150 years of (Canadian) beauty innovation

Happy 150th Canada!

To mark this big milestone I want to talk about all the awesome beauty genius that comes from Canada that, in true Canadian fashion, no one ever thinks is Canadian.


Yes, MAC is Canadian. It’s something that I’ve argued about with people but it’s true. Yes, MAC is now based stateside, but the company was founded in Toronto in 1984. To boost its Canadian red, it was first sold exclusively at Hudsons Bay, where it is still being sold today. (For anyone who isn’t Canadian, it’s the retailer that makes those red Canadian olympic gloves).

Of course, MAC has gotten so big it has flagship stores, standalone stores and continues to be sold in department stores worldwide. Of which I’m thankful, because I didn’t think I would find a MAC location in the hick town I lived in back in Korea.

MAC really broke ground in the sheer quantity of colour options to suit all sorts of skin tones. Most people still reference MAC shades when they talk about foundations or to give a sense of what  colour they are. And their HIV awareness campaigns are legendary–not just for the limited edition products, the cool celebrity collaborations. The Viva Glam campaign has been something that’s been around for decades. Way before charitable feel good products were de rigueur.

I love the few things I have tried for MAC. My MAC brow marker in Stud is something that I will always probably gravitate to. I’ve gone through a couple and as soon as I finish off some of my brow stuff, I’ll probably pick up another one. It’s so light and portable and so good at precision work. I don’t need to fill in a lot of my brows but the spots I do want to fill in are pretty small. It also lasts forever and is really easy to use. I also love all the things that I’ve picked up at pro shops, like the pro palettes,

Things I don’t love? The sometimes flaky customer service. I can be one of three people there–or maybe the only person in a store–surrounded by people who just can’t be bothered to help me. Sometimes I want help so I can get and out! Another thing is the quality of some of my brushes, it’s pretty hit or miss. For the price of some of them, it’s kind of unacceptable. I missed the boat on when they used to use Hakuhodo brushes and am a little salty about that. Not that I would have been able to use them properly if I had the chance to purchase them at the time. I have one brush that I had to throw out from MAC that kept shedding and that was just way too much work. But I also have 6 other brushes that I don’t really have an issue with. So I guess it’s just bad luck.


Another example of another brand that most people think is American but actually has Canadian origins!

To be honest, I’ve never tried Elizabeth Arden. It reminds me of department stores and old lady vibes, but I find the brand story really interesting. Arden started her business with her Red Door Salon in New York and she helped get makeup to the masses, which had a negative connotation back then.


Another Toronto company, Bite beauty is one of those brands that I really like. Like NARS, the number of vibrant colours always draws me in. Unlike NARS, all the lip products I’ve tried have never dried me out. The lipsticks are always pretty creamy and the lipgloss wasn’t super tacky. NARS is one of my makeup brands, but that sometimes that lipstick dryness bothers me.

I love NARS Heat Wave, but because it does dry me out I’m hesitant to buy it again. Bite Zinfandel was a pretty good dupe on me that was creamy and moisturizing, leaned just a tad red.

Another cool aspect to Bite is that they give you the opportunity to make your own custom lipstick at their Bite Beauty Lab. I’m all about customisation and lipstick. One of the things that I want to do the next time I find myself in Toronto.


I’ve been a fan of Ilia lipsticks right from the start. Not just because it’s a hometown brand, but because I really like its eco message. While Ilia has a limited number of shades, I find them to be really wearable and quite flattering for a variety of skin tones. My favourites would have to be Neon Angel and Voilà.

I’ve downsized a lot of my lipsticks but when I go through a few more tubes, I’ll make sure to do a purchase!

Unlike Bite, Ilia seems to be quite difficult to come by. Ilia is not available at Sephora stores or online in Canada so it’s a bit more difficult to purchase their stuff. However there are several locations in the city to pick them up!


The best for last in my opinion. SKOAH is a longtime favourite of mine, both for their facials and their skincare. They also have a makeup line, but I’ve never tried it. Almost every single thing I’ve tried from Skoah has done my skin a favour. I especially love the AHA mask and the lip dip SPF. But my most favourite thing from them are their facials. Back when I was a poor university student I saved and scrimped for their boxing day sales and then cashed in on their facial memberships. Their facials are awesome. I’ve had the mini, the power, the facialiscious and the xtreme. My favourite happens to be the fitskin which is the best bang for my buck.

The spa experience that I get is exactly what I had expected my first spa to be, without the pretentiousness I thought the experience would have. It was clean, calm and it left me so relaxed I’ve dozed off in a couple sessions.

I’ve been a pretty loyal customer with Skoah that I’ve seen all the products go through some pretty drastic price changes. It hurts my heart and my wallet, but I love the products so much that the price hikes don’t feel like I’m getting cheated.

Another hometown favourite–probably my #1!


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