Re: Mink, the Absurd Colour Printer

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A recent blog post touched on the feasibility of Mink, the 3D makeup printer. Since then, there have been follow up articles and an early look at a Mink prototype. Sadly, Mink still has the same feasibility issues and unanswered questions.

From the hackathon video, we have more make-believe demonstrations that don’t show how the “blank” (white) makeup is printed with colour. The video goes straight from placing the blank makeup to a cut scene with colour already applied. Nowhere do we actually see a demonstration of “3D printing”; the highly touted feature of Mink. Instead, we see a lot of manual processes that require you to carefully prepare and, in some cases, mix the “printed colours” into the makeup. As mentioned in the blog, Mink is just a colour mixer. Let us recap the concerns:

  • Colour Reproduction: This is the biggest issue and no colour comparisons were given in the video demonstrations. The custom ink tanks looked very watered down and won’t be able to produce the full range of colours from a computer screen. The impact of adding liquid to the blank makeup on its consistency is a tricky problem. A colour that requires ink from all the base colours will add more liquid to the makeup than a colour that only requires one base colour. A deeper shade requires more ink than a lighter shade.
  • 3D Printing: The videos clearly show that Mink is not a 3D printer and that manual work is required from the user to give shape to their makeup. Mink is simply a poorly designed colour mixer using printing technology. It is anyone’s guess as to how Mink will eventually print lipstick, lip gloss, eye shadow, blush, nail polish, and brow powder (as mentioned by Mink founder, Grace).
  • Maintenance: Since Mink is not a 3D printer, the maintenance of the actual printer is reduced. However, extra accessories would need to be used and these accessories will need to be prepped and cleaned.

It so happens that Grace, the founder of Mink, would also like to start a makeup revolution. Here are some profound quotes from the articles and videos:

It’s finally training our girls to understand that the definition of beautiful should be in their control, not in corporations.

That was what Grace had to say about why Mink is so good. The problem is that makeup can only give you superficial beauty. People should never be trained to define beauty by the makeup someone wears. Mink will only add to the distorted view of beauty, just as magazines and superstars already have.

Choi had long felt Asians were underrepresented in beauty industry marketing, and she’d struggled to find skin care products that catered to her skin tone.

“I felt pretty insignificant when there was no Asian Cover Girl model,” she says. “America is supposed to be progressive.”

Perhaps Asians are underrepresented in the (western) beauty industry marketing because Asians are a minority of the western population. It makes sense to market your product to the largest market segments. You will have more luck finding Asian Cover Girls and products for Asians in an Asian country.

With Mink, “the colour [variety] question doesn’t have to come up, because the Internet solves that. Every colour is free on the Internet,” Choi says.

The Internet is not the reason why digital colours are free. Digital colours are just numbers on the computer and you can easily create them without needing the internet. Digital colours have always been free and will continue be free. I find it ironic that Grace would use Photoshop, a rather expensive program, because it already comes with a colour palette that gives you access to all the colours you could possibly dream off.

Choi’s solution prints just a top layer of ink onto a blank (white) shadow, cream or moisturizer. It could be seen as a problem that the ink doesn’t seep all the way through like consumers are used to when they buy makeup. Choi actually thinks it’s a good problem that could save consumers money.

So, Mink is clearly not a 3D printer.

Choi envisions a world where celebrities have iTunes-like pages for makeup, where a girl can log on and print Kim Kardashian’s exact lipstick shade to wear.

Perhaps Pinterest-like pages? Selling colours (which are numbers) on the internet is never going to work. People would just use a colour picker to “steal” the colour.

Thanks to G for pointing out the following link. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to hack a printer to print your makeup: How To Hack Your Home Printer So It Will 3D Print Any Lipstick, Nail Polish, Eye Shadow Or Other Makeup You Want. Somethings to notice:

  • Step 3: Edible inks on your face? Edible inks are safe to eat but does that mean they are safe to be on your skin for an extended period of time (e.g., no irritation)?
  • Step 15: You need some skills in preparing drugs.
  • Step 24: How did the substrate get an even coverage? Normally, the paper must be moved during the printing process because the printer head can only print a strip of colour. If the substrate is not being moved, then there should only be one strip of colour on it.
  • Step 30: Interesting role model to show.
  • Step 35: To make nail polish, you will need twink and white markers? Are these FDA approved? Please, no!
  • Step 39: This is not going to turn out well …
  • Step 42: … and the twink is on the finger …
  • Step 43: … and now it’s in the printer. Let’s hope the colour splashes all over the correct finger nail.
  • Step 44: Oops, you missed a spot.

One Response to “Re: Mink, the Absurd Colour Printer”

  1. Re: Re: Mink 3D Makeup Printer - Faux Flux

    […] could print coloured makeup at the comfort of your own home. However, at that time, there were huge issues with Mink’s feasibility. Fast forward to today and you will see that Mink no longer touts its […]


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