Google’s New AR Feature Lets Users Try Cosmetics Before Buying

Google AR

The pandemic-fueled acceleration of online shopping has prompted Google to roll out an augmented reality (AR) tool to help people see how makeup will look before committing to a purchase.

“With the holidays right around the corner, more than 73 percent of U.S. shoppers are planning to buy online,” Archana Kannan, group product manager of shopping for Google, said in a blog post on Thursday (Dec. 17). “At the same time, 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.”

The new AR shopping tool will offer features aimed at bringing the benefits of in-store shopping to U.S. users’ smartphones. With the ability to try on beauty products, consumers can be more assured that they are getting the right type of cosmetics.

“It’s difficult to make a decision on such personal items without trying them on,” Kannan said. “Say you want to know how sheer a lip gloss is, how much pigment is in an eyeshadow or what a product will look like on your skin tone. It can be difficult to understand these things without seeing the products up close.” 

Google teamed up with data partners ModiFace and Perfect Corp to help users get a better idea of how lipstick or eye shadow will look on their complexions. Participating brands include L’Oreal, MAC Cosmetics, Nars, Black Opal and Charlotte Tilbury.

Users have the option to try makeup shades on themselves using their phone’s camera or apply the colors on a range of models with various skin tones. They can also browse Google Shopping and the Discover feed to get an idea of how others like the products and shades.

“We’ll show recommendations from beauty, apparel and home and garden enthusiasts and experts about their favorite products. If a product catches your eye, you can hear directly from experts on why they love the product and how they use it,” Kannan explained.

Professional makeup artists will also offer tips to achieve a particular look and will provide gift-giving suggestions. The new feature was developed by Google’s Shoploop team, formerly part of Area 120, the search giant’s in-house incubator.

The beauty tech app Perfect Corp recently introduced the “YouCam Makeup” app for Shopify, one of many AR innovations fueled by COVID-19. It’s anticipated that the role of AR will continue beyond the pandemic.