Could DIY Makeup Transform The Cosmetics Industry?

We apply tons of toxic chemicals to ourselves, often knowingly. An at-home kit lets consumers take matters into their own hands (and faces).

How many personal care products (shampoo, makeup, deodorant, etc.) do you slather on every day? Your answer probably depends on how okay you are with looking–and smelling–like your true self. For Americans, the average is about 10. That means we apply almost 200 different ingredients to our skin every day, with pretty much reckless abandon.


The problem is that the U.S. government doesn’t require companies to warn consumers about the toxic chemicals many of these products contain. Mascara? It often contains oil byproducts. Foundations and antiperspirants? May contain heavy metals. Even most shampoo has some weird stuff in it. A cursory look at the associated health risks is, frankly, pretty horrendous (one in five products contain chemicals linked to cancer). In response, consumer groups have launched advocacy campaigns and databases, and companies have become a bit more hip with their labeling.

A German company called Rowenta has unveiled a product that should allay the nagging worries of many consumers: Naturalis, a kit that lets users make their own cosmetics at home.

The toolkit was designed by French industrial designers Eliumstudio. It comes with storage containers and measuring tools, along with a recipe book. The centerpiece is an electric canister that agitates ingredients at extremely high speeds to create a stable medium. That process is called helical emulsion, and it’s been used widely in the cosmetics industry for decades.

Three buttons on the face of the emulsifier let you choose what type of formula you’re making. The “hot program” is used for making stuff like moisturizer and lip balm, while the “cold program” makes scrubs and peels (the third is a cleaning program for the device). The recipe book provides a starting point, dividing products up into categories like cleansing, preparing, maintaining natural moisture, and nourishing.

Naturalis is a cool idea, yes, but it certainly doesn’t solve all the problems associated with casual consumerism in the drugstore. After all, you’ve still got to buy the kit (a whopping $250, though that’s only a couple of tubes of lipstick, when you think about it) and the associated ingredients. Still, it’s a step towards transparency, if you’re beginning to wonder whether slapping on a few ounces of petroleum byproduct every day is, well, safe.

About the author

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan is Co.Design's deputy editor.