Come summer, consumers will be able to print makeup from the comfort of their homes. At least, that’s Grace Choi’s plan.
This story first appeared in the March 20, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Choi created Mink, a desktop printer that prints makeup. “It can take any image and instantly transform it into a wearable color cosmetic, turning any phone, camera or laptop into an endless beauty aisle,” she said. “The printer is essentially a modified ink-jet printer, but instead of dyeing paper, it dyes powder.”
Using a $79 HP 6100 ink-jet printer, food-grade edible ink and the technology that she built, Choi can print eye shadow, blush, brow powder and more just by selecting a color on a computer. By adding different mixing mediums, the printer can also create other categories, such as lipsticks and nail polish.
Choi demonstrated the printer for the first time last May at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York. Since then, she has presented at universities, conferences and hackathons across the country.
“We’re also working very hard on a consumer version and hope to start taking preorders this summer for our beta kit,” she said. “The kit will include a printer, ink cartridges and substances, which are cosmetic grade.” The cost? $200.
Choi envisions a young girl watching one of her favorite beauty vloggers talk about a new eye shadow shade. Wanting to try it herself, the girl pauses the video, selects the color with a “color picker,” and then clicks print. In a matter of seconds, the eye shadow is ready to use.
It sounds almost too good to be true, but does Choi think it will revolutionize the beauty industry?
“I wish I had a magic ball and could tell you exactly what the future looks like,” she said. “I can only tell you what I think might happen. New and interesting digital applications specifically for makeup printing will materialize, enabling us to do things that we could have never done before, such as a virtual makeup try-on app that allows you to print out the entire desired look with the press of a button. The ‘buy-it-now’ button turns into the ‘print-it-now’ button.”
While she originally came up with the product to target younger women, Choi has been surprised at the age demographic eager to tap into this new technology.
“It turns out, young women and more mature women are all digitally savvy,” Choi said. “It’s an exciting idea that’s attracting a very diverse audience.”