Tantoo Cardinal’s Entire Beauty Routine, From Head to Toe — Interview

Welcome to Shelf Life, where celebrities break down every last detail of their beauty routines. Today, 73-year-old actor Tantoo Cardinal reflects on the beauty of her Native heritage, plus the hair, skin-care, and makeup products she uses on and off the red carpet.

There was no running water or electricity in the bush community in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, where actor Tantoo Cardinal grew up — but occasionally, there was makeup. “Women had to be tough, women had to be strong, but there was a real sense of pride in the way they presented themselves,” she tells Allure. “My mother and my grandmother, if they were catching the train to go to town, they would always put makeup on and make sure they were looking good. It was something I watched, and there’s a relationship with beauty running through my veins.”

Cardinal, who is of Cree and Métis ancestry, has appeared in more than 120 films and television series throughout her five-decade career, most recently Martin Scorscese’s Killers of the Flower Moon, which is nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Thanks to its success, Cardinal has been on a recent whirlwind of red carpets, relying on two trusted pros (one of whom is of Lakota descent) to step up her look in a way that remains authentic to her heritage.

“I’m amazed at how comfortable I’ve become being more visible, getting out there in front of people and owning my beauty. I didn’t grow up thinking I had a pretty face because there was an undercurrent that [Native women] didn’t meet society’s beauty standards. It is time to claim the beauty that comes from the women in my bloodline,” she explains. “With an amazing team surrounding me for the bigger moments, I step out the door with my best foot forward. I feel like I’m looking as good as I can, which is not bad for 73!”

“Not bad” is an understatement. Here, the radiant septuagenarian shares the daily routine behind her glow.


What’s cool right now about being in your 70s in terms of beauty is that there’s been so much research and wonderful creations to keep our skin and bodies healthy.

When I was doing the show Stumptown, I met Kristen Rowland from Opalino Day Spa [in Los Angeles], which was right down the block from the B&B I was living in. She introduced me to Lira Clinical skin care, which I love because it’s nature-based. For hydration and moisture, I like the Bio Lift Crème, the Bio Caviar Crème, and the cleanser, which I’ll use day and night.

Lira Clinical

Lira Clinical Bio Lift Creme

Lira Clinical

Lira Clinical Mystiq Illuminating Cleanser

Lira Clinical

Lira Clinical Bio Caviar Creme

I’ll also do CO2 carboxy and lymphatic drainage facials with her before a big event, which brings down any puffiness in my face and tightens my skin up. Part of the reason I’m so comfortable with Kristen is she was a ballerina in her earlier life and she was taught by Maria Tallchief, who is an Osage woman. Isn’t that cool? My ancestors are on the case.


In my daily life, I don’t lean heavily into makeup because I wear so much when I’m working. If I do, I use vegan brushes like the ones from BK Beauty because my first commitment is to the Earth. We’ve done a lot of destructive things, so it’s part of trying to clean up the journey.

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