Augmented Reality: Is It Changing the Face of Beauty?

The world of digital is becoming key to the beauty industry with beauty brands realising just how much of a role AR – or augmented reality – will really play in future beauty shopping.

The evolving world of technology is making it’s mark on the beauty industry in many forms. The most repetitive one being  “try on” apps where users are able to virtually apply makeup from their smart phones. We did our research and found that these apps were actually being pushed by bigger brands in the industry in an attempt to provide users with a more personalised experience.

We put the apps to the test to see if  they had any real belonging in the beauty industry.

Our initial thoughts were sceptical, as the best part about makeup shopping is over indulging in swatches and leaving a shop with your hand looking like a two-year old’s colouring book. Nevertheless we dug deeper and downloaded a few apps with surprising results.

Makeup Genius 

L’Oreal’s ‘makeup genius‘ is described on the app store as a makeup tester app that “turns your smartphone into your makeup mirror.”

Though what stunned us the most (in a good way) was reading how the app allows customers to virtually try on 4,500 of the cosmetic brand’s catalogue of products!

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long before we learned that the product list was actually very limited. Nevertheless, it was made up for in the ‘try a look section’ where users are able try on looks worn by other celebrities from Cannes 2017 to PFW AW17 which is ingenious. Once a look has been tried on, it enables the user to switch the screen so that a side by side comparison is displayed.

The product overlay is very subtle but noticeable when compared to the before side.

This was probably our favourite feature on the app. It’s a clever way of seeing what works for you in relation to the type of look you are going for. Plus for those who don’t have time to visit a store, the app has built in features which let you buy products then and there.


Next up was another augmented reality app called ‘ModiFace’. After just a few minutes of playing around we immediately had to rank it above L’Oreal’s app. The selection of lipstick shades alone were amazing, not to mention the array of different makeup products.

The app had everything from a highlight shadow to a crease shadow, even patterned contact lenses! There was no stone left unturned when it came to this app. We were able to try products in a static image form, as well as a video which was handy as it shows you how the makeup looks while moving about in different angles! Not only did this app provide us with better understanding of what shades were right for our skin tones, it provided lots of fun!

Mary Kay Mobile Virtual Makeover

Lastly, we downloaded Mary Kay Mobile Virtual MakeoverUpon launching the app you can pick from 3 options; choose a model, take a photo or upload a photo.

To see how much of a ‘personalised experience’ it really gave, we took my own photo – bare faced and pale. Some of the tested products looked very edited and not true to form in comparison to the makeup genius app. In terms of giving you a feel for how the product could potentially look on your face, it wasn’t very helpful. We think this was down to the way in which it applied the colour to specific parts of your face. It didn’t look blended or in proportion.

Although the app impressed with it’s offering of various genres for makeup looks. Including how your virtually made-up face will look on a billboard or different styles for your wedding. Again, like the L’Oreal app, there was a compare screen where were able to slide the screen over half of your face to see the contrast with and without.

As we wanted to try out all the features this app offered we tested the pre-set makeup looks on the models that were provided by the app. In comparison to uploading our on picture, testing out looks on a model provided a more natural and flawless look. However, we did conclude that this defeats the purpose of a virtual makeup ‘try on’ app as you want to see what the products look like on your face.

All in all, after testing  just a few of these apps, our views have definitely changed. Buying products in person remains more practical. Though we appreciate the idea behind the apps and they will come in useful. Especially when looking for a rough guide of a how a particular look will suit.

Post Author: Rachel Milling

Rachel Milling
Irish girl studying Journalism at Bournemouth University, taking each day one lipstick at a time! If I'm not writing, I'm submerging myself in the realm of all things beauty! In the words of Yves Saint Laurent, "The most beautiful makeup of a woman is passion. But cosmetics are easier to buy." I'm still learning but eager to share my new discoveries! The answer to everything? Chocolate.

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