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Beauty Digital Forum: Parham Aarabi of ModiFace Charts the New Reality

Augmented reality has entered the realm of experimentation and visualization, even seeing a reduction in wrinkles.

More than 50 beauty companies are embracing augmented reality via mobile app or in stores. And it isn’t just to show a lip color or eye shadow anymore. Augmented reality has expanded to experimenting with hair coloring and even “visualizing” the end result of a 14 percent reduction in wrinkles. The technology has only scratched the service and is expected to balloon in 2016, according to Parham Aarabi, chief executive officer and founder of ModiFace.

Aarabi shared several case studies illustrating how far augmented reality has progressed in the past few years. First up: Unilever’s Lakme, which used Bollywood-inspired looks for women to use with a 3-D makeup application. “It is one of the most popular apps in Asia with more than five million downloads,” Aarabi said.

Another partner is Laneige with is Beauty Mirror, an augmented reality app to simulate any skin care or makeup product on the user’s live 3-D video.

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L’Oréal wanted to go beyond just traditional “virtual” color shades, its Matrix Color Lounge lets a user and stylist try on every shade along with seeing advance effects such as ombré or colorblocking.

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Jane Iredale even offers the opportunity for makeup artists or users to “paint” on their makeup to an image and tap a button to turn it into a real-time mirror to see a 3-D image.

In the past dermatologist would purchase devices costing in excess of $10,000 to show the results of plastic surgery that can now be demonstrated via an app.

Sometimes simplicity works best with high technology. Honest Beauty, said Aarabi, selected just five looks for its launch, which Apple recently ranked as the best new app. The newest use of ModiFace technology Sephora’s Virtual Lipstick Artist, which allows perfect matching from among every shade the retailer offers.

“When done well, augmented reality is very effective,” he said. And with a larger client base under its belt, ModiFace now has numbers to put behind claims. Brand awareness of shades featured rose 180 percent. Social engagement soars 250 percent because people like to share their images. In stores, virtual mirrors push sales up 31 percent. “In retail, a 1 percent gain is great, 31 percent is game changing,” Aarabi said.

The future will usher in more uses. To encourage more use at point of sale, in-store mirrors change looks as a customer raises an eyebrow or puckers lips. ModiFace has technology to show 3-D live brow shaping. To foster repeat consumers, the company is linking with messenger apps so people can try on and “chat” with friends. There are also tutorials being tied in with augmented reality to provide live guidance as customers virtually experiment with products and seek how to achieve certain looks. With women often struggling to get the perfect shade for their complexion, ModiFace found it can use multiple images — versus one image which is harder to gauge — gleaned from social media such as Facebook to get a real analysis of complexions for to recommend the right products.