Virtual try-on technology is spreading like wildfire throughout the fashion industry. Retailers are now offering AR try-on filters forhats,eyewear,jewelry, and evenprinciple articles of clothing. But beauty companies such asChanel,L'Oréal, andMaybelline may have found virtual try-on technology's most useful application yet: virtual try-on makeup.
Testing makeup in-store has recently fallen out of favor, and not just because of sanitary concerns. People simplyprefer ecommerce to in-person shopping. This shift toward ecommerce has animated retail strategies across several industries in recent years and the beauty industry is no exception. Makeup retailers are necessarily joining the mass transition to ecommerce, and virtual try-on technology is just as valuable to them as it has been for fashion retailers.
In response to the pandemic, many beauty retailers have stopped offering in-person makeup testing altogether. Shared sample containers and strangers applying makeup feel like relics of a bygone era. Additionally, many makeup-wearers embraced working from home and stopped wearing makeup on a daily basis. In one survey, 71% of women said they were wearing less makeup due to Covid. Certain aspects of the pandemic such as mask wearing preclude products like lipstick entirely.
Even before the pandemic, testing makeup in-store was an imperfect experience. Trying on makeup is a much more involved process than trying on clothing, requiring customers to apply, examine, remove, and reapply repeatedly until they find the right shade for them. For products like eyeliner, many customers apply swatches to their hand or forearm to get a general sense for how the colors match with their skin tone. But the slight differences in skin tone between hand and face means this method is imprecise and can be misleading.
Perfectly matching the skin tone is crucial for certain products like foundation. That means customers must apply the product to their face, remove it with makeup remover, reapply a different shade, and repeat until they find the perfect tone for their skin. This trial-and-error process can be extremely tough on a customer’s skin, but until now there was no alternative available.
Enter virtual try-on for makeup. Several beauty companies are already offering AR filters which depict several versions of their products on the customer's face. Using their front-facing camera, users can simulate what they would look like wearing a given product from the comfort of their own home. This can be done using a live front-facing camera, an uploaded selfie, or a preset face model.
Customers can effortlessly cycle through thousands of shades and tones for products like eyeshadow, lipstick, and foundation. This allows customers to experience far more options than they ever could in-store, as virtual try-on doesn't require the lengthy application and removal processes of traditional makeup testing. Not to mention that customers no longer need to grin and bear the harsh chemicals involved in makeup removal. Customers can explore far more options in a significantly shorter timeframe, accelerating the purchase process and bolstering customer satisfaction.
Many beauty companies are offering auxiliary AR features to their virtual try-on filters as well. Reverse image search functions allow customers to point their camera at a given color, and the app will approximate the closest shade available to purchase. Some can even identify texture as well, distinguishing a glossy finish from a matte finish and offering recommendations accordingly.
Foundation is one of the trickiest makeup products to shop for, given that it requires an application to the face to ensure it matches the skin tone. Using AR, companies are now offering a “foundation shade finder” to identify the appropriate shade for a given skin tone. Tonal inclusivity has been a centerpiece of many beauty companies' marketing campaigns in recent years, and AR is further enhancing inclusivity in the beauty industry.
Looking ahead, many beauty companies are already considering what role makeup will play for digital avatars in the metaverse. Several brands are following the lead of fashion companies by offering a digital version of a product when the physical product is purchased. That means if you buy a particular shade of Chanel lipstick in-person, you will also be able to wear that shade in the metaverse. Whether it's at home or in the metaverse, virtual try-on for makeup is an essential tool for any beauty retailer.