In our past posts, we covered how 3D printing has recently advanced the world of beauty. By using 3D printers to customise their own beauty looks and makeup items, consumers look set to enjoy greater freedom and creativity when it comes to makeup design, development and application.
Both the Mink and the MODA printer offer women the chance to customise their own beauty items. They also present an opportunity to save time - consumers will be able to try out beauty looks with ease in their own homes.
While ease of application, customisation and efficiency are all positives, ethical beauty concerns are also key to 3D printing’s potential. The market has been subject to increased scrutiny over makeup production and this printing solution might be a simple answer to a complex problem.
Ethical Consumerism and the World of Beauty
In recent years, there has been a upsurge in the number of people seeking to live a more ethical lifestyle. The rapid pace of global warming has been fuelled by methane production, a byproduct of raising and slaughtering animals (particularly cows) for human consumption. People are also increasingly struggling with health concerns as a result of the overconsumption of saturated fats. A greater awareness of the conditions in which animals are farmed is becoming commonplace, and as a result more are turning to vegetarianism and veganism.
This rise in ethical concern has created a problem for the beauty industry. In particular with regard to animal testing, since animals often develop incurable irritations to the products testing on them - and are later culled. This behaviour led to a ban on animal testing for beauty products in Europe. However, this issue is still of deep concern to many since products produced outside the EU are not subject to the same regulations. Animal advocates PETA report:
“Although companies can’t sell animal-tested cosmetics in Europe, they can continue to test cosmetics on animals outside Europe and sell them in other markets. Therefore, companies can still profit from cruelty to animals – just not in Europe. This is particularly important because many large emerging markets, such as China, are demanding that cosmetics be tested on animals. Because of this, the only way to be completely sure that you aren’t indirectly supporting animal testing is to continue to purchase products only from companies that don’t test on animals.”
A 3D-printing solution to ethics in beauty
Luckily, 3D printing could soon offer the beauty market a solution to our ethical beauty woes. L’Oreal and bio-engineering company Organovo have recently developed a printer with the ability to print material that replicates human skin and can be tested on for irritation or reactions. The printed skin means that the new technology could soon be used in place of animal testing for beauty companies around the world.
3D printers have the ability to print thick biomaterials that can replicate natural human body parts - including bone, ears and now skin. While bioprinting is a big research area for the medical field, the partnership between L’Oreal and Organovo is the first example using bioprinting in the cosmetics industry.
In addition to the ethical benefits of using 3D printed biomaterial for the testing of beauty products, researchers also claim that using the new material will allow for testing of products to be done more cheaply and efficiently.
A new solution to the problem of animal testing
L’Oreal and Organovo are the first are the first corporate duo to offer a practical and sustainable solution to the issue of testing beauty products on animals, thanks to the impressive capabilities of 3D printing.