It’s a problem that every makeup lover is all-too-familiar with: you buy a few of this season’s hottest cosmetics, only to realise a couple of months later that you’re tired of wearing that same shade over and over again – but there’s still too much product left and you can’t bear to throw it out just like that.
Or, you purchase a set or a palette, and you only end up using a couple of shades from that collection. What on earth do you do with the rest? Did you really just spend $70 on a palette only to use the same two colours over and over again?
Enter the Makeup Hacker. This nifty little device is basically a set of pigment powder cartridges that can alter the shade of your cosmetics by blending in the right combination of colour pigments. Sounds complicated? Well, a little – you need to know how the colour wheel works to be able to tweak the shades. But then again, if you’re a makeup junkie, we’re pretty sure you have a good grasp on how much black, white, cyan, yellow, or magenta is needed to create that desired hue. Watch the Makeup Hacker in action in the video below.
We caught up with Grace Choi, the founder of Mink and the woman behind Makeup Hacker, when she was in town for the HSBC Women Leaders’ Forum last month.
How did you come up with the idea for Makeup Hacker?
I’ve been in innovation for a while, so I’ve been in different industries. I’ve done medical devices, I’ve done jewellery. The last industry I was in right before I had this idea was the food industry. They actually print on food – if you see bakery goods, a lot of the designs on those are printed. So I assumed that if you could print something that you could eat, you can surely print something you could put on your face. So, I think that was the link and that was how it all started.
Why did you want to do something like that?
Well, at that time, I had just left my job and I was looking to do something meaningful. I thought about it and I definitely wanted to change the situation of the beauty industry at that time. At that time, it was very prescriptive, meaning that the industry kind of dictated these standards, these ideals of beauty, and then people would just follow along. So I thought, what if we change all that and bring that all to the Internet? So that people could just get ideas off each other and pick and choose what they wanted? So, instead of having to be stressed out about matching an ideal, they could just express themselves and choose to follow the people they want to. It’s very much like how you choose to follow people on social media. I thought that was a very worthwhile project, or worthwhile cause to tackle for the next ten years of my life. So I decided to go for it.
Was it a personal thing?
Yeah, I mean, growing up in the United States… I was not represented, or my features were not represented in a lot of beauty ideals. So when I saw the Internet flourish and I saw all these other people in the world, and people like me, I remember how I felt. That there are other people like me and they are also beautiful and other people think that they are beautiful. I wanted to share that with other people.
The Makeup Hacker was launched in February this year. How’s the response been so far?
We’ve been seeing some really great interest. A lot of people are interested in creating new products. Well, there are two segments of customers. There’s that customer who just wants exactly what they see. ‘Cos that’s the user experience now, where you see what you want online. Yes, there’s the customer who loves the search, going into the store and swatching it on her hand. But also, there is that person who literally just wants what they see. So we see a lot of excitement from people who don’t have a lot of time and who just want what they see when they discover the item. Instant gratification is one thing that really lands well to this product.
Another thing that lands really well is really, those shades that aren’t available in stores. What you see in stores are designed a lot for the masses. So you have your pinks and your reds and things like that. But what about products not as commonly found? What about very unique items like say, a pastel blue? One customer, she made this pastel blue eyeshadow, and she posted it online. It was really pretty. That’s a great example, because of her skintone – she’s of Hispanic descent. Her demographic and her skintone isn’t very well-represented in the current beauty landscape. I mean even if they knew that combination would work, they wouldn’t sell that many, right? Because she’s a very small minority in this big pot. They don’t sell that colour in stores, but she made it and she put it online and it looks very beautiful and therefore other people that followed, they made the same colour. That’s like the kind of customers we have, and the interesting things we are seeing.
I saw on the site that you demonstrated how to use the Makeup Hacker to alter the shades of lip colours and eyeshadow and even nail polish?
You can add the pigments to any base that you want to. Colour is really just math if you think about it. It’s all about proportions. You could change any colour that you have, any colour lipstick, into any colour. As long as you have the right recipe for it.
So I could, essentially, just add the pigments into any lip colour that I have?
Exactly. So that’s another big selling point that we have, in the sense that there are formulas that you already love. We understand that. Certainly, you could use this to augment the colours of your existing makeup, particularly when the differences in the range of colours are so small. There’s pink, but then there’s red-pink and magenta-pink. We understand it, cause we’re makeup people. But there’s no need to buy all of that. The difference is literally just a little bit of cyan, or just a little bit of something else. And for the person who’s willing to do that to save some money or to save some time, this is a good solution for them.
Image: Makeup Hacker’s Instagram