The $55 billion beauty industry may have been dealt a fatal blow by a brainy Harvard Business School beauty! Inventor Grace Choi has come up with a way to circumvent pricey cosmetics counters with a point-and-click process in your own home or office. Choi lets you turn any phone, camera or computer into your own personal beauty store!
While a student at Harvard, Choi’s research and realized that the seasonal color trends in beauty products are the backbone of the industry. Companies create new color palettes which are sold at incredible mark-up for fashionistas hungry for the latest trends.
“The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bulls—,” Choi said at TechCrunch Disrupt last week. “They charge a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. That one thing is color.”
(She was referring to color printers which are affordable and available to everyone.)
The ink in printer cartridges is the same ink used in cosmetics. Choi says both forms are FDA-approved. So she developed a mini 3D printer named Mink (pictured above) that allows anyone to “print” eye shadows, blushers, and lipsticks wherever they plug it in!
Hook Mink up to any computer, and pull color codes off internet images. Within minutes you’ll be sporting eyelids the exact shade of your favorite Big Brand, team sports jersey, or anything else that you can “see” online.
Here’s how it works. First find a color you like (in her demo, she chose bright pink).
Next, using the color picker, copy the hex code of your chosen color.
Paste that code into a new document (this works with Photoshop and Microsoft Paint) and the color you want to print will pop up on the screen.
Print the color just as you’d print any paper document. And this is the finished product – a small pan of colored powder in a small Mink-provided container just as you’re accustomed to seeing in the cosmetics stores.
Here’s where that little pink becomes largely green: there is no large-scale manufacturing processes, no international shipping of raw materials and finished goods. There is no driving to the mall or department store, and no product over-packaging (think of all the glossy store bags and tissue that surround the blister-wrapped and boxed make-up every time you make a purchase. With Mink – VOILA! – it’s all gone!).
There’s no sweatshop labor and wildly reduced advertising. I can imagine a backlash about job losses, but every advance in technology comes with a labor transformations. This genie is out of the bottle – it will be fascinating to watch where it goes.
During her demonstration, Choi dipped a makeup brush in the freshly printed powder pot to illustrate the “sameness” with over-the-counter makeup.
She swiped some powder onto the back of her hand. “Mink enables the web to become the biggest beauty store in the world,” says Choi. “We’re going to live in a world where you can take a picture of your friend’s lipstick and print it out.”
According to a report in Business Insider, Choi faced a barrage of tough audience questions about how she’ll move beyond powders to creamier products. She also discussed how she envisions collaborating withup with traditional printing companies in the video below.