Jen Davis Alexander, PhD, said she always was intrigued by science, but her first job in high school was when she discovered the world of skincare.
“I was into every skincare product and cosmetic product. I worked at CVS and I think I had every product I could get my hands on. So I've been into skin care as far back as I can remember,” she said. “I like to say I ‘nerd out’ on the skin. It's such an intricate system. It is such a delicate system yet it protects us. It's the first way that we feel safe when we come into the world that our mom communicates with us, with the skin contact. It's so many things, it speaks to us when there's something going on internally. And it speaks to us when there's something going on in our external world. And so it's just fascinating to me.”
As one of the few Black women to earn a PhD in cosmetic science, Alexander has been on a mission to spread the word.
“To be the second Black person to have a PhD in cosmetic science in 2010… it was just one of those things that I was very proud of, but also it motivated me to start talking to people about my life and to start talking to people about my career choices and about the cosmetic science program. And really exposing it because I think that it is underexposed. I think that it's not about whether people are interested, I think it's that people don't know about it. And so, it motivated me to become a mentor.”
Fast forward 10-plus years, Alexander said her three children have inspired her to be a better scientist.
“I'm definitely the most authentic version of myself today that I've ever been–but there’s definitely been some growing pains. And I think what really opened my eyes was having children, making sure and really pushing me to show up and walk the talk. So there have been challenges. I remember when I first started working over a decade ago and I had gone out with one of my friends after work. And I told her I have work clothes and then I have weekend clothes and they are like two different people,” said Alexander. “And so eventually I got to who I am today, but I think it's an evolution and I think it goes back to that personal innovation. We're always evolving, we're always learning about ourselves and I do know for sure that I'm a better scientist because of the way I show up today.”