Beauty companies love the idea of enabling shoppers to try on products virtually — over the past five years, we've seen a slew of augmented reality-powered apps that allow you to model new hairstyles and colors, eyeshadows and lipsticks, even nail hues, almost always with an e-commerce tie-in. But the execution has rarely, if ever, delivered on the concept.
On Thursday, Coty-owned British cosmetics company Rimmel hosted a press event in London to introduce is own 3D makeup simulation app, Get the Look. Developed in conjunction with London digital agency Holition and billed as the "Shazam of beauty," the app invites users to take a photo of a makeup look — it could be your friend, a beauty editorial, a billboard, whatever you'd like — and then try it on yourself.
I was skeptical. But when demoing the app at the event, I was pleasantly surprised with the results: I was even persuaded, after snapping an advert of Rita Ora, to give an elongated cat-eye and a red lip a try. A more subtle look, featuring pale pink eyeshadow and a nude lip, showed up on my face just as clearly.
Once you've tried on a look, you can then share it via text message, e-mail or social media. You can also view a selection of Rimmel products that promise to help you achieve said look, and buy those products via Google Shopping.
"Makeup consumption has increased, and one of the main drivers of the market’s growth is that women have access to tutorials," said Montse Passolas, vice president of global marketing at Rimmel and Manhattan, referring to the proliferation of beauty how-tos on YouTube, Snapchat and other online-based video networks. "You used to need a makeup artist to know how to do contouring, and now you don't, you go online, it's so accessible. We wanted to create something that enhances that experience… that allows you, when buying makeup online, to still try it on."
All of this makes a great deal of sense — and while I’m not totally convinced the e-commerce tie-in will prove successful, the simulation is impressive. Passolas said the release isn't a one-off; rather, she and her team are committed to developing the app over time.
At present, Get the Look is available to download on iPhone and iPads in the UK App Store. It will be rolled out to other countries, including the U.S., in the coming weeks.