cleanser for my face! My skin is so sensitive I can’t use most cleansers and the ones I’ve can’t don’t help with my acne 🙁

  9. A year round mild face cleanser that was effective at eye makeup removal but not drying would be just fantastic.

  10. Stark sounds amazing! I have had a hard time finding vegan skincare products and have resorted to using body soap at the moment…these products sound like a dream!

  11. I would love to have a customized moisturizer and mask. My skin is so dry and sensitive!

  12. These sound awesome. My face has been behaving badly recently, I could use this!

  13. These sound wonderful! I would love a product that really moisturizes, without making me break out. So far I haven’t had much luck.

  14. Sounds amazing! It would be wonderful to have some skin care products especially for pregnancy, breastfeeding and postpartum, all the hormone changes cause so many changes for the face and skin!

  15. Definitely something for my skin! I’m getting older and entering my late twenties, and it’s time to start caring more for my skin!

  16. I would love a customized face wash that leaves my skin free of makeup, dirt, and oil and that keeps my skin moisturized and acne-free. Is that too much to ask for? 😉

  17. Gahhhh, I REALLY dig the sharp design of this brand! I love the periodic table thang that they’ve got going. What do I need? A lotion that can cure my insanely chapped hands for more than two minutes! Same with the lips. I love lip balms that actually burn!

  18. I’m always looking for a clean & easy skincare – I would love to try them!

  19. Stark products seem like a wonderful skincare line. I would love to try any of them – they are pricey for me personally but maybe I’ll get lucky and win! Thanks for the chance.

  20. I would love to have my own customized face cleanse or mask! This stuff is so exciting.

  21. This looks like *my kind of company*……animal friendly……my passion!! Right on!! Lovely array of products…thank you so much for this giveaway!

  22. A moisturizer! I currently use the oil cleansing method but am never sure which kind of oil is best for my skin.

  23. I’ve been looking for a great lotion for my dry winter skin. Looking forward to trying new, amazing products!!

  24. I would love to have a customized facial moisturizer. I feel like I can never find the right one!

  25. I think I would want a customized body lotion. My skin has been so dry this winter, and I would love to have something quick to absorb. I always skip moisturizing my body since I don’t like waiting for the moisturizer to absorb all the day after a bath.

  26. Looks wonderful! My skin care regime is even more minimal so I could use these produc

  27. I am in desperate need of a new skin care routine and could use a custom moisturizer!

  28. This might sound a little weird, but I would love something customized for foot-care. I run a lot and I find that the bottoms of my feet take a pounding; I want to soothe the blisters but keep the calluses, if such a thing were possible. Or just in general, make that skin more resilient.

  29. This sounds silly, but I’d love something customized for my eye area, because it’s very picky!

  30. my aging skin goes between dry and oily… would love a good product. Thanks for the chance to win!

  31. If I could have any skincare product customized for me, it would be a customized moisturizer with extra hydration properties.

  32. Those products do look wonderful! I only use hot water to cleanse and cold water to tone, but recently I’ve been using Dr Organic moisturiser on my face and neck; the rose is my favourite, but the pomegranate and the sea minerals are also amazing. However, although these are vegan and very natural, the company has started selling snail gel, so I’m looking for something else. Elsewhere on my body I use a home made butter of cacao butter, shea butter and coconut oil.

  33. I would like anything that smells like cinnamon. Maybe a spicy cinnamon lip balm!

  34. I would love to try this line! My skin gets super dry and itchy in the cold winter weather. I’ve been trying to find something that works for me, but my skin is still irritated.

  35. I would love to have a customized lotion with a scent to help aid in sleep. I have had difficulty sleeping for several years and while I have found some oils that help a little, I have yet to find the perfect combination that helps me get restful sleep.

  36. The tea tree peppermint face wash would be great for my acne prone skin. Thanks for the giveaway!

  37. I would love a customized face lotion for the morning. Moisturizing, but not greasy so my makeup slides right off. Oh, and it would let me apply makeup right after, without having to wait! (I can dream, right?)

  38. It would have to be moisturizer I think. I don’t like the smell/perfumes of most, even the unscented ones, so I didn’t use any for years until I tried coconut oil. I have been using plain coconut oil now for a year or so, but would like other options too.

  39. I would love a non-invasive product that would actually diminish my hyperpigmentation rather than claim it does. This product line sounds incredible!

    Thanks for the giveaway 🙂

  40. I would love a tea tree and peppermint oil face wash that is cleansing but not too drying!

  41. I live in the desert, so I would love to have a customized SPF! (I am obsessed with Biore watery essence right now. SPF 55.)

  42. I’d love a customized cleanser, something gentle, maybe lavender scented, vanilla, or even citrus!

  43. I would be thrilled if a summertime moisturizing face mist were made for me — something light, yet hydrating!

  44. I’d love a customized cleanser, something gentle, maybe lavender scented, or even citrus!

  45. I’d love to have a customized face wash! Most of the ones I have tried tend to be either too harsh and drying or not enough to get my makeup off.

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