AR tech allows beauty devotees to virtually ‘try on’ makeup

The beauty industry’s investment in augmented reality (AR) try-on technology has been a boon as consumers increasingly turn to online shopping amidst Covid-19 concerns and restrictions. As physical product testing has been suspended even in stores that are open at this time, AR try-on tech allows beauty devotees to virtually test cosmetics before purchasing them, upholding an important purchase consideration for this vertical.


YouCam Makeup takes the AR and AI (artificial intelligence) try-on game to the next level. This extensive smartphone app uses smart facial detection technology to allow beauty devotees to “try on” a staggering number of makeup looks and hair styles. Users simply turn on their front-facing phone camera and scroll through the 180,000 cosmetic SKUs—from over 250 beauty brands—available on YouCam (including its partner websites and apps). Once users have settled on their dream hair and makeup looks, they can then take selfies to capture the looks before editing and adjusting their photos with YouCam’s extensive library of retouching tools. YouCam also offers on-demand Beauty Advisor 1-on-1 consultations and livestream beauty tutorials.


GlamLab, Ulta’s virtual beauty try-on program, has experienced a recent surge in use due to the Covid-19 pandemic, though the tool itself has been around since 2016. Users give GlamLab access to their device’s front-facing camera before they’re able to virtually try on makeup looks from Ulta’s extensive library of products, which are categorized under Lips, Foundation, Eyeshadow, Eyeliner, Mascara, Brows, and Cheeks. While users can certainly enjoy GlamLab’s try-on tech from the comfort of their homes, Ulta is now encouraging in-store shoppers visiting reopened Ulta locations to download the Ulta app to use GlamLab as they browse, as the retailer has suspended in-store makeup testing due to safety concerns around the novel coronavirus.


MAC has expanded the reach of its AR try-on tool, evolving it from selective implementation in specific MAC stores to broader use as part of the brand’s larger, comprehensive omnichannel strategy. Interestingly, MAC’s AR try-on tech is the result of a partnership with YouCam (example above), and the try-on tool itself was launched last fall, but going forward the tool is more widely available over MAC’s ecommerce platform, offering beauty consumers the ability to virtually try on lip, eye, and foundation products from the safety of their homes. To see what desired MAC makeup swatches look like, users enable their device’s camera, but they also have the option to upload an existing photo that the swatches are then imposed on.