12 Indigenous-Owned Beauty Brands to Know and Support Now
Fragrant bath bombs, healing ointments, high-impact colour cosmetics, and more.
by : Melissa Fejtek- Jun 21st, 2021
Sḵwálwen Botanicals by Kaili'i Smith (@liiphoto)
June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day. This day celebrates and honours the cultures of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada, the country’s first occupants. In recognition of their heritage, we’re spotlighting Indigenous-owned beauty brands from all over. From sustainably made soaps and lipsticks to skincare crafted with botanical ingredients, read on to discover our 12 favourite Indigenous-owned beauty brands that you’ll want to support stat.
Owned by Laura Whitaker, a Haudenosaunee and member of the Mohawk nation from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, Wildcraft was created with the intention of providing high-quality natural skincare products at an accessible price point. Handmade in small batches in Toronto, all products are $35 and under. Try the bestselling Calm Face Lotion ($34), a plush mattifying moisturizer which features chamomile and lavender to balance the skin and calm inflammation, or the Renew Eye Serum ($32), which blends anti-inflammatory turmeric with yarrow to minimize the look of dark circles and deeply hydrate the skin.
Nangoons Wabegijig from the Ketegaunseebee (Garden River) First Nation started her business, Ojibway Natural, four years ago while she was on mat leave with her son. Her goal? To start a business that would allow her to stay home with her son while making natural products more accessible to the general public. “I strive to make all products gentle for skin and for those with scent sensitivities, both of which I have personal experience with. It’s also important for me to tie in my culture by incorporating medicine scents into the products, sharing knowledge in workshops and demonstrations, and setting up a vendor’s table at events, powwows and other gatherings.” To sample Wabegijig’s line, try the Breathe Easy Gift Set ($20), which features peppermint-and-eucalyptus-infused bath bombs, candles and vapour rub, or try the Sweetgrass Sugar Scrub ($7) for smoother, softer skin all over.
Sḵwálwen Botanicals (skwall – win), founded by ethnobotanist Leigh Joseph of the Squamish First Nation, is an Indigenous skincare brand that honours the ritual of self-care by combining cultural plant knowledge with Indigenous science. Each product is carefully crafted with sustainably harvested plant ingredients and bears a Squamish name to honour the place from which the plant knowledge originates. The bestselling Kalkáy (call-kay) line – meaning “rose” in Squamish – includes the nourishing rosehip, jojoba and sweet almond-infused Kalkáy Rose Facial Oil ($32), as well as the Kalkáy Rose Toner ($26), which blends rose and chamomile water with witch hazel to gently soothe and tone the skin.
Satya Organic Skin Care
Based in North Vancouver, Anishinaabe member of the Fort William First Nation Patrice Mousseau is the woman behind Satya Organic Skin Care. Mousseau set out to create a natural and effective alternative to steroid creams when her eight-month-old daughter developed eczema. After plenty of experimentation with combining traditional medicine with scientific research, Satya Organic Skin Care was born. Now, Mousseau provides organic plant-based skin relief products that are not only super effective, but affordable too. Notable products include the Satya Stick ($25), which glides on effortlessly to provide an instant soothing effect, as well as the brand’s signature The One Stick ($25), which effectively combats all forms of itching, from eczema flare-ups to bug bites and thigh chafing.
Launched in 2016, Cheekbone Beauty is a sustainably made cosmetics brand founded by Anishinaabe-Canadian Jenn Harper. The products are designed to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable, from product ingredients to packaging materials. For each Cheekbone product purchased, 10 percent of the sale proceeds go towards Shannen’s Dream and the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society (FNCFCS). For a high-impact and hydrating pop of colour, we love the Sustain Lipstick ($32) and Lipgloss ($24) lines. Next year, keep an eye out for Cheekbone Beauty on Sephora.ca: the brand will be available for purchase online following Sephora’s pledge to dedicate 25 percent of its retail space to BIPOC-owned cosmetic brands by 2026.
Sequoia, which is named for the giant Sequoia coniferous trees that live thousands of years, carries a variety of handmade soaps, fragrant bath bombs, botanical oils, lip balms and more. Founder Michaelee Lazore, who is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Akwesáhsne and Northern Paiute (Nevada), worked as an engineer over 15 years ago and launched her cosmetics brand after being inspired by her grandmother’s traditional recipes. The team is completely Indigenous-owned and operated and each product is designed, formulated and tested locally, including the 100 percent food-grade olive oil and cane sugar-infused Strawberry Face Scrub ($22), and the skin-soothing Red Clover Lotion ($25).
Mother Earth Essentials
Mother Earth Essentials is a beauty line inspired by traditional Indigenous recipes and teachings, created by Carrie Armstrong, who comes from a long lineage of Cree Medicine women. Armstrong draws upon the knowledge passed down to her to create high-quality, plant-based products, such as the refreshing and soothing Peppermint Sage Collection (from $20). For a calming and grounding experience, light up a Cedar Balsam Candle ($20), made with 100 percent natural soy wax to naturally purify the air.
Quw’utsun’ Made is an apothecary-style beauty line created by Arianna Johnny-Wadsworth, who is originally from Duncan, B.C., in the Quw’utsun’/Cowichan Valley. Each product is vegan and cruelty-free and is hand-crafted in small batches using 100 percent renewable energy. All packaging is sourced from companies in America to reduce carbon emissions. Try The Weaver Fragrance ($60), which has a pleasant genderless vanilla-and-sandalwood scent and is inspired by Coast Salish cedar & wool weavers, or the Salish Forest Oil ($30) which softens hair and skin thanks to a rich blend of coconut, sweet almond, argan, jojoba and cedar oils.
Naidié Nezų, based out of Forth Smith, features a range of organic balms, salves, teas & tinctures, all infused with wild-crafted botanical ingredients. Take for instance, the Baby Spruce Body Butter ($25), which features shea butter and hand-picked spruce gum to form a soothing protective barrier over chapped and sensitive skin, or the Shower Steamers ($15), packed with invigorating essential oils like eucalyptus, lemon and mint to clear the sinuses and awaken the senses. In addition, 10 percent of Naidié Nezų sales proceeds go towards supporting land-based initiatives.
Spirit Earth Holistics
Founded in 2008 on the Oneida First Nation Reserve, located near London, Ontario, Spirit Earth Holistics combines traditional Indigenous teachings with holistic practices and high-quality, soothing formulas. With a range of bath and body products including DIY kits, essential oils, soap bars and sanitizer (and even an odour-neutralizing Blueberry Sage Deodorant ($15), there’s plenty to fall in love with.
Sister Sky is a Native American cosmetics brand run by two sisters from the Spokane & Pauquachin Tribe. The products are inspired by the plant-based traditions and ancient medicine practices of their heritage, and blend ingredients such as sweet grass, cedar and sage to make a variety of healing ointments, creams and salves. Sister Sky’s hero product is Kevin’s Care Body Lotion ($17), which was made to soothe co-founder Monica’s son’s severe eczema. To soothe sore muscles and soften skin, we suggest dropping the Sweetgrass Bath Bomb ($16) into your tub during your next self-care sesh.
Niawen (meaning “to give thanks”) was founded by Tara Tekahentakhwa Tarbell on the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne while she was recovering from cancer at age 37. All products are designed to nurture all skin types and encourage the wearer to start (and end) each day in a state of gratitude and self-care. For a soothing skincare routine, start with the Nurturing Cleansing Oil ($48) which contains evening primrose oil, willow, dandelion, and thyme to gently dissolve impurities, followed by the antioxidant-packed Native Serum ($98) to restore a radiant quality to the skin.
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