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Calgary’s Next Economy: Solis is cleaning up makeup application

When you think of Calgary tech, it’s often smartphone apps, computers and other gadgetry.

What about makeup? Yes, that kind of makeup.

Rana Hyatt, founder of Calgary-based Solis, is helping solve two critical problems in the hair and makeup industry with a portable makeup brush sanitizer.  First, if makeup artists aren’t sanitizing, there’s always a risk of cross-contamination. Also, disposable applicators (which address the cross-contamination) create a large amount of waste.

Hyatt said it became apparent when doing makeup applications for groups – like wedding parties.

“I was coming out with bags of garbage,” Hyatt said.

Hyatt’s family has been in the beauty industry for decades, owning hair salons. She always had a summer job and it later turned into a full-time job. Through that she built her own successful freelance business. That’s when Hyatt realized the waste problem.

While working as a hair and makeup artist, Hyatt also completed degrees in sociology and chemistry. She’s put the latter to use in developing this new portable sanitizer.

Hyatt was able to use the down time Covid-19 afforded to continue research and development into the product.  Add in an industrial 3D printer, and they began to cut and build the Solis portable makeup brush sanitizer.

Saving time and money for makeup artists

Hyatt said the machine it one of the first of its kind. The specialized sensor detects viral, fungal and bacterial microbes that are found on makeup brushes.

She said that professional makeup artists that don’t want to cross-contamination, or the risk of damage to the skin can prevent it.

“You can’t have all of those skin goals without starting with clean tools,” Hyatt said.

“We can provide it in 60 seconds.”

The alternative, Hyatt said, is washing it with soap. Then you have to let them dry vertically to avoid damage. Quite often that takes 24 hours, she said.

That’s downtime from your makeup brushes.

Hyatt said even the way the pieces for the machine are cut are done so they’re anti-microbial.

While the machine retails for $499 online, the Solis website shows the cost per use to clean brushes adds up in the end. Plus, it’s chemical free and creates virtually zero waste.

Hyatt said all of the big cosmetic players are moving towards sustainability, so their product fits with where the industry is heading.

While it may appear this product is best suited for professional makeup artists, Hyatt said major cosmetic retailers also have a need for a quick and easy – and safe – way to do applications for clients.  It can also be used by barbers and nail salons to clean dirty tools.

There’s also the everyday makeup enthusiast, Hyatt calls them, that applies makeup for work or play. The threat of cross-contamination is always present.

The entire skin care experience

The Alberta Catalyzer – Velocity program has taught Hyatt one important thing: Ask for help.

She said as an entrepreneur you like to think you have everything together. That’s not always the case.

“There’s so much knowledge and depth of resources that are available to you, you just need to ask for help,” Hyatt said.

“Know your limitations and don’t BE the bottleneck.”

While unit sales are top of mind for now, Hyatt said they have different ideas for moving forward. It’s geared toward using the IP involved in the sensor and detection process to help provide users with more skin care information.

That includes identifying ingredients in certain cosmetics, adapting for skin type and conditions and then coming up with the right combination of care.

It’s been a journey; the idea came in 2017. In 2019, they started building the first prototype with the latest version complete in March 2021. Now, the Solis product is in pre-sales.

“We’ve come a long way since then,” Hyatt said.