Augmented reality cosmetics: 6 experiences to inspire you

By Cristina Ferrandez

As demonstrated by brands such as Sephora, Nordstrom, and Macy’s, augmented reality is quickly gaining traction in the beauty industry. While many beauty companies adopted AR during the pandemic for hygiene and safety reasons, many others are likely to continue experimenting with the technology even when things return to normal. 

However, it’s not just makeup companies that are using AR to create immersive digital experiences for their customers. Other cosmetics brands, with products ranging from toothpaste to eye drops, are also turning to AR. In an increasingly competitive industry where brands are vying for attention on social media platforms, augmented reality cosmetics experiences offer brands an achievable way to stand out from the crowd, promote products, and engage customers. Studies show that AR drives creative customer engagement and encourages people to explore, which can have a direct effect on customers’ purchase intent and satisfaction with purchase decisions.

Interested in integrating AR into your product line but not sure where to start? Here are some examples of brands that are already taking advantage of the power of AR with augmented reality cosmetics experiences.

1. NYX Professional Makeup – Lip Lingerie XXL

One of the most popular use cases of AR in the cosmetics industry is virtual makeup try-on. This type of AR lets users apply lipstick, eyeshadow, and other makeup products onto their own skin in real-time without having to go to a physical store. 

For example, earlier this year, Poplar Studio collaborated with L’Oréal-owned NYX Professional Makeup to bring Gen Z consumers’ attention to the brand’s improved Lip Lingerie XXL, a range of vegan and inclusive liquid lipsticks. Importantly, in addition to showcasing the different colour shades available, NYX also wanted to highlight product quality improvements, such as increased ability to create fuller lips and matte finishes with no visible cracks whatsoever. 

To fit this brief, we created two AR experiences: “Slidescreen” and “Interactive.” As part of the “Slidescreen” experience, Instagram users trying on lipstick shades could split their mobile screens in half to compare the “before” and “after” looks. In the “Interactive” experience, users saw themselves surrounded by five different lipsticks, which they could click on to see what they would look like wearing them. Clicking on a lipstick activated fun effects, like peaches floating in the background for the “peach flirt” shade.

2. NYX Professional Makeup – Haunted Dollhouse 

While some makeup AR experiences are pretty straightforward — you click on a product you want to try and see it virtually applied to your face — others can incorporate other elements.

Last year, NYX partnered with Poplar Studio to promote its Halloween cosmetics line and drive more followers to their social media page using an immersive AR experience. The experience, which was part of NYX’s marketing campaign “NYX Professional Makeup Haunted Dollhouse,” featured five dolls sporting a unique makeup look created by the renowned makeup artist Mimi Choi. 

Available as a filter on both Instagram and Snapchat, the experience started with a 3D model of a dollhouse consisting of five different rooms, each inhabited by one of the haunted dolls. By tapping on each room within the dollhouse, users could activate a specific makeup filter. To make the filters even more fun, we incorporated additional interactive elements. For example, when virtually trying on the “Caterina” makeup look, users could open their mouths to see the virtual flower tiara on their heads blossom. Overall, the campaign was opened 2.1 million times in the US, while in Spain, the filter experienced an engagement rate of 99.8%, with more than half a million opens.

3. Aveeno Skin Relief

augmented reality cosmetics
Aveeno worked with Poplar Studio to highlight their Skin Relief production process to customers via AR

Although consumers are becoming more interested in the way that products are produced, they still may not have the time or the desire to read a company’s site to find out this information — especially if it’s presented in a boring way. Matching this unmet need, cosmetics companies are finding new ways to educate their customers and create more engaging brand experiences.

Aveeno is a great example of this. Earlier this year, Aveeno joined forces with Poplar Studio to design an AR filter that would show their customers the production process used within their Skin Relief range.

To give customers a new layer of insight into the brand’s oat-based skincare products, Poplar Studio combined a world effect with an AR face filter, thus creating a unique experience available on Instagram and Facebook. The effect began with users placing a virtual Aveeno bottle in front of them. At that point, a voiceover explaining the production process was activated, accompanied by 3D elements and fun animations. At the end of the narrative, users were prompted to switch to their front-facing camera and try on the Aveeno face filter, which made their skin glowy while adorning their heads with an oat crown. A perfect opportunity for a photograph, users could take selfies and share them with friends.

4. L’Oréal – Colorista

augmented reality cosmetics
TikTok users experimenting with the L’Oréal Colorista try-on filter
(Source)

Dying your hair a different colour can be a big deal — especially if you go for a bold colour and are not 100% sure it will suit you. 

To help indecisive shoppers make up their minds, and to advertise their Colorista Permanent Gel hair colour, L’Oréal launched an AR campaign that would allow customers to see what they would look like with a different hair colour, without actually having to touch their hair. Developed by Poplar Studio, the TikTok effect allowed users to instantly change their hair colour to a beautiful rose gold and take a video of the “transformation,” which they could then send to their friends. 

Since the filter was also linked to a Hashtag Challenge, users could tag their videos with the #GoBoldColorista hashtag for easy discovery. The campaign is now at 3.1 billion views and growing. 

5. Aquafresh – Brush Time

Getting kids to brush their teeth for the recommended amount of time is no easy feat. To make this task a bit more enjoyable for children and their parents, Aquafresh commissioned Poplar Studio to create an AR effect that would make teeth-brushing a fun (or at least, less dreaded) activity. 

When activated, the effect, which came in the form of a mini-game, placed a blue, white, and red (the colours of Aquafresh) wig on the user’s head. Then, a voice asked kids if they were ready to brush their teeth and launched into an amusing song that lasted the entire brush time. The effect was coupled with fun animations. For example, as kids brushed their teeth, they could see virtual toothpaste foam and even bubbles coming out of their mouths. 

6. Optrex – National Eye Health Week

Although most people are well aware that excessive screen time can cause eye strain, actually remembering to take breaks from smartphones and other devices is another story. Luckily, eye care expert Optrex found an ingenious way of promoting eye health for National Eye Health Week: with a Snapchat lens

The effect comes in the form of a face filter that superimposes two smartphones over each one of the user’s eyes. When the user lifts their eyebrows, the phones display a static TV screen transition effect and make a static noise — a sign to get off your device!

The explosive growth of augmented reality cosmetics experiences 

While makeup brands are undoubtedly leading the way when it comes to social AR experiences, other cosmetics brands are now paying attention to the trend as well. With customers already favouring companies that offer AR experiences, augmented reality cosmetics effects on social media are going to be a necessity and something people expect rather than a “nice to have” feature. 

If you’re interested in creating an augmented reality cosmetics experience for your brand but don’t know where to start or would like expert advice, drop us a line today.