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Cosmetic app teaching people how to Think Dirty and shop clean

Recipient: Think Dirty
Region: Toronto
Program: Women Entrepreneurship Fund
Total funding allocated: $90,000

Lily Tse, Think Dirty Founder and CEO, is helping women and men understand the truths in the beauty industry.
Lily Tse, Think Dirty Founder and CEO, is helping women and men understand the truths in the beauty industry.

For most Canadians, cosmetics and beauty products are just another part of our everyday lives.  We may choose our products based on their results, affordability, or convenience, but we don’t always think about the ingredients that go into the products we use. And while most cosmetics are safe, some cause irritations, allergic reactions, or even health problems. But with so many options on the market, how do we know what we can trust? 

Think Dirty Inc. is working to help simplify the process. This Toronto-based, women-owned and led business has created a mobile application that informs users of potentially toxic ingredients in beauty and cosmetic products. App users simply scan a product’s barcode while they shop, and Think Dirty will instantly identify toxic ingredients, explain their origin and associated health risks, and suggest cleaner alternatives. If a product is not in the database, users can submit a request to add the product by scanning the barcode or entering the product name. Think Dirty then analyzes the products and adds the information to its database for future users.

 “My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was 11, meaning I have always paid a lot of attention to the food I eat,” explains Lily Tse, Think Dirty Founder and CEO.  “But when I would research a beauty product, I would find the ingredient label very hard to understand. A lot of things claim to be natural, but if you read the ingredients label it’s not exactly true, so I decided to create the app.”

On average, women use up to 12 skin and cosmetic products each day, and men use 6, meaning we are exposed to many potentially harmful chemicals daily. Some of these harmful chemicals, have also been linked to influencing breast cancer risks, which is why Think Dirty believes it is crucial for consumers to have an easy way to identify the ingredients used in their beauty products.

Think Dirty currently has over 1.4 million beauty and cosmetic products in their database, has rated 50,000 types of chemicals, and has had 26.2 million products scanned by users in over 33 countries.

With more and more consumers seeking to understand what goes into their products and make cleaner choices, Think Dirty continues to grow and has achieved numerous accolades, including being named one of SheEO’s top 25 ventures in 2017, delivering a successful pitch on the 2019 season of Dragon’s Den, and being recognized as one of Elevate Canada’s 50 most innovative workplaces in 2019.

In 2019, Think Dirty was awarded a $90,000 contribution from FedDev Ontario, through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF), to strengthen their application’s software and management skills, and undertake marketing and promotional activities to enhance user experience. This is expected to lead to increased domestic and international market share and the creation of 10 jobs.

Due to the success of the app, Think Dirty has been able to expand through the launch of beauty subscription boxes, delivering clean rated products to consumers on a monthly, bi-monthly and annual basis.

Thanks to Tse’s vision, consumers around the world are learning more about toxic chemicals and have the ability to compare products as they shop. Through these types of innovative technologies, people are gaining awareness and insight into safer, healthier options to apply to their everyday life.

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Our mission is to educate consumers about toxic ingredients and empower them to make informed decisions about their products. Thanks to the funding we received from FedDev Ontario through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, we are able to strengthen our platform and do just that.
Lily Tse, Think Dirty Founder and CEO
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