Are You a Makeup Genius? L’Oreal Wants to Help

August 5, 2014

No Actual Eyeshadow was Applied for this Photo

What’s the easiest way to try new makeup looks? Usually it involves a trip to Sephora, or at least a sit down with all your makeup and some free time (not to mention lots of remover.)

Makeover apps have been around for a few years, and they’ve been getting better, but there’s still a lot of effort involved in choosing each product, deciding where it will go, and finding it again to take it off or swap out the color.

Wouldn’t it be great to try in a finished look? In your own face?

L’Oreal’s new Makeup Genius app promises to allow users to try on complete eyeshadow, blush and lip looks in an instant, and to wear the looks in ‘real time’. The company has teamed up with Image Metrics, a company that creates facial mapping software for video games and movies as well as apps. According to The New York Times, the venture involved mapping out colors and textures on numerous skin tones in 400 different lighting conditions.

The app launched earlier in May, and I’ve been playing with it in different conditions. Here’s what I found:


Makeup Genius features

The Makeup Genius allows users to virtually “try on” both individual products and finished makeup looks. All the products are by L’Oreal, and the app even compiles a shopping list of products used, which can be emailed and taken to the store. Individual looks can also be emailed, which is great fun, and I didn’t have to register to send myself my experiments. Which is good, because I really didn’t feel like setting up a new account just to try some new makeup looks…


Finished looks

Individual products are fine, but the “finished” looks were much more fun to play with. I put “finished” in quotes because the looks, many of which were designed by makeup artist Billy B, are eye/lip/cheek looks, not a finished look with foundation and powder. Which is jarring if you’re trying them out on a bare face  – it’s better to try them with a bit of powder or concealer first, since smoky eyes don’t usually work with bare skin and ungroomed eyebrows. Still, it was fun to pile on makeup like a three year old, without having to wash my face afterward.

And speaking of smoky eyes, here’s one look I tried – it’s Julianne (Moore’s) nude:


The Smoky Eye, courtesy of the Makeup Genius


The eyeshadow effect is pretty cool, and it does move with your face, if you don’t move too fast.

Here’s the same eye, with a nude gloss added. I did not like it very much:



And here’s the same eye with the lip switched out to a rosier shade. Much better!:



There are two strange things going on with this app. One, somehow my lips are too full for this app, which is strange because the models have even fuller lips than me. Maybe there’s a width versus height ratio? And it maps the same way every time.


The other strange thing I did completely on purpose – I found that if I moved my face around, the tracking in the app would cause the makeup to “follow” it and catch up. But not always. So I got a couple photos with my makeup falling down, like this:


Heheheh!  But mostly, the Makeup Genius App is way cool.


How to get your best looks from the app

L’Oreal’s new Makeup Genius app is the closest thing to an easy Virtual Makeover, but there are things you can do to make it work better:

  • First, do have some light makeup on when you try new looks. There’s no foundation/powder/concealer aspect to this app, and it’s a lot easier to compare eyeshadow/blush/lip looks on an even skintone with groomed eyebrows.


  • Second, make sure your light is good. This would be a necessity even with regular makeup experimentation, but the skintones and colors look better in good light, as do the photos you can send yourself.


  • Third, try a lot of looks. Even the ones you think are ugly. Since the looks pop up instantly, there’s no need to fear trying something completely new. Even if you hate it afterward. You might find a new favorite!


So, Should You Try Makeup Genius?

Well, it’s free, so if you have an iPhone or iPad, the answer is yes, why would you not? And if smoky eyes aren’t extreme enough, you can also check out Image Metric’s Mojo Masks app, which applies face-paint masks for fun (and profit, if you upgrade to their holiday packs.) A flawless instant virtual makeover has been a Web 2.0 dream…with the Makeup Genius app, L’Oreal and Image Metrics have come the closest of anyone to achieving it.


Makeup Genius, at iTunes.

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  • Adam Coutts August 6, 2014 at 2:12 am

    Red Burlesque recently launched a brilliant app for iPhone called Red Lipstick. It enables you to take a selfie and instantly see how you look in 21 shades of red lipstick! It also has a ‘What’s my shade’ feature that tells you which shades of red you’ll rock, as well as a mirror function.

    It can be downloaded from the iTunes Store here


    • Meli Pennington August 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Thanks, Adam, I love the Red Burlesque colors! From a consumer P.O.V I wish we could incorporate the best of all the makeover apps into one “Super App”!

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    Sounds like a cool app!

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