The Kit: 12 Indigenous-Owned Beauty Brands To Put On Your Radar

By Katherine Lalancette

June 25, 2021 

Products that respect the earth and honour ancestral knowledge 

A few weeks ago, Jen Harper, founder of Cheekbone Beauty, announced her makeup brand would be sold at Sephora Canada starting next year. “Dreams do come true,” she beamed in a video sharing the big news. The development marked a major milestone, not just for the St. Catharines, Ont. entrepreneur, but for the beauty industry as a whole.

As mounting calls for greater diversity have transformed the retail landscape in recent years, Indigenous-owned brands have often fallen by the wayside. Left out of the conversation and off of store shelves.

Finally, glimmers of change are starting to be seen. In May, Sephora Canada partnered with the 15 Percent Pledge and committed to dedicating a quarter of its offering to BIPOC-owned brands by 2026. The number was chosen to represent the diversity of Canada’s population, roughly 25 per cent of which identifies as BIPOC.

Initiatives like these matter. Yesterday, 751 unmarked graves were found at the site of a former residential school in Saskatchewan. Just a month ago, the remains of 215 children were uncovered at a residential school in BC. Sure, championing inclusivity in beauty can seem like a frivolous pursuit. But the impact of seeing a brand like Cheekbone Beauty alongside giants like Nars or Armani has the potential to change lives, mindsets, even entire societies.

“Our mission and vision of helping every Indigenous kid on the planet see and feel their value in the world will only mean so much more when they can grab our products in Sephora,” explained Harper. 

Here, we round up 12 brilliant products to shop from Indigenous-owned beauty brands.

indigenous beauty brands
Cheekbone Beauty Sustain Lipgloss in Wild Berry, $24, cheekbonebeauty.com

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CHEEKBONE BEAUTY 

In an interview with The Kit back in 2018, Harper, called the makeup brand “my reconciliation to my culture, my community, my family and myself, ultimately.” For years, Harper felt ashamed of her Indigenous roots. Now, she’s celebrating her Anishnaabe heritage with sustainably-minded makeup products.

 

indigenous beauty brands
Sḵwálwen Kalkáy Wild Rose Face Masque, $39, skwalwen.com

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SḴWÁLWEN

Found Leigh Joseph, whose ancestral Squamish name is Styawat, is an ethnobotanist, researcher and community activist. Her botanical skincare line Sḵwálwen is formulated using organic ingredients and wild plants harvested in the most respectful manner. Each product bears a Squamish name “to honour the place where this plant knowledge comes from.”

 

indigenous beauty brands
Yukon Soap Company Petals + Patchouli Soap, $9, yukonsoaps.com

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YUKON SOAP COMPANY

For over twenty years, this Indigenous-owned and operated company has been bringing life to the heart of the Yukon with its gorgeous hand-crafted soaps, essential oil blends and more. Owner Joella Hogan is always seeking ways to uplift her community, whether it’s by having elders and kids gather botanicals together or by employing local youth in her workshop.

 

indigenous beauty brands
Satya Jar, $30, satya.ca

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SATYA 

It all started when Patrice Mousseau’s baby girl, Esme, developed eczema. Instead of using the steroid cream prescribed by her doctor, the Ojibway mother sought out a gentler, natural solution to soothe her daughter’s skin. Eventually, she took matters into her own hands and founded Satya Organic Skin Care. 

 

indigenous beauty brands
Mother Earth Essentials Sage Aromatherapy Mist, $20, motherearthessentials.ca

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MOTHER EARTH ESSENTIALS

Founder Carrie Armstrong comes from a long line of Cree Medicine Women. Passionate about sharing her culture, she makes luxurious bath and beauty products inspired by traditional recipes.

 

indigenous beauty brands
Niawen Nurturing Cleansing Oil, $48, niawen.com

NIAWEN

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Niawen is a skincare line rooted in the sacred teachings relating to medicinal plants. The founder, Tara Tekahentakhwa Tarbell, is an Iroquois Mohawk paramedical and oncology aesthetician who hand-blends each of her botanical elixirs. 

 

indigenous beauty brands
Prados Beauty Blush Palette, $26, pradosbeauty.com

PRADOS BEAUTY

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“I take so much pride in my heritage, my connection to the land, my family and my community,” writes Prados Beauty founder and CEO Cece Meadows. Her fun, vibrant makeup is a reflection of her multicultural background (Meadows is Xicana and Indigenous) and a testimony to her ancestors’ strength. “It is their resilience that inspires me,” she says.

 

indigenous beauty brands
Sequoia Red Clover Bath Bomb, $7 each, shop.sequoia.ca

SEQUOIA 

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Sequoia started out in founder Michaelee Lazore’s kitchen back in 2002. Lazore, whose heritage is Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) from Akwesáhsne and Northern Paiute from Nevada, quit her day job as an engineer to pursue her passion for creating beautiful soaps and Indigenous-inspired products. 

 

indigenous beauty brands
Quw’Utsun’ Made The Weaver Handmade Fragrance, $74 (30ml), quwutsunmade.com

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QUW’UTSUN’ MADE

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Arianna Lauren (picture at the very top), is a proud daughter of the Quw’utsun’/Cowichan Tribes. Over the years, she traveled all over Turtle Island (the lands known as North America), connecting with teachers from various communities. She felt compelled to create a line that would harness the knowledge she’d amassed and pass it on to future generations

 

indigenous beauty brands
Blended Girl Lashes, $7, blendedgirl.com

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BLENDED GIRL 

Shí-Fawn Chee fell in love with makeup in her early 20s but remembers feeling sad when she’d walk into beauty retailers and see zero representation of Indigenous people. Now, the Navajo entrepreneur is seeking to change that with her makeup line, Blended Girl, which focuses on enhancing eyes with rich shadows and fluttering false lashes.

 

indigenous cosmetics
Intertribal Beauty Cosmetics Black Liquid Magnetic Eyeliner, $17, intertribalbeauty.com

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INTERTRIBAL BEAUTY COSMETICS 

Brittney Amitrano, who identifies as Hidatsa, Lakota and Black, was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disorder as a child, which caused skin deformities on the side of her face and made her very self-conscious. “But when I put makeup on I felt confident,” she says. Now, she channels her love of makeup into her brand Intertribal Beauty Cosmetics, the name of which “came from when visitors or ‘outsiders’ can come into the circle at a powwow and dance.”

 

indigenous beauty brands
Indigenous Cosmetics Čhaŋphaša Pigment, $25, indigecos.com

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INDIGENOUS COSMETICS 

This Sicangu Lakota/Chippewa Cree-owned makeup brand is hand-blended in Denver, Colorado. The line includes lipstick shades specifically tailored to Indigenous skin tones as well as sumptuous pigments perfect for adorning lids and highlighting eyes.

 

Read the original article on The Kit here.

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