Augmented Reality

Smart Beauty Mirrors: AR & AI to Replace Makeup Testers

Makeup testers are becoming a thing of the past. In a post-pandemic era, augmented reality will help cosmetics brands to engage consumers in-store, allowing them to virtually test makeup. Explore smart beauty mirror benefits, possibilities and ways to set up a virtual makeup try on for your brand.

banuba makeup try-on

Smart Makeup Mirrors: AR or AI?

Thanks to the significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) consumers can try our beauty products virtually wherever they are — on mobile, web or in-store. Leading brands are successfully using virtual makeup apps and smart mirrors to give consumers innovative ways to experience beauty products using cameras. However, as the industry evolves, the difference between AI and AR makeup mirrors becomes more palpable.

With AR product experience the technology is capable of detecting the face and overlaying virtual makeup that looks as realistic as its physical copy. Using the camera, consumers can try on beauty products and find their perfect color match. AI makeup mirrors go further combining machine learning algorithms that analyze consumer facial characteristics like skin color, type or age and can recommend the best-fit products based on the individual data.

Consider launching AR/AI makeup mirror? Discover our Beauty SDK 


How virtual makeup mirror works

Augmented reality mirrors are made of the hardware part, i.e. the physical device or kiosk itself and makeup try on software that overlays beauty products virtually in real-time. Let’s take a closer look at each component.

Professional Makeup Software 

An essential part of smart beauty mirrors is the Makeup Try On Software, also known as the “magic mirror” technology. But what exactly makes it magic? Or "smart"? Let's get a closer look "under the hood" of AR mirrors and how they are implemented.

  • Realistic makeup visualization. The lifelike presentation of virtual makeup is crucial - products need to look and behave as in real life. The lip gloss should shine in the light and the hair color must be as intense as the real hair dye. Thanks to the powerful rendering technology, all makeup colors, textures and shades can be perfectly digitalized and brought to consumers.  
  • Real time try on. Initially the makeup try on idea was realized via photo editing, however now, with robust face tracking optimized for mobile, consumers can enjoy the real-time virtual beauty experience, and use smart devices like true mirrors.  
  • Makeup advisor. By analyzing facial characteristics, virtual mirrors can find makeup items that are the best fit for a customer’s age, skin or eye color and showcase them in real-time. Brands can create preset makeup looks to recommend items that go together.
  • Beauty care personal assistance. The most advanced solutions use not only augmented reality to visualize beauty items but also AI algorithms that can track your skin health and advice regimens, serving your personal digital assistants. 


HubSpot Video

Banuba makeup try-on

User experience features

  • Recording. Makeup mirrors can be equipped with video or photo taking features so consumers can save, share and review their try-on sessions.
  • Engagement analytics helps brands to gain some marketing insights by  tracking how consumers interact with a certain product and their level of engagement e.g. returning customers, the lengths of the session, the number of items tried and etc.
  • Interactive controls. The touch screen enables interactive makeup mirror controls, e.g. swipe to browse products, tap to choose items. However, because of the recently increased demand for hygiene protection in public places, our company has been working on the idea of touchless UI. It uses hand tracking and gesture recognition technologies to allow consumers to control the screens using hands, without touching any surfaces.

Also Read: How Hand Gesture Recognition Benefits Different Industries

AI Mirror Hardware 

On the hardware part, AI makeup mirrors can be implemented with several options. The fastest and easiest way is to place a couple of iPads or Android tablets which are a good substitute to mirrors. The pricing is very flexible starting from $150 for 10-inch Amazon Fire HD or $250 for Apple iPad (2019). Most tablets have a high-resolution screen and a powerful processor which ensures quality AR users experience. However, the battery life may be a weak point when using tables as virtual mirrors with an average of 4 to 6 hours duration.


  • Fully portable 
  • Fast launch
  • Fully compatible with makeup SDK 
  • Cost-effective  
  • Take no space


  • Poor battery life

Touch screen displays combine almost the same cost accessibility and the ease implementation with better visibility and battery life. A professional virtual mirror kiosks is sure to attract an audience too and provide a quality user experience with virtual makeup. On the software part, our virtual makeup SDK is compatible with touch screen displays and custom hardware. However, some additional level of testing might be needed to make sure the technology works fine.


