Local Treasures: Beauty Companies

Story by Joyce Tse

Calgary’s dry weather makes it a place of inspiration for beauty startups. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to Calgary than oil and gas! We’ve selected ten of our favorite emerging local beauty companies, that are creating a diverse selection of products for both men and women. Each featured company believes in the importance of using natural, cruelty-free and sustainable ingredients. Best of all, they are all made from passionate local entrepreneurs who are proud to call Calgary home!


Photo supplied by Chelsea Risling, Meraki Supply Co.

XX Balm is a lifestyle brand that creates natural lip balms with a focus on giving back to the community. With fun names like 40R3VER, many of the product names and scents are inspired by founder Sam Weerasekera’s experiences in Calgary. Weerasekera has been interested in cosmetics since an early age, and spent her Christmas breaks during high school and university working for a cosmetic company.

“I realized that lip balm was just never done right. It was either full of petroleum and ridiculously priced, or it was pretty good but in a pot, which sounds too germy to be putting on your mouth,” she says.

From this epiphany, she formulated and developed her own lip balms as a creative outlet while working at her corporate job.

“Within a few weeks and a delayed launch, I had XX Balm,” Weerasekera says. To date, Weerasekera continues to balance her full-time corporate job while running XX Balm.


Photo supplied by Lamb’s Soapworks.

With a previous career in the culinary field, crafting soap was a natural progression for Lara Lamb, the founder of Lamb’s Soapworks.

“Years of mixing, blending, keeping track of specific ingredients and how they impact the taste and feel of a recipe have trained my brain and creative spirit and helped me to impart those same characteristics into Lamb’s offerings,” Lamb says.

The company started off with soap, but have since branched out to create a multitude of other natural skin care products. Lamb’s Soapworks latest project is their Canadiana Collection, which showcases a glimpse into Canada’s very diverse ecosystem through its Forest, Ocean and Prairie lines.


Photo supplied by Velvette Organics.

As sisters and co-founders Joyce and Jenny Tse were about to embark on a three-month trip to South East Asia, they struggled to decide which skin care products to fit into their small backpacks. The night before leaving, they created a blend of natural and organic plant oils as a one-step solution, and were amazed to find that their skin improved throughout the trip! Upon returning to Calgary, Joyce, a chemical engineer, and Jenny, an accountant, used their complementary skills to create Velvette Organics. Velvette Organics focuses exclusively on oil blends, crafted using different plant oils and extracts. Each of their products are extremely versatile and provide one-step hydration without feeling sticky or greasy. Because there are no silicones or filler ingredients, a little goes a long way, with one tiny drop of plant oil being able to moisturize just as effectively as one pump of cream.

As Jenny says, “Living in the city can be stressful and busy. We wanted to put nature back into our city lifestyles in a seamless way, and our products are designed to complement, enhance or even replace any beauty routine.”


Photo supplied by Mammoth Beard Co.

Many years ago, co-founder Lee Palichuk complained that the beard he was growing was starting to itch. His wife and co-founder, Lindsay Palichuk, a serial DIYer was determined to find a solution. With Lindsay’s background in aromatherapy and natural skincare, she says, “It’s a pretty ordinary sight to find me in the kitchen trying to whip up some new concoction for my family to use in place of supermarket body care products.”

Mammoth Beard Co. launched in July 2014, and became one of the first Canadian brands to launch a business exclusively around beard care.

Lindsay says, “If you’ve got a mammoth beard or you keep a five o’clock shadow, you’ll likely find something to help keep your skin and hair healthy, and you’ll find it in a scent that you enjoy smelling all day.”


Photo supplied by Lifance Natural Skin Care.

The brainchild of Shannon Lifance, Clean Cosmetic Chemist, BSC, Lifance Natural Skin Care is a luxury, anti-aging and natural beauty company that harnesses the power of rare and potent botanical and marine ingredients. After battling an autoimmune condition that destroyed her bladder and led it to be removed and remade with her own intestine, Shannon realized that her favorite skin care products were littered with toxic ingredients.

“It was a result of the illness that I took a hard stand on formulating toxin free,” Lifance says. “The reality is, you do not need those nasty ingredients to make beautiful, highly effective skin care.”

After hundreds of trials, Lifance has created a collection of skin care products featuring exotic ingredients like caviar oil, botanical stem cells, peptides, cucumber oil, plum oil, acai oil, and ultra-low concentrations of plant based emulsifiers.


