Japan’s wildest nail art: Sushi, pirates, scissors and more…


RocketNews 24:

Nail art is pretty big in Japan. For a lot of women, getting their nails not just colored, but decorated with gems, 3D flowers and mini-paintings is a monthly routine and fashion must. Usually it’s fairly subtle, but some nail art aficionados think bigger and bolder is better, no matter how hard it makes typing a mail or wiping your bum.

Here’s a fairly typical nail art design in Japan. The colors are simple but varied, there are some gems for accents, and some nice paint work as well. It’s stylish and more eye-catching than a one-tone polish job, but it’s not going to put your eye out either.


Then you have designs like this:


Often part of the uber-cute Shibuya gal fashions, these nails are long, long, long and festooned with popular children’s characters, flowers and other girly tidbits.

▼Cake, anyone?


Pop culture themed nails are also big among all ages.

▼Totoro, looking cute


▼Edward Scissorhands, looking… pointy


▼Gudetama, also looking surprisingly pointy


Speaking of eggs, another major category of nail art is food-themed.



This level of nail art already takes a high level of skill and several hours to complete, but there is a level even beyond that. It goes so far beyond fashion and the bounds of convenience that you might label it a kind of performance art.

▼Sea coral nails, perhaps in response to recent tensions between Japan and China over coral poaching?


▼Pirate nails, perhaps a call to arms against the scourge of modern piracy?


▼Some pretty ladies, perhaps for women’s rights?


▼These things. Just because they are purdy.




Sega has created a nail-art sticker printer

nail_headerRocketNews 24:

What’s the only accessory you can wear 10 of but barely notice you’re donning them at all? Yup, nail art! Japan is all about colorful, creative decoration for the fingers and its nail art can get pretty fancy. But it can also get kind of pricey. As not everyone is gifted enough in the intricate craft of nail painting to do it themselves, DIY tricks have been cropping up, but they don’t always work as well as expected.

Renowned video game developer Sega has an answer to our nail woes. They have created a machine that prints specially shaped nail art stickers, so the average Jane can decorate their nails to their heart’s content. The machine is aptly named Nail Puri, short for nail purintaa (printer). What’s even better is that there will be a free demo of the machine in Ikebukuro this coming weekend!

The Nail Puri machines are kind of similar to those for purikurabut without the photo booth. When you do purikura, you take some pictures, then decorate them with cute stamps, colored backgrounds or words. Nail Puri uses this kind of software to allow you to create the pattern, design or simple color you want on each nail. There are over 1,500 designs to choose from and each machine will be updated monthly to release trending or seasonal designs.

▼ You can choose a theme, but every nail can be different.



A second option is to use the free smartphone app created to work with the machine. You can use your phone to make your perfect design, even using real photos! Once you’re ready and in the game center, you can send the designs to the machine.

▼ This app will likely assist in procrastinating studying and work.


Once you pick or send over your designs, the machine will print them on a thin, flexible material, which you can shape to a perfect fit for your unique fingers, then… Voila! Cute nail art for just a few bucks. (We assume it won’t be outrageously expensive, but there is no word about how much the stickers will actually cost).

▼ “Happy Cute Life!”


The Nail Puri is still a work in progress, but Sega wants to do it right, so they’re asking for input from their target audience: young ladies. In order to do so, they are road-testing the machine for three days in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. Participants will not only be able to get nail stickers for free, they can also have them put on their fingers by professional nail artists, another complimentary service.

If you’re going to be hanging out in Tokyo between 10am and midnight on March 27-29, you should stop by the 6th and 7th floors of Sega GiGO game center in Ikebukuro to get your individualized nail stickers.

While we won’t know the quality of the stickers and ease of the process until the prototype is tested, this machine could potentially change the world of nail art in Japan. If it’s really good, it may even take off abroad, a goal that regular purikura never really attained. Here’s to a potential new and easy way to be fashion-forward.

