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how Stark avoids preservatives (and what to do to keep your products lasting longer)

October 27, 2011

Shea nutsNatural products are givers: they’re all about what’s good for YOU.  When I decide what’s going to go into a Stark product, I make sure that there are a number of ways that the ingredient in question takes care of skin. Every single drop is a drop of pure goodness because this the way I believe skincare should be. It’s a whole lot like food. When you buy a package of something incredibly processed, and check out the expiry date and lo and behold, these apple doodahs are going to survive any climatic conditions for the next 18 months, you just KNOW there’s a whole lot of garbage pumped into every greasy, fakey morsel. When you buy a bunch of kale, you don’t expect it to stay crisp and tender throughout a whole cycle of seasons and then some. You use it quickly. You enjoy it. Your body loves you for it. In return, however, natural products, be they for food or beauty, require a little love back. First, let me tell you about REAL natural products and how we deal with the lack of preservatives.

Truly natural skincare like Stark, the kind without -enols and ethoxylated this and that and ingredients with acronyms, numbers and alien symbols, will never last as long. They simply cannot. But you know, I’m SO ok with that because it’s actually a really great thing.

Anything pure and unprocessed is as close to being in it’s natural state as it gets. Nature has designed everything to have a lifespan, and for any ingredient (in my case stuff that comes from nuts and flowers, grains and clays, for example) will one day disintegrate and basically die. Or, I could be less poetic and just say that the ingredients are biodegradable, which is valid as well. For Stark products, I got around this natural expiry-date issue by using oils high in their own antioxidants which keeps them from going rancid for a long, long time, but it is also a major benefit for your skin! I also NEVER mix oils and water as that’s a fast track to contamination (this is like, lotion 101 here), and I keep my ingredients list to a bare minimum to decrease the likelihood of contamination. I also make sure that my “lab” and equipment are scrubbed down clean before I make a batch of prods, but that’s basic stuff too.

The main culprit is our friend H2O after a product is made. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love water. But water + oils/butters/clay/extracts and just about anything else that’s not made in a lab are simply not meant to have a long term relationship. Ever. This idea is a little hard for novices to green beauty because we often want a simple, green replicate of that foamy cucumber-daffodil scented microbead scrubby thing that we begrudgingly gave up, and have a hard time adjusting to simply using LESS product, instead of slathering on a bunch of anti-shine mattifying moisture whip gel latte whatever (what the HECK are these products I’m making up, anyhow?). And you know, we may never have those space age weirdo concoctions again but that’s ok. Let it go. Your skin is MUCH better for it.

Where was I? Right. Water. It ruins stuff. Think of rust. Think of erosion. Think of mold. Think of pruning fingers…or worse, what your feet look like after hiking in wet socks for 10 hours. It’s a beautiful disaster, if you will, but when it comes to keeping beauty products fully FULLY natural, it’s a total party crasher. It’s because of water that products need so many preservatives (oxygen too, but to a lesser degree).

So now you know the why, here’s the how.

KEEP WATER OUT OF YOUR PRODUCTS! This means no keeping super-clean prods, like Stark, directly in the shower. Use clean, dry fingers or better yet a small spoon or scoop to extract product from the jars (you get bonus points for that) and THEN splashing your face with water like a happy little bird in a bath. Personally, I like to use my Stark prods and let them really sink in for a while, while I brush my teeth and stuff, then jump in the shower or proceed to flood my bathroom counter. Keeping your products with their lids happily screwed on tight, free of debris and water will keep your products in tip top shape and will last long enough for you to fully use them up! Value!