EMPTIES Vol. 1 – Stark Skincare, H IS FOR LOVE + More

It’s been a hot minute (more like a hot year) since I’ve shared some empties! I used to combine empties and mini-hauls in my monthly “green beauty journal” posts, but I’ve since stopped posting those because I don’t try many new products (or quickly use up products) to have content for monthly posts. This will be my new way of sharing empties, breaking them down into short volumes.

As I just mentioned, I don’t quickly use up products so it took me AWHILE to rack up these few empties! A few of these I used up last year and some of these are recent and fresh in my mind. I have more than a handful of products I’ve either gifted or thrown away, but for the purpose of giving my full thoughts on something I actually finished, I won’t share the gifted/thrown away stuff in these posts. I’m pretty happy that these empties were all positive product experiences, so this one is going to be filled with some favorites.

First up, we’ve got Stark Skincare! I’m sorely disappointed in myself for not having shared this brand sooner on the blog because I’ve been using a bunch of Jess’s products for over a year now and have found some holy grails in her line. Talk about a delayed conversation, right? As I write this I’m just about to finish my first bottle of her City Recalibrating Oil I bought last year and I’m going to get myself a back up, so that’s another exciting empty I can share next time. For now, this is what I’ve used up since first delving into Stark:

  • Stark Skincare AURORA Cleanse + Hydrate Balm [2017 formula] ($40 / 2oz) This was my first Stark purchase and the one product that started my obsession with this brand! I actually have yet to try the reformulated version, so please be aware that I’m talking about the old formula, but from my understanding the old and new still perform the same. To me, Aurora is Stark’s flagship product, the one that lays the foundation for the rest of her products to follow! This cleansing balm is mult-tasking and semi-rinsable, so you can use it as your makeup remover/first cleanse, your one-and-done cleanse, a moisturizing mask, or just use it as a leave-on balm moisturizer anywhere you desire. Aurora is rich with butters and super silky so it really gets deep in those pores to loosen gunk, but it leaves your skin feeling really nourished and plump even after wiping it away. I have an issue with gunky-looking pores and Aurora really transformed that for me, allowing my pores to clear out and gave my skin clarity. As you can see, I loved it so much I’ve gone through 2 jars of it so far! When I finished my last one I started using MOSS Skincare’s Beurre Celeste cleansing balm as a part of Boxwalla, but once I finish BC I’m going to go back to using Aurora. By the way, it smells like an orange creamsicle!
  • Stark Skincare ECLIPSE Activated Cleansing Gel [2017 formula] ($35) Speaking of Aurora, Eclipse is THE best cleanser to follow it up with. This is Jess’s traditional idea of a cleanser, one that allows for a smidge of foam to get in there and clean up dirt, sweat, or residue of any kind. I loved Eclipse as my second cleanse to lift up any leftover Aurora residue. It didn’t really generate foam, but it created more a gentle froth that felt soft and soothing. The first couple of times I used it it felt drying, but at the time I was only using non-foaming cleansers so it felt like a shock to my skin. Over time as my skin got used to it it felt super gentle and refreshing and I felt that it paired so well with the richness of Aurora underneath it. Also, it smells like cardamom which is one of my most favorite scents in the world! It’s seriously so addictive. Again, I’m speaking of the old 2017 formula so there are probably varying differences, but from what I understand they also are quite similar, except that the new version is even more gentle and slightly exfoliates. I cannot wait to try it!
  • Amly Botanicals Radiance Boost Silver-Rich Face Mist* ($58 / 3.4oz) This mist was featured in Boxwalla’s April 2017 beauty box, which was one of my top favorites. It has a laundry list of herbs and the fact that it comes from a silver-rich spring meadow in the UK makes it pretty bourgeoisie, but I loved it nonetheless! It was one of the more hydrating mists I’ve ever tried and it smelled incredible like jasmine and honeysuckle. It lasted me forever too which is important considering its hefty price. Currently, I’m using Amly’s Beauty Sleep* mist which was featured in another Boxwalla beauty box earlier this year, but I’d eventually like to come back to the Radiance Boost version. I feel withdrawal from its amazing scent!
  • H IS FOR LOVE Rapha Harmonizing Oil Cleanser* ($44) and Propolis Regenerative Face Mask* ($48) These two are custom travel sizes and were featured in Boxwalla’s October beauty box from last year (AKA my most favorite one ever). I’ve had the pleasure of sampling both in 2016 and I was damn excited to see them being included in Boxwalla. Propolis is a regenerative, purifying clay mask that’s warming and earthy, and it makes my skin look BRAND new. No other mask has given me such glow and healthy looking pink skin! If you’re congested and your skin looks dull, this mask is the one to go with for that brand new spa facial skin. Rapha is a proper mediumweight cleansing oil that’s designed to communicate with the skin on a cellular level: it cleanses and lifts excess oil and debris, but it replaces any lost oils the skin needs for nourishment. It’s deep green and smells like german chamomile (it’s apple-y and cinnamon-y) and it feels like one of the most luxurious cleansing oils I’ve ever used. I’m torn between whether I like cleansing balms or oils better (so I tend to only buy one at a time), but when I will purchase a cleansing oil it’s going to be this one. Both of these are going to be repurchases.
  • YOU Skincare Moisture Replenishing Essence* ($56 / 3.4oz) Last fall Amy from YOU Skincare kindly gifted me a few of her products (check out my full review) and because I’m so slow I’m still finishing up two of them, but I used up the essence pretty fast! I haven’t used a traditional essence from the asian beauty world, but my understanding is that YOU’s product is a take on the traditional essence combined with our idea of a hydrating mist. Out of the bottle it feels like a thicker water (or perhaps a super runny serum), but on the skin it finishes like a super hydrating facial mist. And I mean SUPER hydrating, because it’s the most hydrating mist/liquid I’ve ever tried. I haven’t repurchased this one yet and my skin definitely feels like it’s missing something, but I’d love to come back to this essence eventually after I try other mists on my wishlist. I highly recommend to try this essence if you’re dehydrated/dry and have acneic skin.
  • Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel ($52) I got this mini B-Hydra in a sample set at Sephora around the holidays and used it up pretty quickly in a few weeks. I felt it was a good sample size and reasonable price for getting a feel for how well this product would work, considering it’s fifty something dollars for the full size. The idea behind B-Hydra is that it provides a hydating layer, but I’ve noticed many use it as a gel moisturizer. Unless you have very oily skin I wouldn’t recommend it as a sole moisturizer. The formula was “wetter” than I anticipated which was nice, because I was seeking to find a hydrating serum and was hoping this thicker gel formula would be a good option for that and to my surprise it did feel like a nice hydrating serum. Some day I may consider buying the full size, but for now I’m enjoying Twelve Beauty’s Ideal Moisture Level Serum which I repurchased and I have my eye on Stark Skincare’s Everlasting hydrating serum which is releasing soon!

For awhile now I’ve been working my way down to keeping just 1 item from each product category in my collection, so with this mode of keeping minimal I expect to empty products much quicker than I have been. I’ve got a few that I’m nearly finished with, so I’m excited to share those soon! Have you tried and loved any these products I shared today? Let me know in the comments below!

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