Modern day women transform into historical beauty figures

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Audrey Magazine:

Societal ideals of beauty are constantly shifting. For instance, a recent ambition for many women in the United States is no longer looking like a thin runway model. Instead, many want to look healthy and strong while embracing curves (think Beyonce). We like big butts and we cannot lie! Of course, ideals of beauty vary from culture to culture.

Buzzfeed took three women from different ethnicities and transformed them into historical figures that represented the cultural beauty of that specific time. The results? Beautiful transformations and makeup looks! Check out the video below:

Despite how entertaining the video was, I’m left wondering what exactly are the components of these traditional beauty looks? What’s the cultural and historical significance?

Let’s take a peek back into history.

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Traditional Indian Beauty

The first woman in the video expresses that she is Hindu and “everything that Indians do has a meaning or culture to it.” This concept is also reflected in their ideals of beauty. Women, and sometimes men, wear “kajal” which is essentially eyeliner. It’s believed that wearing kajal would strengthen their sight and protect the wearer from bad luck.

What about the dots? Although the makeup artist took a creative route with this look, the dots represents the traditional “bindi.” The bindi is a dot between the eyebrows and is worn for spiritual and religious purposes. It comes in many shapes, sizes and colors, but it is traditionally red, which represents love and honor.


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Chinese Beauty from the Tang Dynasty

The third woman in the video shares that she is an “ABC” or “American-born Chinese.” During the Tang Dynasty, there was prosperity. As a result, women who were more plump were considered beautiful because they were able to live a comfortable and relaxed lifestyle.

I love that bold lip color, don’t you? Lips were considered to be the sexiest part of a woman, so what better way to draw attention to them than wearing a bold color? Women in the Tang Dynasty would even dye their lips to achieve that cherry hue. But one thing hasn’t changed. For women in China smooth, light skin sans imperfections has been considered beautiful for thousands of years.


NEIGHBORHOOD (Japan) x DENIS Hair Grease

For the latest addition to NEIGHBORHOOD‘s vast list of collaborative endeavors, the longstanding lifestyle brand pairs with Tokyo-based company DENIS. DENIS offers stylish and eco-conscious hair products to protect your scalp. Its natural hair grease contains nine active ingredients, including chamomile, rosemary, nettle, mustard and burdock extracts, all of which provides strength and weight for long-lasting glossy hold. In combining their minimalist aesthetics the NEIGHBORHOOD x DENIS Hair Grease comes in a black and white aluminum can.

Head over to NEIGHBORHOOD.jp for a look at where you may be able to purchase this item.

A Bathing Ape x Kiehl’s 2015 Tohoku Charity Project

A Bathing Ape collaborates with Kiehl’s to produce a limited edition moisturizing cream. The product itself is the “Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream,” the skincare line’s top-selling lotion, featuring a special BAPE Camo label. 100% of the revenue generated will be donated to the NPO Corporation, which stands to support the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake by planting cherry blossom trees in the Tōhoku district of Japan.

You can purchase the A Bathing Ape x Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream at Kiehl’s on February 6 in two sizes: a 49 g jar for $32 USD and a 123 g jar for $56 USD.


Introducing Moonshot: The new cosmetic line from Kpop record label YG Entertainment

Photo Credit: http://www.moonshot-cosmetics.com

 Audrey Magazine:

YG Entertainment, the company that brought big names like Big Bang and 2NE1 to international audiences, is now taking on the cosmetic scene! Coming from one of the pioneers that put Kpop at the forefront of music, the line can only be appropriately called “Moonshot.”

The concept of Moonshot draws inspiration from Apollo 11’s successful landing on the moon in 1969, when a dream became reality. They line is intended for those who aim for the moon and for those who strive to be trendsetters — that’s quite apparent in the collection. The line’s bright, vivid colors boldly standout in comparison to the soft pastel colors that have been trending lately in South Korea.


Moonshot's Power Duo collection


Moonshot currently has their Flagship Store open in Seoul, but recently they released their online store. However, for those of us who can’t read Hangul, we’ll have to wait until Moonshot debuts their English website in January 2015.


