You wouldn't know it from looking at my face, but I buy and own a lot of makeup. I don't really wear a ton of it; I just enjoy having it around. I also enjoy shopping online, eliminating the need to go out into the world and interact with other people. These two factors make me the target demographic for Sephora's Virtural Artist, and yet it did not inspire me to buy cosmetics.
Photos by Claire Lower.
There are two ways you can use the virtual artist: On the world wide web or on an app on your phone. I started with the online version, and uploaded what I thought was a neutral looking photo of my face.
Resting mope face
After picking a skin tone range -- I chose the most pallid -- I moved little dots around my lips and eyes so the virtual artist could put the virtual makeup on my virtual face.
I think it looks great.
I was then presented with a number of amusing, vaguely upsetting "looks", complete with matching products to purchase if I was pleased with my virtual makeover.
This is the "Bright Lip & Cheek" look.
Somehow I didn't end up buying anything.
This was the best one, tbh.
Assuming the problem was me -- because isn't it always? -- I took another photo, but this time I smiled, because ladies are supposed to smile.
Oh look it's my face again.
For some reason, smiling brought out the alignment dots in droves.
Anyway. The smiling didn't really help with the looks.
BABY LOOK PRETTY NOW, MAMMA?
There's also a split-view option, if you want to compare your face that was to your new Face of the Future.
The future looks bleak.
So I wasn't super impressed with the web option, but had slightly higher hopes for the app.
As you can see from the above photo, the app has more of a Snapchat feel to it, and it looks a little smoother and not as horrifying. In the app, you can try on the looks that we've all come to know and love, and you can take video, allowing the look to move with your face. There were some issues.
As you can see in the above video, the app seemed to have a hard time distinguishing my bangs from my brows, causing the virtually applied brow powder to dance about like an epileptic caterpillar. It also didn't care for my really cool facial expressions, and just kind of gave up entirely.
Though I noticed an improvement in the quality of looks through the use of the app, I still didn't feel I had found the right look for my very unique face. Luckily, the app let's you create your own custom looks by choosing fake eye lashes, eye shadow, and lipstick. Using this marvel of modern capitalist technology, I was able to go from this:
Look at this slub, who lacks confidence and poise.
Form an orderly queue, gents.
I was then able to see exactly which box of crayons I had used to get all painted up and given the option to purchase the full set. Though I didn't find this look to be as upsetting as the earlier prefabricated looks, I didn't love it so much that I felt compelled to purchase anything. It was fun though, in that Snapchat sort of way.
Lol all the little Claires look so sad.
Finally, there's the tutorial portion of the app, which walks you through several slightly more advanced beauty techniques, such as contouring, "Nighttime Smoky Eye", and "Brow 3 Ways", which is three different ways to put stuff on your brows, not a video of three eyebrows engaged in sexy times. I chose contouring. I immediately messed it all up by not tying my hair back.
Once the app told me I had a square for a face, it got down to business, and taught me how to contour by showing me exactly where to put various products on my virtual visage.
I could describe the process to you, but the pictures really tell the tale.
Is it just me or does that look like stubble?
Then it gave me a video of the process, but a very rude human put their very rude finger in my face as the app was taking my photo for said video.
I still didn't feel compelled to buy any beauty products, and I was really tired of looking at my face. Also, I think it's pretty obvious that this concept was flawed from the beginning. An app isn't going to tell you how a product feels on your face or how it interacts with your skin. It isn't going to tell you how a product smells (which is more important than you may think), and it isn't going to show you how it looks in various types of lighting.