Can’t decide which MAC lipstick to buy? YouTube's new AR feature can help with that

Amelia Heathman

Beauty YouTube is a dynamic space with many of the top influencers, such as Zoella and Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty fame, starting out on YouTube.

As a result, the video platform is often the first port of call for people looking for advice and inspiration on how to do their makeup and what new products to buy. But when you see a specific lipstick or mascara on an influencer in a video, how do you know that colour will work for you?

Google is using the full force of its augmented reality (AR) tech to help viewers on YouTube make buying decisions when it comes to beauty.

The company has launched AR Beauty Try-On which lets viewers virtually try on makeup when watching a video of a YouTube creator. The new feature uses machine learning and AR to offer realistic, virtual product samples that work on all skin tones.

MAC is the first cosmetics brand to work with Google for the new feature. This means people can try on different shades of MAC lipsticks, at the same time as their favourite influencer. Once they’ve found the perfect colour, they can click through to the MAC store to buy it.

The AR Beauty Try-On feature allows viewers to try on makeup alongside their favourite YouTube creators (Google)

During trials, Google found that 30 per cent of viewers activated the AR experience in the YouTube iOS app and spent around 80 seconds on average virtually trying the products.

Google isn’t the only company enabling people to shop products using AR. Last year, Facebook announced it was teaming up with Sephora so user could try on makeup using the tech in Facebook Messenger.

ASOS recently launched a ‘Virtual Catwalk’ experience that uses AR to create 3D models on a smartphone so shoppers can explore an item of clothing in more detail.

At the recent launch of London College of Fashion and Microsoft’s Future of Fashion tech incubator, three of the projects on show used Microsoft’s mixed reality headset HoloLens, including one project aimed at bringing personalisation into the design stage and another which used the tech to improve the buying experience of perfume.

It looks like augmented reality’s impact on fashion and beauty is just getting started.