Stick Extreme, a multi-use item for your eyes, cheeks, and lips

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Top 10 Japanese women throughout history

RocketNews 24:


Every nation has women who are remembered throughout history for the impact they had on their country. Today we present you with 10 Japanese women–game changers, if you will–who fundamentally altered the way the nation sees or experiences the world today. Most of these women have achieved fame abroad as well, another hallmark of success in Japan.

Many names you’ll recognize, but a few may be a surprise. But they are all well-known among the Japanese and are looked up to and praised by women and men throughout the country. Ready to test your knowledge of influential women in Japanese history?

Let’s take a stroll through history starting from the year 973 and moving into modern times.


1. Murasaki Shikibu (973-1025)

murasaki shikibuBritish Museum

“There are as many sorts of women as there are women.”
― Murasaki Shikibu, The Tale of Genji

Title: Writer

Shikibu is the author of The Tale of Genji, written between years 1000 and 1012, during the Heian Period and is widely believed to be the world’s first novel. At a time when females were precluded from studying classical Chinese, Shikubu’s father indulged her the opportunity to study with her brother. A precocious child, she immersed herself in studies of Chinese but covered up her abilities as an adult so as to not encourage scorn. While living in the court of the Imperial Family where she served as lady-in-waiting to the Empress Akiko, she penned a diary blending the activities of the fictitious prince Genji with the real trivialities of court life. Such “poem tales” constituted a genre of poetic biographies written by women that mixed fiction and non-fiction to produce what is called “Japanese prose.”

Such writing found favor among women, especially ladies of the court and wives and daughters of courtiers, while men still wrote in classic Chinese. The English translation, which encompassed six volumes, was produced in 1933. Murasaki also wrote The Diary of Lady Murasaki, about the birth of the empress’ children, told via a volume of poetry, letters and vignettes.

For being the world’s first modern novelist, we give Shikibu a round of applause.


2. Misako Shirasu (Jan. 7, 1910–Dec. 26, 1998) Nagatacho, Tokyo



“If you use beautiful things every day, you will naturally cultivate an eye for beautiful things….In the end, you will be repelled when you encounter the ugly and the fake.”–Misako Shirasu

Title: Essayist and expert on aesthetics and design

Shirasu started studying Noh theater at age four and at 14 became the first female to perform on the Noh stage. She grew up among privilege and even attended a prep school in the U.S. Upon returning to Japan, she married and in 1942 she and her husband moved to a farmhouse away from likely bomb targets to wait out the war. It is believed that this was a pivotal time for her when she began to appreciate the simple, austere way of life and where she became an advocate of simple aesthetics and design within the surroundings of nature.

She believed in blending ideas to arrive at practical ways of living such as represented by honjisuijyaku, the importation of Indian Buddhist deities to act as local manifestations of their originals. Regarding design, she emphasized that imperfections are the defining beauty of a piece, a prized natural blemish, an unforeseen treasure, or “natural imperfection.” Rather than setting out to create art, she suggested people put their hearts into making something with great skill and effort, in which art may result, and that folk art should be a bit clumsy. She dedicated herself to the study of the relationship between art and nature, and used flower arrangement as an example: Once flowers are put into a vase, for the first time we can understand the essence of the flower in a controlled and observable format where we can appreciate it on a different level and give it a new life. She saw how the beauty of nature encompasses food and art. These are values that live on today in Japanese art and design.

The farmhouse where she and her husband lived, called Buaiso, is now a museum open to the public.

For having defined the values of aesthetics and design in postwar Japan, we give Shirasu the thumbs up.


3. Masako Katsura (1913–1995) Tokyo


Men want to beat me. I play men, six, seven hours a day. Men no like, they do not beat me.” –Masako Katsura


Title: Professional Billiards player

“Katsy” was Japan’s only female professional billiards player in the 1950s and was the first woman to play in a world billiards tournament. She learned the game at 13 from her older sister’s husband who owned a billiard room. She appeared in 30 exhibitions in 1958 and the following year appeared on American TV twice (once on CBS, the other ABC). She married a US Army non-commissioned officer and moved from Japan to the US. The popular Katsy wrote two books in Japanese on billiards: “Introduction to Billiards (1952) and “Improve Your Billiards” (1956). She eventually moved back to Japan to live with her sister and died five years later in 1995.

