De Monsterkamer

Hack your home printer to print custom make-up

Technological advances over the last years have diminished the need to print out every text file on paper. Paperless offices are everywhere and many households don’t even have a home printer anymore. It is now common to think about what really needs to get printed before taking it out of your computer and into the ‘real world.’ Is your printer sitting unused in your home office? That is where MINK, a makeup company founded by Harvard graduate Grace Choi, comes in. It aims to teach people how to stop buying cosmetics and start printing their own in any colour.

The idea for Mink came from the frustration Choi felt when learning how the makeup industry functions. Companies tend to use the same base medium as each other. Price differences come either from brand name, or when colours, inexpensive in themselves, are mixed in. Low price-point brands have a smaller selection of colours, and a premium is paid for a wider variety. After mulling over ideas to bring down the price of makeup, Choi settled on the idea to only print a layer of make-up straight onto the base medium and started hunting for the ideal printer to hack into her first prototype. She went through about 20 before finding one that could fill the entire pan of makeup as well as produce the best results.

“Mink only covers the top layer, but 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 make-up is not working. There’s too much of it you have to buy. So what I tell girls with Mink is, ‘Listen, when you want that neon purple eyeshadow that’s trendy, just print the top layer. When you’re done with that colour, scrape it off, and print the next colour on the remaining blank eyeshadow.’”

Down the line Choi plans to produce a Mink printer as well as accessories that help pick colours from images found online. She will also supply base mediums: white powder for eye shadow and blush, clear moisturiser and lip gloss. However, Mink’s first priority is to teach people the principles of its intended disruption of the beauty industry. This means teaching people how to hack their own home printer into a make-up printing machine

Mink predominantly aims to reach the 13-21 year-old market; people who haven’t yet found their main style and beauty routine and who are interested in experimenting. Instead of buying lots of make-up from different brands, most of which will never get used up, the idea is for people to buy blank substrates and print their favourite colours.

Choi says any inkjet printer can be used but best results can be achieved with the HP 6100. All that is needed is a blank makeup pan, refillable in cartridges, edible ink in cmyk colours to replace your printer’s standard ink, and an image of a colour you would like to try. The video below explains how to do it but the basic principles involve filling your printer with ink that is safe to use on your face, making space for the makeup pan, finding the hex value of the colour you would like with any colour picker tool, and printing a field of that colour.

race Choi has not only found a way to innovate in the make-up industry, but she is also setting an interesting example for home printing. Even though it is increasingly less necessary to print out text files at home. There is no digital alternative for makeup applied to the face. Mink removes the need to purchase coloured makeup and instead provides an infinite colour palette, using technology that has been sitting in our homes for years. The big benefit of a Mink printer may not be to replace your favourite everyday makeup, but it could be the perfect solution for once-off events, experimenting and playing dress-up. If Grace Choi achieves her intended revolution, it could mean goodbye to old makeup junk drawers as well as the financial premium on non-standard colours (possibly spelling the end for those colour ranges). In the mean time, hacking old printers to print eye shadow sounds like a fun idea for my next birthday party.


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