Still think that the best beauty brands are American, French, Japanese or Korean? Think again. Our Canadian compatriots are making everything from shampoos that promise to help hair grow faster, to haemorrhoid creams, and brands include old favourites like Marcelle, Saje and Escents and newbies like Refresh Botanicals and Nudestix. If you’re especially keen to support local business, 11 of them even have their headquarters here in BC. Know and love a Canadian beauty brand? Get in touch and we’ll add them to our list.
Speciality: Long-lasting eye makeup, kind-to-skin foundations and cruelty-free kabuki brushes, created by makeup artist Sara Au Yeong.
Favourite feature: This brand favours quality over quantity: it makes just five high-performing products, all of which are makeup artist favourites.
How Canadian: Headquartered in Vancouver.
Star product: The famous Liquid Eyeliner ($30), which gives intense colour, dries in seconds and lasts 24 hours without flaking or smudging (really). It comes in two shades: Black and Espresso.
What’s next: A 24-hour Eyeliner Pencil will launch soon.
Pricing: From $28 for an eyeliner pencil to $50 for a duo pack of brow liners.
Speciality: A ‘house of colour’ offering a wide-range of makeup.
Favourite feature: It’s fun, affordable, accessible, and its product quality and choice is up there with the big girls like Revlon, L’Oreal Paris or Maybelline. Targeted at fashion-forward 16- to 24-year-olds, but there’s also plenty to please the over-30s and beyond.
How Canadian: Headquartered in Montreal and many products are produced there, though some are sourced internationally. Ingredients are both local and imported.
Star product: The Kohl Eyeliner ($5.99), which is the number one selling eyeliner in Canada.
What’s next: It’s already available throughout Canada and via www.birchbox.com in the US, with no further expansion plans.
Pricing: From $3.25 for the Single Sharpener to $16.95 for the CC Colour Control Instant Perfecting Base.
Where to find: At London Drugs.
Speciality: Botanical bath and body products with no parabens, sodium laureth sulphate, mineral oils, propylene glycol or synthetic colours.
Favourite feature: It has 14 different collections with 14 scents, from spicy Pink Pepper to refreshing Lemon Freckle. All formulations are loaded with kind-to-skin olive oil. It does good too: Proceeds from one collection, Ginger Snap, go to the Autism Speaks charity. We also love the pretty, retro-style packaging.
How Canadian: It’s headquartered in Kelowna BC and manufactured there. The brand tries to source as many ingredients as possible from the region.
Star product: Mustard Bath (from $5.50), a powder that you add to hot bath water to blast away aches, pains and cold and flu symptoms.
What’s next: The brand has an extensive growth plan in Canada and the US.
Pricing: From $3.50 for minis to $79.95 for the Say Oui to Beauty gift set.
Speciality: Olive-oil-based face and body products
Favourite feature: Like founder Daniela Belmondo, it’s a mixture of her birthplace (Italy) and her adopted home (Vancouver). The olive oil comes from Italy, while the wild herbs are grown here. Everything is made in small batches, tested on humans, not animals, and free from fillers or artificial colours and fragrances. Local sourcing and fair trade are priorities.
How Canadian: Manufactured here and part of the packaging is made here. All essential oils and wild crafted herbs are grown in Vancouver.
Star product: The Cloud Face Cream ($51.95), a light, but nourishing moisturiser with real rose and lavender.
What’s next: The brand has already made an international splash, having been featured in top magazines like Wallpaper* and New York Magazine, and is available in the US as well as Canada. No other expansion plans right now.
Pricing: From $8.95 for olive oil soap to $51.95 for face cream.
Speciality: Food-grade lip products
Favourite feature: As well as being (literally) good enough to eat, products contain anti-ageing ingredients like resveratrol, organic fruit butters and manuka honey. The brand makes lippie removers and lip masks too, and colours are strongly pigmented and long-lasting.
How Canadian: Manufactured in Toronto and the headquarters are there. Ingredients are sourced from all over the world.
Star product: Luminous Creme Lipstick ($28), which moisturises, lasts for hours and comes in 33 shades, including neutrals, pinks, reds and berries. Just out, exclusively in Canada, is the Maple Collection, five maple syrup-scented matte lipsticks and a Maple Agave Lip Mask.
