Safer Skincare: Toxic Free with Jenise Lee
“Studies say that 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer in their life time. In my family, both my aunt and brother were diagnosed with cancer and both passed away. CertClean was born because I didn’t want other families to go through tragedies like mine. Carcinogens do not belong in our personal care products.. or anywhere else for that matter.”
– Jenise Lee
I met Jenise a few years ago at a networking event for females in the environmental and
sustainability sector, called Ecobabes. Her story is quite fascinating. Jenise started her own company in an effort to help consumers choose the safest beauty products from a plethora of toxic personal care products. Growing up with severe nut and skin allergies, and armed with a chemical engineering degree, Jenise learned to read product labels from a young age and discern what ingredients were too harmful to eat or put on her skin.
“There are a lot of misleading labels in the marketplace. For example, a beauty product can be labelled natural as long as one ingredient is natural. The same is true for “organic”. So it is challenging for shoppers to know what claims or products to trust. Compound this with the fact that beauty products without harmful ingredients are not typically found in mainstream stores.”
Like many others who are trying to make conscious decisions to eat healthier and buy organic products, I was shocked to learn the extent of green-washing. When companies make it increasingly difficult to determine what is actually safe and organic, we need a way to weed them out and find truth. Jenise’s company, CertClean, does just that. “With an engineering degree and MBA degree, I’ve identified the problem I’m committed to solving: consumers do not know how to avoid the carcinogens in their personal care products. As a result, I created CertClean, North America’s largest certification for safer skincare, to make it easy for our friends and family to identify safer alternatives to conventional beauty and personal care products.” CertClean screens and vets product ingredients that lack potentially harmful ingredients and certifies brands that work hard to ensure no harmful chemicals are used in their products. Look out for her stamp of approval!
Just this year, CertClean
- was recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most innovative businesses set to disrupt the beauty market
- has grown to be North America’s largest certification for safer skincare
She also works with companies to reformulate their products to meet the CertClean Standards. The current CertClean campaign aims to help consumers answer “which of the safer products work for me?”. CertClean is working on building the world’s only review site for nontoxic beauty products – “imagine something like TripAdvisor for safer skincare. It is a really exciting Indiegogo campaign – we’ll deliver one-of-a-kind beauty boxes to our supporters while the proceeds from the boxes go towards building the site.” (There are still some early bird beauty boxes available – they’re 40% off retail value! igg.me/at/certclean)
As a woman, visible minority, and entrepreneur, Jenise has experienced various challenges working in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field. When she began her career as an environmental engineering consultant, she only worked with men. However, when she started her own company in the beauty sector, she works almost exclusively with women.
Her advice for young women just starting out as an entrepreneur in a STEM field, “Remember to find your tribe. Meet with other women who understand your struggles and challenges – both personally and professionally and help one another grow together.”
The work that Jenise is doing is tremendously important for a number of reasons, the most obvious of which is the reduction and hopefully elimination of toxic carcinogenic material being marketed and sold to an unsuspecting public. However, the fact that she is a visible minority and a woman working successfully in a STEM field is also very meaningful and will no doubt serve as a beacon to encourage more young women to become change agents that marry science and social entrepreneurship.