Known as the “First Lady of Billiards,” Katsura beat most men throughout her career. We know how much guys hate to get beaten by a girl, so we give Katsy the high five!


4. Hanae Mori (January 8, 1926) Shimane

Daum Crystal Hanae Mori Hanae Mori Butterfly Soliflore 05293 transitional-artwork

“Fashion reflects a country’s strength as a nation and its momentum in moving toward the future.” –Hanae Mori in an interview with the Asahi Shinbun.


Title: Designer

If you recognized the above photo as a Hanae Mori design, then you’re probably familiar with this leading fashion designer’s signature mark: the butterfly. Japan’s most famous female designer and an icon of liberated women, Mori used clothing design to promote the interaction of East-West aesthetic values. As a young woman, Mori took classes at a local dressmaking school. Later she opened her own boutique in Ginza and established a ready-to-wear collection. She entered the world of haute couture while in Paris, under the influence of Coco Chanel. In 1976 she opened a salon in Paris and was appointed a member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, making her the only Japanese designer to be included in Haute Couture. Mori’s designs have appeared on the cover of Vogue and her designs include uniforms for Japan Airlines flight attendants, Japanese athletes at the Barcelona Summer Olympics, and the kimonos and wedding dress for Japan’s Crown Princess Masako. She also has a perfume collection and there’s even a Hanae Mori Barbie Doll!

Mori supports young designers via the Hanae Mori Foundation, and we think that’s pretty cool, so we give Hanae Mori our eye-shadowed wink of approval.


5. Sadako Ogata (September 16, 1927) Tokyo

Sadako Ogata

If we ignore the plight of the refugees or the burden of the countries which have received them, I fear we will pay a heavy toll in renewed violence.” — Sadako Ogata at her Liberty Medal acceptance speech, July 4, 1995

Title: Diplomat

Few women impress more than Sadako Ogata, who held office at the Japan International Cooperation Agency until she was 85. She was Chairwoman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 1991-2001, on the UNICEF Executive Board 1978-1979, and President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency in which she held office from Oct. 2003- April 2012. Her accolades include the Indira Gandhi Prize and the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding. In 2001 she accompanied then prime minister Mori to Africa, marking the first time ever for a Japanese Prime Minister to visit the African continent. Beloved by her people for her compassion for the vulnerable and less privileged, she is lauded for her dedication to human rights.

Awesome doesn’t even begin to explain Sadako Ogata, who has won numerous international awards. She serves as an inspiration to women and men everywhere. For this we give her a standing ovation.


6. Yayoi Kusama (March 22, 1929) Nagano


“A polka-dot has the form of the sun, which is a symbol of the energy of the whole world and our living life, and also the form of the moon, which is calm. Round, soft, colorful, senseless and unknowing. Polka-dots become movement … Polka dots are a way to infinity.”

Title: Artist

Yayoi Kusama was a leader in the avant-garde movement soon after moving to the U.S. in her twenties and is said to have influenced artists such as Andy Warhol. She is also part of the minimalist and feminist art movements. Kusama is known for her red polka-dot art, a thought-provoking yet whimsical theme she has turned single-handedly into her own signature genre. She is known for her installation art, and she has turned everything from entire rooms to living tree trunks into red polka-dot canvasses. In 2008, one of her works sold at a Christies New York auction for $5.1 million a record for a living female artist at that time. Once you’ve seen her art, you really cannot forget it. Kusama is candid about her struggle with mental illness and lives in Japan at the Seiwa Hospital in Tokyo from where she commutes to her studio to produce art.

For Kusama and her ability to make us think twice about both mental illness and art, we give her double kudos.


7. Hibari Misora (May 29, 1937June 24, 1989) Yokohama

hibari Misoro

“Like the flow of a river, countless bygone days one by one, how gently, how slowly they go.”

