The convergence of fashion and technology might be at the top of everyone’s minds right now, but equally -- if not more -- interesting is the uptick in beauty-focused e-commerce sites and startups. Birchbox, which launched back in 2010, might’ve led the way, but 2014 could turn out to be the Year of Beauty. From hotly anticipated Hollywood site Violet Grey, to a smart iPhone app from on-demand beauty service provider Vensette, there’s plenty of exciting new stuff to make you prettier.
It's surprising that Vensette, the site that let's you schedule a hair stylist/makeup artist to come to your house (or your office) and do you up on demand, didn't already have an app. But founder Lauren Remington Platt wanted to get the user experience just right, and she has. Just like on Vensette.com, you choose from a menu of options for both hair and makeup, which are customizable to your liking. (For instance, if you go for the "Grace Kelly" makeup look, you get the option of a "ruby," "burgundy" or "wicked" color palette, which can be tweaked further once the makeup artist arrives.) Given that Vensette is geared towards women-on-the-go types, Remington Platt told Fashionista that she believes the app will eventually account for 85 percent of bookings.
Launched late last year by Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey, a creative consultant whose life as an unconventional Hollywood wife has been well documented, Violet Grey takes online beauty content to another aesthetic level. Each story, from a one-off blog post on purple nail polish to a lengthy editorial featuring Eva Mendes, is produced with a team of professional photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists and prop/fashion stylists. Next up is an e-commerce shop that will be as meticulously organized as the rest of the site, as well as a brick-and-mortar location on Melrose Place in Los Angeles.
Launched in the spring of 2013 by girl-about-town Hannah Bronfman, alongside business partners Annie Evans and Peter Hananel, Beautified lets the user book last-minute (and often discounted) appointments at some of the best beauty salons and spas in New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Services range from massages and facials to blowouts, haircuts and Brazilian bikini waxes. I'm a fairly frequent user of Beautified because I tend not to book these sorts of things in advance. The design also speaks to me: The user interface is simple, and the look is fashion-y but not unapproachable.
If you're really into makeup and also the kind of perfectionist who knows how to properly apply it, then you'll love this app, which is billed as a tool for professionals. After uploading a headshot, you can very precisely apply all different sorts of "makeup" onto your photo. After you're done, the app tells you what "products" you've used and where you can buy them.
Launched last summer by the founders of WhoWhatWear and former Fashionista editor Britt Aboutaleb, Byrdie has turned into a go-to destination for in-depth-but-still-fun beauty stories that look as pretty as they are informative. Recent highlights include an editorial with Pretty Little Liars breakout star Ashley Benson and a guide to needling, which is not as scary as it sounds. As a beauty-content sideliner, I check this site every morning for new ideas.
Think of Beautycounter as Avon for women who want effective, affordable and safe beauty products that also happen to come in really nice packaging. After launching with skincare and body care last spring, the site now offers lipsticks with more makeup to come. Anti-aging products are on the way, too.
For those who may be over nail art but will never tire of nail polish, OPI's app is a fun way to try different colors without, you know, actually trying different colors. You can adjust the virtual hand model's skin tone and nail length, and try every single color in the brand's portfolio. That's a lot of nail polish.