Beauty apps show 'before and after,' glamorize selfies

TORONTO Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:56am EDT

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TORONTO (Reuters) - Women looking to enhance their image but wary of spending money on expensive cosmetics can take the guesswork out of finding a new look, or improving selfies, with the latest beauty apps.

Consumers can experiment with different looks in the apps that act like augmented reality mirrors.

With the Beauty Mirror app, which uses filters, people can see how they would look with fewer wrinkles, bigger lips or lifted eyebrows in a real-time photograph or video.

“Our idea was to apply a subtle, realistic change to a person’s reflection so that when someone put it on Facebook no one would know it was an altered video,” said Parham Aarabi, the CEO of Toronto-based ModiFace, which created the app.

The app uses facial tracking technology to apply anti-aging and beauty enhancements, such as a lip enlargement, to the person's image in real time.

“They look the same but everything is just a little better - their wrinkles are gone, their eyes are retouched,” said Aarabi. 

In addition to enhancing self-portraits, Aarabi said the company plans to use the technology to help skin care and cosmetic companies to showcase their products.

“Selfie apps have become all the rage. The ability to change 2-D photos before uploading them to Facebook has been really popular, but now people can take video and touch it up using the app too,” he said.

A similar app called Makeup Genius, created by the France-based cosmetics group L'Oreal, lets users change the colors of products they have applied like lipstick and eye shadow in real time so they can test them before buying.

Both Beauty Mirror and Makeup Genius are free for iPhone and iPad and available worldwide. Most looks within Beauty Mirror are free, but some advanced customized options cost $1.99.

Sarah Maria, a California-based body image expert and author of "Love Your Body, Love Your Life," said people are constantly bombarded with enhanced images in films and magazines that portray unrealistic standards of beauty.

“The apps probably add to the already prevalent idea that the face needs to be enhanced to look younger or thinner,” said Maria, who added it could also contribute to negative body image among those already struggling.

Aarabi said consumers are already improving their self-portraits before posting them to Facebook or Instagram, a trend he believes will grow.

“Today, people care about enhancing how they look before they take a photo,” he added. “But in the future, I can see a scenario that people care less about putting on makeup or skin-care products before they take a photo or video, knowing that they can apply one-click effects after the video is taken."

(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Phil Berlowitz)

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California state worker Albert Jagow (L) goes over his retirement options with Calpers Retirement Program Specialist JeanAnn Kirkpatrick at the Calpers regional office in Sacramento, California October 21, 2009. Calpers, the largest U.S. public pension fund, manages retirement benefits for more than 1.6 million people, with assets comparable in value to the entire GDP of Israel. The Calpers investment portfolio had a historic drop in value, going from a peak of $250 billion in the fall of 2007 to $167 billion in March 2009, a loss of about a third during that period. It is now around $200 billion. REUTERS/Max Whittaker   (UNITED STATES) - RTXPWOZ

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