Monday 22 April 2013

Stark skincare review

OK so this review has been a long time coming. I have been using these products occasionally since summer (I was trying to finish older products first, but I just couldn't help myself and occasionally dipped into these beauties). They became a proper part of my regime in the autumn.

I stayed with my family through out September and it was really hot (like +25C and sometimes +30C). For that reason I left the grapefruit cleanser behind (I thought it might be too heavy to use during that kind of weather) and took the toner and cypress oil with me.

White willow bark perfecting tonic. When I made my first purchase with stark I didn't actually order this product (when I contacted Jessica it turned out that she posted it and the mask by mistake). Anyways I think it was some sort of serendipity (well I guess it is a little shallow to think that powers that be are concerned about me having good skin, but hey I'm just glad I got this).
I like my rose water and have been very happy with it. To be honest all the toners that I have tried (other than floral waters or home made apple cider vinegar toner) have been somewhere between rubbish, pointless or downright damaging (serious skin irritation).

I was a little apprehensive about spraying this at first, because it has willow bark (a natural, slightly less concentrated version of salicylic acid) and my eyes are really sensitive. But once I did I have not had any irritation. I started using it once a day (evening or morning depending on how I was feeling). As this has quiet a lot of active ingredients it is not recommended to use more than twice a day unless you are experiencing very oily skin or breakouts.

Now I use this twice a day most of the time. I use it in the morning before cypress oil  and after grapefruit balm in the evening. I find that it provides light hydration and helps with keeping my skin clear (must be witch hazel and willow bark).

The smell is really pleasant, light citrus scent. I still alternate between this and rosewater, but I have noticed that lately I've been reaching for stark toner more often.

The bottle seems to have changed to the screw top and pour. I definitely prefer it to be spray on so I will keep mine and decant once I reorder.

Cypress purity+defense oil. This oil is good for all skin types but especially beneficial for combination or sometimes problematic skin. That has me written all over it and this oil is the main reason why I was so excited that I came across this brand.

This is the first oil that I have been able to use during the day as well as at night. If I use  dermalogica skin classifications my skin type is normal to oily (i.e. pain in my butt). Pretty much everything is too heavy or not moisturising enough. Cleansers are either overly drying or clog my pores and so on and so forth.

Since I have started using cypress oil my skin has been getting better and better. My skin tone is more even and I hardly ever get any pimples (even the hormonal ones have become rare). Also when flying my skin used to become a mess, that changed since I started using this, skin looked the same at the beginning and the end of the flights and no break outs the next morning either.

It smells really clean, a woodsy scent that reminds me of pines for some reason (could be because of cypress)

Amongst the ingredients you can see rice bran oil which can help skin to reduce absorption of UV rays. Also the bergamont in this oil is bergaptene-free so you don't have to worry about photo sensitivity.

I have never come across a facial oil that was lighter or easier absorbed than this. It has performed well in hot weather and British winter (I know it is not as cold as say in Siberia but it has been pretty cold the last few years).

Now a little bit about how I use it. I use it pretty much every morning when I am not using sunscreen (I do not use any products under sunscreen because that overloads my skin) and occasionally I have moisturiser free days in the summer when rosewater is enough for me. So let's say on average I use it 5 times a week during the day. In the evenings I use it after I wash my hair (I prefer to wash my hair before going to sleep), that works out to be 2 times per week. I use 2 drops and that is enough for face and neck.

This is truly a multi purpose product and you can read stark blog for some ideas. I mix it up with some aloe vera gel to make my own refreshing gel moisturiser, mixing two drops of oil to a tiny squirt of aloe vera gel works like a charm, nourishing yet cooling on skin (btw lilly of the desert aloe vera is the only store bought one that doesn't cause a reaction on my skin).

I also have tried using it as addition to home made deodorant and it does work well (I will give it some more time before doing a post on it).

Grapefruit cleanse+hydrate balm. Originally I thought this would be a great two in one products. Cleanser and moisturiser in one. Well this really does not work as a moisturiser for me (my skin just doesn't need as much moisture as the balm provides). But as a cleanser it has surpassed my expectations.

I was never a fan of balm cleansers that need to be removed with a cloth. They never seem to wash off properly and leave a film on my skin. I don't have that feeling with this balm.

A few months back I had a question about this balm from a reader, because  the consistency of her balm has changed. When I got this it was really smooth and at the time of the question my balm was still exactly the same. About a month or so ago it has changed and became grainy like you can see in the picture. The smell stayed the same (mouthwatering grapefruit) and it worked the same, still melts on the skin. I figured it was due to cold weather but I thought I would do some research for this post and I found the answer on starks blog. As I suspected it is completely normal and nothing to worry about, just shea butter going solid.

Anyways back to the balm. I use this in the evenings on the days that I didn't have make-up on  (You could use this for make up removal but like I mentioned in my Jane Iredale post I do not). One fingerful is plenty (pea sized amount), I give myself a face massage with this until it is all melted and than wash it off with a muslin cloth. I follow it with stark toner and that is it, no further products are needed. My skin is very soft and smooth looking straight after this little routine and remains so in the morning.

Also my guilty pleasure is a hot shower. So when I feel like I can't resist the need for a ridiculously hot shower, I put a layer of grapefruit balm before jumping in and it protects my facial skin from over drying and getting sensitive (overly hot water is really not good for skin).

Honestly since I started applying less products and sticking to stark my skin has been looking and feeling much better. For me a huge plus is the fact that with proper care this balm can remain fresh up to 18 months. I do use it frequently but not every day (and yes a I am skin care magpie so I have more that one cleanser on the go, I am trying to change that though) and you do only need a small amount of it, so longer shelf life gives me plenty of time to use it up.

Also this makes a great cuticle and nail treatment, just massage it in and leave over night.

Green Tea detox clay mask. This is a powder mask that you need to mix with water (or tea, or floral water...some sort of liquid). It is a mixture of two clays: green clay and Rhassoul. Now anyone can mix two types of clay together (provided that you have good quality clay) and achieve some nice results. Clay masks have been my go to since I was a teenager. What makes this special is the addition of the extracts of green tea, apple and lime.

You get all the benefits of the clay mask (drawing out of impurities etc.) plus some mild exfoliation fro the apple fruit extract and green tea is a powerful antioxidant. I love clay masks but sometimes they can make your skin feel a little tight and dry after use. I never had that with stark mask. My skin looks very clean and fresh, but normal (not really moisturised yet not dry).

You only need to use half a tea spoon, mix with a little liquid (I use water since I am lazy but you can mix it up for even more benefits). Spread it over your face, leave it on for 10 minutes and then wash off. I like the fact that you don't need to sit around for 30 minutes with a mask on (nice for an occasional pamper session but not on regular basis).

It is recommended to use twice a week, however I use whenever I remember which can be from as recommended to once a month (I am sure my skin would look super if I remembered to use it more frequently). I see great results even with my infrequent use.

Oh and the mixing bowl you see in the pic is from MV organic skincare and the fan brush is from dermalogica (I have had it for about 8 years now so don't know if they make them anymore, but you can use an old foundation brush just as easily).

A few things have changed since I first discovered Stark. They have a few more products (I am so ordering the body oil next time) and they no longer offer free International shipping (fingers crossed some one in UK will pick it up and I won't have to worry about that). But I still love it, I love that it started on Etsy and that it is now growing, as if I am part of stark history somehow. I like the quirky packaging, that it is made for life in the city and most of all that everything works. This is the first time that not only can I use the entire line of products but I also like every single one of them. In the world of natural skincare these products are more reasonably priced than most (more so worth every penny) and that is a huge bonus.

You bet all of them are going on my hero list.

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