Shark Tank Ooh Haha

Technology has solved many of todays problems. From preventing deforestation and helping patients with mental disabilities to being able post every meal we eat and thought we have, technology has revolutionized our lives. There are problems that technology created like Cyberwarfare and problems that we do not even know technology has solved yet. Here is a proposition I have for repurposing technology to solve what some may seem as a minute issue.

My Discovery of the Problem

I moved from sunny South Florida to the icy tundra of Boston. This move came with a culture shock, a weather shock, an education shock and, last but not least, a body shock. My body was acclimated to the humid, tropical environment. In other words, I left the womb with sun-kissed, blonde hair, an unusual love for humidity/heat and a solid base tan. Now, in Boston, my skin is dry and cracked, I’ve put on body fat some call “the winter coat,” my hair is dark and my tan is nonexistent. In fact, my nose actually bleeds during winter — WHAT IS THAT!? As the years rolled on I continued back and forth, from Boston to Florida, pale to tan, tan to pale. Overtime I returned home, I would get the following remarks from my family:

“Are you sick, you are so pale?”
“Why are you so pasty?”
“You don’t look hispanic anymore”
“We like you better blonde — are you using that brunette shampoo?”
“Why did you dye your hair?”
“Why is your skin like this?”
“What is wrong?”

Something occurred to me as I travelled back and forth. My mother would continuously take me to repurchase make-up based on how pasty or how tan I had gotten, and it cost a lot of unnecessary money. Isn’t there the technology that can allow my make-up to change with me?

The Bigger Problem

As I continued my research into the cosmetic industry, I learned of a bigger problem that I had never thought of.
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Andrea Arterberry shares her personal story of finding face colors.

I headed to the local Walmart for an alternative, but nothing matched my skin tone. I’m a black woman but light-skinned (think Beyoncé). While there were dozens of shades, not one suited my olive undertones. I knew from years of trial and error that, once applied, those pale shades would give me that “trashy ashy” look.

My frustration grew as I searched for darker colors that I could mix with a lighter shade. Combing the aisles, I wondered why the darker shades were stashed on the bottom shelves, collecting dust. And really, why am I mixing my own makeup?! Today, we can book a blowout via an app, but this is still a struggle? The longer I stood in the checkout line with my three (!) shades of liquid foundation to mix into a perfect fit, the angrier I became.

Days later, Nykhor Paul, a South Sudanese model, raised the issue on Instagram. “Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional [fashion] show when all the white girls don’t have to do anything but show up?” she asked

There is currently a large diversity-gap within the cosmetic industry, specifically focusing on foundation colors. Three major issues arise:

1. Shortage: Lack of beauty experts to assist colored woman in finding the right tone, lack of options and lack of consistency within brands, lack of delivery on products, lack of African American representation in these major cosmetic companies and an overall lack of cognizance.

2. Geography: Algorithms and big data calculating that the need of certain colors of foundation will not be necessary in certain counties.

3. Diversity in the Industry: How can a majority-white beauty team pinpoint what the African-American consumers need?

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the majority of the country will be minorities by the mid-2040s and African-Americans alone already make-up almost 15 percent of the U.S. population. The beauty industry will have no choice but to keep up with these trends and any company that chooses not to will fall behind.

To probably no one’s surprise, it was the power of the black dollar that brought diversity to the beauty industry, not a push for inclusion.

It’s not just about inclusion (while the more important), these companies will be forfeiting profit that will hurt their businesses. 

The Technology

A pen that can scan anything and then paint the color! Let this short video explain better than any words…

What else does this magical pen consist of? Screen Shot 2016-10-19 at 11.51.07 PM.png
How does this pen apply to make-up?

The Solution

I envision applying the technology of the Scribble pen to solve the cosmetic problem by creating a multi-faceted foundation dispenser. The pen currently works by utilizing various pigments to mimic the color that it scans — why can’t this be applied to pigment in foundation? Perhaps creating two chambers, one with the lotion and the other with the pigment, both combining to create the perfect match, no matter what skin tone. This would be perfect for those in the “between” of “typical” skin tone colors, or simply people traveling like me. It truly appeals to all skin tones and all people.

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7 comments

  1. Tyler O'Neill · ·

    Awesome post! As a guy it’s definitely interesting to hear about how woman of color struggle to find foundation. I don’t entirely understand why companies are not making foundation for woman of color. It seems to me like it is not only just and better for their public image, but it’s also a huge opportunity for companies to tap into a market that their competitors are not in. Hopefully technology will lead to further advances and greater equity within the cosmetic industry.

  2. dabettervetter · ·

    Wow, Caroline! I think that’s a fabulous idea! I have heard of both the struggle to match foundation to skin color and seen those fun pens, but I have never thought to combine them! It makes me think how cool it would even be in the future if we could go shopping and there would be a digital tool that took our exact size and made clothes personalized and unique to each of our body types. I am excited to see how we start integrating technology into our everyday lives and I think something like this, VR, and AR are just the beginning.

  3. copmania12 · ·

    Really cool post. Definitely thought this post was going in a different direction based on the title, but I’m glad with the result! I think the scribble is a really cool piece of technology, and I really like how you linked different ideas in order to apply this technology to a relevant issue in the cosmetic world. I think to build on your suggestion, maybe once the pen generates the correct skin tone color, that information could be sent to the cosmetic company and women could order their personalized tones in the future.

  4. Really cool post. I have no idea of cosmetics but it seems as a great invention. It is great example on how to apply technology to another problem than the one designed for. The only problem of this is the price that the product would have and the potential market share (but of this I have no idea)

  5. I really appreciate this post as it speaks to me personally. I agree with the above posters that you did a great job combining two completely different ideas, and I love the proposed outcome! The one thing that comes to mind is Sephora’s Color IQ, which uses sensors to determine which foundations, bb/cc creams, and other facial makeups match with your skin tone. It is fantastic!

  6. Great post!! I too share these issues with foundation. Since I moved to Boston, my friends from Texas think I am constantly ill looking in all my snaps and also “no longer look hispanic”. I think that issue with diversity of color in the cosmetics industry are very real and relevant problem to women everyday. Furthermore, I like how you offered up a solution to the problem not just stated the problem itself. Very interesting to see the technology behind that pen. I would 100% invest in a product like that for my skin.

  7. Nice post. Would have liked a bit more depth at the end, rather than buildup at the beginning (since that’s the digital part) but solid topic and treatment

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