The year may have started like any other, but a global health crisis compelled beauty stores to lower their shutters in March. With in-store product swatching put on ice following hygiene concerns, its virtual counterpart has now assumed its place under the mainstream spotlight. While online makeup try-on tools have been pedalling through the beauty-verse for a while now, the cutting-edge facial mapping technology of today serves as a far cry from the artificial, super-imposed experiences you tried for laughs at sleepovers.
A closer look at the record books offers definitive proof that virtual reality’s presence on the beauty landscape is nothing new—L’Oréal famously inked a deal with ModiFace, a Toronto-based beauty tech company, in 2018 to acquire access to its numerous patents within the world of augmented reality. The onset of the pandemic afforded further momentum, with brands like Ulta Beauty recording a spike in virtual apps as a safer alternative to in-store testing. “To ensure our guests’ safety, product testers are on display only to offer guests a truer sense of colours and textures. We know the discovery inherent to the beauty shopping experience includes swatching. Virtual try-on experiences serve as a safe alternative to product testers for guests who seek to continue colour swatching and testing products,” says a spokesperson from the brand. If you’re looking to give yourself a virtual makeover before opting for a real one in the salon chair, here are the hair, makeup and nail brands that you’ll want to bookmark.