Glossed Over

Cheekbone Beauty

More than 100 Indigenous communities in Canada don’t have access to clean drinking water. Some have been without it for decades. But this issue has been largely ignored by politicians and the public.

To give this issue the attention it deserves, Sid Lee collaborated with Indigenous-owned beauty brand Cheekbone Beauty to create Glossed Over, a lip gloss collection of contaminated water sourced from Indigenous communities in Canada.

The collection, composed of the shades Luscious Lead, E. Coli Kiss and Mercury Shimmer, poses this question to Canadians: Would you put this to your lips? Thereby enabling them to experience the realities of people in Indigenous communities who don’t have a choice.

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Leaders from Grassy Narrows First Nation, Neskantaga First Nation, and Cowichan Tribes of Vancouver Island collected real water samples from their communities and sent them to Cheekbone’s cosmetic labs to be processed into 50 tubes. The tubes were then packaged into premium boxes supplied by an Indigenous vendor and designed by our artisans. 

For the duration of Indigenous History Month, unsuspecting beauty influencers and politicians received the polluted lip glosses on their doorsteps. Cheekbone also partnered with Sephora Canada, who featured the sets at select Canadian stores, garnering attention from publications like Elle, The Toronto Star, CBC Radio One, CTV, Global News and more, and hit 36 million organic impressions on social media. 

Every dollar of Cheekbone Beauty’s sales at Sephora for the duration of June 2022 went to Water First, an NGO that addresses water challenges in Indigenous communities through education, training, and meaningful collaboration. Glossed Over raised over $45,000 for clean water in Canada. This money was subsequently used by Water First to train over 400 Indigenous youth to become certified water treatment plant operators, allowing them to begin to take matters into their own hands and correct this issue that has been ignored for so long.

Drinking water advisory statistics are for federally maintained systems on First Nations reserve lands only. These numbers do not include private systems or systems in Inuit communities.

Drinking water advisories include short-term (under 1 year) and long-term (more than 1 year) boil water advisories, do not consume advisories, and do not use advisories for First Nation communities in Canada.

Calculating the number of drinking water advisories is a complex process. Water First relies on information from several different sources.

Sources:,, via

Last Updated: May 2023