Several years ago I took one of those “Which Celebrity Do You Look Like?” quizzes on Facebook, and the answer came back “Ayn Rand.” Seeing as my look needed improvement, and hearing how technology is now rearing its ugly head into the world of beauty, I decided to explore just how deeply tech has burrowed into beauty.

I began by looking into new augmented reality apps that make it easy to pick makeup from your phone and purchase it in stores or online. My first stop was L’Oreal… because I’m worth it.

L’Oréal’s MakeupGenius app is free but has quite a complicated UI.  After the login process, you’re taken to the homepage, where after much trial-and-error, I learned you reach the makeup process by several routes:

  • Selecting an option like “Latest Look” or “Latest Product” and then clicking “Try It.”
  • Clicking the mirror icon for a selection of looks, like “Fushia Splash” or “Boho Cinderella
    and then clicking “Try It.”
  • Choosing the camera icon and then scrolling for looks along the bottom of the screen, much like you would filters on Instagram.

The problem with this is it starts you off with the most glaring, disco-bright colors for every look and product. So my first try turned me into some kind of lunatic, and my second try turned me into Magda from “There’s Something About Mary,” which made me long for the days of Ayn Rand.

If you have color correction experience, you’ll get the hang of it adjusting the makeup levels. Except instead of exposure and contrast, you’re dealing with mascara and lipstick. And Boho Cinderella, which frankly, should be called Alice Cooper. Even though I got a look that approximated what I wanted, the boredom punctured with facial horror made me want to just leave this to the professionals.

And there are hundreds of technology professionals in the cosmetics industry. They’re the young women who are beauty bloggers with YouTube Channels. The “Beauty” section alone on YouTube has more than 400 channels. According to Bensen Consulting’s Christine Bensen – who has an extensive background in the business of beauty – “Beauty bloggers are driving what’s being tried. If you don’t have them demonstrating one of your products on YouTube, it’s a much more difficult sell … YouTube is a technology that has changed the way beauty works.”

I can definitely get on board with this assessment, as my 17-year-old cousin Isabel, a YouTube devotee, is 26 years younger than I am, yet is miles ahead of me when it comes to things like eyebrows and foundation matching. And how to use eyeliner and mascara. And blush. But this is because Isabel has grown up with hundreds of instructors teaching her something she finds fascinating, and I grew up in the ‘80s. Isabel may have just gotten her driver’s license, but she already looks like she’s ready for a Porsche.

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I, however, was either undaunted or a glutton for punishment, because instead of checking out YouTube, I downloaded another free makeup app: Sephora: Makeup and Beauty Shop. If this worked, I reasoned, it would save me the nightmare of going to an actual Sephora shop, which has all the torture of Ikea but none of the shelving.

And what a difference! Though I thought L’Oréal would have more je ne sais quois, it was Sephora that knocked it out of the park. Yes, it took me a minute to figure out where I was going – like in Sephora proper – but once I did, Sephora did their own due diligence by asking for information like my skin tone. (Sigh … lightest). And again, similar to Instagram, I was given a choice of “makeup filters” along the bottom. It only took about a minute before “Red Carpet Lip” was my winner because the options didn’t involve Adobe-like color correction. And what made it easy for me (and smart for Sephora) is that each look included the cosmetics that were used, i.e. Laura Mercier’s $25 Kohl Eye Pencil in Brown Copper, and Stila’s $22 Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Fiery. (L’Oréal’s was supposed to show up when I hit the “Buy” button, but the app froze every time I did.)

So thank you, Sephora! (Words I thought I’d never say.) Technology and makeup have indeed helped me find something that approximates my inner French girl, not a broad with a pink turban who smokes Misty Menthols and flirts with the pool boy.

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