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Coming across Cheekbone Beauty, the very first Indigenous-owned and founded cosmetics company, felt like a gift. Apart from the necessity in centering Indigenous stories and businesses, especially female-led ones, their narrative surrounding representation to aid the youth in moving towards acceptance, really resonates with me. Although we’re now familiar with this idea that feeling seen plays such an important role in fostering a sense of belonging, having a role model in the beauty industry really takes that feeling to the next level.
In January of 2015, founder and CEO Jenn Harper had the most vivid dream of little Indigenous girls covered in lip glosses. Keeping in line with her Anishinaabe roots, the first line Jenn launched was SUSTAIN in 2020, a low-waste line of lipsticks made for everyone that loves our planet. She’s now continued to grow the brand with other enticing products including the Unify Multi-Pencil ($20), the Illuminating Primer Stick ($35), the Mattifying Moon Dust ($23), and so much more.
Since their launch, the brand has garnered an ever-growing community of passionate supporters who believe in Cheekbone’s mission and love their products. But the true impact of Cheekbone’s work is felt through the conversations with Indigenous youth. Jenn’s dream is what led to the birth of Cheekbone, as well as their aim to make a difference in the lives of Indigenous youth through donations that support educational opportunities for them. Cheekbone Beauty strives to help every Indigenous person feel valued in the world by creating space for them in the beauty industry, while also developing sustainable color cosmetics that won’t end up in a landfill.
- The brand is indigenous-owned & founded.
- The Unify Multi-Pencil comes in so many different shades - a truly inclusive approach!
- The brand gives back to its community by investing in a variety of important causes.
We don't like
- The Mattifying Moon Dust glow leaves a bit of a white cast on brown/darker skin tones.
- If you’re looking for a tinted moisturizer/foundation/cover up, you unfortunately won’t find it here (but they do have the Earth Palette).
- The packaging is sustainable and reusable, but not necessarily an aspirational aesthetic for one's vanity.
The sense of tenderness and authenticity of this brand is felt in their every product: sustainable and high quality color cosmetics that are clean, vegan and cruelty free, as well as in every piece of packaging. And anyone engaging with these little drops of heaven will tell you the same. As part of its sustainability mission, Cheekbone is associated with organizations such as Pact Collective, 1% for the Planet, and B.Corp. These partnerships show the brand’s commitment to both their people and the planet.
FROM ROOTS TO NATURE TO COLOR
An award-winning social entrepreneur and member of the Northwest Angle #33 First Nation in Kenora, Ontario, Jenn has struggled with accepting her Indigenous roots for as long as she can remember. She was estranged from her Indigenous family for much of her child and adult life. After learning about her grandmother’s experience in residential school, she understood how her family was affected by generational trauma, and thus, Cheekbone Beauty’s goal became to help Indigenous youth see themselves in a beauty brand.
Cheekbone’s product development is guided by 3 principles: (1) INDIGENOUS ROOTS – their products tell their story, of the rich Indigenous culture that they’ve had to hide for so long. You can see it in the naming of their products, their brand colors and in how they express themselves on social media, in-store or wherever you may find them; (2) SUSTAINABLE BY NATURE – drawing from Indigenous teachings, Cheekbone strives to ensure their products are truly sustainable. From the ingredients to the packaging, they make every effort to use only what's needed for the least amount of environmental impact and maximum wearability; and (3) CLEAN COLOR – clean and sustainable does not mean plain and bland. Cheekbone Beauty believes everyone should be empowered to express their unique selves and have fun with makeup. Indigenous culture is bold, vibrant and colorful, which is exactly what the products are meant to bring to life. Feeling safe knowing Cheekbone’s products are created without harmful or controversial ingredients is simply the cherry on top.
ROUTINES FOR A BETTER COMPLEXION
Cheekbone Beauty was kind enough to share various products with me, including the Illuminating Primer Stick ($35). This clean, vegan and lightweight primer leaves you with a brightening glow and is perfect to apply under makeup to clean and moisturized skin. You can also use it on its own for the ideal lit-from-within sheen that lasts all day long. It’s meant to create a prepped and smooth canvas, which is exactly what it does. The fun but simple purple packaging that it comes in is the perfect size and can fit in your purse as a go-to product whenever you want your skin to feel radiant. Featuring a carefully selected combination of fruit extracts in a skin-friendly, non-irritating formula, this starlight stick is always good to have on hand.
I was also gifted a series of the Unify Multi-Pencil ($20): unifying multi-pencils that are lightweight, shade-correcting, and crafted to blend perfectly with your skin tone. I really loved mixing and matching various shades to match my complexion. These pencils are buildable, blend-able, smooth and creamy – ideal for anyone who loves an easy makeup application (aka me). I use my pencils on the daily, either as a concealer, matte highlighter, for contouring, bronzing, sculpting, full-face application and even as a priming base for eyeshadow! After application, you’re left with a dewy but natural skin-like finish, which is fully my jam. With a combination of natural oils, my skin soaks up these ingredients and the colors blend seamlessly into my skin. 10/10 would recommend for anyone in need of some safe and lightweight makeup.
And last but not least, the Mattifying Moon Dust ($23): this translucent setting powder is a vegan, talc-free, translucent setting and mattifying powder. It feels velvety smooth on the skin, especially when applied with Cheekbone Beauty’s Face Brush ($20) to help blend this all in! The pillowy, dome-shaped brush softly and smoothly diffuses pigment when paired with this shine-reducing powder that works on all skin tones and textures. You can apply the powder as a weightless finish over other products to set them in place and keep them there all day long. I love the ingredients in this product as my skin responds really well to anything oil based – they use naturally derived Squalane sourced from olives as a natural moisturizer and skin softener, as well as sustainably sourced ingredients like organic apricot oil. Another product that fits perfectly in your purse, no matter the size, comes in a refillable aluminum packaging, designed to be repurposed or refilled after use.
The centerpiece of Cheekbone’s mission is to give back to their community, and this can be seen in every aspect of their brand. It’s what makes them intentional and attractive to anyone looking for an authentic yet bold beauty company. Most importantly, their values are reflected in their products and their practices: integrity and honesty can be seen in how radically transparent Cheekbone is about their business, their ingredients and their partnerships. They are also courageously curious in how they continue to learn and grow as a brand – evolving with their community, taking any feedback seriously, and constantly researching new ways to continue their sustainability journey. Cheekbone Beauty is a brand that values diversity and inclusivity and this mindset is reflected in their charitable goals.