Happy Friday Deal From Stark Skincare!

Guess who is celebrating a birthday? Stark Skincare! This indie natural skincare line from Canada has a lot to celebrate, so let’s party. It brings a little tear of happiness to our eyes to think about how much Stark has grown since Alexandra first featured them here. They’ve introduced more delights to the line, including a body oil Rebecca loves and the new Neroli Midnight Oil, oh yeah. So here’s your invitation to the birthday party:

Stark is giving you 15% off! Just enter the code starkbirthday at checkout. The offer expires on Monday at 11:59 pm EST! Shipping is free in Canada and the US for orders over $100 (after the discount).

So we have our Stark favs, but a little birdie told us there’s more to look forward to in Stark’s future, and we’re not a bit surprised. The artiste behind Stark, Jessica Lafleur, has been hanging out in some pretty exotic places this winter. You know, just sniffing her way around outdoor markets and getting lost in it all. But really, we’re the ones who will benefit from all of her galavanting. A perfume oil is on the way! Huzzah! Until then, we’ll just keep inhaling very, very deeply when applying our favorite Stark products. Happy birthday Stark!

Do you have a favorite Stark Skincare product? Tell readers what you’ve tried and why you like it.

Stark Skincare holds a special place in my little green heart. The Cyprus Purity + Defense Oil was one of the first oil blends I ever purchased, so I consider it the gateway to what is now the most prominent tool in my skincare routine. Going a day without putting oil on my face? Unthinkable. Packed in brown glass jars, the branding is irresistible to me. It has this art school vibe, and it would sit well next to old Hitchcock movie posters.

Given its special place in the pack, you can bet I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one of the newest editions to the Stark lineup, the Neroli Midnight Oil. Isn’t that a seductive name? Let me tell you, the scent is incroyable! It’s a balanced, calming citrus floral that’s a tiny bit spicy and utterly soothing—like lullaby in a bottle soothing. Sweet dreams everybody. But seriously, let’s talk about neroli for a minute. This precious, healing essential oil has serious therapeutic properties. The scent of neroli relieves anxiety, and topical application (properly diluted, of course) will rejuvenate tired skin thanks to its ability to stimulate cell-regeneration.

The blend also includes antioxidant rich oils from the seeds of raspberries, blackberries, pomegranates, black cumin, mangoes, and cucumbers. Heavy hitters like camellia (green tea) seed oil and evening primrose oil form the base of this gem and treat a range of issues from hormonal acne to scars. Good on paper, but how does it feel and perform? This oil has an excellent weight. It’s not too heavy or too light, and all skin types would benefit from nightly use. To earn a place on my vanity, an oil must sink in effortlessly and leave a velvety finish. The Neroli Midnight Oil does this, plus helps my skin feel nourished and calm. A couple of drops are all you need, though like Rebecca, you may be tempted to wear this like a perfume.

Stark’s Grapefruit Cleanse and Hydrate Balm — the “GF” — has been on my wish list for eons. I held back for fear of the coconut oil. If coconut oil works for you, go bananas with this stuff. If coconut oil doesn’t work for you, you still might be surprised—no clogged pores or breakouts for my coconut-sensitive skin after two solid weeks of nightly cleansing. The GF is a multipurpose product. Use it as a cleanser a la the oil cleansing method, or use it to hydrate and butter up that pretty face of yours. After all, it contains some of the most protecting oils and butters on the planet, including a new edition to the formula — mango seed butter.

I have written before about my love of the oil cleansing method. While cleansing with a balm is similar, it’s a more intense experience that has proved better suited to my skin’s needs during this vexing winter weather. Add to that the sparkling scent of grapefruit essential oil, and I’m melting in a puddle of love. Thanks to a recent revamp of the formula, the GF wipes away clean leaving a matte finish, no trace of oil. This will be great for those of you who want to cleanse with an oil or balm but prefer the finish of a water-based cleanser. Still, after cleansing with the GF, my skin could easily go without additional oil or moisture, but what fun would that be? The GF and the Neroli Midnight Oil make a perfect pair.

Here’s a little surprise—NMDL is celebrating Stark’s birthday this Friday! If you’re dying to try Stark for the first time or restock on favorites, do wait for our Friday Deal!

Meet Jessica! Her mention of the Konjac Sponge is kismet. (See yesterday’s post.) Plus, fall is around the corner and we feel like talking about makeup. This routine has it all.

Name: Jessica

Age: 27

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada but on vacation in PEI

Current weather: sunny but cool… perfect summer weather

Hair: slightly wavy, fine and super thick

Skin: very pale, oily skin with some blemishes but mostly clear

Favourite star or icon from the past: Elizabeth Taylor

In the shower…

I’ve been slowly cleaning up my beauty regimen for the past 2 years and have only started using organic hair products for about 9 months. I have only used Dr. Jones organic shampoo and conditioner and am quite satisfied (I try not to wash my hair more than twice a week). I use an epilator instead of shaving, for water conservation, and regularly get my eyebrows threaded. I just finished a less than entirely clean body wash that I could not resist, as I picked it up at Kualoa Ranch on my travels to Oahu in May. I am only now looking into some really clean but delicious smelling body washes that won’t break the bank. Any suggestions?

