Beauty shoppers scrolling their phones looking for a new lipstick shade on Sephora’s mobile app know the drill. First, you select the brand and shade you’re interested in trying, then you position the phone in front of your face. Through facial recognition and augmented reality technology, a phantom lipstick will pop onto your lips. With a tap, you can send the shade to your mobile cart or swear off shades of coral forever.
Sephora is just one in many beauty companies investing in augmented reality to allow customers to try on makeup at home. Brands like L’Oréal, Maybelline, CoverGirl, Rimmel London, Cargo, Smashbox and Estée Lauder have all launched apps with virtual try-on. From lipstick shades, the technology has since been extended to account for other products including foundations, bronzers and eye makeup, demonstrating what methods of contouring or cat eye would look like on users.
It’s a fragmented experience across brand apps, outside of Sephora, which offers virtual try-ons of over 8,000 products from different brands, excluding the drugstore names. But there’s a common denominator unifying the separate AR beauty apps: the technology provider, ModiFace.
“Beauty brands have seemingly had a realization: This is critical, and we have to have it,” said Parham Aarabi, ModiFace’s CEO. “There was an explosion in adoption and expectations in the past two years, and so we’ve been working to standardize this technology across the industry. It’s moving very quickly.”
Today, ModiFace powers the AR experiences of 84 beauty brands, which can run in mobile apps, on e-commerce sites, in stores or all three. Its internal stats claim its technology can increase time spent on mobile apps six times over and double conversions.
Virtual tutorials have become a common digital tactic in a beauty brand’s online arsenal, and stakes are high. On top of driving conversions through shoppable AR, these apps can collect valuable consumer data, improving personalized shopping experiences and informing brands on product performance. That value proposition, along with the complex technology powering it, is how ModiFace plans to position itself as the universal platform for virtual beauty.
Building a go-to partner
Since launching in 2006, ModiFace’s technology has advanced to be able to display not just color cosmetics, but also foundations, eyeliners and mascaras, as well as different skin-care products and hair color applications. In addition to a standard try-on experience, ModiFace has built live streaming integrations, a Facebook Messenger tool and a live tutorial display that breaks a complex makeup routine into individual steps.