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YouTube's AR tech gives you a virtual makeover

Image credit: Shutterstock (Image credit: Shutterstock)
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Buying makeup online can be difficult; as you can't test products as you would in a shop, you have no real way of knowing if particular shades will suit your skin tone.

This means you're usually forced to guess which product is best for you – and in person, shades can look wildly different than they do online.  

However, this problem could become a thing of the past, thanks to YouTube's new Beauty Try-On feature, which uses augmented reality (AR) to let you virtually try on makeup in real time. 

In a press release (opens in new tab), Google explains that the feature offers "realistic, virtual product samples that work on a full range of skin tones."

As AR Beauty Try-On is currently in alpha, it's not available widely on YouTube yet, but you can try it out through FameBit by YouTube (opens in new tab), Google’s "in-house branded content platform".

A boost for smart displays and mirrors?

MAC cosmetics is the first company to partner with FameBit, allowing users to 'try on' different MAC lipstick shades using AR – if they like what they see, they can then visit the online store to purchase it. 

Whether many users will actually buy makeup using this feature remains to be seen, but there's certainly an audience for it; in 2018, beauty-related content accounted for  169 billion views (opens in new tab) on YouTube.

The tech, if it takes off, will also have interesting implications for the ways we use technology like smart displays like the Google Home Hub or Amazon Echo Show and smart mirrors like the LG smart mirror to make purchases, as well as our smartphones. 

The ability to try products on with AR could increase the purchases made through smart displays like the Google Home Hub (pictured). (Image credit: Google)

The ability to try products on with AR could increase the purchases made through smart displays like the Google Home Hub (pictured). (Image credit: Google)

Imagine if you could look in your mirror in the morning, try on a new makeup look using AR and have the products delivered to you that same day.

So far, smart displays have struggled to infiltrate the online shopping market. In January 2019, a survey by Voicebot.AI (opens in new tab) found only 26% of smart display users had ever tried making a purchase with their device, with only 15% doing so regularly.

Will YouTube's AR Beauty Try-On help tip the scales in the smart display's favor? Only time will tell – for now, it at least makes for a fun way to try bold new looks in the comfort of your own home.

Olivia is TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in TechRadar's London offices, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine.  In her spare time Olivia likes gardening, painting, and hanging with her cat Ethel and golden retriever Dora.