This Ontario beauty brand created contaminated lip gloss to call out the Indigenous water crisis

How would you feel if the new lip gloss you purchased arrived visibly contaminated with mercury, lead or E. coli? Ontario-based, Indigenous-owned company Cheekbone Beauty is drawing attention to the ongoing clean water crisis in Indigenous communities across Canada with its new campaign featuring contaminated, unsellable lip gloss.

The #GlossedOver campaign in recognition of Indigenous History Month features three lip gloss shades, each one more terrifying than the last – Luscious Lead, E. coli Kiss and Mercury Shimmer. If you look closely at each gloss, you’ll see small particles of dirt, grime and bacteria floating around within the shimmery product – making them wholly unappealing to both look at and, more importantly, use.

Founder of Cheekbone Beauty Jenn Harper said the goal of the campaign is to make people think twice about the lack of clean water for Indigenous communities across the country. “It’s time to stop glossing over this issue,” she said in a press release. “Everyone should have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s why #GlossedOver is so important: you wouldn’t put a contaminated gloss on your lips, so why should anyone put contaminated water to theirs?”

According to Water First, a charitable organization addressing water challenges in Indigenous communities, approximately 94 (equal to about one in six) First Nations communities in Canada don’t have access to clean water as of January 2022. The number includes short-term and long-term boil water advisories along with do not consume advisories.

Along with the campaign, all proceeds from the sales of Cheekbone Beauty products on Sephora Canada through the month of June will be donated to Water First.

“The #GlossedOver campaign will increase Water First’s ability to support communities from coast to coast to coast,” executive director and founder of Water First John Millar said in the release. “Together, with Indigenous community partners, we will provide more young Indigenous adults with hands-on skills training to ensure sustainable access to safe, clean water – both now and for the future.”