Locals changing the self-care game in Montreal

"New year, new you" mentalities can begin at any time—and these Montreal-based self-care creators can prove it with the work they're passionate about.

J.P. Karwacki

J.P. Karwacki

February 22, 2024- Read time: 11 min
Locals changing the self-care game in MontrealJulie Laguerre and her partner Kemesly, the founders of Bless | Photograph: Supplied

Montreal's self-care scene and wellness landscape is experiencing a transformative shift, and it's driven by locals.

Grown from grassroots and driving down-to-earth entrepreneurial ventures, the following people are helping redefine conventional norms of products that go from body care and candles to hair care and cosmetics.

This here's an exploration of stories and creative endeavors from Montrealers infusing the city with new perspectives, practices, and products to nurture a greater holistic sense of well-being.

Hope you find some inspiration in here.

Bask Hour

Bask Hour is a Montreal-based brand specializing in handmade 100% natural, sustainable, and non-toxic candles and soap bars. Committed to creating clean and safe products—natural soy, coconut and beeswax, non-toxic fragrances, and natural crackling wood wicks—they're crafting everything in-house with aromas reflecting life experiences, cultural influences, and stories they hold dear.

As for soaps both sweet and savory—our words, not theirs—every bar is handmade, cold processed and unscented with no harmful additives, preservatives, or detergents.

"We aim to create products that can resonate with others, encouraging a sense of connection and unity through shared experiences," Bao and Louie told us.

A project that started during the COVID-19 pandemic, "that journey made us realize something crucial—many candles out there could actually be bad for your health. Some can contain toxic ingredients like paraffin wax (aka leftover petroleum), full-of-chemical fragrances, and lead wicks... all which can result to health issues like headaches or hormone disruptions."

As a small business, Bao and Louie wear many hats ranging from production, photography and design to socials and client support. While hustling, they're standing out through their company's transparency with simple and easy-to-understand ingredients, and through sustainability in each product with practices like plastic-free packaging and the use of locally sourced, all-natural ingredients when possible.

Photograph: Supplied

"In a world where mass production often overshadows individual stories, Bask Hour stands out as a brand with a personal touch. Our commitment to quality, the desire to stay small for optimal care, and the cultural richness we infuse into our designs collectively set us apart in the industry. We want Bask Hour to stand out as a beacon of authenticity and conscious well-being, while providing a joyful and toxin-free experience."

"What really keeps us going is the happiness we gain from promoting health and well-being through our creations. They allow us to express ourselves fully and connect with others who resonate with our approach. The Bask Hour mission is to empower our community to make mindful choices and appreciate the value of quality and sustainability. After all, small actions can have a significant impact over time, and we are committed to playing our part in creating a brighter, healthier future."

Take a look at the product line from Bask Hour here.


Julie Laguerre and her partner Kemesly, the founders of Bless, one of several contemporary creators changing the self-care game in the city. | Photograph: Supplied

Named after the act of saying and doing good, the mission at Bless (well-being, local, ethical, simple, sane) is to create top quality eco-friendly, high-performing cosmetic products that meet people's needs while celebrating diversity through the use of exceptional ingredients with remarkable properties.

Founded in Montreal by locals Julie Laguerre and her partner Kemesly in 2019, Bless is all about the ingredients in their natural and vegan body products formulated and handcrafted in-house, which range from creams to body scrubs to face care.

Facing a competitive landscape of cosmetic care, the company stands up and out by offering a range of body products containing rare ingredients including abyssinian oil from South Africa, ucuuba butter from the Amazon rainforest and kokum butter from India.

A look at the product line from Bless. | Photograph: Supplied

"Montreal's cosmetics and personal care scene is booming with a multitude of companies looking to make their mark on this growing industry," says Laguerre. "Bless stands out for its desire to promote well-being through its range of products."

"We're driven by our ambition to truly make a difference in the cosmetics industry... using uncommon ingredients with remarkable properties is at the core of Bless's identity. This dedication propels us forward every day, pushing us to explore new avenues and innovate in our product offerings."

"Our vision is to be recognized as a company focused on ambition, simplicity and elegance, offering solutions for natural and vegan skincare products made from exceptional ingredients with remarkable properties for the skin."

"In a world where self-care is increasingly important, we firmly believe in the importance of cosmetics products to help individuals become the best version of themselves... to contribute positively to the well-being of our customers by offering them solutions that meet their specific needs and improve their self-confidence."

Take a look at the product line from Bless here.

KA Karité Cosmétiques

KA Karité was founded by two passionate Malian sisters, Astan & Kael, in Montreal. | Photograph: Supplied

KA Karité was founded by two passionate Malian sisters, Astan & Kael, in Montreal. Offering cosmetic products inspired by Mali's shea butter traditions and natural African ingredients, and developed in collaboration with a research laboratory in Montreal, KA Karité's products are designed to address deep and lasting hydration for skin with formulas suitable for various types.

A black women-owned skincare company, they're driven to contribute through sales to organizations that enhance the living conditions of women and girls both in Canada and Mali.

"Ultimately, our vision of the cosmetics and personal care scene in Montreal is one where innovation, diversity, and social responsibility are crucial values," they told us. "We strive to contribute positively to the industry's constant evolution while addressing the specific needs of our community."

"What keeps us going is the opportunity to redefine beauty standards and promote a more inclusive and natural approach to skincare... Knowing that our formulations not only enhance individual beauty but also contribute to the well-being of women in our communities adds a profound sense of purpose."

"The ability to make a positive impact, both in the skincare industry and in the lives of women, keeps us motivated to continuously innovate and uplift others through our products and social initiatives."

Take a look at the product line from KA Karité here.


