A smallish printer which lets a user choose any color on the web – or for that matter selected from the real world – has been designed to use simple, existing software to print that color into a blush, eye shadow, lip gloss or various other types of makeup.
Mink is essentially a desktop printer that prints makeup. The inventor says it can take "any image and instantly transform it into a wearable color cosmetic, turning any camera, phone or laptop into an endless beauty aisle."
As most of the makeup on the market uses basic substrates, from stuff made by renowned labels like Chanel to drug store varieties, The Mink founder, Grace Choi, sources those same substrates to let users design their own makeup.
It all comes down the sort of instant gratification and custom looks consumers are increasingly attracted to when it comes to product selection. Choi says it's a matter of convenience, and she believes makeup purchase are often made independent of brand loyalty.
Choi says she sees a market need for The Mink as drug stores offer a limited selection of colors and options, their products exclude consumers who "want to be bold," and while niche retailers such as Sephora might offer a wider selection of colors, that array of choices comes at a much higher price to the consumer.
She says it works like this: choose a color on a website or use a smart phone to snap an example, use any color picker to locate the hex code for that color, import the code into image manipulation software like Photoshop or MSPaint, and then simply press 'print.'
"The inkjet handles the pigment, and the same raw material substrates can create any type of makeup, from powders to cream to lipstick," Choi says. "Implementing this ability on the Mink is not hard to do, it s actually more of a business decision. Big makeup companies take the pigment and the substrates and mix them together – and then jack the price. We do the same thing and let you get the makeup right in your own house."
According to Choi, her company is targeting the 13-21 demographic in the hope that those consumers are less liable to have an allegiance to certain makeup brands and retailers.
The Mink will cost less than $200, and Choi says the plan is to launch the device later this year.
"I plan on spending time talking to beauty bloggers and influencers and getting them excited about the product. Once that happens, marketing shouldn't be difficult," Choi said.