MyShade offers consultation to remove the barriers of getting the wrong shade.

Clairol hopes a new app can eliminate the biggest obstacle to at-home hair color sales — finding the right shade.

Often bewildered by the overwhelming choices in aisles, many women flee to salons or totally opt out of coloring their hair. Home hair color sales continue in the red, down 2.7 percent for the 12-week period ending Aug. 7 in multiunit doors tracked by IRI.

To remedy the situation, Clairol is launching MyShade, an app that not only allows women to see how a shade will look, but also offers consultation to personalize the choice. The new application is available starting today from the iOS and Google Play app stores.

“We hope to turn the category around by putting expert advice in the palm of women’s hands,” said Heather Carruthers, vice president of Clairol Global and U.S. marketing. “What we’ve done is take the daunting task of choosing hair color and make it simple. MyShade is designed to bring the expertise of our color experts to the customer in a few simple steps.”

Carruthers said women tend to spend as much as 10 minutes in the hair color aisles, twice the time they devote to other hair care products, but only 50 percent actually purchase. “We are trying to get more women to color their hair by removing the biggest fears — getting it wrong or ruining their natural color. It’s empowering.”

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MyShade has a broad menu of options including the choice to click and see a new trend, such as the merger of Red and Bronze for a color called Ronze. Users can share their images of the fresh hair hues on social media channels.

“The Clairol app offers the ability to virtually try-on a hair color which is of extreme importance to consumers, since hair coloration is usually a big commitment,” said Parham Aarabi, chief executive officer of ModiFace. “The MyShade app brings two interesting features to the market, including an AI [artificial intelligence]-based hair adviser that guides a user as to what shade is best for them, and a universal shade scanning technology built into the adviser that helps them try on any permanent home hair color,” Aarabi said.

The scanner works with any hair color box, even from competitors, and suggests a shade from the Clairol range.

Retailers familiar with the app said the biggest distinguishing factor from other virtual hair makeovers is the consultation feature, which they see as a virtual sales expert at the shelf. One of the problems in hair color, one buyer said, is that the color on the box doesn’t look the same on every woman — especially if going from light to dark. Too often a color is just overlaid without consideration of the characteristics of the user’s hair.

Carruthers said the app reduces the risk of getting it wrong through a series of questions — such as what is your gray level? — to prescribe a personalized solution. The app features ModiFace’s patented hair coloration and shade matching technology to accurately depict hair color. It starts from the hair color in the photo for a realistic result. There’s also the opportunity to call or e-mail an expert from MyShade.

Clairol has an aggressive in-store and social media campaign readied to education consumers about the app. This year has been fertile for the explosion of beauty apps. Carruthers said the app is expected to create a spike in at-home color sales.

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