In today’s 3D printing gold rush, tiny startups and large companies are both competing over the next big idea. From the medical world to the restaurant business, there always seems to be a clever way for 3D printers to revolutionize the game. Even the cosmetics industry has gotten involved, with young entrepreneurs touting “3D-printed makeup,” beauty giants experimenting with printable skin, and companies testing out biodegradable packaging. All in all, beauty and technology seem to be a formidable combo.
Testing on Printed Skin
Traditionally, makeup and skincare products have been tested on animals before any humans try them. In the past, this controversial practice was the only way for beauty companies to ensure their products were safe, but animal rights groups banded together to ban testing in the European Union and a few other countries around the world.
Starting in the 80s, the L’Oreal beauty corporation worked around this law by using leftover plastic surgery samples to see how their products looked on different skin tones and age brackets. Now, the company has embraced 3D printing technology for their latest project: printing skin samples from scratch. In the same way that doctors are using 3D printed skin to treat burn victims, L’Oreal expects their version of skin production will be fully operational by 2020. Once they’ve perfected it, 3D printers will allow the company to avoid harming animals and still know how their products will behave on human skin.
Although this might not qualify as 3D printing tech, two new startups have come up with devices that wouldn’t be out of place on a futuristic vanity. Here’s the basic concept: find a picture of anyone whose makeup you admire, upload it to the design app, and let the printer figure out how to replicate that look on your own face. Then, place your face in front of the device’s opening and wait for 30 seconds; the printer will apply a primer, foundation, and color in that brief time. It might seem a little frightening to entrust your face to an ominous-looking machine, but eventually the technology could become part of daily life. For women who like accenting their natural beauty with makeup, but hate how long it takes to apply, a makeup printer could save them hours every week.
More Sustainable Packaging
Cosmetics packaging isn’t easy to recycle. The small tubes, tubs, and tiny bottles usually end up in landfills, and the beauty industry has been trying to change that. 3D printers may offer the answer: when small business owner Anita Redd lost her packaging supplier, she decided to make a 3D-printed jar for her lip balm product. Her company’s ethos was all about all-natural ingredients, so the biodegradable container reflected that well. As larger companies adopt 3D-printed packaging methods for their international products, we may see a drastic reduction in plastic waste. Consumers want to buy products that they know won’t harm the environment, and now, the beauty industry is finally starting to catch up.