What’s next: Products are available in North America and Australia, and the brand also has a Lip Lab in New York where you can custom-make a lipstick. There are no current plans to expand.
Pricing: From $14 for the Lip Wipes to $53 for the Watercolor Lip Gloss Library (which contains products worth $180).
Where to buy: www.sephora.ca
Speciality: Skincare and body care that promises to ‘rebalance’ skin and restore it to good health.
Favourite feature: 100 per cent natural products that are suitable for even very sensitive skin. Most are available without scent, so they won’t clash with your posh perfume.
How Canadian: All products are made in Canada and the boxes and labels too. Some ingredients, such as cold-pressed organic olive oil, aren’t available here, so are sourced from around the world.
Star product: The brand’s Natural Foaming Face Wash (from $9) is its bestseller and has won awards including Best Cleanser in the Globe’s Style & Beauty Awards 2013. It’s pH balanced, removes makeup and eye makeup, and cleanses thoroughly too.
What’s next: The brand has just opened a second store in Toronto and hopes to open more every year.
Pricing: From $6 for a Lip Conditioner to $149 for HydrExtreme Hydration Boosting Serum.
Where to find: At www.consonantskincare.com (free shipping in Canada on orders over $75) and at Beauty Mark, 1268 Pacific Blvd and Balance Medical Centre, 1590 W 7th Ave.
Speciality: Aromatherapy-based skincare and remedies
Favourite feature: The wide selection of aroma blends, plus the Custom Blending Bar, where you can work with a scent specialist to create your own individual lotions, washes, massage oils, wellness roll-ons and body butters.
How Canadian: Based in Burnaby, many of the brand’s products are manufactured, packaged, blended and produced in BC or Canada. Ingredients come from all over the world.
Star product: Stress Relief Roll-On ($22.95), which has neroli, bergamot and lavender essential oils and can be used for children and adults.
What’s next: The brand is currently available in 52 store locations across Canada and Asia, with new store openings planned for Winipeg, Alberta, BC and Ontario this year.
Pricing: From $4.95 for a lip balm to $137.95 for Rose Otto Essential Oil, 100% pure.
Speciality: 100 per cent non-toxic and cruelty-free essentials.
Favourite feature: The two brilliant products this brand makes are designed for convenience and use on the go. That means biodegradable disposable facial wipes that work just as well as a proper makeup remover, or powder cleanser that can be packed in your carry-on luggage.
How Canadian: All products are designed here. The cleansing cloths are developed in the US. Ingredients such as essential oils come from all over, while the organic honey in the cleansing cloths comes from Alberta.
Star product: Juicy Bamboo Natural Facial Cleansing Cloths ($15.50 for 30), which are the only cloths infused with natural cleansing oils including organic honey, jojoba oil, sunflower oil and citrus essential oils. The product won Best Natural/Organic Beauty Product at the 2014 Canadian Beauty Innovation Awards and is the official cleansing cloth approved for use in oncology aesthetics training.
What’s next: The brand is currently working on expanding its US market, and has its sights set on the UK.
Pricing: From $15.50 for 30 Juicy Bamboo Natural Facial Cleansing Cloths to $38 for the Bamboo Tapioca Beads.
Where to buy: Online at www.kaianaturals.com and at Beauty Bar Cosmetics, 2142 West 4th Avenue and The Ten Spot, 2820 West 14th Avenue.
Speciality: Simple skincare for sensitive skin
Favourite feature: Its technology is based on hydration – getting water into skin, ensuring it stays there and can circulate – which is something we all need. The products are particularly suitable extremely sensitive skin, including children, those with eczema, or people who are undergoing radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
How Canadian: Headquartered and manufactured in Vancouver, but the packaging comes from Europe and Asia
Star product: Transforming Face Cream (from $25 for 15ml), which promises to soften, smoothen and firm skin.
What’s next: The product is already sold online and ships internationally, so there are currently no further expansion plans.
Pricing: From $16 for a hand cream to $58 for a face or body cream
Speciality: Organic vegan and vegetarian friendly, cruelty-free makeup.
Favourite feature: The brand partners with the Humane Society and Peta, so its animal-friendly credentials are sky-high. It also uses a high proportion of organic ingredients and no fillers (talc, petrochemicals) or chemical preservatives. All but two products (Lip Love lip conditioner and Shazam shimmer) are vegan.
