About a year ago, Alexandra raved about Stark Skincare, and when a deal came up last summer, I could not resist. My son and I have been using Stark consistently ever since, and loving it! We are especially fond of the CYPRESS purity + defense oil, and he uses the toner regularly too. I’m particularly impressed with the flexibility of the line—if both I and my adolescent son can use the products, that’s pretty impressive. Plus, it’s gender neutral in terms of packaging and scents. Oh, the scents. Jessica Lafleur, its founder, really knows how to put together some unique combinations, and make all the products compliment each other.
I’ve tried all things Stark, and each product is quite special; they all pop up somewhere in my rotation. So when Jessica asked if I’d like to try a new addition to her line I was all, “Duh. Yeah!” Here’s the review…
MEADOWFOAM the everybody oil: Until very recently, I wasn’t that into body oils. Since I’ve been dry brushing, I have less need for that sort of product. But I do enjoy a nice oil after a soak in a sea salt bath, so I have been trying a few brands and some DIY. As soon as I tried this one from Stark, it immediately went to the top of my list. I love it on my legs after a bath or shower, rubbed on my belly when I’m feeling crampy, and just a little bit smoothed in my hair. It’s more substantial than some other body oils, so if you have need of serious moisture this is a great one to try—and yet, it sinks right in and leaves my skin incredibly soft with not even the slightest bit of greasiness. Really!
I had never heard of meadowfoam seed oil but it seems a great addition to skin and hair care (here’s what Mountain Rose Herbs has to say about it). The formula also includes some of my favorite skin care ingredients: sunflower seed oil, coconut oil, and shea butter.
So let’s talk about the scent. I often like unscented products because I’m incredibly picky and sensitive, so when I do choose to use a scent it has to be spectacular. Check! It’s quite complex and subtle, with the citrus popping first, then a hint of lavender, and as I rub it in I can catch the chocolate. Later, after it sits on my skin a while, coconut. I really like that the scent is right there for me while I rub the oil in, but then fades so as not to compete with any other fragrances I use that day. The only thing I’m not 100% in love with is the press/flip top. I find those a bit messy, so I’m on the lookout for a pump top that will fit the bottle.
I love the oil so much I purchased another bottle so I’ll be ready when skirt season hits. Come on, spring! What do you love about Stark?
It’s been well over a year since we started the morning routine series. They began on a “really hot, muggy, humid, generally gross” August morning in 2011, because we thought it would be fun to share with all of you the products that we use every day before we leave the house. Now, you guys send us yours, and they’re consistently inspiring to this vibrant community of natural beauty lovers, am I right?
Since it’s December 2012, and my life, as well as my routine, has changed, I thought I’d give it another go. I’m a Scorpio, which, among other things, means I’m fiercely loyal and I like what I like. It’s fun, looking back, to see which products I’m still using. Still, some were traded out for products I like even better. (Warning: This post is long, because it’s doubling as a gang of new product reviews. You might want to skim—or grab a snack.)
Current weather: It’s been a mild, climate-changey winter so far, with some rare chillier days.
Hair: Blonde, long, wavy when air dried.
Skin: Irish. Which is to say, reactive, sensitive, pale, a little freckly, and pale. Did I mention pale? Oh, and reactive.
In the shower…
Most days, I shower rather speedily. Since I don’t typically wash my face in the morning, my shower routine is pretty straightforward: I dry brush before I get in the shower, then I wash my hair. My new go-tos are Intelligent Nutrients PureLuxe shampoo and conditioner. I’ve run out and repurchased them several times because they leave my hair super shiny, manageable and smelling great. I don’t have overly dry hair but I live in fear of it, and these two products give just the right amount of moisture, without feeling greasy. A couple of times a week, I swap out IN for the Seaweed Bath Company’s argan oil conditioner. It has wax pretty high up on the ingredient list, and I find it reliable on days when I want my hair to hold a style.
If I wash my face, I use Kahina’s or Marie Veronique Organics’ (new obsession—I love the whole line), which is slippery and cleansing without being overly drying. If I’m too lazy to make my own body scrub, which is most days, I use a squeaky-clean new one by the Brooklyn-based Metropolis Soap Company in honeysuckle and violet. My new go-to bar cleanser is the Activated Charcoal Soap by Soapwalla. It’s technically a face wash but I’ve been using it on my body. It contains activated charcoal and tea tree oil, and it’s also made in Brooklyn, which is neither here nor there, but kind of neat.
