Beauty Industry Gets an Unexpected Facelift


Image from: Cosmetics/Shutterstock

A Harvard Business student has not only taken the internet by storm, she also may be changing the cosmetics industry entirely.

What’s her new, revolutionary beauty product? A printer.

The product is called Mink, and it allows consumers to print makeup, rather than continuously buying it from large cosmetic distributors.

Mink’s creator, Grace Choi, presented the innovative 3D printer at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, and garnered astonished reactions across the web almost immediately.

While Choi’s concept is brilliant, the idea it’s born from is relatively simple. An article about Mink from Tech Times states, “Companies like Sephora and MAC take advantage of women’s obsession with makeup, pricing the best colors at a higher premium. Harvard Business School student Grace Choi was fed up with the whole industry, so she decided to create a 3D printer that can create any kind and color of makeup on demand.”

As Choi pointed out in her TechCrunch Disrupt presentation, the cosmetic industry is able to charge a large premium on something that’s free: color.

Using FDA approved ink, Choi’s Mink 3D printer allows consumers to pull the hex color code of their favorite beauty products, plug the code into a computer program and hit print.

At the end of this quick and simple process, Mink users will have a tangible customized beauty product containing the color of their choice. notes, “Choi showed how simple the process was in a live demo. It took less than 40 seconds to print a pink eyeshadow.”

Rather than taking the time to visit their favorite make up retailer, and spend a pretty penny each time make up shade trends change, cosmetic consumers might now be more inclined to create their own beauty concoctions.

But even before Mink emerged, there have been signs that the cosmetics industry may be suffering.

Guru Focus recently noted that beauty retailer Ulta has struggled this year. The company simultaneously almost hit its 52 week low and lost its CEO. It’s important to note that since the previous quarter’s close, there has been a substantial turnaround, but earnings expectations are still being projected as low according to financial analysts.

In terms of traffic to beauty focused websites, the data tells a similar story. Unique Visitors to have sparsely increased, while UVs to Sephora and Sally Beauty have declined. More broadly, traffic metrics have declined for the Health and Beauty category overall.

Cosmetics Chart
The Mink 3D Printer may be emerging at just the right time. According to Compete PRO data, the Incentive and Rewards Program category is the top area increasing traffic to health and beauty websites. The promise of saving a few dollars is the factor that is causing consumers to take action and navigate to top Health and Beauty sites.

Health and beauty incoming sites

If Mink truly delivers custom cosmetics in a cost effective way, it might prompt a beauty industry makeover.

About Sarah Friedman:
Sarah is a member of the Syndicated Products Customer Success team at Millward Brown Digital. Sarah attended Northeastern University. Prior to Millward Brown Digital, Sarah worked in Advertising and Public Relations. Connect with her on Google+ or LinkedIn