It’s important to be aware of where we spend our money and who we support with our dollars. While everyone’s definition of taking action looks different, spending is inherently political, and amongst the many injustices in Canada, who we give business to can aid in our social impact. The beauty industry is one of the most dominant forces, but when it comes to diversity, how diverse are our beauty cabinets and makeup bags?
From coast to coast to coast, Canada is home to many BIPOC, women-owned brands who are doing the work — they’re formulating eco-conscious products, working towards sustainability, giving back to their communities and helping make the beauty industry a more inclusive space. Here are 10 brands to know and some of our product picks.
Poetry of the Gods
This apothecary and lifestyle brand was started by Mi’kmaq creative Melissa Della Porta. Based in Ontario, the brand offers bath products, candles and other skincare goods. They’re designed for people who want to connect with their five senses and improve their self-care routine in small ways. The one-woman operation aims to broaden the beauty space through sustainably-made quality goods.
Our pick: AHA Re-Fresh Deodorant
Trying to find a natural deodorant can be tough, but this unscented deodorant is infused with AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) to tame sweat odour and work with your body’s pH levels to provide lasting results while still smelling fresh.
Launched in 2018, this brand was founded by Toronto-based Jacqueline Johal. Born to Indian parents, Johal grew up around raw and naturally-infused products and has formulated each SARISHA (which stands for ‘charm’ and ‘elegance’ in Sanskrit) product with natural and organic ingredients designed to calm and nourish the skin. Johal is also studying holistic nutrition to deepen her knowledge of what we put on and inside our bodies.
Our pick: Nourishing Hair & Scalp Oil
On the days where your hair needs a refresh, hair oil can help. This non-greasy hair oil uses ingredients such as Argan oil to help tame frizziness and jojoba oil to help fight breakage and dandruff while keeping your strands moisturized and healthy. It’s even safe for colour-treated hair.
Toronto-raised Basma Hameed is a trailblazer in the skincare space. At the age of two, Hameed experienced third-degree burns from a kitchen accident. After many surgeries, she still had a facial scar, which made it challenging to find products that were “scar-friendly.” At 17, Hameed developed a skincare treatment that helped to blend scars into the skin, which has been successful among many celebrity clients over the years. Years later, with Hameed’s knowledge of different skin types, the newly-launched brand is focused on embracing the skin you’re in, wearing makeup as a choice and not using it to hide your flaws.
Our pick: The Foundation Stick
With 40 shades to choose from, this product is suitable for every skin type. While its main purpose is to even out your skin tone, the creamy foundation also aims to hydrate and provide a fresh, dewy glow. It includes ingredients like apricot butter, to soften the skin, and Aloe Vera and vitamin E to help improve skin moisture and elasticity.
See also: 20 foods to eat to combat dry skin.
Nature is the biggest inspiration for Montreal-based owner Alexandrine Pierre. What started as a hobby, has become a full-time gig for Pierre, who has cultivated a set of products that have plant-derived and natural ingredients, emphasizing the interconnected relationship between our skin and the earth. When purchasing, not only are you supporting Pierre, but also the local lab and farm that produces the brand’s hempseed oil, which is infused in many of their products.
Our pick: Osmosis Hydrating Lotion
With ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, this lightweight lotion helps replenish and restore the skin’s natural moisture level. It’s also formulated with matcha, which wakes up the skin when it lacks oxygen. If that’s not enough, the lotion can reduce transepidermal water loss, creating a moisture level that can last for up to 24 hours.
Short for Makeup for Melanin Girls, this brand was founded by Nigerian-born, Toronto-based entrepreneur Tomi Gbeleyi, who wanted to celebrate diverse women and deeper skin tones. She was tired of hearing that brands were “working” on implementing diverse shade ranges and not catering to darker-skinned women. Gbeleyi aims to build a community where having darker skin isn’t niche and is widely accepted.
Our pick: Taj Mahal Highlighter
Many frosty highlighters can wash out Black and brown women’s natural complexion, but this paraben and fragrance-free highlighter will give a bronzed shimmer glow and an immediate boost in confidence.
In the early brainstorming stages of their Vancouver-based brand, sisters Taran and Bunny Ghatrora thought about the importance of self-care and having healthier conversations surrounding women’s bodies. Through their products, the siblings have worked to destigmatize taboos topics such as acne and periods. They plan to continue nurturing and protecting the future generation of skincare users while distancing themselves from the narrative of having perfect skin.
Our pick: Meltdown Acne Oil
It’s one of the brand’s best-selling products for a reason. With only one pump, this product can help reduce facial imperfections and acne scarring. The oil is a natural blend of ingredients like black cumin seed oil which has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties to fight signs of aging, and rosehip oil, which is known for soothing and brightening the skin, while also fading dark spots and scars. Don’t be scared of using oil for oily skin!
We love a mother-daughter duo. Toronto-based Sade Baron and her daughter Rachel aim to create high-performance body products that will leave your skin feel amazing. They offer quality, clean ingredients which feed and nourish your skin — something that has been a part of the brand’s ethos since the beginning. Sade suffered from dry skin throughout her childhood and found natural remedies like coconut oil and other plant extracts to aid. This knowledge was imparted to her daughter Rachel, who has joined her on this journey.
Our pick: All Moi Multipurpose Balm
A product that truly does it all. From dry lips to cuticle repair to peeling skin, this all-purpose balm can solve any skin issue you’re having. It’s formulated with apricot kernel oil and cocoa butter to create a moisture barrier and maintain elasticity, while vitamin E works to protect the skin and improve any dry textures.
You might also like: How to get glowing skin naturally in 2021.
Transparency is key for this curly-hair brand from Mississauga, Ont. With simple packaging, a lengthy list of “free-from” chemicals, and a short ingredient list, this brand prioritizes honesty within their community. Founder Marva Duncan was intentional right down to the packaging, which is an amber bottle, designed to keep formulas in a ‘dark’ environment for long-lasting use.
Our pick: Co-Cleanse
Tired of using shampoo? It’s time to try a co-cleanse (short for conditioner-only wash) during your next hair wash day. The formula is strong enough to cleanse the scalp and remove impurities but doesn’t strip your locks of their natural oils. Ingredients like coconut oil and pimento oil are nourishing and will ensure maximum moisture. Co-cleanse, $26.99.
Based in St. Catharines, Ont., Harper has created cruelty-free, high-quality products ranging from lipsticks to highlighter palettes. Since gaining national attention on Dragon’s Den in 2019, founder Jennifer Harper has aimed to help Indigenous youth feel represented in the beauty industry. With influence from her Anishinaabe roots, Harper celebrates Indigenous beauty through her branding and marketing, while continuing to support Indigenous causes (she donates 10 per cent of profits to the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society.)
Our pick: Agave Lipgloss
This lightweight nude gloss is a staple. Its neutral shade is universally wearable and is formulated with vitamin E to hydrate the lips and add some shine.
This up-and-coming skincare brand (that ships to Canada) deserves a shoutout. Founded by two women-of-colour, Claudia Teng and Olamide Olowe, they both grew up with visible skin conditions they wanted to fix. The brand’s purpose stemmed from the dream of transforming the way you feel about your skin and is designed for every shade of skin. With science-backed formulas and incredible branding, their products are sure to be on your radar.
Our pick: Faded Brightening & Clearing Gel
Whether it’s from sun damage or acne, facial scarring is inevitable at some point in our lives. Using ingredients like niacinamide and alpha-arbutin, this gel gently fades stubborn scars and marks while brightening and reviving signs of tired skin. It does have a chemical-like smell, but the results are worth it.