Photo supplied by Simply Polished.

After founder Wiktoria Szczesna graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition as a Holistic Nutritionist, she created Simply Polished to make natural self-care accessible to anyone at any time. A strong believer in sustainability and supporting local, Szczesna tries to incorporate ingredients from Calgary where possible, like coffee from Rosso in Simply Polished’s Coffee Body Scrub, or raw honey from YYC Beeswax in the recently launched All Natural Makeup Remover. Szczesna‘s time at CSNN led her to realize what it means to live healthfully, which means taking care of the body both mentally and physically.

She says, “I try to create products that encourage healthy activities. Dry shampoo and deodorants for working out, body scrub and makeup remover for skin health, and bath bombs to destress after a long day. Beyond products, eventually I want Simply Polished to become a hub of accessible information on self-care, whether it’s with food, routine, or exercise, because it’s so much more than the products you use.”


Photo supplied by Adorn Infusions.

Lisa Piluschak, the founder of Adorn Infusions, suffered from bad rosacea and digestive issues, which led her to notice all the harmful ingredients that were found in mass market beauty products. With her background in herbology, she became fascinated with how herbs impact organs and skin, and started developing her own botanical self-care adornments to fix her own health issues.

Piluschak says, “As women, you get inundated with messages about looking a certain way. I’m not here to sell you something that’s not real – I want to enhance what’s already beautiful.”

An example of which is the Golden Tas Breast Oil, a self-care massage ritual for women to celebrate their breasts.

Piluschak says, “I started Adorn infusions as a way to honour myself and my journey.  To adorn myself with beautiful oils and scents is a beautiful way to practice self-love, and I wish to share that experience with other women.”


Photo supplied by Botanics for the Body.

Founded in early 2018 by a mother and daughter team, Botanics for the Body has already carved a niche in the natural beauty market, with their products being sold in over 10 stores across Canada. Botanics for the Body creates a wide range of skin care, therapeutic and aromatherapy products for babies, men and women, with a strong focus on the incredible powers of essential oils. Joan Robinson, the mother and Master Mixer, uses her breadth of experience as a Master Herbalist and Holistic Therapist to formulate and hand blend each of their botanic products in small batches. Sarah Wildman, the daughter, is no stranger to the holistic lifestyle, having grown up learning about herbs and essential oils as a child, and supports the business with her marketing, financial and operational knowledge.

As Sarah says, “Our company motto is ‘Simple, Vital, and Sincere.’ We live this daily while taking care of ourselves naturally.”


Photo supplied by Sue Moodie Photography.

After the birth of her first child, Unwrapped Life co-founder Hayley McKenzie suffered from post-partum anxiety, which made her extremely concerned about disposable plastic waste and its effect on the earth and our future generations. After a couple glasses of wine and hours commiserating with her best friend and co-founder Arden Teasdale, they decided to take the matter in their own hands. Starting with common items that came in single-use plastic containers like shampoo and conditioner, they realized there weren’t many effective solid hair bars on the market that worked for long hair. Together, they researched and formulated their own solid shampoo and conditioner bars that would work for all hair types. All of Unwrapped Life’s bars and soaps are packaged in plant derived and certified compostable wrapping, and even their stickers are compostable and biodegradable. Together, they have a vision to grow Unwrapped Life into a zero-waste lifestyle brand, and a go-to source for all things eco-friendly.


Photo supplied by Midnight & Two

As a result of having to shave every day for work, Midnight & Two’s founder, Tim Gutwald was experiencing severe skin irritation and discomfort. After months of testing products from all over the world, he found that chemical filled shaving creams were drying out his skin and causing ingrown hairs. In contrast, natural shaving products eliminated shave irritation, but they were uncomfortable to use. Gutwald struggled to find a shaving product that was both natural and high performing, and was inspired to address this gap in the market. Since then, Gutwald has created a unique range of natural shaving products that matched the comfort and use and performance of higher end synthetic shaving products on the market.

As Gutwald says, “For many men, dealing with the discomfort has become the norm, not knowing there are products out there that can not only eliminate the discomfort, but actually leave your skin feeling better and healthier after the shave. Many of our customers have gone from dreading the morning shave to actually looking forward to it.”