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Monday, May 12, 2014

What's WRONG with Mink, the 3D Makeup Printer



I think a lot of you have been amazed over the weekend by the news that spread like wildfire on social media that women can now print makeup in the comfort of their homes. 

If not yet, you can google Mink Makeup Printer to see what I mean. 

I honestly waited two days before saying anything, because the first time I watched Grace Choi's presentation video, I was on the verge of barfing and cursing everyone. I knew that if I spoke right the minute I saw it I'd surely say things I'd regret later on, which is why it's only now I'm going to air my sentiments on it. 

The idea of a makeup printer is of course wonderful to me and to the next person. I mean, who wouldn't want to revive all the discontinued shades of eyeshadow and lipstick that they loved? The idea is of course innovative and with lots of potential, but the presentation? The reasons for inventing the product? That's where all the problems come from. 



1.) On the printer being able to print virtually all the colors imaginable to mankind

The first issue is with Grace insisting that the product will be able to print out all the colors of the spectrum. Coming from an academic background in chemistry (just without the degree to prove it), I was already thinking about how she would actually be able to create all the colors of eyeshadow as cosmetic products are colored by mineral oxides and not by the same stuff they use in inkjet printers. To be able to print out all the colors, you'd then have to start to buy not just the ink and substrate packs but also color booster packs, iron oxide packs, and other add ons that will probably make the whole process just unbelievably expensive that you'd want to go back to the stores and buy the makeup instead. 

And I was surprised that my thoughts were affirmed by this Harper's Bazaar article where in they interviewed a real life chemist with experience in the industry to affirm that it really is NOT that easy to get all the colors you want.

Check it out here http://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/makeup-articles/why-3d-makeup-printing-wont-work

With color as her biggest argument, the proof of concept prototype kind of failed as you can see in these screenshots that the goal color looks very very different from the eyeshadow pan that came out and very very different from when she swatched it on her hand. 

If I were to be sent this product for free, I'd happily play with the colors and see what comes out. But if I were to pay the sky high $300 for the hardware and will get very very different results compared to what I wanted, I'd just go back to the store, too. If this were in IMATS or some other women-oriented place I'm quite certain that when Q&A comes someone will raise pigmentation, color payoff and how different the colors are... 



I can't even see the eyeshadow had it not been for her porcelain white skin!
  

2.) On the statement: "The makeup industry... makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bull****...and they do this by changing a huge premium on 1 thing that technology provides for free...and that one thing is color." 

This is the statement that actually got me fuming the other day, because as a makeup artist, beauty blogger and makeup enthusiast altogether, this was a big insult hurled on my face and the faces of all other beauty bloggers and artists.

Are you kidding me?! Color is the only thing?! 

Color is most definitely NOT the only thing considered in a product. 

A blogger like me considers: 
-Texture (Is it matte, shimmery, glossy, glittery, or silky? Is it fine or chunky?) 
-Color payoff (If I see this color on the pan, will the same thing appear on my skin?)
-How well it sticks to my skin (will it stay put the moment I apply other stuff?) 
-How well it stays put amidst the weather (the Philippines is always hot and humid)
-Longevity (can it last an office work day of 8 hours or not?)
-Pigmentation (will it go on chalk like or will it go nice and opaquely?) 
-Butteriness (how easily does it spread and blend on my skin?) 
-Reaction to water (is it waterproof or will it melt if I get rained on or thrown in a pool?) 
-Reaction to tears and eye drops (will these affect the staying power or strength of the product?)
-Reaction to body (will the cosmetics oxidize and change color after reacting to my body?) 
-Reaction to brushes (will it easily be picked up by my brushes or only go well with my fingers?)
-Packaging (is it sturdy? Does it come with a mirror or not? Will it shatter when dropped?) 
-Size of pans or products (how many grams of eyeshadow or lipstick am I getting?) 
-Number of possible applications (do I only need to use a little or a lot each time?) 
-Value for money (am I paying for a product I'll love and be able to use many times?)
-Overall package (how the product just feels like overall, women's intuition statements go here)

And that is still not everything that bloggers and makeup enthusiasts consider. 

To say that people are all driven only by color is to demean all enthusiasts that they're just like kids who will get envious if the other kid has a bigger pack of Crayola crayons. Because as you can see in my list of things to consider and in my blog posts in general that there is DEFINITELY more to color. 

