Google Brings Beauty AR Try-Ons to Search

Google is bringing augmented reality makeup try-on to its mobile search engine, the tech company revealed Thursday.

The feature will allow people to virtually try on makeup directly from Google Search via the Google mobile app on iPhones and Android devices.

Users will be able to visualize new looks in two ways: On models with similar skin tones to their own and, using the front-facing camera of their phone, use AR to digitally apply the cosmetics to their own faces to get a sense of texture, from sheer and glossy to matte.

In a blog post, Archana Kannan, group product manager for shopping at Google, explained that online shopping may be surging, but “many still crave that in-store experience, whether it’s seeing a product up close, trying it on or getting advice from in-store experts,” she wrote, describing the AR feature as a way to bring “some of the benefits of in-store shopping to your phone.”

The search giant certainly has the technical chops to create the feature on its own, but populating it with the right kind of data is another thing. Enter Perfect Corp. and L’Oréal-owned subsidiary ModiFace, which worked with Google on the feature.

The two beauty AR companies have been developing their technologies for years using real product data from many of the world’s top beauty brands. That’s allowed them to create a range of digital experiences through mobile devices and numerous other online and in-store integrations.

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Now as Google’s data partners, the companies are bringing a range of brands to Google Search’s own beauty AR feature — including BLK/OPL, Charlotte Tilbury, Estée Lauder, L’Oreal and MAC Cosmetics.

“We are excited about this partnership with Google that will bring our ModiFace virtual try-one to more makeup fans around the world,” said Lubomira Rochet, chief digital officer of L’Oréal. “Our technology will help them experiment with different looks and try our products wherever they are, making online shopping more convenient and fun.”

The experience should feel familiar to anyone who’s used similar features in apps like Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. In fact, while it’s a new offering on Google Search, virtual make-up try-ons have been available on the company’s video platform for more than a year.

According to Salima Popatia, senior vice president of global customer acquisition and retention of The Estée Lauder Companies, these sorts of features “are currently changing the landscape of online shopping in the beauty industry” and meeting the needs of consumers. That’s not easy, particularly as preferences and expectations change during the pandemic.

But the technology works because they let consumers “experience” beauty, even while online, she added.

There’s also another shopping update on deck: People perusing Google Shopping on their phones or jumping through the Discover feed in the Google app can check out a personalized collection of produce recommendation videos, courtesy of experts and enthusiasts in beauty, apparel and home and garden. One tap takes the shopper to the product page in a brand or retailer’s e-commerce site.

The feature was developed by Shoploop, a video shopping platform born out of Google’s Area 120 in-house incubator, the internal research and development division that tests new ideas with the public. The Shoploop concept was for short videos — of less than a minute and a half — that introduces consumers to new products.

The new AR and video features are rolling out this week.

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