How Canadian: The brand is based here and designed here. Currently it uses two overseas manufacturers that are certified natural and organic, but brand founder Darcey Diehl is developing her latest product, a liquid lipstick, in Richmond BC.
Star product: Vegocentric Vegan and Organic Lipsticks ($23), which contain organic castor oil, jojoba oil and shea butter and are pigmented only with minerals. There are 12 shades, from nude to purple.
What’s next: The brand just started working with a UK distributor and has a retailer in Australia. Otherwise, Diehl is happy to focus on Canada for the time being.
Pricing: From $8 for a lip balm to $30 for pressed powder.
Where to find: At www.lippygirl.com and WishList Boutique, 2811 West Broadway.
Speciality: It claims to be the only prestige Canadian beauty brand.
Favourite feature: Clever products that really work, in chic, elegant packaging.
How Canadian: Formulated and manufactured in Montreal. The brand tries to include Canadian products where possible – for example, Labrador tea, which is only found in Canada and is said to have more powerful antioxidant properties than vitamin C.
Star product: Portfolio Professional Corrector ($34), which contains five shades of concealer that can be mixed to find your perfect hue. “Nothing beats Portfolio for correcting all kinds of minor flaws while enhancing your best features. It’s been my go-to product for more than 15 years,” says the brand’s International Makeup Artist, David Vincent. There’s also the classic Neiges scent, a crisp, fresh floral fragrance.
What’s next: “The brand still has a lot of potential to grow outside of Quebec, in makeup but also skincare and fragrance. The unique Montreal touch is definitely attractive to other countries too, such as Singapore” says a spokesperson for the brand.
Pricing: From $9 for nail polish to $110 for an anti-ageing cream.
Where to find: At London Drugs and Shoppers Drug Mart. The full selection of products is available at www.lisewatier.com, with free shipping to Lise Watier members on orders over $75.
Speciality: Hypo-allergenic and fragrance free products including skincare and colours.
Favourite feature: Apart from the fact that it’s been around forever (it was created in 1874), it offers a full range of skincare and colours, with some particularly highly rated products like its CC Cream and Eye Make-Up Remover Lotion. Like its little sister brand, Annabelle, it’s well able to compete with major international brands.
How Canadian: Headquartered in Montreal, with almost 200 people working there on product development. Many products are produced there, though some are sourced internationally. Ingredients are both local and imported.
Star product: Oil-Free Eye Make-Up Remover Lotion ($13.95), which is number one in its category in Canada and is loved for its ability to take off even waterproof products without tugging, irritating or leaving grease.
What’s next: It’s already available throughout Canada and via www.birchbox.com in the US, with no further expansion plans.
Pricing: From $9.95 for the Kohl Eyeliners and Oil Free Eye Make-Up Remover Pads to $45.95 for Revival Gold skincare products.
Where to find: At London Drugs.
Speciality: Eco-friendly, biodegradable beauty products.
Favourite feature: We’re big fans of sheet masks, for their ability to really push ingredients into skin. This brand uses moisturising argan oil and botanical ingredients, and no parabens, dyes, pigments, mineral oils, artificial fragrances or benzephenone. Unlike many sheet masks, both the masks and packaging are biodegradable.
How Canadian: Headquartered in Toronto, the brand’s products are made in South Korea.
Star product: Detox Diva (from $7), which is said to minimise pores and absorb toxins, without drying the skin.
What’s next: MaskerAide products are now available in the UK, India, Scandinavia and the US. It’s also developing new products. In March 2015, parent company MaskerAide Inc launched a second brand, washbeautyco, which specialises in all-natural konjac sponges.
Pricing: From $7 for a single mask to $65 for a multi-pack of 12. washbeautyco sponges start at $14.
Speciality: Herbal-based products that deal with all manner of hair issues – both on your head and body.
Favourite feature: Hair is basically always causing us problems – it grows too slowly on our heads and too quickly on our bodies. Nisim makes shampoos and conditioners that are said to speed up hair growth on your head and reduce hair loss. Its Kalo spray and lotion is designed to slow down regrowth. The brand also makes products for psoriasis.
How Canadian: Headquartered in Toronto, and all manufacturing takes place there. Packaging and ingredients are 95 per cent Canadian.
