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A Harvard Woman Figured Out How To 3D Print Makeup From Any Home Computer, And The Demo Is Mindblowing

Rachel Huang

I loved it when she stressed on how Mink can meet women's fascination toward colours. But colour was not the only factor that influences our purchasing decision: it also has a lot to do with safety, effects and brand trustworthiness. But, maybe because I'm 26 and not who she's targeting.

Off the top of head: How long will a self-printed piece last/expire? How often should I change the bases in order to make fresh batches? If not too often, will Mink really save me $? Is the base FDA proved?

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  • Lee Fatone

    I wonder if artists could use this tech to create custom powdered pigments for mixing paints as well. I know a lot of painters who like to mix their own paints using pigments and oils rather than using the store-bought stuff. This seems like it could be a viable alternative for them!

    • Rachel Huang

      Interesting thought. But I still don't see how such machines can be defined as "3D printers", because they don't print any object in a structure that is hard to make otherwise. Instead, they just mix the pigments and put it in the mold.

  • Constance Carter

    Unless one truly "loves" to use makeup, I don't see how this is a "good." Particularly for adolescent girls, what would be "good" is to empower them to wear their own beautiful faces--no makeup required. This is just shifting where the money is spent. $300 initial investment + ink, bases, containers on an ongoing basis? You'll likely spend the same, if not more. Women in tech are wonderful, but women exploiting girls and maintaining the soul-crushing belief that one's natural appearance isn't good enough is just moving the game pieces around, not changing the game.

    • Tom Maybrier

      While I agree with a lot of what you're saying, I know from reading /r/makeupaddiction (and my own experience, believe it or not) that the vast majority of makeup enthusiasts wear it because they enjoy it, not for anyone else or because they feel that they are somehow inferior without it.

      • Jelena Woehr

        Dude, r/MakeupAddiction is the BEST. I had no idea how to put things on my face until I found MUA. I dig r/BeautyBoxes (Shoutout to Stu from Wantable!) too.

        For my part, I wear makeup the same way I wear clothes... because I don't want the exact same face every day any more than I want the same outfit every day. It's fun to be able to redesign myself around my look of the day!

        That being said, makeup advertising is by and large the worst in the industry, and I hope that competition from technologies like 3D printing forces old-fashioned cosmetic companies to either evolve to appeal to enlightened consumers or die out. Hope the same happens in skincare, too. I think it was Proactiv that actually ran a series of ads with taglines like "Ask your boyfriend what to do about your acne... oh right, you don't have one."

        • Tom Maybrier

          You have to be kidding me! Acne is the absolute worst for your self esteem as a teenager, I still battle it and I remember how awful it made me feel as a teen - who would approve a campaign like that?

          We really need to move beyond this shame-vertising, it's so early 20th century.

          • Jelena Woehr

            Wish I was kidding =/

            Hopefully as it becomes easier for consumers to make their own products at home, companies will have to market responsibly to keep the business of people who have the option to opt-out of buying commercially without losing access to a product they like. I suspect 3D printing will eventually be able to make custom lotions and fragrances, too.

    • Paris Marron

      While I completely agree that images of beauty in our culture are unrealistic, generally homogeneous, and don't promote self confidence (particularly in young women), women of all ages - and young women in particular - do wear makeup. I don't think this product is making those issues better or worse.

      As teens and preteens, wearing makeup in our culture has become both a rite of passage and an experiment in individuality. I would rather see these young women empowered to create their own palettes, embrace their own creativity, and feel more like "makers" than consumers in the process. So I don't think it's all that bad.

      Would I rather see young women be encouraged to embrace their natural beauty, promote their self esteem, and express their individuality in others ways? Sure. But I think that's a bigger problem than a piece of hardware is going to solve.

      • Constance Carter

        It is very difficult, and inaccurate, to try to paint an entire demographic with a broad brush (no pun intended). Initiates are not always willing or eager participants in rites of passage--often participating because it is expected of them. However, I agree, some adolescents and young women are experimenting with their individuality. I work with young women as a teacher. In my experience in the classroom (15 years), I am constantly reading papers decrying beauty standards, unrealistic body image, etc., often with a focus of resentment toward an assumption that appearance must be altered to be acceptable. In my own experience as a younger woman and now in my middle years rarely using any makeup, I often encounter other women who remark in response to my natural face, "I could never go out without putting on my face. Don't you feel exposed?" This counters the idea of experimentation or enjoyment of using makeup. However, I'm not asserting this is always the case. But I do think there is a high level of cognitive dissonance around this phenomenon in which women and girls have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with cultural expectations that they believe they are making conscious choices to alter their appearance and that they enjoy it; but this is rationalizing in order to create a sense of power that, really, doesn't exist.

