modiface
Photography by Owen Bruce

L’Oréal Makes Moves Into the Tech Industry (and Two Other Game-Changing Beauty Apps)

Mirror, mirror on the wall, which lipstick is best for fall? We test drive the beauty industry’s latest innovations in AR and VR.

On Friday, L’Oréal Paris announced they had bought Modiface, the Toronto-based tech development company at the forefront of VR beauty apps and facial recognition, in a move that illustrates how much value the industry is putting on technology to enhance beauty shopping experiences. We tried out three of Modiface’s most recent developments in the world of beauty and AR: an online technology, an app and an in-store experience—and break them down.

Benefit’s Brow Try-On

ModiFace  partnered with Benefit Cosmetics to launch a virtual experience that allows users to “try on” 15 different shapes and six customizable shades of popular brow styles—a totally risk-free and surprisingly realistic alternative to tweezers. What’s cool is that now you get to see how different brow styles look on you. I like that you can try not only different brow shapes but also different shades. (I learned that really dark brows are not for me.) I also highly recommend trying the pencil-thin brow option on your bushy-browed boyfriend—just for fun.

Rating: Three out of five virtual lipsticks 💄

Try it for yourself!

ModiFace Live App

In addition to the apps it has helped brands create, ModiFace offers its own apps for virtually augmenting hair colour, eye colour, makeup and more. The ModiFace Live app allows you to sport various aesthetic changes (from eye colour to teeth whiteness) while taking a photo or video.

I was impressed with the app’s ability to maintain the facade of a fully-made-up face, perfect skin and a totally different eye colour while I filmed myself moving around in changing lighting, talking and making various facial expressions. If you want to look great in a photo or video with zero prep work on your part, this is the way to go. It also gives you feedback on your skincare, but I’m not sure how reliable it is. (I might just be salty that my “glow” rating went from 100 per cent one day to 37 per cent the next despite constant moisturizing.)

Lastly, this app provides you with the names of the lipstick, blush, liner, mascara and eyeshadow shades that you virtually try on, which makes purchasing that much easier. Considering the brand’s recent acquisition by L’Oréal, we expect to see more virtual try-on tech to integrate with drugstore brands.

Rating: Four out of five virtual lipsticks 💄

Available on the App Store.

Virtual M.A.C

ModiFace also recently partnered with M.A.C to launch Virtual M.A.C, a new AR mirror that allows shoppers to virtually try on a curated set of shades and looks (up to 29 custom eye makeup looks) in-store. If you want a second opinion, you can use the mirror to snap a pic or create a gif and crowdsource it on social media before you buy. Virtual M.A.C is currently available at select M.A.C stores across the United States (including Times Square in NYC) but will (hopefully) be rolled out globally soon.

I braved Times Square to try it out myself and can report that it’s worth more hype than it’s currently getting. Despite the store’s jam-packed floor, I didn’t have to wait to use it. I wasn’t surprised by the mirror’s accuracy at virtually applying makeup, since it’s by the same people who created the ModiFace Live app, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that you could “try on” lipstick, eyeshadow, lashes and blush. I even ended up purchasing a lipstick shade that looked good on me, and it didn’t disappoint in the harsh light of real life the next day. I can see how virtual mirrors like this could completely change the way people shop for makeup in-store, although most shoppers don’t seem to be aware of the (admittedly new) technology yet.

Still, I deducted from its rating because of the inconvenience. Let’s face it: It’s much easier to give yourself a virtual makeover using the ModiFace app while sitting on your couch than battling the crowds in Times Square—or any jam-packed store, for that matter.

Rating: Two out of five virtual lipsticks 💄