Star product: Fast Shampoo and Conditioner ($19.95 each) – the shampoo was recently featured on The Kit’s One Minute Miracles. The products contain amino acids that supposedly fortify hair and help it grow more quickly. They are free from sulphates and parabens. The brand also makes NewHair Biofactors, anti-hair-loss shampoos and conditioners.
What’s next: The brand is currently available in the UK, South Africa, South Korea and Russia, is just launching in China, and plans to launch in Argentina and Ireland this year.
Pricing: From $19.95 for shampoo or conditioner to $79.95 for a hair and scalp treatment.
Speciality: Easy-to-use makeup crayons to give you a natural look.
Favourite feature: Apparently ‘millennials’ don’t want to look like they’re wearing makeup, and they have no time to apply it. So Jenny Frankel (a former M.A.C product developer who went on to create Cover FX) and her two teenaged daughters, Ally and Taylor came up with the solution. Nudestix is a small range of neutral crayons, sticks and pens that are designed to flatter all skin tones and take just a few moments to apply.
How Canadian: Founded and headquartered in Toronto.
Star product: Lip and Cheek Pencil ($28), which doubles up as a subtle lippie/blusher, has skincare ingredients like vitamin E and peptides, and comes in a neat little tin, complete with mirror and pencil sharpener.
What’s next: The brand is still a baby, but has already made a big impact. The latest news: a collaboration with digital makeover app Perfect365, so you can digitally try on Nudestix products and then buy them with a couple of clicks. With founder Jenny Frankel’s pedigree, chances are you’ll hear much more soon. After all, nude, neutral and easy-to-wear was the starting point of a little company called Bobbi Brown…
Pricing: Everything costs $28.
Speciality: Nature-based products that really work
Favourite feature: It’s a natural brand – think botanical extracts and oils –but with clinically proven results on hydration, barrier function, firmness and wrinkles. The products also have a very light texture, so they suit combination skin and are great for when it’s hot and sticky outside. Nothing is tested on animals.
How Canadian: The head office is in Calgary; products are formulated in Quebec and manufactured, labelled and bottled in Barrie, Ontario. The highest percentage of ingredients from Canada with some specialty organic items from France and the United States. The labels are made in Edmonton.
Star product: Daily Facial Moisturizer ($18.99 for 100ml) which hydrates with sweet almond, jojoba and coconut oils, and Intensive Serum ($23.99 for 50ml) which improves the appearance of wrinkles with grape seed oil.
What’s next: The brand has its sights set on further expansion within Canada, then the US and possibly Asia.
Pricing: From $18.99 for products from the Everyday Care line, to $23.99 for the anti-ageing Extra Care products. “We have chosen to offer the line at an accessible price point so that young women can afford to invest in lifelong chemical free and beautiful skin,” says COO Janet Hyde.
Speciality: Cosmeceutical anti-ageing products.
Favourite feature: Products are recommended by dermatologists and loaded with proven anti-ageing ingredients like glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.
How Canadian: The family-owned firm is based in Montreal and all products are formulated and manufactured there. Three of the products contain rumex extract, which is native to Canadian prairies and said to have brightening properties. The company CEO, Mr Robert Lavoie, even sends out a personal Happy Canada Day postcard to dermatologists and cosmeticians every year.
Star product: Reversa UV Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF15 ($37), which has eight per cent glycolic acid. An SPF30 version has just been launched in time for summer.
What’s next: “Expansion is something that is always of interest, however, we are not ready to discuss it at the moment,” says a brand spokesperson.
Pricing: From $23 for a cleanser to $43 for the Multi-Tasking Care Cream.
Where to find: At www.reversa.ca, London Drugs and Shoppers Drug Mart.
Speciality: 100 per cent natural and toxin free bath and body products.
Favourite feature: Labels like ‘natural’ don’t go far enough for this brand. It has its own system – the Red List and Green List, which clearly delineates what can, and can’t go in the products. Its ethics extend to stores too: When new stores are built or existing stores are renovated, all construction materials are reused, reclaimed, recyclable, or compostable and sourced from North America.
How Canadian: The brand is headquartered in Canmore, Alberta, and the products are handmade there. As many as possible of the ingredients are sourced locally or domestically.
