Guest Post

How VR & AR Might Change Your Beauty Habits

It seems like people in the tech world have been saying the same thing for a few years in a row now, but 2018 is going to be yet another year full of virtual and augmented reality advancement. The “mixed reality” industry is getting more firmly established by the month, and CES 2018 – the major tech conference that kicks off the year – brought about even more new innovations in equipment and software. This has become the norm.

Where people often make a mistake, however, is in assuming that all of the attention surrounding mixed reality has to do with gaming. This may have been the case in the earlier days when we were just starting to see VR headsets, but it is true no longer. A piece on VR’s effect specifically on the mobile gaming business used the words, “VR will doubtlessly expand on the industry,” and it strikes us that this is a phrase that can be applied now to seemingly innumerable industries. Among them we sometimes hear about healthcare, mental health, retail shopping, education, and visual art. But also on this list of industries that can be expanded or at least dramatically changed by mixed reality should be beauty.

For starters, VR is already beginning to change things behind the scenes. L’Oreal has made headlines in particular for using VR to make internal decisions at its headquarters in New York. This isn’t something most of us would be directly aware of as consumers, but it should make shopping easier. Basically, the company is encouraging its 42 different beauty brands to use the “virtual reality room” (affectionately called the Beauty Lab) at the HQ in order to virtually explore products on shelves and make decisions about merchandising, packaging, and branding. This theoretically gives the brands a more hands-on look at how they’re presenting themselves, which in theory will translate to clearer and better displays in stores when we shop for beauty products.

L'Oreal Vr & AR Beauty

On the consumer-facing side of things however we may also see some significant changes in the coming year or so. Interestingly enough, some of the VR and AR innovations appear to be based on Snapchat’s “Lens” feature, which was introduced in 2015. That feature basically enabled image “filters” via face detection technology, which actually has broad implications for the beauty business. Once again L’Oreal led the way in innovation in this regard, sponsoring its own Snapchat lens in 2016 (promoting its Silkissime Eyeliner). The idea is basically that with filters added to AR- and VR-based facial recognition programs, we can virtually test out beauty products without actually having to buy them for in-person trials. The same basic concept has even been tested out in nail salons that allow people to experiment through VR before choosing products.

These can seem like small changes, but they’re further indication of how VR and AR have the potential to change industries well beyond the gaming with which they’re so often associated. The ultimate effect for those of us who enjoy fashion and beauty products should be that stores will be more neatly arranged and we’ll gain a new ability to “test” products and try out different looks without making financial commitments. It should actually be a significant and highly beneficial change.

Guest Author: Sandra A. Roebuck