  • Quick and easy launch
  • Compatible with makeup SDK
  • Cost-effective


  • Less portable and take some space
  • May require additional technology testing 

Smart beauty mirror applications

  1.  Try before you buy. Virtually try-on experience to help visualize beauty products before purchase.
  2.  How to. Tips that guide users on applying products, e.g. creating makeup looks or self care. 
  3.  AR ad campaigns. Advertise new products before they go live with true-to-life AR filters.
  4.  Photo booths. Place your store to other public places with interactive photo booths that bring AR ad and try-on experiences. Allow selfie-taking and sharing to increase brand awareness.
  5.  Virtual makeup testers. Allow hygienic try on in your store replacing physical makeup testers with virtual. Advertise products that are in other stores. 
  6.  AI recommendation engine. Analyse users' facial characteristics like skin condition and color, hair color, age, gender to recommend the best products and fit.
  7.  Style assistant. Help your consumers to find the perfect outlook or most suitable products with a pre-set look.


HubSpot Video

Banuba makeup try-on

Virtual Makeup Try-on: Mobile vs Web vs In-store

Considering that the beauty stores will continue to avoid makeup testers in a post-coronavirus era, AR makeup try-ons are becoming more important than ever. The technology can well be extended to any customer touchpoint smart mirrors in-store, on brands’ websites or standalone mobile apps.

Mobile Beauty Camera

Smartphones have become the go-to channel for online shopping. Some 49 per cent of consumers use mobile phones for shopping online and in-store. Digi-Capital estimates mobile augmented reality to top 2.5 billion installed base and $70 billion to $75 billion revenue by 2023. 

So brands have an amazing opportunity to build positive brand sentiment by reaching consumers with unique, compelling and targeted AR try on experiences on mobile. The branded app allows building a long-lasting relationship with the consumer, engaging with the audience offering targeted promo campaigns or notifying about special offers.

Web AR Try On

Most mobile AR try on experiences require smartphone applications. For consumers, this involves downloading an app and allowing access to personal data. This creates a barrier to distribution and raises concerns over privacy. 

The Try On for the web lets AR content be viewed and shared through mobile and desktop web browsers, allowing for a frictionless shopping experience. 

Instead of downloading a new app, users can simply click on a link to open a page in their browser or press the “Try On” button on the product page, activate their web camera and try on items virtually.

Virtual Mirrors In-store

In cosmetics and beauty care, AR mirrors can increase sales by taking an omnichannel approach. The technology not only saves the time customers spend finding the right product but lets them browse many more items when in the store. 

Using analytics, smart beauty mirrors can become non-intrusive consultants, advising on the most suitable cosmetics, skincare products or hair color. Virtual makeup testing keeps shoppers engaged, adding fun, novelty and convenience, so retailers stand out from their competitors.

5 Smart Makeup Mirror Examples To Check

Leading retailers are successfully using Face AR technology to allow consumers try on makeup virtually. 

Makeup advisor and Virtual Try On

At Viva Technology Paris 2018 L’Oreal presented a smart mirror with one-to-one live step by step tutorial and coaching with a make-up advisor, virtually try on personalized make-up looks and shop online.

Virtual Artist Mobile App

Sephora presented its first Virtual artist that made a revolution in 2016. It features over 200 million shades tried on, over 8.5 million visits and virtual tutorials on how to contour, apply highlighter and create eyeliner looks on your face.

AR Hair Color Mirror

Wella Professionals Smart Mirror enables AR hair color try on and can retrieve past styles for each customer providing the truly personalized customer services.

AI Skin Advisor 

Olay noticed that a third of women couldn't find what they needed when browsing the shelves and did not make a purchase. They rolled out an AI-powered skin advisor to help women understand their skin type and choose the right products.

  • Reduced the bounce rate for online visitors by one third and increased average basket size
  • 2x in conversion rate
  • 5-min session length
  • Improved involvement of younger demographic
  • Used over 1.2 million times
  • 5,000 to 7,000 users every day

AR makeup mirror

MAC Cosmetics launched Virtual Try-On Mirrors in its physical stores across the country. The company expects a 31 per cent sales increase due to AR-powered in-store experience.

Why to Invest in Virtual Makeup Try on

With too many products to choose from, consumers often feel at loss navigating a retailer’s site or store. They can’t find products that would match them best. At the peak of their frustration, they are likely to give up and leave without a purchase.

With virtual makeup try on, consumers can browse hundreds of options on the mobile, web or via in-store interactive beauty mirrors. ‘Try before you buy’ approach helps to reduce returns, avoid unnecessary or dissatisfying purchases and increase overall interaction experience with a brand. Besides, it’s second to none when it comes to Gen Z engagement.

The novelty of AR technology, its accessibility on mobile and in-store and the selfie-focused camera experience lets brands hold the attention of “digitally native” consumers longer and convert them at a higher rate. 

Looking to set up a virtual makeup try on for your brand?

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