A handheld inkjet makeup printer sounds like something out of a sci-fi novel. But the Opte device is very real and one of the biggest beauty innovations in decades. Especially if you’ve ever suffered from hyperpigmentation like sun spots, melasma, or acne marks. The P&G Ventures Opte device, out now, is a palm-sized device that scans your face and deposits the perfect amount of a pigmented serum to hide spots seamlessly. We know it sounds too good to be true. We promise it’s not.
The 25,000-person waitlist is proof this isn’t just any ordinary skincare device. “Even the most sun damaged skin is more than 90 percent, flawless and less than 10 percent of the skin actually has imperfections,” Thomas Rabe, co-creator of Opte and a research fellow at P&G Ventures, tells BAZAAR.com. “Opte can see more imperfections and contrast in tone than the human eye can see. Not only is it the only handheld inkjet printer ever for beauty, Opte is the only handheld printer ever for consumers.”
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Rabe, who is also one of the cosmetic scientists behind CoverGirl’s Outlast 24-hour lipstick, first conceptualised the idea in 2007 and has since created eight prototypes (the first being as big as a kitchen table). Now smaller than an iPhone, Opte and its charging case won’t take up precious counter space on your vanity.
So how does Opte work? Unlike when you apply foundation to your entire face in an effort to hide just a few spots, the device covers just the imperfections using a high-definition camera (similar to the cameras in smartphones). Opte captures over 200 images every second and scans the skin with blue light to looks for areas that are darker than your skin colour. “It’s just the fact that blue light actually makes hyperpigmentation even more visible so that we are able to you know, fix even the tiny micro imperfections,” adds Rabe. Once it identifies the dark spots, the device deposits microscopic droplets of tinted serum in a camouflage pattern via an inkjet printer to make them disappear. All this one-of-a-kind technology comes at the cost of $599.
As you move the wand over the skin, Opte clicks so you know it’s actually working. “The frequency of the clicks correlates to the amount of spots being detected and product that’s being dispensed,” notes Rabe. The whole application process takes about five minutes, and the finish redefines no-makeup makeup. Truly weightless and imperceptible to the naked eye, Opte makes your skin look flawless yet totally bare at the same time. It’s a gamechanger for people who don’t want to be bothered with powder or foundation.
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With three shades of the tinted serum dosed with five percent niacinimide (Rabe says this is the “holy grail” of skincare brightening) to fade spots over time, the device covers 98 percent of skin tones and can be used on every skin type. The lightest shade of serum is nearly white, while the darkest shade is a light taupe. “We’re not trying to shade match the skin, just camouflage spots,” says Rabe. A shade far lighter than your skin tone creates visual balance and makes the dark spot blend in seamlessly with the skin around it. With continued use, you’ll notice the spots are brighter in just about eight weeks.
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The beauty of Opte is it’s suitable for all skin types. But who can benefit the most from the device? “People who are good candidates for Opte have melanin-related skin issues, including uneven skin tone, dark spots, melasma, even broken capillaries, because those features are darker than your skin color and Opte detects and corrects the color difference,” Rabe explains. We found it covered dark spots and freckles like a dream, but had a harder time with red or pink spots or areas around facial moles. The device works best on your forehead and cheeks, and is a little more finicky around your nose and eyes.
Opte isn’t just for the face, though. “I see this as a huge opportunity to fix hyperpigmentation in chest area,” he says. “That’s where many women have sun damage because they are much more protective of the face area and that’s a telltale sign of your age. But women don’t like to wear makeup there because it will rub off on clothing. Opte won’t transfer.”
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Not only does Rabe see Opte as a breakthrough device for women, but men can benefit equally from the pigment-correcting wand.“Because of our camouflage technique, Opte can be a game changer for men too because men don’t typically use makeup to cover hyperpigmentation,” he explains. “I think we’ll start to see more men adopt [the device].”
Even though Opte launched on September 30, Rabe and the P&G Ventures team already have plans to expand the printing makeup landscape to make it a more “connected experience,” says Rabe.
“The device has a lot of data in it, so we will be adding companion apps and features to help you track your progress over time and say things like we noticed that you are spending less time on your skin or trying doing longer strokes when using the device. This is a really new device. No consumer has ever had a device like this before Opte.”
Opte Serum & Care Membership, US $599, opte.com.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.