While working in a cosmetics company, Hisanori Tanaka discovered that a mountain of prototypes were eliminated because they could not be marketed as a final product.
“The fact was sad for me as a developer,” he said. “I had pent up emotions inside for a long time about it.”
A flash of inspiration gave him the idea that new products could be reused to offer a new source of joy to consumers.
“Cosmetics should be turned into paints that people can use for fun,” said Tanaka, 35, who he thought at the time.
Tanaka quit her research job at the cosmetics company in 2018 and founded her own company, Mangata Co., in September the following year.
Tanaka’s SminkArt project adds new value to discarded eyeshadow and blusher by recycling them as paints.
Smink is Swedish for “makeup”.
Powder cosmetics are coated with oil to enhance sweat and moisture resistance. Tanaka has developed a special agent that makes paints water soluble by mixing them with beauty products for 10 seconds after the oil layers have been removed.
As the agent is free from surface active ingredients, the finished pigments are composed exclusively of make-up articles, which cause less harm to people’s health when using them.
Tanaka was granted a patent for the technology.
Using her connections built through her career at her former employer, Tanaka teamed up with a beauty product manufacturer.
He purchased off-the-shelf samples with slightly misplaced colors and other issues, and made pigments in over 300 shade varieties.
The developed agent, a specialized brush and other tools were made available on the Internet, with a gradual increase in sales.
The products have proven popular among mothers with young children as they have helped parents play with their children while they stay home due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
SminkArt offers unique cosmetic tints, such as shimmering sheen and pearlescent sheen, which can be replicated to create intricate paintings that cannot be replicated with watercolors.
According to the results of a survey conducted by Mangata in 2021, 86.3% of the 5,400 respondents throw away unused makeup products.
Recycled pigments can bring relief to those who feel guilty buying new makeup when they have plenty at home.
“By creating paintings from their beloved cosmetics, I would like to offer people the opportunity to enjoy a form of artistic expression different from makeup and reflect on what it is really to express yourself” , said Tanaka.
The survey also revealed that the top five Japanese manufacturers discard 20,000 tons of prototypes and cosmetic materials annually through production processes or due to expiry of their safety dates.
Beauty product manufacturers therefore also welcome the recycled paint program.
Kose Corp. and Kao Corp. chose Tanaka in February as a partner in their joint framework to make the cosmetics industry more sustainable.
A representative from Kose described Tanaka as “creating a huge impact on the industry”, while a Kao official expressed “our extreme gratitude to him for making us realize that cosmetics can generate other values beyond beyond makeup.
Tanaka said he would be happy if developers and users became happier after being freed from the guilt of throwing away unfinished stuff.
“Waste can be reduced when products are fully consumed,” he said. “It will contribute to society.
“I want to help achieve this goal.”
The recycled pigments can also be used for nails and other products, which means an increase in workshops being held at commercial facilities showcasing the pigments. A museum operator has adopted SminkArt to offer limited-edition items at the facility.
SminkArt has found a much wider range for its applications, such as being exhibited at the KidZania Vocational Education Center for children to learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).