Stark is a small skincare company based in Montreal, Canada – they are 100% natural and design their products around not using preservatives. How cool is that!? They are also synthetic-free meaning none of their products contain synthetic dyes, fragrances, preservatives or surfactants. Their ingredients are mostly certified organic (most of the carrier oils, essential oils and butters) as well as Fair Trade. Plus they are certified vegan and cruelty-free by PETA and Leaping Bunny. Their products are created by hand in micro-batches to keep quality high and process small, sustainable and hands-on. Because of this their product is available on their website only. Ladies and gentleman, it is my pleasure to present to you: Stark.
Grapefruit Cleanse + Hydrate Balm
The power of this cleanser really hit home the day I did an evening cleanse with GCHB. It was a no makeup day and I had been buzzing through the city and around town for work – in and out of elevators, my car, meetings, shaking hands, touching my face, grabbing hand rails and hello truck exhaust city air – the infinite sources of city grunge all made their way to my face that day. I know because after I cleansed my face with GCHB, my white towel was black. It was one of those nights where bed beckons and washing up was a distant blip on my radar so I was rushing through it, going through the motions, when I happened to glance into my towel and saw the blackness. I think most of the time I am washing off makeup so I expect to see a lot of product and discoloration on my towel but with no makeup that day and seeing so much dirt on my towel I was truly impressed (and grossed out).
If you have never tried cleansing with an oil, or a balm, it is worth a shot. I love double cleansing so what I tend to do with this balm is work a dime sized amount into my face (and eyes) and massage it in without adding any water. By doing this, “like desolves like” and the oils work to remove excess oils, dirt and grime from your face. Cleansing with an oil based product is great too because unlike foaming cleansers which strip face oils, this balm leaves skin hydrated, moisturized and actually in better balance. It takes oil glands out of overdrive and complexion becomes less oily overall. So after this I towel off with a DRY towel and this is where the magic happens. Everything you want off your face, comes off – try it with a white towel, you will be like, waaaaaaat?! Then I follow up with a gentle cleanser like True Botanicals Pacific Cleanser or Josh Rosebrook’s Moisturizing Cleanser which take off lingering dirt and excess oil but leave essential oils and moisture behind. Then I moisturize with a facial oil. Love it.
This balm can be used straight up as a cleanser and then again as a moisturizer. There’s no wrong way to use it. The directions recommend after massaging product in to remove with a warm wet towel. I prefer a dry towel because the balm is not water soluble and I think the balm is grabbed and removed more efficiently with a dry towel – at least that’s what it feels like to me.
Obviously performance is top notch but I also want to mention the smell: AMAZING. Rich, fresh cocoa butter with a zest of citrus. It’s thicker in consistency than traditional cleansing oils but it melts right down and works easily into skin. The ingredients are killer – mostly organic plus 100% natural. You can check out a full list here. The balm does contain coconut oil which can be congesting to some people but coconut oil is also intrinsically anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal which are fantastic properties to have in a cleanser.
This balm also contains Tocopherol (non-GMO vitamin E) which can act as a preservative but other than that there are no additional preservatives in this balm. So exciting -right!? So, because there are no strong preservatives, it is recommended to use this product within 18 months. Also recommended to use clean hands or a small clean utensil when scooping out product avoid introduction of unwanted bacteria.
Lastly the label is super cute and it’s packaged in glass for easy reuse. Let me put it to you strait, this balm is the bomb.
Argan Night-Time Lip Treatment
Oh. My. Goodness. You guys know that smell of the 80s/90s coconut tanning oil you used to slather on at the beach – I know it wasn’t just me! Anyways, one of my fave smells is brought back to life in this heavy-hitting, super hydrating PM lip treatment. It contains very little wax and is generous with the oils which leave lips super moisturized and smooth. Love having a concentrated night treatment for my lips!
This product arrived smooth but did bead up after a few weeks so it felt textured or bumpy upon application. This is normal for products containing un-processed Shea butter. Shea butter’s melting point is low so in rooms with volatile temperatures like bathrooms, Shea will melt and harden accordingly. The beading lasted for several days and then went back to smooth on its own. There is a way to avoid and fix this if it happens or has happened to your product. Click here for Stark’s advise.
This lip treatment is packaged in plastic and is recommended to keep out of direct sunlight.
Huile De Parfum 02
Love it. This scent is feminine, understated, sweet and light. I smell orange, vanilla, cinnamon, amber and brown sugar. REALLY pretty. Not only does this smell beautiful but it is a soothing dose of aromatherapy with every application: grounding, calming and comforting. This one you will have to carry around with you – like most nontoxic fragrances it has a shorter wear time. Of course everyone’s chemistry is different but I found the scent to last between 1-2 hours on me. Easy to transport and apply with its dark glass packaging and rollerball applicator.
The perfume base is organic oils of Camellia Sinensis (green tea), jojoba and fractionated coconut. Light enough for every day wear – mature enough for an adult. I also think it would make a great scent for a teen – it’s just beautiful.
I also have my eyes on Stark’s White Willow Bark Perfecting Tonic an their Meadowfoam Everybody Oil – they look so good.