If I’m feeling under the weather or if I’m showering before bed, I massage my chest with Hope Gillerman’s Travel Remedy. The essential oils support immunity, promote restful sleep and make my tiny apartment smell like a spa. Which is nice.
Outside the shower…
Very few things I hate more than applying moisturizer on my body, but I do it almost every day. These days I alternate between Weleda’s New Rose Pampering Body Lotion (I love this stuff) and Vered’s Muscle Soothing Massage and Body Oil, which has been especially helpful since I bit it on the subway stairs the other night, had to get stitches, and seriously bruised up both my calves. (Pro tip: Don’t fall in the subway. It hurts.)
Once this tiresome step is done, I apply Soapwalla Deodorant, spray my face with either Kahina’s Toning Mist or Marie-Veronique Organic’s Anti-Aging Mist, and rub in a touch of Kahina’s Brightening Serum. Sometimes, I apply a dab of Tammy Fender Intensive Repair Balm, which I still swear by for night. If I look tired, I apply a Rejuvenating Eye Cream by Amala. It’s cocoa bean-based, which helps constrict blood vessels to reduce puffiness, and works almost as if by miracle to eliminate undereye bags. (Before bed it’s still La Bella Figura.)
Next, I apply Suntegrity Sunscreen, which got the #1 rating from the EWG this year for lotions with SPF. Who wants to shoot me first? Because the stuff contains (mineral-based) dimethicone. I have decided I can deal with it in this product because the ingredient deck is otherwise very clean, and because it’s the most effective, versatile and cosmetically appealing sunscreen I have ever tried. And I have tried many. It works kind of like a BB cream. I’ve finally found one I want to use every day, and this is it. You’re welcome? I’m sorry? Whatever? I love this product.
If I have meetings, which I usually do, I will follow with Suki Tinted Active Face Moisturizer in Porcelain, for an overall evening-out effect. I’ll set that with Laura Mercier loose minerals in Sand, line my eyes with Bare Minerals’ (unfortunately very messy) loose eyeliner in black, applied with a stiff damp brush. I keep my face simple for day, so that means I might swipe some RMS Beauty lip2cheek in Smile on cheeks and lips or some W3LL People Universalist in the peachy color, and dab on some Living Luminizer. I also love Ilia in a bunch of different colors. If I feel like a very bold lip, I’m probably cheating with non-naturals from Bite or Chanel.
For mascara, it’s either 100% Pure or the new thick-as-hell “Fake Out” one from Organic Wear (the pink tube) or both. Some days, I fill in my super-pale eyebrows with NVey Eco Eye Shadow Palette in No. 3. It’s not meant for brows, but it works. If I’m really going for it, I apply a touch of color to my lids, too. Makeup tends to scream on my face, though, so I use a light touch.
Finally, my perfumes of choice are still Lotus Wei Infinite Love or Tata Harper Irritability Treatment (as a perfume), or both!
Couple things, before I go: First, I don’t always follow all these steps. Second, I now fear I sound way more high-maintenance than I actually am. Any products here that you love too? Anything new to you?
In my good-hair-day arsenal, there are three products. They each serve their purpose, and I use none more than the other, so I’ll tell you about all three at once!
One is sort of new and achieves such a pretty air-dry that it makes me want to do so even when it’s cold out; and the other is an old favorite that I buy over and over again; and the last one is brand new and so versatile that I use it on my arms and legs, too.
Yarok Feed Your Ends Leave-In Conditioner
What it’s good for: Bounce, waves, air-drying, styling when you have to use a really crappy hotel hair dryer, and for smelling really good when you go in for a hug.
This is my go-to guy for air drying and for those days when I only have time to blast my roots and the strands around my face before I book it to work. It brings a nice shine, a soft, kind of sexy bounce, and it weighs nothing. It leaves my hair not piecey but with a nice texture, and like the shampoo and conditioner from Yarok, it smells divine, and the scent lasts. Last week I spent the night in Pennsylvania for work and I was traveling super-light. I knew the hotel hair dryer was going to suck; they all suck. So this was my product of choice. I had a nice, relaxed-looking hair day and despite the unseasonably high temperature that day, my hair didn’t get gross.
Intelligent Nutrients Volumizing Spray
What it’s good for: Fuss-free styling, hold, adding texture to thick long hair, defining curls and waves, and also smelling really, really good when you go in for a hug.