Star product: Foot Butter ($15), which supposedly heals dry and cracked feet, and is easy to use – coat your feet in it before bed and then pop on a pair of socks.
What’s next: The brand is working on its Canadian expansion – right now, there are stores in BC, Alberta and Manitoba, with plans to open more outlets in the future.
Pricing: From $5 for lip butters to $130 for the Complete Transformative Skin Care Line.
Where to find: At www.rockymountainsoap.com, and in stores at Metropolis at Metrotown and Bentall Centre.
Speciality: Aromatherapy-based skincare and remedies
Favourite feature: Products made from 100 per cent plant-derived essential oils and pure ingredients. They’re environmentally friendly, healthy – and they smell great too.
How Canadian: Founded in Vancouver by Jean-Pierre LeBlanc (originally from Quebec) and Kate Ross LeBlanc (originally from Ontario). About 90 per cent of products are manufactured in Canada.
Star product: The Pocket Pharmacy ($49.95), which has roll-ons of Peppermint Halo, for headaches and migraines, Soothing Stress Release Remedy – lavender and orange to help with relaxation, Pain Release, with lavender and marjoram to help reduce inflammation and relieve muscle pain and stiffness, Immune Remedy, a virus fighting blend with tea tree, pine needles and rosemary, and Eater’s Digest, with fennel and peppermint to soothe upset stomachs. It comes in a small handbag-sized pouch.
What’s next: “We are looking ahead to growth opportunities into other markets, however right now Saje is focused on its Canadian expansion from coast-to-coast, including a reach to Newfoundland where we will open at Avalon Mall later this year. We are so excited to connect Canadians with the healing power of plants all the away across our fabulous nation,” says Kate Ross LeBlanc, co-founder and CEO.
Pricing: From $9.95 for SPF30 Broad-Spectrum All Natural Sunscreen to $139.95 for a deluxe dry skincare set.
Speciality: Organic, eco-friendly and luxurious makeup and cruelty-free brushes (no animal hair) created by Emmy Award-nominated makeup artist JoAnn Fowler, who was head makeup artist on The L Word.
Favourite feature: It’s relatively easy to find organic and natural skin and body-care products, but makeup is another thing altogether – particularly if you’re talking professional quality cosmetics and accessories. The woman behind Sappho Organics is JoAnn Fowler, who was partly responsible for The L Word‘s iconic makeup (Shane’s uber smoky eyes and Jenny the pretty ingenue). That means there’s no compromise on quality, and Sappho Organics products are used by pro makeup artists all over the world. Green credentials? Everything is free from synthetic ingredients, not tested on animals and ingredients are always ethically sourced, and organic when possible.
How Canadian: Headquartered in Vancouver. Products are manufactured here and in the US.
Star product: Liquid Foundation ($52). It comes in seven shades, from fair to dark, and each is named after a different L Word character. Ingredients include organic aloe juice and organic green tea. It can be layered to give light to medium coverage and is loved by pro makeup artists because it looks great both on camera and in reality, and is kind to even sensitive skin.
What’s next: “Our plans are to continue to grow organically and exclusively unless we find an ethical investor,” says JoAnn Fowler.
Pricing: From $12 for a single eyeshadow to $52 for the foundation.
Where to buy: At www.organicsbysappho.ca.
Speciality: ‘Personal training for the skin’ – simple skincare regimes and facials designed to be used consistently.
Favourite feature: Finding a good facial can be trial and error because most salons are one-man bands with varying degrees of expertise. Skoah offers effective, professional services at each of its 12 Canadian locations. There’s also a good range of fuss-free skincare products.
How Canadian: Headquartered here in Vancouver and all products are made here too.
Star product: Hydradew mask ($45), which offers oil-free hydration thanks to glycosaminoglycanes (vegetable-skin extracts) that can supposedly restore the skin’s moisture barrier.
What’s next: The company has big expansion plans: it currently has 12 outlets here in Canada and six in the US, and plans to have 50 stores by 2018
Pricing: From $15 for body lotion to $85 for Skin Boost Serum.
Speciality: Perfumes made from ingredients that support farmers in troubled countries.
