Calgary’s next economy: Solis cleans up makeup application

When you think of Calgary technology, it often comes down to smartphone apps, computers and other gadgets.

What about makeup? Yes, that kind of makeup.

Rana Hyatt, Founder of Calgary Solis, helps solve two critical problems in the hair and makeup industry with a portable makeup brush sanitizer. First, if makeup artists don’t sanitize, there’s always a risk of cross-contamination. Additionally, disposable applicators (which deal with cross-contamination) create a lot of waste.

Hyatt said this becomes evident during makeup applications for groups — like weddings.

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

The Hyatt family have been in the beauty industry for decades and own hair salons. She always had a summer job which later turned into a full-time job. Thanks to this, she created her own successful independent business. That’s when Hyatt realized the waste problem.

While working as a hair and makeup artist, Hyatt also earned degrees in sociology and chemistry. She used the latter to develop this new portable disinfectant.

Hyatt was able to use the downtime granted by Covid-19 to continue research and development of the product. Add an industrial 3D printer and they started cutting and building the Solis portable makeup brush sanitizer.

Saving time and money for makeup artists

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

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

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

“We can deliver it in 60 seconds.”

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

It’s downtime for your makeup brushes.

Hyatt said even the way the machine parts are cut is made to be antimicrobial.

While the machine sells for $499 online, the The Solis website shows the cost per use to clean the brushes adds up at the end. In addition, it contains no chemicals and creates virtually no waste.

Hyatt said all major cosmetics players are moving towards sustainability, so their product matches the direction the industry is taking.

While it may seem like this product is best suited for professional makeup artists, Hyatt said major cosmetics retailers also need a quick and easy — and safe — way to apply for customers. It can also be used by barbers and nail salons to clean dirty tools.

There are also everyday makeup enthusiasts, Hyatt calls them, who wear makeup for work or play. The threat of cross-contamination is always present.

The whole skincare experience

The Alberta Catalyzer – Velocity program taught Hyatt an important thing: ask for help.

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

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

“Know your limits and don’t be the bottleneck.”

Although unit sales are a priority at the moment, Hyatt said they have different ideas moving forward. It is geared towards using the intellectual property involved in the sensor and detection process to help provide users with more skin care information.

This includes identifying the ingredients of certain cosmetic products, matching them to skin type and conditions, and then finding the right skincare combination.

It has been a journey; the idea came in 2017. In 2019 they started building the first prototype with the latest version completed in March 2021. Now the Solis product is in presale.

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