Different Shades: The Technology to Try Makeup Virtually


We're all familiar with cosmetics sections in department stores where sales professionals invite women to have a seat before a mirror in an area washed in flattering light to receive a makeover and discover the beauty made possible by applying the correct products from a brand’s makeup line. The experts who provide these makeovers know their trade and recognize the shades and products that best complement the features of the individual before them. However, not every customer has the time, patience and resolve to discover new makeup this way (and not everyone enjoys the process of trying on and removing layers of makeup in this setting).

Technology is coming to the rescue with a number of apps designed to show the user how they appear in certain makeup, without the work of applying any. Many of these apps are primitive, and simply involve taking a selfie and letting the user play with a few color filters. But more advanced 3D face tracking apps will soon let users genuinely see themselves in makeup with a few easy selections, trying out new looks within seconds (and without the bother of makeup remover). Future makeup apps, offering a real time “like looking into a mirror” experience of actually seeing your live face in motion and accentuated by virtual makeup effects, could help users quickly settle on new looks, and even help to guide users in applying real makeup.

Further, virtual makeup as a service may emerge, marketed to professional women for whom free time is precious. Consumers can explore brands, try out new products and styles virtually, and make purchases in-app for fast delivery. Additionally, makeup suggestions could be made by season or in association with special events. This offers the further opportunity to grow the consumer base of premium makeup lines as virtual makeovers reach beyond department stores, creating a convenient and comfortable environment for those who avoid department stores.

In addition, with new looks becoming so simple to try on and examine virtually, it could be commonplace for consumers to crowdsource their makeup decisions, with the social aspect of makeup shopping and discussing looks completely mobile. As much as people like to play apps like Instagram and create selfies using different filters now, people will devote even more time to such activities when they include a virtual array beauty products, and the sharing of these looks will take on an even great viral component.

This is a new kind of social shopping that beauty brands, as well as retailers, should be quick to embrace. Apps like this will get consumers engaging around brands, products and fashion, and shopping more happily and effectively while helping brand owners quickly understand how new product lines are received or how they can be improved. It may happen that “appearance” apps will one day come preinstalled on new phones alongside news and weather, as an enticement for women (and men) eager for those features.

In the near future, the cosmetic counter at department stores may be filled with experts using makeup apps instead of mirrors, with the latest trends being set on social media by consumers empowered by a new kind of selfie.

Victor Shaburov is CEO of Looksery. Looksery’s app uses face-tracking technology to make photo-realistic alterations to user’s appearances in videos and real-time chats.

More in News