6 Canadian BIPOC-Led Brands That Are Diversifying the Beauty Counter
The push for greater diversity and representation (and thus, the lack thereof) has been one that every major industry has had to reckon with—the world of beauty is no exception. The $532-billion category (based on a 2019 global estimate by Forbes) is evolving to become more inclusive and diverse, not just for its customers but also in the teams that are leading a new generation of exciting and progressive brands.
In recent years, we’ve seen the arrival of vibrant BIPOC beauty and skincare startups on the scene that are led or founded by savvy and inspiring BIPOC women. From vegan and organic skincare essentials to moisturizing makeup, these companies are quickly replacing once go-to global beauty brands for a discerning – and rapidly growing – clientele of in-the-know beauty and skincare lovers.
These homegrown Canadian BIPOC beauty brands not only have a distinct point of view but they’re also led by BIPOC women who are carving out a more exciting and inclusive future for all.
Despite its launch in the thick of the pandemic, Ambari Beauty has become a quick player in the luxury cosmetic game. Launched by Vancouver-based Nisha Grewal in March 2021, the brand made its debut south of the border at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. The skincare company allows its customers to achieve medi-spa results from the comfort of their home thanks to products like “The Modern Blend,” which is composed of clinical actives, adaptogens, and CBD.
Essentials by Temi
Temi Shobowale offers a soothing solution for the body and soul with her low-waste, vegan, and mostly organic skincare line, Essentials by Temi. The Nigerian-born makeup artist and entrepreneur created the celebrated brand with luxury and wellness top of mind to assist others with finding a balance in their daily well-being regimen. Created with the belief that self-care starts from within, the varied products are designed to balance energies, detoxify pores, and protect the skin from environmental pollutants.
Known best for its famous Warrior Women Liquid Lipsticks, Cheekbone Beauty is becoming a makeup bag staple. The Canadian and Indigenous-owned sustainable beauty brand was founded by Jenn Harper to offer cruelty- and paraben-free makeup that supports Indigenous communities. Cheekbone’s moisturizing and vibrant products are designed to highlight your favourite characteristics. More than just a deliverer of confidence, the Sephora-backed beauty brand also gives back by donating 10 percent of its profits to Shannen’s Dream to help fund equitable education for First Nations children.
Toronto’s Radford has become a go-to for the city’s society page regulars and sophisticated self-care lovers. Under the creative direction of Amanda Lew Kee, Radford offers luxurious clean, vegan, and cruelty-free skincare and makeup, with beloved favourites like the 24K Gold Hydrogel Face Mask and the Glow Power Primer. Headquartered in Toronto’s swanky Yorkville neighbourhood, the Radford team has been the magic makers behind the red carpet looks of some of Canada’s most notable faces.
Lisa Mattam draws from the ancient science of Ayurveda in the creation of her natural skincare line Sahajan, derived from the Hindi word for “intuitive.” The Toronto-based entrepreneur worked closely with ayurvedic doctors in Kerala, who combed Vedic texts to identify effective ingredients. The resulting science-backed Canadian skincare brand features a collection of earth-based face, body, and hair oils, serums, and lip treatments. Sahajan’s best-selling Nourish Face Cream is celebrated for its wrinkle-reducing capabilities.
Three Ships Beauty
A growing number of beauty brand enthusiasts are discovering Three Ships Beauty as a secret to healthier and better-looking skin without breaking the bank. Co-founded by Connie Lo in 2017 and re-branded during the pandemic, Three Ships offers a wide but curated selection of natural skincare and beauty products, including serums, face masks, and toning mists. From a modest start with just $4,000 in the bank, the brand is now found at Hudson’s Bay Company, Whole Foods, and Target.