AI apps for #stayhome beauty buffs

Five smart apps to help you look – and feel – your best

Brands are creating ever more sophisticated AI-enhanced tools that mimic the beauty-counter experience on a smartphone
Brands are creating ever more sophisticated AI-enhanced tools that mimic the beauty-counter experience on a smartphone | Image: Getty Images

The beauty industry is swiftly embracing the digital age, but a 2019 report by market-research firm Ipsos revealed that beauty brands such as L’Oréal and Sephora still have their work cut out when it comes to encouraging buyers to make the virtual conversion. Only 28 per cent of US respondents, for instance, said they would buy a foundation or tinted moisturiser after testing it virtually. 

Hence, brands are responding with ever more sophisticated AI-enhanced offerings that mimic the beauty-counter experience with product recommendations, on-screen try-ons and skin evaluations – all from a smartphone. We put five apps through their paces. 

L’Oréal’s Virtual Try On offers hair and make-up products with augmented-reality features
L’Oréal’s Virtual Try On offers hair and make-up products with augmented-reality features

L’Oréal Paris Virtual Try On

Both hair and make-up products – in over 100 shades – are available to try on L’Oréal Paris’ website using the augmented-reality tool. Experiment with products using a selfie or live-camera image: hair can go from black to blonde, pink to blue, all in the space of a few seconds, while the split-screen function means two shades – of anything from hair dye to eyeshadow – can be compared on either side of your face. loreal-paris.co.uk

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Sephora Virtual Artist

A plethora of customised tutorials, virtual swatches and a tool that can suggest lipsticks to match an outfit can be found both on the brand’s app and its website. You can also upload an image of your face and flick between looks put together by the Sephora team. “Polished and Professional”, for instance, might combine Clinique’s Juicy Apple Glosswear for the lips with Bobbi Brown’s Heather eyeshadow, and black mascara from Too Faced. There’s also the potential to explore products in a genuinely beauty-counter-like experience by trying on shades one by one and popping them into your basket as you go. sephoravirtualartist.com

Ulta Beauty’s AI-powered GlamLab app presents products by category and brand
Ulta Beauty’s AI-powered GlamLab app presents products by category and brand

Ulta Beauty’s GlamLab

This refreshingly straightforward AI-powered beauty app presents products by category and brand, making it easy to browse all the colours in, say, a favourite line of lipsticks, then switch to eyeshadows to see how the two work together. The virtual lipstick application is impressively naturalistic. ulta.com

YouCam scans a photo of your face to locate pimples, wrinkles or pigment marks, then suggests a product based on the findings
YouCam scans a photo of your face to locate pimples, wrinkles or pigment marks, then suggests a product based on the findings

YouCam Makeup 

This interactive universe of tips, trends and inspiration is powered by beauty tech wizards Perfect Corp, and the full might of new AI and AR technologies. Perhaps most interesting is its evaluation of your “Skin Score”: the app scans a photo to locate any pimples, wrinkles or pigment marks (although I’m not convinced it could differentiate between spots and freckles), then suggests a product based on the findings. There’s also an extremely realistic (albeit slightly face-warping) selection of make-up looks to try, as well as one-on-one consultations and livestream tutorials. perfectcorp.com 

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My Beauty Matches

With a database of more than 400,000 beauty products, this website uses an AI algorithm to provide a personalised service. The answers to a preliminary questionnaire that establishes age, skin type, hair type and skin concerns generates a selection of products to suit the findings. Combination skin that’s prone to breakouts? The answer might be Zelens’ Z Detox foaming cleanser. The tool is less immersive, but perhaps more practical. A worthwhile stand-in for in-store advice. mybeautymatches.com

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