Beauty: Resolve to Shop Local, by Kristen Ma

Image credit: Bernhard Friess

Beauty products so often tout exotic active ingredients sourced from the far ends of the globe. But while the unfamiliar and mysterious may seem glamorous, there are so many powerful beautifying ingredients grown on our own home soil. Many natural cosmetic ingredients cultivated and produced right here in Canada have amazing therapeutic benefits, providing us with local, more sustainable skincare options. Here are five fantastic ingredients that have the made in Canada stamp on them, revealing how beauty can be found in our own backyards.


Borage is also known as “star flower”. It yields a rich, nourishing oil commonly used in natural facial moisturizers, lotions and oil blends. This hardy annual is perfectly suited for the conditions of western Canada, and is celebrated for its ability to retain moisture within skin tissue as it contains gamma linolenic acid – a rare fatty acid. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties, making borage seed oil excellent for sensitive skin and preventing free-radical creation.  For these reasons, it is one of the best natural treatments for skin damage such as scarring, stretch marks and sun damage.


We’re no stranger to evergreens! Canada is home to many spruce trees, and, in turn, spruce essential oil. Black and white spruce oils are therapeutic ingredients in purifying skincare products. Both boast strong disinfecting properties that help to clarify skin and treat blemishes. While white spruce is grown across the country, it is widely spread in the St. Lawrence Valley. Black spruce is also found in areas of Quebec and is sometimes distilled into hydrosol form, making a detoxifying toner.


Safflower is a thistle-like plant whose oil is used in moisturizing skincare for its replenishing properties.  Mainly grown in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canadian safflower produces oil that contains natural vitamin E and omega-6 fatty acid, making it incredibly nourishing and protective.  Not only does it seal in moisture and guard against wrinkles and fine lines, it also shields the skin from environmental damage.


This flowering plant is found as an essential oil or hydrosol in natural cosmetic formulations. Known for its astringent yet soothing properties, yarrow is excellent for acne, inflammation and anti-aging. The latter is from its ability to promote cell regeneration and healing. Found in almost all parts of Canada, yarrow is also been said to be used traditionally by North American First Nations as a cure for skin rashes, swelling and cuts.


A newcomer to the natural beauty scene, hemp oil is now being added to many personal care products.  We may be seeing this introduction because commercial hemp production in Canada was only legalized in 1998 after being outlawed for decades. While production was initially predominant in Ontario, as of 2011, over forty percent of Canadian hemp seed cultivation takes place in Alberta.  We look forward to seeing its presence on cosmetic labels because of the oil’s concentration of antioxidants, phospholipids and minerals. Along with this, hemp oil has an emollient yet non-greasy texture – an attractive and functional quality for skin moisturizers.

With such versatile and powerful beauty ingredients, resolving to shop local and support Canadian crops is a real treat!

Kristen Ma PhotoKristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up.  She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India.  She is also a Certified Esthetician with over ten years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia.  Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company.  Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine.  She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.

For more information on Kristen, please visit