      • Rachel Huang

        Paris, I really like how you put it - I agree, but this is way better than how I could explain it! Thanks~

    • Rachel Huang

      I agree with you that one will probably end up spending more than purchasing mass products - you have to regularly replace the cartridges (for different products) to make sure they are always usable. And if you don't print that often, per unit cost will soar and it will make no sense...But maybe see this as a "good" technical invention that's worth attention? After all, not all creations were exploited in a right way when first founded. As far as her intension, I think she's just catering for the existing demand of the young gals, just like many other business. But $300 is a lot for adolescents, we shall see if Mink can really get there.

  • Paris Marron

    I saw this too! I love to see women in tech disrupting industries, and love the personalization, creativity, and low cost it brings to the beauty industry.

    But I would be concerned about rubbing regular printer ink on my face, even if the FDA says it is ok. They are notoriously lax on toxic chemicals in beauty products. I hope she builds and iterates with non-toxic/natural cartridges!

    • Rachel Huang

      That was one of my concerns too! Even though big brands do spend a lot of money on marketing and product variation, which make up the bullshit she was talking about, there must be tons of differences in ingredients and manufacturing techniques as well. Natural products would be a great business model - just like regular printers, she can sell the hardware at a lower price but charge a decent amount on regular cartridges replacement.

      • glob

        Thank you! I have seen this floating around the internet and everyone bedazzled, and thought, oh my gosh, that ink is toxic! And how is she proposing the consumer mix the "bullshit" together. This is sure to be a big hit, but another avenue for keeping the consumer ignorant about what they are putting on their bodies, by assuring the consumer of product safety stating the ingredients are FDA compliant. I love the idea, but don't like perpetuating the use of synthetic, chemical ingredients (petro-chemically derived inks in fact) in cosmetics and onto young girls faces, keeping them ignorant about sustainably and product safety for the sake of a buck. We're so easily impressed by gimmicks, without looking deeper. Ug.

        • Rachel Huang

          Very true! I feel like to make this idea into a sustainable (or sellable, as she wished) business, there's still long way to go. Talking about gimmicks, I found it very funny that Grace never mentioned this is a 3D makeup printer. At the beginning of the pitch, she said, "This is a desktop printer that can print makeup." It's true because she basically put the parts inside the shell of a desktop printer. And most importantly, I thought the purpose of 3D printing technology is to fast-build something that has a sophisticated structure. What Mink did is merely mixing the ingredients and had nothing to do with structure...People just get overly excited about any "printing" skills. I think we already had a widely-used 3D printer for a long time - noodle makers = )

          • glob

            I thought it was very odd that she glossed over the question about how the pigments were to be scraped off the paper and put into neat cosmetic containers, pressed into eyeshadow compact trays, or much less mixing the lipstick, pouring into tubes, and so on. The cost of manufacturing the hardware alone, molds, etc for the various products, and what about supplying the "bullshit" to mix it with (oils, waxes, clays, etc). I have a business that produces natural make-up. Am I missing something? Color pigments does not a final product make……It's one ingredient.

            • Rachel Huang

              Felt the same way - it was weird that she dodged the question about printing process - she should be so proud of it! Also, I noticed that the colour printed was not identical to that been chosen. So either Mink needs a lot improvement in the accuracy of pigment mixing, or, can we reasonably conjecture that it was preloaded?

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    Love how she's democratizing the makeup industry by making it possible for anyone to make any color imaginable for a cheaper price. This is going to change creativity and expand possibilities. Love that we may live in a world where you can 3D print anything you need. I wish there wasn't a focus on makeup vs medical devices (which she's done before). But- I do love how she's changing the way girls interact with beauty.

    • Rachel Huang

      I share these "loves" with you Alessandra. But I didn't have all the spaces to elaborate about the exciting parts when posting this. Is it possible that GOOD will allow more word input when sharing a post? ;)

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        We plan on it with the commenting experience. Happy to chat via email! [alessandra]at[goodinc]dot[com]