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Inside Canada's Clean Beauty Scene: Must-Have Conscious Brands

Agriculture is helping to give clean beauty a boost
Agriculture is helping to give clean beauty a boost | © Timothy Paul Smith/Unsplash
Farming has always been a vital part of Canada’s economy. Now agriculture is helping put the country on the map as a leader in clean beauty.

Clean beauty – also called green or conscious beauty – continues to be a worldwide trend shaping the cosmetics and skincare market, according to a 2018 CI Insights report. What is clean beauty? Simply put, a clean product is one that is chemical-free. Most draw from food-grade ingredients like moringa oil and probiotics, stuff you usually see on the ingredient list of your favorite health foods. With an emphasis on local and organic ingredients, beauty brands usually partner with farmers to cull sustainable products with a green thumb. Given this trend, it makes sense that regions known for agriculture and farming helm the clean beauty movement.

Skincare is the foundation of clean beauty © Joe Robles / Unsplash

Canada, which is the world’s fifth most popular exporter of agriculture according to a 2018 news release from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada report, is seeing a boom in farming, with record profits in food and agriculture exports over the past couple years. It’s little wonder some of the hottest clean beauty brands are coming from this country. Here’s a look at some outstanding Canadian skincare brands that embrace the clean beauty ethos.

Poetic Blend

Poetic Blend's luxe serum collection Courtesy of Poetic Blend

The Toronto-based skincare line Poetic Blend, the brainchild of Mikayla Tran, is rooted in simplicity. Tran, the daughter of Vietnamese rice farmers, holds a Master’s degree in literature and has a fondness for Chaucer. Her mantra is to find the poetry in life – which includes channeling a synergy of knowledge and pleasure.

“When I graduated, I wanted to move mountains, not climb ladders,” says Tran, explaining how corporate life just wasn’t for her. Instead, she wanted to create something meaningful while also earning a living. Three years ago, Poetic Blend was born out of Tran’s lifelong interest in skincare, and her own struggles with oily skin: “I tried a lot of products but found they only offered temporary relief.”

After studying the chemistry of the skin, Tran came to the conclusion that “like dissolves like,” and the secret to stopping the skin from producing excess oil is to feed it healthy, quality oil.

These days, Tran works with a lab to formulate a line of oils and serums that make up the Poetic Blend line. “I want to keep it simple – three serums, three oils,” she explains.“Serums, which are a lot smaller molecularly and penetrate the skin at a cellular level, go on the skin first. Then you can lock in the treatment with an oil.” The oils are fast-absorbing and don’t sit on the skin, which sets them apart from other products.

Standout product: The Ghost Oil is an ultra-nourishing dry oil that absorbs into the skin without leaving a trace, and is ideal for daytime use under make-up. It’s also great for anyone who wants to swap out a day cream for a day oil. Safflower, grapeseed, evening primrose, blackcurrant and jojoba seed are just some of the oils used in the formula, which is scent-free. The product is also petroleum-free, so it won’t clog pores.

Graydon Skincare

Graydon Skincare's The Putty Courtesy of Graydon Skincare

Graydon of Graydon Skincare began as a certified yoga instructor with a Masters in creative writing and a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Her Toronto-based skincare line began in her kitchen as part of a holistic self-care routine that aims to “nourish from the inside out.” She calls her plant-based skincare products, which include local Canadian produce such as broccoli, blueberries, kale oil and maple sap, her “artworks,” and has spent the past five years building a business from scratch. “You can’t always get a facial or massage so you have to find other ways to care for yourself,” she explains. “It’s really hard to nurture other people if you can’t get your own needs met.” This philosophy is integral to the foundations of the line.

These days, Graydon works in cooperation with a chemist and lab and has a small staff that helps her source the most potent ingredients, with a focus on preserving products without chemicals. “I want to keep prices fair,” says Graydon. “You want to buy something that makes you feel luxurious and that’s also green, and accessible. I love Tata Harper, but that line isn’t affordable for everyone.”

Graydon Skincare's super sensitive Face Foam Courtesy of Graydon Skincare

Standout products: The Super Sensitive Face Foam is a bubbly face wash made without sulfates. The product derives its foam properties from a special pump. Ingredients include bamboo to soften skin, apple cider vinegar to brighten complexion and the antiseptic willow bark.

The Putty is a soothing lotion formulated with a blend of oils and works well as a mattifying makeup primer. The Babassu powder is a fantastic alternative to synthetic powders that are usually used to achieve a matte finish.

Sangre de Fruta

Sangre de Fruta's Magic Hour Face Cream Courtesy of Sangre de Fruta

Handcrafted in small batches in Vancouver, Sangre de Fruta products incorporate essential oils and wildcrafted plant ingredients. All glass bottles are hand-packaged and labeled with an expiration date to ensure freshness. The brand’s founder, Alison Audrey Weldon, says she’s inspired by “thinking about beauty as a balance of medicine and magic.” This line is known for using wildflowers and essential oils like neroli, lavender and jasmine to aid in complexion woes ranging from acne to eczema.

Read an interview with Sangre de Fruta’s Weldon here.

Standout product: Sangre de Fruta’s latest product drop is the Magic Hour Botanical Face Cream (released for retail on September 1 2018). Formulated with rose and immortelle essential oils, this thick cream helps heal chapped skin without any parabens, sulfates or large molecular structures that interfere with absorption.