3D Harvard make-up invention to change the whole beauty game

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch
Brian Ach/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Related tags Cosmetics

‘3D' printing is the buzz word of the moment in the cosmetics industry. The latest innovation in the area claims consumers can make their own colour cosmetic formulations at home for a fraction of the price that beauty brands charge. This has seen the industry sit up and take notice...

Former Harvard Business School student Grace Choi says her invention, a 3D ‘Mink printer’ makes it possible to create make-up from any home computer.

All that is required is a colorful image from the Internet, a tool like Photoshop that could lift a hex color code, and a Mink Printer, which hooks up to a computer to print specific ink colors on colorless shadows and creams.

According to Choi, this technology provides the consumer with an option to generate any color cosmetic of their choice for a fraction of the retail price and at $200.

An investment the young inventor says will be cheaper in the long run for the consumer as brands "jack" up the price for mixing pigment and the substrates together.

Choi envisions a world where celebrities have iTunes-like pages for makeup, where a girl can log on and print Kim Kardashian's exact lipstick shade to wear.

Technology combines prestige with convenience and mass

Essentially, Mink prints sample sizes, rather than asking consumers commit to entire products.

"Not a lot of people use all the eye shadow they buy​," says Choi. "A girl's makeup junk drawer is a clear sign that the system of makeup is not working. There's too much of it you have to buy."

While this may come as bad news to mass or prestige color cosmetic brands, the inventor says the technology has actually been generating a lot of interest from major makeup players.

Some venture capitalists, Choi says, wanted her to produce an official Mink printer and start making money immediately. 

Down the line, the young entrepreneur says a Mink-branded printer could make sense. But she also thinks that if she teaches the world to print its own makeup and turns every young girl into her own L'Oreal shop, business opportunities will arise naturally.

And if DIY makeup becomes popular, consumers will need easily-accessible FDA-approved inks, which could be Mink branded, or raw makeup materials like white creams and lipsticks to print on top of....

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