Favourite feature: Founded by Barbara Stegemann after her best friend was wounded in Afghanistan, The 7 Virtues has the motto, “Make perfume, not war”. It sources its ingredients from countries such as Haiti, Rwanda, The Middle East and Afghanistan and pays farmers a decent living wage. In regions like Afghanistan, this encourages them to give up growing poppies (used for heroin) and grow orange blossom instead. The five fragrances are free from phthalates, parabens, are vegan, and smell simply divine. They’re also ideal for layering because each is based on a single note.
How Canadian: The company’s headquarters are in Nova Scotia and the fragrances are made there. Boxes and labels are made in Canada too.
Star product: The Custom Blend Box ($115), which contains four fragrances that can be blended at home. “No one will ever be able to smell exactly like you,” explains Stegemann.
What’s next: The company has recently expanded into the US, Germany, Austria and the UK. “We will continue to shine light on countries rebuilding and go where the market welcomes us,” says Stegemann.
Pricing: From $70 for a 50ml bottle to $115 for the Custom Blend Box.
Speciality: Plant-based, natural alternatives to first-aid essentials like Preparation H and Polysporin.
Favourite feature: It’s relatively easy to find natural food and cosmetics now, but harder to update the medicine cabinet. Therawise’s ointments are vegan and cruelty free, the packaging is free from BPA and phthalates, and raw materials and products are tested for heavy metal, solvent residue and pesticide residues. As well as haemorrhoid and antiseptic products, the brand makes acne ointment, diaper cream and vaporizing decongestant rub.
How Canadian: The products are manufactured in Quebec and warehoused in Vancouver and Missisauga, and the headquarters are in Vancouver. Boxes and tubes are made here, and the ingredients are sourced from all over the world, including Canada.
Star product: The best seller is HmR Natural Bio-Active Hemorrhoidal Ointment, the Preparation H alternative, which has ingredients like witch hazel and chamomile, and is safe for pregnancy. There’s also SHO Natural Skin Healing Ointment, an all-purpose ointment for cuts, wounds and rashes that’s intended as an alternative to corticosteroids, anti-itch products and antibacterials.
What’s next: The brand is currently looking to find a partner in the US.
Pricing: Ointments are $19.99 each.
Where to find: At selected branches of London Drugs, Shoppers Drug Mart and Rexall, plus other stores listed here.
Speciality: Simple skincare and makeup that include natural ingredients
Favourite feature: It’s independent, owned by women and makes products that are as simple to choose as they are to use. That means a complete range of products from matte lipsticks with moisturizing gel formulations to eye creams that supposedly tackle everything from puffiness to pigmentation.
How Canadian: Based in Toronto. 95 per cent of products and all packaging are made in Canada. Ingredients and components come from all over the world.
Star product: Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator ($34), a micro-bead-free facial scrub with papaya enzymes to remove dead skin and aloe to soothe. It’s said to deliver the same kind of benefits as an in-salon microdermabrasion.
What’s next: The brand is currently building links with Costco here and in the US, and expanding into more branches of Shoppers Drug Mart.
Pricing: From $15 for a lipstick to $62 for the Elixir Serum.
Where to find: At www.vasanticosmetics.com and select Shoppers Drug Mart locations.
Speciality: Natural ingredients like fruit- and vegetable-derived antioxidants meet cosmeceutical actives like amino acids and hyaluronic acid for a best-of-both-worlds range of spa skincare.
Favourite feature: The Whistler brand is not just vegan-friendly and free from parabens, phthalates, synthetic colours, sulphates and formaldehyde. The products are even friendly to those with nut allergies. The brand describes itself as a cross between Eminence Organics (real natural ingredients, textures and scents) and Dermalogica (concentrated active ingredients and high efficacy).
How Canadian: The brand has its headquarters and products are manufactured in Whistler. Ingredients, packaging, labels and supplies are sourced as locally as possible.
Star product: Hibiscus Miracle Eye Lift & Wrinkle Treatment ($36.98), which can be used on the eye contour and lid, around the lips, nose, chin and forehead. Made from 100 per cent natural ingredients it is said to lift and firm. The brand also rates its Triple Berry CoQ10 Firming Creme ($35.98). A brand representative told us that customers, “start panicking when their jar starts to get low, and would crawl up to Whistler on broken glass before running out.”
What’s next: The brand is rapidly expanding into spas throughout Canada and the US.
Pricing: From $7.98 for a lip balm to $75.98 for a gift set.