We’re all used to freshly brewed coffee within seconds, thanks to the wonder of little capsules. Now picture that same near-instantaneous service, but for moisturizer, hair mousse, and even perfume, without any potentially irritating preservatives.
Israeli startup Capsulab has created a machine that freshly prepares and dispenses small amounts of beauty products in just 60 seconds.
The company’s patented capsules (which are about the size of a large egg), include an internal mixer and piston, which blend separate ingredients prepackaged inside the pod in tiny sealed vials.
When needed, the machine mixes the contents of the vials into a freshly made, preservative-free product.
Beauty products use a number of preservatives and stabilizers to ensure a long shelf-life and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, but these ingredients are believed to cause skin irritation or even be potential carcinogens.
Cosmetics In A Capsule
The machine reads a unique code on each capsule to determine how quickly and intensively to mix the ingredients inside the vials. It can even check whether the ingredients have expired or not.
Once the vials have been emptied and the mixing stage completed, the machine dispenses the product into a container under the capsule with no mess and no cleanup required. Like with a coffee capsule, all you do is pop it into the machine and press a button.
The possibilities are endless, says Capsulab VP of Business Development Dr. Zakhar Nudelman – from blending cosmetics to producing food supplements and even mixing medicines.
“The process is universal for many, many different industries,” he explains.
The Capsulab team has even used the machine to whip up a small batch of fresh tahini.
Nudelman says that there are several advantages to using his company’s machine, for both consumers and businesses.
For the consumer, no chemicals are used as the active ingredients in each capsule are separate and hermetically sealed, and only combined on the spot in small quantities.
Furthermore, he says, using the machine is more sustainable than purchasing packaged cosmetics as it uses almost every last drop of ingredients.
“For example, when you throw away the tube [of moisturizer], you will inevitably throw away some of the material inside,” explains Nudelman. “We can squeeze 99.9 percent of the material out of any capsule we use.”
A solution like this could also save companies money. Beauty brands overproduce their cosmetics, meaning that they create more than demanded. This means that more than 10 percent of products – worth an estimated $4.8 billion – go to waste as they move through the supply chain, according to a study from materials science company Avery Dennison.
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In contrast to plastic-packaged products, the capsules can be returned and reused up to 100 times.
Like a Nespresso machine, businesses pay a subscription fee to Capsulab to lease its machines to consumers, with couriers delivering capsules and collecting the used ones on a regular basis.
And each time a consumer uses a capsule, Capsulab collects information about which was used and sends it to the businesses with which it is partnered. This allows the businesses to gain greater insight into their consumers’ preferences and use that to determine which products to develop next.
The company is planning to develop an app for the machine, which will allow consumers to create their own individually tailored capsules for skincare, haircare and more.
Capsulab is already collaborating with personal care brands in Germany and South Korea, as well as hair salons in Germany. The Tel Aviv-based startup has launched pilots with these companies, where its machines are dispensing their products in retail stores for a limited time.
CEO Gal Saar, a veteran mechanical engineer at state-run defense company ELTA Systems, founded the company in 2018 after pondering which products other than coffee could be created from a capsule in less than a minute.
He says he realized that in order to enjoy this kind of instant preparation, the products had to be created on an individual basis.
It took around four years to develop the machine and the specially designed capsules, which can fit as many as 18 different ingredients and dispense up to 200 ml of product.
Capsulab has raised $2 million thus far from private investors, including angels and Israeli and German firms.
This year, the company won the title of Israel’s most innovative packaging solution, in a competition organized by the Manufacturers Association of Israel.
That said, Capsulab does have a handful of competitors. L’Oreal’s Perso machine creates individualized skincare and cosmetic formulas, dispensing them through pods, and uses AI to optimize customer personalization over time as it gathers more data. Other competitors include Leiselle of Spain, and Japan’s Shiseido, which have both created machines that send personalized skincare capsules to consumers through a subscription.
But Saar says that Capsulab supports thousands of different ingredients with no setup and zero maintenance, unlike its competitors, which use only a handful of ingredients for ultra-specific use cases, and require cleanup.
“It’s much easier than making an espresso,” he says.