Tamara Montenegro of LUMARA. | Photograph: Supplied

Born and raised in Montreal, Tamara Montenegro took herbalism and aromatherapy courses before falling in love with handcrafting her own beauty products. That launched LUMARA, a beauty and wellness company offering 100% vegan products made with natural ingredients that are handmade in Montreal ranging from skincare to bath products, perfumes, wellness products, and more.

"I love to add a little energetic touch through my products by using crystals and flower essences, both vibrational types of holistic practices. The mission of LUMARA is to bring back the sacred aspect of beauty rituals that has been lost over time and to inspire people to take care of themselves in a conscious way while awakening all their senses. I really want to inspire people to slow down, relax and find little moments of pleasure throughout their daily life and for them to create a safe space for themselves through self-care practices," Tamara says.

"I truly believe that LUMARA will grow to become a well-known reference in the sphere of slow beauty, a movement in the beauty sphere promoting a more holistic approach around the production and consumption of cosmetics. LUMARA doesn’t only sell products—there’s an educational aspect to it through workshops, sharing DIY recipes and lots of informational capsules about the different ingredients used in my products."

"Instead of just saying that my products will have XYZ actions or results, I want my clients to truly understand why they will impact their skin/body in such way."

Perfumed with essential oils, using vibrational tools like crystals and flower essences, modifiable according to allergies, intolerances, or contraindications like pregnancy, and offered at a price range that is accessible for all kinds of income, LUMARA's part of the effort to make clean cosmetics more accessible to the public.

Inspired by the impact LUMARA has on people and by nature, "I truly feel that LUMARA is part of my life purpose," Tamara says.

"There’s truly a higher calling involved. I am a natural nurturer; I love taking care of people. LUMARA allows me to do that at a bigger scale, and that feeds my soul. I believe in the ripple effects of things, so I know that with every product that I make with my own hands, someone somewhere will feel the positive energy I’ve put into it and that will have a positive effect in their lives and the lives of the people surrounding them. That simple thought fuels me to keep going and to keep giving back!"

Take a look at the product line from LUMARA here.

Maison Luce

Products on offer fromMaison Luce. | Photograph: Supplied

Maison Luce is a wellness company from Montreal naturopath Annabel Luce that's specializing in luxury, high-end, completely plant-based cosmetics.

Based in scientific aromatherapy, a botanical science concept widely used in Europe in recent years, the brand's return to nature with powerful, therapeutic plant quintessence sets the company apart. Essential oils and hydrolats are specifically chosen for their exceptional benefits on the skin, and adds a plant fragrance to create a unique sensory experience.

"Over the past few years, I've become aware of the harmful health effects of toxic ingredients in most cosmetics," Luce says. "That prompted me to create Maison Luce. Today, my mission is to promote a return to nature—a healthier, more thoughtful option—by highlighting the potential of plants and their efficacy, proven by scientific aromatherapy. We also personalize treatments by using the therapeutic properties of essential oils."

"I'm deeply convinced of the power of sharing and education, putting forward my passion for a return to the earth and, above all, believing that everything the skin needs can be found in nature," Luce adds.

Formulating each product to ensure uncompromising transparency, quality and safety, the company shares the ancient teachings of therapeutic plants, and educating and informing consumers to make healthier, wiser choices that benefit both themselves and the planet.

"I'm motivated to create a reliable cosmetics brand that places genuine importance on the health of the skin, the body and nature. My aim is to inform people about the importance of the products they apply to their skin, and to encourage them to regain control in the face of large corporations that are only out to enrich themselves."

"In recent years, several alarming scientific articles have highlighted the harmful effects of toxic ingredients in cosmetics on our bodies and the environment," Luce adds.

Citing a link established between ovarian cancer and the use of Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder intended for babies, "I was faced with these worrying facts, and after discovering the therapeutic riches of nature, as well as its power and harmlessness on the skin, I felt a calling to return to it."

Take a look at the product line from Maison Luce here.

Nuances self-care

Keisha Lamptey, founder of Nuances self-care. | Photograph: Supplied

Nuances self-care is a local Montreal beauty brand from Keisha Lamptey that handcrafts high-quality and affordable cosmetics to help women take care of themselves in a natural way. Striving to be as inclusive as possible, its beauty products that are catered to all skin types, as well as all curly and coily hair types.

Using plant-based ingredients for its all-vegan recipes, and putting women of colour at the forefront of its marketing campaigns, Nuances self-care's products' carbon footprint is both lower via glass packaging and a Recycle and Reuse program for used jars and lids.

While committed to eco-consciousness from the development to the distribution of its products, Nuances's definition of sustainability extends beyond the environmental by partnering with BIPOC organizations and businesses in Quebec and Ontario for distribution.

Photograph: Supplied

"What keeps me going is knowing that I’m making a difference in women’s lives. When I read reviews and emails from my clients, it confirms that I’m on the right track. So many women tell me that before Nuances, they couldn’t find products that worked on their curls or sensitive skin," says Lamptey.

"The cosmetics and self-care industry in Montreal is saturated. There are a lot of brands to choose from that are doing great things, but as in any industry, there is also misinformation about natural products. Brands have made false claims—that natural shampoo doesn’t foam, or that a neon pink body cream is naturally dyed—and we're constantly debunking these myths... We believe that people shouldn’t feel they need to choose harmful, chemical products because they’re misinformed about the effectiveness of natural ones."

"Natural products are seen as a luxury when they should actually be the standard. Natural products are currently a costly niche, which creates an accessibility problem. This is understandable, given that the price of ingredients and shipping costs have risen significantly in the past few years, but I believe the real problem is one of perception."

"What if natural products became the norm? If every pharmaceutical store or department store carried only natural products, it wouldn’t be a radical act to use them, and the prices would stabilize. We believe that clean ingredients shouldn’t be sacrificed for a better price."

Take a look at the product line from Nuances self-care here.

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