Lyrics from the internationally acclaimed song “Kawa no nagare no you ni”

Title: Singer, Actress and Cultural Icon

As an actress, Misora appeared in Takekurabe (1955), Izu no odoriko (1954) and Hibari no mori no ishimatsu (1960). However, it is as an enka singer that she is most remembered. Her first performance was at age eight and the following year she appeared on NHK. Two years on she was touring Japan. Misora recorded over 1,000 songs, among them “Kawa no nagare no you ni” voted the greatest Japanese song of all time by over 10 million people in an NHK poll. Misora is one of the most commercially successful musicians and was the first Japanese woman to receive the Peoples’ Honor Award from the prime minister. She was awarded a Medal of Honor from the Japanese government for her contributions to music and to the public welfare inspiring people and giving them hope after WWII.

Misora died at age 52 from illness. It has been reported that her record sales continue to be brisk and that she has sold well over 80 million records. Tributes and memorial concerts are still performed in Japan live and on TV and radio. For the Queen of Enka, we give her a graceful curtsey of admiration.

Since we hesitate to include a YouTube video of Misora due to Japan’s strict copyright laws, we offer instead an equally stunning version by Jose Carreras. Warning: you will not be able to get this song out of your head after listening!


8. Sadako Sasaki (January 7, 1943–October 25, 1955) Hiroshima


“This is our cry, This is our prayer, Peace in the world”–The words inscribed on Sasaki’s monument in the Hiroshima Peace Park.

Title: Symbol of innocent victims of war

Sadako (who appears at the top of the monument in sculpture form) lived 1.6 km (1 mile) from where the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on Aug 6, 1945. She was two years old at the time but she and her family survived. However, when Sadako was nine, she developed leukemia, a disease that affected many children in the area, and which was called the A-bomb disease for its association with radiation. Sadako’s friend told her of a legend about one thousand cranes: If one folds a thousand origami cranes, then that person’s wish will come true. Sadako diligently folded paper cranes out of any material she could find. But on October 25 of that year, she died without having realized her goal. Sadako serves as a symbol of children and other innocent victims of war. Using funds collected by children, a memorial was erected in May 1958 in Sadako’s honor at the Hiroshima Peace Park. Children still fold paper cranes to grace her memorial with.

Sadako is a poignant reminder of why Japan instituted Article 9 (outlawing war as a means to settle international disputes) into their constitution. To Sadako we kowtow: the highest form of respect.



9. Kimie Iwata (April 6, 1947) Kagawa

shiseido store

“If you examine the root of this, it’s not ability or desire. It’s because during maternity, women leave their jobs, and their careers fall to zero.” –Iwata in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald in regards to why more women are not in high level positions in corporate Japan.

Title: Former Executive Vice President, Shiseido Co., Ltd.

Iwata is a rare woman executive in Japan, where according to the Gender Equality Bureau, less than one percent of executives at top Japanese companies are women and where female managers overall are a mere 10 percent. After graduating from the Tokyo University in 1971, Iwata immediately joined the Labor Ministry where, in the mid 1980s, she helped create the Equal Employment Opportunity Law. She joined Shiseido, Japan’s largest cosmetics company and the fourth largest in the world and in 2003. She served as a Corporate Officer and Executive Vice President for four years until 2012. Iwata has fostered female talent within Shiseido and advocates a more woman-friendly corporate Japan. She has also taken part as Chief Representative of the Working Women’s Empowerment Forum and is a member of the Gender Equality Council.

For being a generally awesome role model as well as fighting for the rights of women in the workplace and promoting a work-life balance, we give Ms. Iwata hoots, hollers and whistles and an encouraging “Gambatte kudasai!” (Go for it!).


10. Chiaki Mukai (May 6, 1952) Gunma

Chiaki Mukai

Title: Doctor and JAXA Astronaut

Mukai is Japan’s first woman astronaut and the first Japanese citizen to have flown two space shuttle missions: one aboard the shuttle “Columbia” in 1994, and the other aboard the “Discovery” in 1998. Mukai flew with US Senator John Glenn, 77, the oldest person to go into space. Their launch was covered live on TV in the U.S.

