AR in cosmetics: make yourself beautiful in seconds
What’s the easiest way for a makeup retailer to triple their conversion rate? Why, let customers try on 20 shades of lipstick in one minute, of course. That’s possible with augmented reality – and all major beauty brands are already on board.
Every month, 1.5 billion beauty videos get uploaded to YouTube. In their search for that perfect Instagram look, millennials spend hours watching makeup tutorials, checking out products on social media, and buying them online.
In fact, a recent survey showed that 72.9% of women shop for beauty products online at least once a year. Of them, 67.7% first want to see the product in use, such as in an Instagram photo from an influencer.
Instagram influencer Em For
Just one picture isn’t enough, though. 51% want a zoom picture, 49.7% look for multiple photos from different angles, and 46.1% prefer to have a product video to go with it.
Why is that? Because makeup is really something you have to see “in action” before you decide whether you want it. But when shopping online, you can’t try it on.
Or can you?
Thanks to augmented reality technology, beauty products can be superimposed on your face to make it look like you are wearing makeup. With just a tap or a swipe, you can change colors and even try out looks you’d never thought about wearing before.
Why cosmetics and AR are a dream team
The beauty industry is in the perfect position to implement augmented reality for four reasons:
1) The target audience is already tech-savvy. Case in point: Almost 73% of women buy makeup online. In this case, AR is the only way to try it on – definitely much better than looking at influencer pictures. But if you shop for beauty products at a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll encounter a different problem, which brings us to our next point.
2) Trying on makeup “in real life” is very unwieldy. If you’ve ever tried on different colors of lipstick in a store, you know how annoying it is to wipe it off again and again. And mascara or foundation? Don’t even think about it. You’d need a whole tissue box, water, makeup removal solution – and time. Lots of it. You could try on 20 dresses in the time it takes to try just one new set of mascara, eyeshadow, and blush.
3) Most women really need help to select the right makeup products. When it comes to clothes, most women know what colors look good on them. But with makeup, it’s much more subtle. Which of the 50 shades of foundation blends best with your skin? How should you use highlighter? Does pink eyeshadow go well with your eye color? An artificial intelligence algorithm built into an AR app can help you make the right choice.
4) The necessary technology is already there. Facial recognition and tracking is much more developed than technology for tracking hands or entire bodies. Think of all those Snapchat AR filters that target the face! That’s why it’s easier to apply virtual makeup than it is to try on AR jewelry or clothes.
The challenge: it has to be good
“Easier” doesn’t mean “easy.” AR in cosmetics leverages the accumulated AI experience of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat filters – such as this app that ARzilla made for an accessories store:
But cosmetics require a much higher level of detail than just placing sunshades on the user’s face. The illusion has to be perfect.
When an AR dress misses your shoulders by half an inch, you hardly notice. But if AI eyeliner misses your eye by just a quarter of an inch, it’s a disaster. Plus, when your face moves, the AR makeup has to move exactly in sync with it.
Moreover, the AR model has to perfectly replicate the texture and look of the real product: glossy vs matte lipstick, for instance.
In a few words, designing a quality AR solution for cosmetics is tricky. Have major beauty brands managed to meet this challenge?
L’Oréal leads the way
In our previous blog post, we analyzed several AR apps that let you try on jewelry – and found them disappointing in terms of the 3D graphics and motion tracking. Luckily, things are much better with cosmetics.
Most augmented reality apps used by beauty brands were developed by just one startup in Canada: ModiFace, acquired by L’Oréal in 2018. So if you want to experience the latest advancements in AR technology in cosmetics, you should really check out L’Oréal.
The official site features a virtual tap-and-try section, where you can try on lipstick, eye makeup, and even hair colors:
What we like best about L’Oréal’s tool is that you don’t have to download an app to use it. AR that works in your browser is called WebAR, and that’s mostly what we do here at ARzilla. Away with heavy apps – web-based AR is the future!
Moreover, the virtual try-on feature for L’Oréal products has now been integrated into Amazon for even more augmented reality shopping:
Two more great AR tools to try
Here are two more examples of augmented reality in cosmetics that we like:
1) YouCam by Perfect Corps
This was the original virtual makeup app – even before Snapchat augmented reality filters appeared. YouCam’s unique feature is that the AI adjusts each product to your individual complexion, so the same color doesn’t look the same on everyone.
The app also features a video chat service that lets you talk to a professional beauty advisor in real time:
Sephora’s AR solution was also developed in collaboration with ModiFace. It’s available both in WebAR and as an augmented reality app.
You can instantly shop for products, and there’s even a Color Match feature that recommends the best color for your skin tone.
Is it worth the effort?
When AR makeup try-on features are done right, the results are impressive. L’Oréal reports that with the implementation of AR, its conversion rates have tripled and year-on-year e-commerce sales have grown by 49%.
On the other hand, mistakes can be costly. A survey by ModiFace showed that when virtual makeup doesn’t properly align with the user’s face, conversion rates drop by 22%.
This is a crucial insight for augmented reality in retail: Customers want augmented reality to look, well, realistic. As a seller, you can’t afford to implement sloppy AR tools.
Interested in using quality WebAR or Social AR in your business? Then drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And of course, follow our blog – we have much more to tell you about augmented reality!