Imagine being able to make your own gorgeous, high-quality makeup at home, using any colors you choose.
That’s the future envisioned by Grace Choi, who made a huge splash this week when she presented a product that can 3-D print makeup at TechCrunch Disrupt.
Choi has created a prototype for a printer called “Mink” that will let users choose any color imaginable and then print out makeup in that exact same hue (at this point, she’s only done demonstrations with blush). By allowing people to skip the expensive department store prices to make the perfectly colored products themselves, Mink could completely revolutionize the makeup industry.
TechCrunch reporter Colleen Taylor asked Choi some more questions about Mink after her ground-breaking presentation to get a better idea of how the product will work.
Although the prototype is currently the size of the average at-home printer, Choi says that the final product will be about the size of a Mac Mini and will sell for about $300, at least at first. There are two key features to this printer: It uses a cosmetic-grade dye that’s FDA-compliant, and, instead of printing on paper, it will print its colors onto a powder substrate that is like the raw material of regular makeup.
“It comes from the same sources as those products that you see on store shelves,” Choi told Taylor.
Choi’s product would let users find a color online, use a tool to find that hue’s hexadecimal number, and then print it. Every color has a unique hex number so you could literally print out any color.
She says that Mink will be targeted toward 13- to 21-year-old girls who are still experimenting with their makeup habits. That period is also when girls build confidence, she says, explaining that when she was growing up, she would sometimes have trouble finding beauty products suited for her skin.
When stores didn’t have any products targeted toward Asian women, she says she felt alienated. Similarly, when stores didn’t carry the more-exotic colors she was looking for, it made her feel like her ideas were abnormal.
“If they didn’t have a green- or black-colored lipstick that made me think that there was something weird about the way I was thinking,” Choi said. That thinking damaged her self-esteem, and she says that she stopped speaking up in class because she started believing that all her ideas were strange.
She wants her products to encourage young women to test out lots of different looks and have complete freedom over the colors that they choose, without ever feeling like their ideas were weird.
She says that the reaction to her product so far has been completely amazing.
“I’m really grateful. I’m really overwhelmed. I’m really excited about all of this,” Choi says. After a pause, “I’m speechless.”
Editor’s Note: Expect many new and exciting products to come to market as 3-D printing takes off. This will revolutionize the retail industry over time as many OTC products can be replaced with a 3-D printer and their basic ingredients.