The clean beauty movement gets a lot of coverage. People want their personal care products to be sustainable and free of damaging ingredients which is great but Indigenous people have always been at the forefront of this kind of work. Indigenous beauty brands throughout Canada have been using traditional practices and techniques to create products with natural ingredients that are harvested sustainably long before people were talking about it.
These British Columbia-based businesses are the epitome of everything the mainstream clean beauty industry claims to be and yet there is still a massive gap between the level of attention that these entrepreneurs receive. The same goes for the fashion industry and you can find a list of B.C.-based Indigenous fashion brands here.
Here are four skincare, body care, haircare, and wellness brands that are Indigenous-owned and operated in B.C.
Ethnobotanist and founder of Skwálwen Botanicals Leigh Joseph has a book coming out next year that's part narrative and part field guide for "cultivating respectful and reciprocal ways of being in relationship with place and with plants." The book is called Held By the Land and will contain recipes presumably similar to the ones she uses to craft Skwálwen's skin and body care products such as toner, bath salts, healing balms, cleansers, face masks, serums, and oils. The business has grown dramatically in the last few years with Skwálwen products used in hotels, sold at the Polygon Art Gallery, and in boutiques across Canada. Joseph is garnering significant attention for her formulations based on Squamish plant knowledge and using foraged ingredients like wild cranberries, roses, and poplar that are harvested in such a way that no harm comes to the plant or land so it is a 100 per cent clean and sustainable beauty brand.
Nuez Acres is a Metis beauty brand for men and women based in Langley that uses pecan oil to create beard, face, and body care products that are waterless and environmentally friendly. The pecans are harvested from a family farm in Mexico and two of the products just won an international clean beauty award, too.
Satya Organic Skin Care began because founder Patrice Mousseau's baby daughter was diagnosed with eczema and prescribed a steroid cream. Like many other small clean beauty businesses, she wanted to create an alternative that was safe, effective, and gentle on her child's system. Her formula of calendula, almond oil, beeswax, jojoba, and oatmeal was initially whipped up in a crock pot but is now available in a solid roll-on balm. And she's added a pain relief balm to her repertoire. Sataya is available in natural food and health stores across Canada and comes in refillable and compostable packaging.
Sisters Lynn-Marie and Melissa-Rae Angus are the team behind the wellness brand Sisters Sage which makes soap, salves, bath bombs, and smokeless smudge sprays using traditional Indigenous ingredients like sage, cedar, sweetgrass, tobacco leaf, and lavender. They also play around with non-traditional scents to create fun and whimsical bath bombs like bubble gum and pink sugar. Most recently they had a booth at the Vancouver Folk Festival but you can also find their products online.