We commend the board-certified vascular surgeon for being one of just 58 women to have flown in space and for encouraging girls to enter science careers.



Yayoi Kusama

Grace Choi: The Harvard woman Is disrupting the $55 billion beauty industry with DIY 3D-printed makeup

harvard grace choi mink

Grace Choi, inventor of Mink.

Business Insider:

In May, Grace Choi presented a startup at New York technology conference, TechCrunch Disrupt. Her idea seemed too good to be true.

Her product, Mink, promised to help anyone easily 3D print their own makeup from any home computer. All that was required was a colorful image from the Internet, a tool like Photoshop that could lift a hex color code, and a Mink Printer, which hooks up to a computer to print specific ink colors on colorless shadows and creams.

While Choi didn’t win the startup competition, Mink generated a lot of interest from potential users, top makeup companies and investors. She has spent the past few months figuring out how to bring 3D makeup printing to the masses, even if it leaves her broke.

And she’s decided she really doesn’t like venture capitalists.



Mink 3D print makeup grace choi founder

Grace Choi applying lipstick she made from her 3D makeup printer.

Business Insider caught up with Choi, who gave us a step-by-step guide on how to 3D print makeup using a home computer and a regular HP printer. She also told us how she came up with an idea that could disrupt the $55 billion beauty industry — and how she used to work at Burger King.

Choi, 30, was raised in Brooklyn, New York. Her parents immigrated from Korea, where her father was an aerospace engineer and her mother was a nurse. In New York, Choi’s father opened a small fruit and vegetable shop. “It was a simple store, but he’s a great entrepreneur, and I learned a lot from him about negotiating and business,” Choi says.

As an undergraduate at Cornell University, Choi majored in hotel administration. But she wasn’t ready to settle on a career, so she tried a “bajillion” internships. She spent a year in finance after she graduated in 2005, decided she hated it, then quit. While perusing a Cornell alumni job board, she stumbled across a listing seeking an assistant to a Cornell professor in New York City. The professor, Dr. Martin Prince, was an established inventor and physician who hired her despite her lack of experience in science and medicine. He quickly became Choi’s mentor, and she worked as his assistant until 2011.

Under Prince’s leadership, Choi was able to work on a number of his inventions, learn from other physicians in his lab, and come up with a few ideas of her own.

In 2010, Choi saw a nationwide casting call from Home Shopping Network for its reality show “Homemade Millionaire,” which features aspiring inventors. Determined to cook up a clever idea, Choi went on HSN’s site and hunted for inspiration. She noticed jewelry was a major category on the site, and that necklaces, earrings and bracelets were the main featured items. Using magnetic clasps, Choi invented a 3-in-1 necklace that could be easily be converted to a bracelet or pair of earrings by disassembling then reconnecting the magnets. Choi’s invention, “Convertible Necklace,” won the fifth episode of the show, and her items were sold online.


convertible jewelry grace choi hsnHSN: Grace Choi (far right) modeling her convertible necklace that won episode 5 of HSN’s Homemade Millionaire reality TV show.


Choi didn’t feel fulfilled as a jewelry inventor though (she says making accessories felt “empty”), so she applied to Harvard Business School, in hopes of increasing her credibility as an inventor and continuing to pursue her own ideas.

While at Harvard, Choi came up with her first beauty product, which was inspired by a popular cosmetic in China, BB cream. BB Cream was a tinted moisturizer that Choi felt could be big in the United States as a blend of lotion and concealer. Choi created her own line of the cream, dubbed it “Grace Choi Porcelain Skin BB Cream” and priced it at $34 per bottle. 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. She was determined that her line would be different.

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


Grace Choi creamGrace Choi’s BB cream was the first cosmetic product she created.

Choi approached a Harvard mentor with her cream idea and asked for advice: She had a limited amount of money to spend on the product line, but she wanted to offer options for many skin tones. How, she wondered, could she do that efficiently?