If color were the only thing, Temptalia can get rid of her grading system and opinions altogether and just keep the dupe list on her website, and all the blogs can just be filled with dupes and dupes and more dupes. 

As a makeup artist, I choose products to use on my clients based not only on the color but on the occasion they'll be attending and the things that they'll be doing. I will choose to put on NYX's soft matte lip cream to someone who will sing or do a lot of talking because I know it stays put for hours. I will choose to use a BB cream if I know my client's skin is just too oily for foundation. I will choose to use my theBalm blushes on clients who will be out in the sun because I know it can stand the heat and the sun and stay put even after nine hours. I don't need to have blushes in all Pantone colors if I can't be confident that my clients will be able to go through nine hours without problems. 

As in I can have eyeshadows of all the colors of the world but if these eyeshadows will not be of high quality and are chalky and with poor color payoff, never mind. 

3.) On the statement: "For niche colors, you'd have to go to places Sephora. Who likes paying for Sephora prices? No one. That's who" 

I also fumed with this statement, just not as much as the previous one,. 

Yes, I do agree with her reasoning that mass producing makeup companies don't sell niche colors because they will not sell out as well as other colors. 

BUT, one will not need to automatically go to high end stores to get niche colors. 

There's Coastal Scents and ELF for that with their gigantic 120-color, 100-color and so many other kinds of palettes that have so many colors imaginable. And these palettes often do not cost more than $30. Given that this printer is targeted for 13-21 years olds to grow with, of course they'd find it easier to earn money or to convince their parents to get them 88-color palettes that cost $20 instead of a printer with an automatic start up cost of $300 not counting all the ink and substrates needed.  


And if a girl truly feels that her color needs are for the eccentric, instead of buying the printer she can get her fix of funky colors in good quality from Lime Crime and Sugarpill, brands which are already known for high quality eyeshadows for the funky folks out there. 

And I would really like to reiterate that this color argument is going nowhere-- people do not shop at high end places like Sephora for niche colors, they do it because it's a one stop online shop carrying so many brands that they can have items from so many brands in one basket instead of repeatedly paying for shipping from individual stores. And they also do it for the freebies and discounts. 

People also shop there because they carry a lot of specialty brands (like Make Up For Ever and Stila) that cater to making photoready and high definition makeup. Back then, primp days were reserved for prom and parties, but now, almost everyday is a primp day with the selfie culture. 



Cameras in phones used to be blurry but now they're so clear that it's become of greater importance to look good everyday and to have makeup that's designed to look good in photos. Moreover, the fact that DSLR's are much more affordable and HD than they were before also equates to having to be photo ready all the time. 


AND, to add, the statement assumed that people are simple straight minded creatures who cannot do anything but cry when an eyeshadow is not in a shade they imagined. People can mix colors, and that's an important thing to remember. I mix lippies to get the right shade on people, RiRi Woo was apparently (according to gossip) conceived when Rihanna's makeup artist mixed two red MAC lipsticks, OCC has just recently launched their primary colors pack for people to mix them, and even in the case of foundation I have just the darkest and the lightest shade of foundation and just mix it up till I get a client's color correctly. 



People can blend eyeshadows to get a desired color, and can virtually blend everything else on their faces with the help of good brushes. It's not even uncommon to hear of people who have this magic melting pot where they dump all their broken eyeshadows and see what color comes out of it, or for people to mix loose eyeshadows together to get a desired color. I think some people also have a jar where they put all their lipstick stumps or broken sticks and mix it too. There are also some who put two lippies in a jar, mix it, and microwave it and see what happens. 

This was a major statement I just felt was trying to sell the product too hard at the expense of insulting a store and hurling seemingly baseless information.  

4.) On the promise that the ink is FDA approved: "You only need substrates and ink, both of which are FDA compliant and come from same exact sources as those of trusted brands" 

A lot of neon colors have pigments approved in Europe but not with the US FDA, and even trusted brands sometimes use non-FDA approved pigments just to come up with eyeshadow palettes that really pack a lot of color payoff and pigmentation. For one to copy their colors, it's not just a matter of the expense of getting mineral oxides but also taking the risk of using something not FDA approved. 

