Woman wearing perfect eye makeup

L’Oreal believes ModiFace AR beauty app is worth it; acquires developer for undisclosed sum

Image credit: Dreamstime

The Paris-based cosmetics giant has acquired ModiFace, the biggest player in augmented reality (AR) beauty technology, for an undisclosed sum.

ModiFace, which is based in Toronto, develops AR apps which apply virtual makeup to users’ faces through a phone’s front-facing camera, much like a Snapchat filter. While many AR apps use simple, cartoonish graphics or struggle with lag, ModiFace’s facial tracking and rendering results in photo-realistic makeup simulations at 30 frames per second.

The company employs nearly 70 engineers and has 200 publications and 30 patents to its name. ModiFace has worked with the biggest names in beauty to create digital beauty products, including Sephora’s ‘Virtual Artist’ app, which applies products virtually to the viewer’s face, and Benefit’s ‘Brow Try-On’ app. The new Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ both come carrying ModiFace software, which allows users to try on virtual makeup before purchasing it from within the app.

“With ModiFace, we’ve acquired […] the stock of inventions they’ve already created, but more than that, the ability to look at reinventing the beauty experience in the years to come,” Lubomira Rocket, chief digital officer at L’Oreal, told Reuters.

L’Oreal’s online sales have grown from five per cent to eight per cent since 2015; the company may hope to boost online sales by offering a reliable way for customers to test out their makeup products without having to visit a shop. L’Oreal had been experimenting with AR beauty apps before the acquisition; its own AR app, ‘Makeup Genius’, allows for the virtual application of makeup.

The companies have worked together previously on digital projects, including on L’Oreal’s AR hairstyling app, ‘Style My Hair’, which allows users to try different haircuts and colours on themselves before heading to the salon. The development of this app required ModiFace to process 22,000 images of faces.

L’Oreal is the largest cosmetics company in the world and owns cosmetics brands NYX, The Body Shop, Garnier, Maybelline, Lancôme, Essie and Yves Saint Laurent, among others.

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