Outside the shower…

I cleanse my face every morning with my awesome Konjac charcoal bamboo sponge and with Graydon The Cleanser at night; using May Lindstrom’s The Clean Dirt every other day before my shower.

I really hate tying up my hair since it gives me severe headaches (curse of super thick hair), but I also hate drying my hair with a blow drier since it damages it. I have started using John Masters citrus detangler to protect my hair from heat damage and when air drying, I love to add some argan oil to my ends. I do not use any other hair product since I really like keeping things simple and minimal. As for my face routine, all I can say is that my Konjac Sponge is the best thing in the world. I have managed to balance my oily skin by cleansing with my Konjac, along with using orange blossom hydrosol as a toner (wanting to now try Stark’s White Willow toner). After toning in the morning, I use Graydon’s The Serum after applying Nurish Organics’ See Spot Run, but if I feel that I need more moisture I use Nurish Organics’ Rejuven-eight Day Cream.

At night, I opt to use argan oil over See Spot Run and One Love Organics’ Skin Savior waterless beauty balm around my eyes for extra moisturization. To cap off my night routine, as lip protection I use Dr. Bronner’s naked lip balm as it stays on all night. Sometimes I also like to treat myself
with manuka honey masks when I feel my skin needs a little change in the routine.

Finishing touches…

I LOVE makeup and adore trying different things. However, I am very picky about the ingredients I use on my skin as I am allergic to peppermint oil. I normally do not wear much makeup (lip balm and concealer), except for when I go out for something significant or special. When I do doll up,   I use Gabriel’s black mascara, Lilly Lolo’s brown eye pencil, Vapour Organics illuminist concealer, Vapour Organics Mesmerize eye colours, Ferro cosmetics mineral foundation and 3X blush (which can be also used to give color to lips) and Dr. Bronner’s naked lip balm. For a dramatic color on my lips I have Korres’ lip butter in a reddish pink, but am looking to finish it up as quickly as possible since I do not find it to be as clean as I would like it to be. I also have Inica’s lip crayon in Blossom, but I do not like the texture on my lips. I would love to get my hands on some Kjaer Weis products, especially the lip tints as I’ve heard really great reviews. I also highlight some key areas of my face with Vapour Organics Halo in Brilliance. I top everything off with Erbaviva’s Jasmine grapefruit deodorant and Tallulah Jane’s Helona mist. I am still looking for the perfect deodorant, but am having some difficulty as I cannot use baking soda and as for perfume, I would love to find something that is more tropical for the summer, yet still affordable!

I am a huge skin care and makeup junky; loving trying out all the new products I can! Living in Canada, however, limits the brands I get to try as I refuse to pay over-the-top prices for shipping for any products. I really really want to try some stuff by Savvy Boheme, Jiva Apoha, La Bella Figura, and Kjaer Weis… I believe that changing up your beauty routine is always a good thing as skin becomes immune to products and stops being so effective over time. I hope you’ve enjoyed my morning/beauty routine!

Meet Melissa! Her routine is full of NMDL faves and then some.

Name: Melissa

Age: 29

Hometown: Halifax, NS, Canada

Current Weather: Fairly humid and 30 degrees Celsius, but there’s always a cool ocean breeze.

Hair: Dark, I mean virtually black (au natural), shoulder length with a natural wave. I normally blow it out and if I have the time to care enough I will straighten it. One thing about my hair is that it’s crazy oily – I have to wash it everyday unless I want the “wet look” (Suggestions anyone?).

Skin: Fair, oily with the odd dry patch through the winter, and subject to outbursts of acne thanks to hormones and food sensitivities. I’ll go months with hardly a blemish and then it will all turn upside down out of the blue.

Icon:  Audrey Hepburn. I’ve always aspired to have eyebrows as amazing as hers.

The night before…

I usually  take my makeup off with virgin coconut oil, but lately I’ve been using Stark Skincare’s Grapefruit Cleanser for a light cleanse at night (a great Canadian brand too!!). It’s a great all in one and it even gets waterproof mascara off! I also put on my Kahina Giving Beauty eye cream before bed. Once, or twice a week, depending on the state of my complexion, I do a mask using Stark’s Green Tea Detox Clay Mask which I love, love, love. It smells so amazing and it works!

In the morning…

I always do a quick dry brush before the shower. I forget how I got turned onto this, but after a month of solid commitment I’m amazed how much better my skin (especially the backs of my arms) looks. I can’t go a day without it.  I also take Omega-3 oil, pro-biotic and B12 first thing.

