In our world of massive online retailers and seemingly limitless options, researchers have studied a common experience: The more choices you have, the harder it is to make a decision. That’s certainly true in the beauty world, where a search for “lipstick” on Amazon pulls up over 50,000 options. Even on the first page of results, you’ll be forced to decide between shades from L’Oréal Paris, Revlon, Maybelline, and Anastasia Beverly Hills. But instead of getting overwhelmed and selecting whichever red pops up first, L’Oréal wants consumers to make more informed decisions. To help, the beauty megagiant has partnered with Amazon to allow users to virtually try on lipsticks using their phone or computer cameras.
Queue up a lipstick on the Amazon app or website, and you’ll notice two new, exciting words under the photo: Try now.
You’ll choose from Live Mode (a live video try-on using your camera) or the ability to take or upload a new photo. If you’re not ready for your close-up, you can find a model with a similar skin tone. Using augmented reality technology, you’ll then swipe your selected lipstick shade over your lips. For anyone who’s ever lived the IRL version of the Twitter meme “when you order it vs. when it arrives,” this functionality is a game-changer. You can sample trends like neon lipstick from the comfort of your couch…and since we’re talking Amazon, you can order a lipstick on Wednesday and be wearing it out by Friday.
In March 2018, L’Oréal (where, full disclosure, I have worked as a consultant) acquired augmented reality company Modiface. Beauty fans have already reaped benefits like Garnier’s Virtual Shade Selector for hair-color choices. “The idea behind the acquisition was to deploy the augmented reality technology for all of our brands, in all of our countries,” L’Oréal’s chief digital officer Lubomira Rochet tells Allure. It’s hard to overstate just how big this move is, for L’Oréal, for Amazon, and for consumers who want more certainty from the products they buy online.
Both companies are expecting what Rochet terms a “massive effect” in terms of sales. “We have clear analytics that shows the time spent on the website is doubled on sites with the try-on experience,” she says. “It triples the conversion rate.”
The technology will roll out with lipsticks, which Rochet says are the most demanded try-on experience. The plan is to eventually move to other products — eye shadows will be next. Foundation, arguably the most useful beauty product to try before you buy, is difficult from a technology perspective. Still, “we’re working on it,” Rochet assures me.
With the launch of its own skin-care brand, Amazon is working hard to become a name in the beauty space. “This launch is another important milestone in our vision to be the best possible place for customers to discover and buy beauty products online,” Nicolas Le Bourgeois, head of Amazon Beauty, said in a statement. (It should be noted that, for all its ease and availability, Amazon does struggle with counterfeit products. Whenever you buy a skin-care or makeup product online, it’s important to confirm it’s sold by the company itself and not a third-party seller.)
The technology will roll out with L’Oréal-owned makeup brands, like Maybelline, NYX, and L’Oréal Paris. Eventually other brands will have the option to use the technology as well, which could be a major move for indie brands looking to get their products on more (virtual) faces. “L’Oréal’s strategy has always been to innovate the beauty shopping experience where ever people shop,” says Rochet. A rising tide, in this case, sells more lipstick.