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. I’d love a hand moisturizer that doesn’t make everything I touch greasy.

  2. A custom moisturizer would be fantastic! But the Neroli Oil sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I’ve joined the Foundry so I am waiting patiently for Jess to customize that one special something I won’t be able to do without! No pressure jess! She also is whipping up natural fragrances

  4. I would love a product that can focus on eliminating the tiny whiteheads I get on my chin!

  5. I love oils! I grew up seeing my mom spend hundreds on fancy antiwrinkle creams and thought I’d have to do the same. But I also started buying natural oils like this and love how much healthier my skin feels! I also have super sensitive skin, I’ve gotten really bad red itchy rashes just from using certian make ups or new lotions. Now I mix it up with whatever I find-I’ve used rosehip oil, carrot oil, an argan blend, or even the coconut oil from my pantry when I’m out of other things.
    These products seem amazing and just the kind of thing that I like!

  6. I’m usually super simple when it comes to skin care, water, oil, lavender scrub but lately my face has been very dry and I was thinking I need to up my skin care and I remembered this post you did! Checking out Stark right now! Thank’s for sharing:)

  7. I would love to have a custom moisturizer – I break out a lot, but my skin is also dry, so I never now what to do!

  8. I would love some sort of customized moisturizer. I never know if I’m using the right one.

  9. i’d love a oil-based moisturizer that gets absorbed as quickly as a creamy one!

  10. My ideal customized product would be an under eye cream. I feel that oils just don’t do anything for my fine lines, and I could also use some help in the dark circles department!!

  11. my skin gets so dry it needs all the love it can get and stark may be the thing. If I had to pick what was most important it would be moisturizer but I would most likely but a cleansing face wash first. I just can’t stand when a wash drys my skin out more.

  12. Definitely a moisturizer! I only use coconut oil (and love it) but have often desired something with a different scent or that works better in the summer. Thanks Gena!

  13. If I could have a customized skin product, it would be a mattifying moisturizer that does not clog my pores, but moisturizes my skin efficiently so that my skin does not produce an unnecessary amount of shiny oil throughout the day

  14. Winter weather can be so drying on my face. I would love to experience a moisturizer that makes my skin glow

  15. Such a glowing review, for what look to be amazing products. And by a fellow Canadian, no less! I’ve been using coconut oil as a face wash and make-up remover for a while now, but love the idea of a concentrated, lightly scented oil for day and nighttime moisturizing.

  16. I would love a lotion made just for me — something moisturizing without being too greasy!

  17. If I could have any skin care product catered to me…. What would it be?? That is such a hard question! I love (love) beauty products, especially truly natural vegan ones. I guess it would chose a lotion. There is something really nice about having the perfect smell and amount of moisture in a product. These products sound awesome., like a day at the spa. Also, grapefruit is my favorite thing 🙂

  18. I have dry skin, but also acne prone skin, so I’d love something that takes care of that!

  19. I wish I could say my skin care routine is simple but that would be a total lie. I hadn’t heard of this brand before but all the products sound amazing! I’m definitely going to check out the grapefruit balm and green tea mask!

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