Sometime in the near future you won't need to visit a store to test and buy makeup, you'll be able to pull out the Mink and 3D-print all the cosmetics you desire in any shade imaginable.
An eyeshadow palette from Urban Decay costs $60. A foundation from Giorgio Armani costs $80. A lipstain from Hourglass costs $30. And, most of the time, you need to track down and visit fancy stores like Macy's or Sephora to test all these expensive products before you buy them. But a new 3D printer called Mink hopes to change all that.
Grace Choi, Mink's co-founder and a former Harvard researcher, spoke at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY conference today to debut her upcoming 3D printer and simultaneously reveal a few hidden secrets about the beauty industry. She suggested that all cosmetics, from high-end brands to drugstore brands, use the same basic substrates. Companies and stores apparently charging you so much because of one thing: colour.
As it turns out, manufacturing a wide-variety of colours is expensive. Drugstore brands at Walmart tend to be cheaper because they don't offer many colour options in their product ranges, whereas stores like Sephora offer more of a selection and can therefore charge plenty extra. That said, Choi has developed a printer that cuts greedy corporations and pricey manufacturing processes out of the mix.
Mink lets you pick any colour found on the web and turn it into an eyeshadow, lipstick, foundation, etc. Choi demonstrated how you could simply pull up a video from popular beauty guru Michelle Phan, then push pause on the video, and use pre-existing software to grab the HEX colour code found in a specific cosmetic you may have liked from the video. You can then plop that code into a Photoshop colour palette and simply push print like normal.
The Mink printer will print out that exact colour in the form of whatever type of makeup product you prefer. Choi printed a pink eyeshadow, for instance, and then inserted it into a handy eyeshadow holder. She even colour swatched the product onto her hand, revealing that the Mink is very capable of printing vibrant hues. Thus, with Mink, you can have instant gratification and save money on makeup through a DIY solution.
Although Choi indicated that colour is everything when it comes to makeup, true beauty devotees will know that long-lasting, quality products also offer a variety of textures, finishes, coverages, etc. It's not just about the colour payout. However there's nothing stopping Mink from being able to one day print a dewy and lightweight tinted moisturizer in the colour nude beige and then switch to printing a full-coverage matte cream blush in the colour pink.
Currently though, it looks like Mink is focusing on colour varieties instead of textures and finishes. Choi plans to retail her 3D printer for $300, and inks and all those required substrates will be sold separately.