The mentor’s response startled her:

Go with the lighter shades,” the mentor told her. “Those people have more money to spend.

That response really hit a nerve with me,” Choi says. She didn’t realize it then, but that comment led to the idea for Mink. With Mink, “the color [variety] question doesn’t have to come up, because the Internet solves that. Every color is free on the Internet,” Choi says.

When she graduated from HBS in 2013, she was recruited by Burger King to work on food innovation for the fast food chain. After three months, though, Choi felt out of place and left the job. She went back to inventing.

Choi says there wasn’t one “aha” moment for her 3D makeup printer.

When I started at business school and was trying to make a cosmetics product I realized, ‘Oh, this is how a cosmetic is made.’ And I thought, ‘It’s so interesting how it’s so inefficient,'” Choi told New York Magazine in June. “I wanted to do something more meaningful and impactful. I decided I wanted to tackle challenges in the beauty industry. The challenges are diversity issues and issues with women’s confidence.”

The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bullshit. They charge a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. That one thing is color.
Choi started mulling over a way to bring down makeup prices. She realized what makeup companies primarily charge a premium on — the colors and dyes they use in their formulas — is actually cheap to acquire before it’s mixed into the creams. She wondered if there was a way to use the four computer printer colors (Black, Cyan, Yellow and Magenta) to allow anyone to mix their own makeup colors cheaply from home.

The makeup industry makes a whole lot of money on a whole lot of bullshit,” Choi explained during her TechCrunch Disrupt presentation. “They charge a huge premium on something that tech provides for free. That one thing is color.”

It took Choi one month to go from the idea stage to having a semi-working prototype. That may sound fast, but Choi insists any curious self-starter can pull off something similar.

There are so many learning tools now, like Google, and tons of people you can ask questions of,” she says. “I worked a lot of the prototype for Mink out in my head and thought, ‘What materials would I need to make this work?’ Then I’d do small tests and take a little ink and mix it together with raw materials. I’d go to Staples and Best Buy and look at every single printer and open up the printers to examine the inside.”

Choi says she went through about 20 printers to find one that would print the best results and cover an entire eyeshadow pan, for example.

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.

Mink only covers the top layer, but not a lot of people use all the eye shadow they buy,” says Choi. “A girl’s makeup junk drawer is a clear sign that the system of makeup is not working. There’s too much of it you have to buy. So what I tell girls with Mink is, ‘Listen, when you want that neon purple eyeshadow that’s trendy, just print the top layer. When you’re done with that color, scrape it off, and print the next color on the remaining blank eyeshadow.'”

In other words, Mink prints sample sizes, rather than making consumers commit to entire products.

Right now Choi doesn’t have any employees, and she doesn’t have any traditional funding from investors, although she’s taken a lot of meetings. She says she butted heads with a number of venture capitalists and, in some cases, got into yelling matches over the direction she should take Mink.




A Mink-branded makeup printer could be on the way, but Choi says she’d rather teach the world how to build their own printers first.

The venture capitalists, Choi says, wanted her to produce an official Mink printer and start making money immediately. But Choi believes Mink will be best served by teaching the world how to make its own 3D makeup printers from home. She wants to start a beauty revolution first, and a business second.

I’m definitely not meeting with anyone who has ‘VC’ in their title ever again,” Choi says. “I think they’re a little too rushed. Mink could disrupt an entire market, and with that kind of opportunity, it’s best to take your time. The way for me to kill Mink would be for me to come out with a printer that’s sucky….The whole model for entrepreneurs is like, ‘I’m going to make a billion dollars then donate a chunk of my money to charity.’ Not to judge other people, but just throwing money at stuff doesn’t add value. I think sharing the journey of building the business adds value.”



grace choi mink

Grace Choi showing how to hack together your own 3D makeup printer from a regular HP printer at a hackathon.

