Some time ago, trying on a lipstick before buying could have meant dealing with apathetic salespeople (but not necessarily, and this was not the worst thing anyway) and with dubious hygiene of putting lips on the same surface as other buyers.
Today, with the “boost” of the pandemic, a flurry of major cosmetic brands are trying to reproduce that experience in apps that show a “digital” makeup superimposed on people's faces. Virtually everything, from eyeliner to phard passing through the eye pencil is positioned by augmented reality. Okay, some people prefer to try the tricks up close. Of you? The cosmetics market aims to bring augmented reality to physical stores as well.
Augmented makeup is the future of cosmetics
If in the US it goes strong My Dior , the app of the famous fashion brand. Tricks are tried, ordered and purchased with just a few taps. A bargain from beyond half a trillion dollars. Other brands (Maybelline, Gucci and so many that are growing more and more) are all experimenting with variations on the technology, some in increasingly serious ways. Cosmetics giant L'Oréal got ready in unsuspecting times by purchasing an entire AR development studio, ModiFace, to build its offer in augmented reality.
It will be mainstream to try cosmetics “virtually” before buying them. You can actually create a truly incredible digital experience, at a very low cost to the brand.Tom Cheesewright, UK business consultant and makeup expert
The induced industry is also growing
In parallel with the growth of cosmetics in augmented reality, an artisanal industry of AR developers specialized in the new convergence arises: cosmetics as technological “filters”. The software house Poplar Studio, for example, he worked for brands of makeup like L'Oréal, NYX and Maybelline to create what industry players often refer to as “user experiences”.
“People don't necessarily want to go to a store to try something out before they buy it,” says Poplar's CEO David Ripert.
The technology will, in fact, apply a mask made by training the system with thousands of photos and 3D models of the faces of real people. And this mask will constitute in different forms all the cosmetics to try, adapted to the unique shape of our face.
The refinements will make these filters more and more realistic. There may be things like, for example, reflections from the external environment. If there is a blue light or colored wall in a room, the color will reflect it on the skin.David Ripert, CEO Poplar
Augmented reality cosmetics. They don't just show: they narrate.
Again: such systems will be able to add, but also replace. In a recent collaboration with Maybelline, Ripert's team created an Instagram filter that digitally erases the user's eyebrows and allows them to “draw” new ones with products such as brow pastels from the US cosmetics company. In this case, not only the final result is shown, but also gives an idea of how intuitive the use of the product is.
The goal is to create a real narrative. For NYX, at Halloween Poplar created a "haunted house”That allows users to meet horror-style characters and virtually try on their makeup.
Yes, ok, it's a lot of fun and interactive, but do people buy?
The question arises, said that dear journalist known to us boomers. And yes, because even for cosmetics there is a fine line between a passing "gimmick" and revolutionary technology. QR codes, for example, waited a decade before doing their part (I'm thinking of interactive menus in Covid times). Whether AR will ever reach that level of ubiquity, in the beauty industry or elsewhere, remains to be seen.
There is also the question of how effective the technology actually is in representing the nuances of an actual product on the face. Filters create the “wow” effect, but often fail to capture the subtleties of lighting that discerning customers only find live. It all depends on how well you refine the level of detail.
And then my usual paranoid doubts
You have certainly not taken into account (or yes, if you are obsessed too) of the fact that our faces are also biometric data. How will they be treated? And oh well, I'm exaggerated, I know. But there is also the question of identity. Will our analogue or digital version count more in a few years?
In a few years, will wearing makeup mean spending time in front of a mirror amidst various cosmetics, or will it be like choosing a virtual character in the Sims game?