Makeup as advertised on a model’s face is designed to look good, but how would the same makeup look on your face. This is a question that a new Augmented Reality (AR) startup named ModiFace aims to answer. In just a few years, ModiFace has quietly grown to power apps for 55 of the top makeup brands like Sephora, P&G and Unilever.
Fire up the camera on your phone or a store makeup counter’s tablet, choose different styles of lipstick, eye shadow or whatever else, and ModiFace applies them to your skin in real-time on your screen. Move around, wink and smile, and you will see your new style without the work or cost. ModiFace can also simulate hair changes, anti-aging treatments and more.
The founder and CEO of ModiFace, Parham Aarabi, was commissioned by pharmaceutical giant Allergan, makers of Botox, the neurotoxic protein that can be injected into the face to smooth and prevent wrinkles, to build a version of the software that he wrote to track and read people’s lip movement from a distance. Allergan wanted Aarabi’s software to simulate the impact of Botox on a prospective customer’s face. It worked, and the ability to preview people’s tighter skin made sales shoot up.
With investment and the cash from Allergan, Aarabi launched ModiFace in 2007 and started signing cosmetic brands. It soon became a hit andModiFace’s virtual makeup mirror began increasing sales in storesas customers were more confident of what they were buying. Brands are now paying $200,000 to $500,000 a year to integrate ModiFace’s augmented reality tech into their own apps.
With global cosmetics market worth around $500 billion last year, big brands are willing to pay for whatever helps them sell more makeup. Aarabi explains these companies already cough up $100,000 for a single page ad in Vogue magazine. And that just shows what makeup looks like on someone else. Augmented reality technology like ModiFace unlocks the true purpose of cosmetics: expressing one’s ideal self.