I wash my hair usually with John Masters Bare Shampoo and Conditioner, though very recently I’ve added Rahua’s Volumizing Shampoo into the mix. I read it was good for oily hair, but the jury is out on that one for me still.  Once I’ve got my conditioner on, I lather up with Dr. Bronners Peppermint or Rose soap depending on my mood. My Husband spent a lot of time convincing me to use Dr Bronner’s and I wasn’t a lover at first use, but I’m definitely a convert.  Once I’m all rinsed off, I wash my conditioner out and move onto my face. I’ve tried everything for my cleanser – everything. After using Eminence for over a year to mixed results, I’ve simplified to Kahina Giving Beauty’s Facial Cleanser. Quite simply, it’s my favourite ever. Not only is my skin incredibly soft, the quality of my skin has improved ten fold since adding this amazing cleanser to my regime. A bottle lasts forever too!  I rinse my cleanser off with my trusty konjac sponge – I tell all my friends about these little beauties.

Outside of the shower…

I put a couple of drops of Kahina’s Argan Oil on my fingers and massage into my face while it’s still a little damp. After it’s all absorbed on goes my Consonant Perfect Sunscreen (more Canadian brand love).  I love the texture of their sunscreen and its non greasy formula. I find it especially great because of the mica tint it has – perfect for evening out my skin tone just enough. Makeup wise, I love the natural beauty look. I start with RMS Beauty Uncover Up here and there for any blemishes and then use Afterglow Cosmetics Triple Eye Treatment to brighten up under my eyes. For my cheeks I flip-flop between RMS Beauty’s Lip2Cheek in Smile and Ilia Beauty’s Multistick in Tenderly. I love the natural flush that these two cheek colours offer. Lately my preference has been Ilia – it’s lovely and subtle for daytime. I do a light sweep of RMS Beauty’s Unpowder across my t-zone and then it’s onto eyes. Most days I just do liner and mascara, but I will also dab a little of RMS Beauty’s Cream Eye Shadow in Seduce on mixed with Lip2Cheek in Muse for fun too. I line the bottom of my eyes with Afterglow’s eyeliner in black and Ilia Beauty’s Mascara. Admittedly, for climate reasons (rainy rainy Halifax reasons) there are days when the L’Oreal waterproof mascara comes out – I would look like a Raccoon otherwise. Burts Bees is my day to day lip savior, but I love my Ilia Beauty Tinted Lip Conditioner in Nobody’s Baby almost as much.

Once I’ve got my makeup all done, I massage in a small dab of Rahua’s Finishing Treatment into the ends of my still damp hair.  I was lucky to receive a jar of this stuff as a gift to start, and have quickly become obsessed. While I’ve always had crazy oily roots, the ends of my hair are on the dry side but this wonderful cream has totally changed that. It’s pricey as all get out, but a jar does last deceptively long and the results have been worth every penny. After a quick blow dry, I’m all set!

Has anyone out there tamed their oily roots? Is daily shampoo a must?

I’ve been addicted to lip balm as long as I can remember. Not in that dirty-ingredients-suck-the-life-out-of-you-so-you-need-more-product way either, I just really love the feel of a great balm.  And my sensitive lips need a layer of protection.

Last fall I discovered what is, so far, the best balm brand I’ve ever tried. And I try a LOT of balms.  The big brands, the little practically unheard of brands—everything. I even try some that use peppermint, though I never like that flavor.

I tend to favor a shea-based balm. I find they have a nicer texture, are thicker, and stay on longer.  I like beeswax in the base too, though in all other facets my balms are vegan. I haven’t found one I really love with SPF, but many balms have ingredients like shea butter or coconut oil that have a bit of natural screen. Taste is key in a lip balm. Unflavored is good, or something mild and tasty. But never, ever that “wax with added flavor” thing that is so common in balms. My favorites are all super clean, low-shine, untinted, and come in a tube.

Here’s my favorite:

Ganache for Lips: Beeswax, sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, and shea butter form the base. The texture is perfect, with awesome staying power, and the flavors are amazing. The various chocolate combos are delicious, and I have to give Chocolate Orange a special mention. Oh, and Chocolate Raspberry, and Chocolate Hazelnut, and…yeah, they’re all good. The Vanilla Mousse is a great neutral flavor, and lately Lemon Mousse is blowing me away. It reminds me of the Trader Joe’s Lemon Curd I used to eat before I cut out processed sugar. These are very moisturizing, but never overly shiny. It just looks like my lips are naturally moist. They work well alone, or under/over a lip color. ($3.75 for a standard size .15 oz tube at balmworks.com)

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

  • S.W. Basics (formerly Sprout Wellness) offers beeswax and vegan versions.  The citrus flavor has that lemon curd thing going on, with a lighter texture.
  • Bubble & Bee has some unique flavors.  I like Karma Apple.
  • Stark Skincare makes a very light, vegan, rose-flavored argan lip treatment.
  • Skinnyskinny’s unscented balm is great if you prefer little taste to your balm (just a hint of honey and cocoa butter).
  • Stewart & Claire makes Coconut, another nice unscented (if a bit expensive) balm that just has a hint of sweet beeswax scent.
  • Peacekeeper’s Chocolate Dream tastes like a Tootsie Roll and comes in an extra big tube.
  • Badger’s Cocoa Butter Balms also come in extra big tubes.  Vanilla Bean is a great one, and Mocha Cocoa is fab for coffee lovers.

What’s your favorite lip balm?