No stranger to regular readers, this product is still a favorite of mine. Has been for a few years (years!) now. It’s a little boosting, volume-wise, but the real reason I love it is the fact that when I use this with my amazing hair dryer my hair just ends up looking super done with very little effort (that last part is key). Work’s been crazy great (and crazy busy) lately, so looking put-together—or at least more put-together than I looked all summer—is important. This product is my secret weapon. It also helps you hold a style or wave. Love.
Intelligent Nutrients Hair Shine
What it’s good for: Everything. On wet hair before you style, on dry hair what needs texture, shine or control, on curly hair, straight hair, and African American hair, and on color-damaged hair. It’s also great on your arms and legs as a light body oil, and it smells like lemongrass. Yum!
This is the new kid in my caddy. It’s a new product from our friends at IN and I absolutely love it. I discovered it when it was sent to my job and another editor stopped me in the hall and said, “You’re going to freak out.” She handed me the bottle, I fell in love with the look of the thing, took one whiff—a combination of non-skunky lemongrass and something else—and, well, I freaked out. I sprayed a little on my hands, ran my hands over my poofy hair and spent the rest of the day admiring the subtle sheen and insanely good smell (I’m an inveterate hair sniffer). Since it’s made of several light oils, it occurred to me it might work as a body shine too, so one day I sprayed a little on my arms and legs and loved that too! It’s subtle, non-greasy, and makes me look like I am much better about applying daily body lotion than I am. Heh.
Have you tried any of these? What’s your favorite leave-in?
Happy Tuesday! Here’s another product review from commenter-cum-contributor Rebecca Bailey! Check out last week’s review of 5 Clean Lipsticks for Super-Sensitive Lips, too.
As we’ve talked about here plenty, the first thing in beauty is taking care of the inside—but I’m always happy to find a standout product that enhances beauty from the outside, too. I’m a big fan of Evan Healy (see my morning skin and hair routine over here) and this is my current favorite in her line…
Evan Healy Sea Algae Serum: I first used this a year or two ago, and somehow got off it. I think I was preoccupied with my DIY experiments, and in the colder seasons I wanted something a little heavier. But in these last couple weeks I felt like I needed something light. I’m in love all over again!
It has everything I want in a skincare product. It gives a full sensory experience of great scent and texture, comes in a cute and convenient pump, is a pleasure to put on, and has top-notch performance. Remember that Seinfeld episode with the beachy-smelling perfume? This is what I imagine that was supposed to smell like. The clean ocean smell quickly fades to neutral though, which I appreciate. It feels light and spreads perfectly applied over a hydrosol. Two pumps cover my face, neck and a bit of upper chest. I’m glad it doesn’t take much, because this is on the pricier side, about $37 for a ½ ounce bottle. OK, here’s the important part:
It is the only product I’ve ever tried that actually does some firming.
I’m no spring chicken, and I have this jowl and neck thing going on lately. I don’t think it’s my imagination: My skin looks firmer after using this serum. I can’t speak to the long-term effects yet, but in the short term at least, I’m impressed (and glowing). Super clean with lots of organic ingredients—sea buckthorn is high on the list and it’s intended to repair damage caused by the environment and aging—and it’s anti-inflammatory. I usually prefer a short list of ingredients, but Evan Healy is like an old-school alchemist, really working the magic into her products. This can be used along with your regular moisturizer, or on its own if you just want super-light, healing moisture.
Have you tried this serum, or anything else from this line?
Let’s get a little corny!
We’ve been wanting to ask you this question for a while, in part because when we posted What Do You Love About Your Looks Right Now? the answers completely bowled us over. Also, there were 107 of them, and they were all so sweet and many were quite unpredictable. It was cool to see you publicly and positively take stock of how you feel when you look in the mirror. Many of you also seemed to note a change in your looks after switching to naturals—and a change for the better.
That’s not necessarily because naturals work better (though they do). We think it has more to do with what happens when you stop chasing the beauty dragon, as we like to say; when you stop believing that your skin/hair/thighs/lines need improvement in the first place and that positive changes can only come from pricey products that ultimately don’t deliver on their promises.
So you stop doing that, or you try to stop doing that, and voilà: You maybe feel a little better in your own skin. I know I do.
Now we want to take that conversation up a notch. Instead of telling us what you love about your looks (though, please, if you have not yet told us, do so now on the other post), we want to know…
What makes you feel beautiful? Who makes you feel beautiful? And when do you feel it the most?
Have at it, ladies and gents. We’ll weigh in, too, in the comments.