Urban Decay's recently launched Electric palette has pleased people because of the pigmentation and color payoff but at the same time it has also received a lot of flak as many of the reddish colors are marked as 'not for use on immediate eye area' and the people either just had to live with confidence that Europeans can live with this or had to use the eyeshadows as blush or as eyebrow color. The ban on eye usage was as such as the pigments are not FDA certified.  

This also brings in the reason as to why mass producing companies aren't into niche colors-- aside from supply and demand, there's no need to unnecessarily deal with the FDA anymore when you can sell neutral colors just as well. Urban Decay's concern is extremely good eyeshadow quality so it can afford to do the Electric Palette and still have loyalists go after it, but mass producing companies will of course face criticism if the product is either very poor in color payoff or is an eyeshadow that can't be used on the eyes as people will always think that they can just go neutral or go for face paints if it's just a one time use. 

5.) On targeting 13-21 year olds and 'growing up with them': "Train our girls to understand that the definition of beauty, they should be able to control, not our corporations." 

This also raises a lot of concern because if you were truly concerned about the beauty of insecure teenagers, you'd more likely want to promote skincare (against acne and oiliness), healthcare and haircare (as in for healthy hair, not for chemically treating hair) instead of a makeup printer. Starting with 13-21 year olds comes to me not as an 'oh let's guide you out of insercurity!' but rather just trying to get a young market that doesn't have any habits yet to form their habits and psyche on your product. 

If you want girls to experiment, get them those $20 Coastal Scents palettes, or ironically, bring them to Sephora to ask for free samples of foundation and whatnot. They can try out expensive foundations and will most likely be able to find a similar shade in a budget brand's makeup line given how many foundation shade finders and apps are available now on the web. They do not automatically need this printer to get their shade.

They can go to Temptalia's Foundation Matrix and get what they want, if foundation is what they really want. 



Because for me, I buy BB creams for myself since they oxidize to match my color. I only use foundation on other people or when I am making really formal makeup stuff on my blog. BB creams also have a lighter coverage and are friendlier towards younger skin that I'd totally recommend girls to get BB creams if they still do not wish to get to the nitty gritty of finding the perfect foundation yet. 

As for lippies, if a girl really wishes to experiment, instead of buying the printer straight away I'd just give her a box of crayons, coconut oil and petroleum jelly to concoct her own colors. Non-toxic crayons have long been used by beauty junkies to create lippie colors that are either too rare or are just too funky that they will probably use the color just once or twice in their lifetimes. 

I would have appreciated this product more if this were to be targeted to makeup companies as a means for the product development department to immediately see results and not have prototypes done by the manufacturer anymore if it's a bad idea. Or if this were targeted to really popular bloggers not as a means to hypnotize young girls but to use this as a means to make smaller sizes of makeup to save space in their already humungous (and yet totally overfilled) makeup rooms. 

Concluding remarks: 

Like I said, this would have been a very innovative product had it been conceived for the right reasons and targeted to a less vulnerable market. 

The way it was presented was too arrogant for what it could actually do science wise, and with color as its main bragging point, it jut failed to produce an eyeshadow that delivered. It was just a very insulting presentation for makeup companies because we all know that makeup companies do so much research to make makeup last longer, blend better and look better in photos, only for them to be reduced to capitalists that drain people's pockets for colors. Like what I mentioned, it's also very insulting to beauty junkies because we do so much research and testing on a product's characteristics only to be reduced to envious girls who can't be the ones with lesser eyeshadow colors. 

Technicality wise it also lacked a demonstration or explanation as to how it will achieve different textures of makeup. How will one make glittery eyeshadows? Glossy lipsticks? Loose powders? This is an important question to answer in the realm of makeup, not color, because texture is perhaps the more major thing if I were to choose between texture and color.

Based on her introduction, too, Grace is a serial inventor and not a beauty junkie, and I think she would have benefited much more had she bothered to not just cite beauty bloggers as her zombie marketing army but also tried to see what they really look for in makeup products. She would have definitely benefited had she consulted with a makeup artist or blogger before putting this product out because it's apparent that she had no consultations done based on her statements. 

Unless the product addresses everything else a person looks for in makeup aside from color and shows more production and variety feasibility, it will most definitely not be able to replace the $55B makeup industry. 

So that's it. This is what I think is wrong with Mink. 





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