Down the line, Choi agrees that a Mink-branded printer could make sense. But she also thinks that if she teaches the world to print its own makeup and turns every young girl into her own L’Oreal shop, business opportunities will arise naturally. 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. And if DIY makeup becomes popular, consumers will need easily-accessible FDA-approved inks, which could be Mink branded, or raw makeup materials like white creams and lipsticks to print on top of, which Mink could also sell.

One person alone can’t disrupt this entire beauty market,” Choi says. “Together, as a community, we can disrupt it. I’m willing to take a hit financially because my number one motivation is for change. This is a very important social mission for me. I think of Mink as an educational tool for kids, and one that can get girls interested in technology. I don’t need to be on some billionaires list. I’m aggressive and I’m going to make this happen. Before I die, this [beauty revolution] will happen.”



4 Japanese beauty fads that Westerners just don’t understand



RocketNews 24:


Beauty standards and trends differ from culture to culture, so something that’s fashionable and pretty to one woman can be completely can be bizarre, sometimes even ugly, to another half the world away. This is especially true in the case of Japanese beauty fads, which often leave Westerners thinking, “Why on earth are you doing that to yourself?!” while Japanese fashion magazines insist that it’s the path to ultimate kawaii-ness.

Narrow eyes, small noses, straight black hair – so many of the aesthetics common to Japanese women are considered gorgeous by many Western girls (and boys!). But what many Japanese girls obsess over as being beautiful is often quite different. Humans have a tendency to want what they don’t have, and in the same way that many Westerners find Japanese girls beautiful and ‘exotic’, many Japanese women idolize Western looks and are prepared to use a variety of beauty tricks to attain their ideal. There are also plenty of trends that are Japan-specific and developed internally rather than from looking outwards, and these two kinds of aesthetics mingle to create the general Japanese beauty zeitgeist, which is supported by a beauty industry worth JPY 1.4 trillion (US$17.5 billion) in 2011.

The following are four fads that are currently making cosmetics companies in Japan extremely happy.


1. Skin whitening

Take a look at the beauty products on sale in any Japanese drug store, and you’ll find many potions and lotions that claim to whiten the skin.

While in times past in the US and Europe a suntan was seen as undesirable as it was a sign of having been outside working in the fields while the upper classes remained pale by keeping indoors, nowadays the opposite is true for many people. A year-round tan is a sign that someone can afford to spend their time at the beach or jetting off to sunny holiday destinations, and most people are eager to gain the healthy glow that most celebrities sport, regardless of the warnings doctors and skincare experts give about overexposure to UV rays.

On the other hand, white skin has remained a mainstream aesthetic ideal in Japan, despite the trend for dark skin started in the 90s by ganguro girls, and that is still popular among the ‘gal’ fashion subculture today.





2. Snaggleteeth

Especially in the US, straight, uniform (and sometimes frighteningly white) teeth are a must. People spend a lot of money on straightening their teeth out, and the idea that someone would pay to have previously straight teeth misaligned seems completely bizarre. However, a considerable number of women in Japan are doing just that.

The ‘yaeba‘ or snaggle tooth look is thought to be cute, and cosmetic dentistry practices are offering temporary and permanent solutions to achieve that crooked smile. While in the West you might be teased for looking like a vampire, in Japan your fangs would gain you instant kawaii credibility



3. Double eyelids

Many Westerners find Asian almond-shaped eyes beautiful. However, some Japanese women will go out of their way to try and create a double eyelid, using tape and prongs to force their skin into the desired shape in a process that looks quite painful, but that I’ve been assured isn’t.



4. Eye bag makeup

Many Japanese women are concerned about having a ‘flat face’, and I’ve been complimented by Japanese people for the fact that my face is very ‘three-dimensional’. (I thought we were all 3D, but perhaps some people think they are actually anime characters in real life?)

While eye bags are something that many of us work hard to eliminate or disguise as they are thought to make us look tired and old, some Japanese girls use contouring and highlighting makeup to emphasize the area under their eyes and make it look ‘puffy’. As someone who slaps on the concealer every morning to avoid looking like a panda, this is the trend that I can understand the least.




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 4 Japanese beauty fads that Westerners just don’t understand