While augmented reality and beauty appear to be an unusual pairing, its potential to revolutionize the beauty industry is becoming increasingly apparent as large industry players are harnessing the technology to uniquely attract and engage consumers.

Two of beauty’s industry giants, Estee Lauder and L’Oréal have already begun to use augmented reality technology to elevate their brand offerings. Just this month, Estee Lauder partnered with augmented reality technology developer, ModiFace, to create a chat box which allows users to search for, virtually experiment with, and then purchase lip products directly through Facebook messenger.

Similarly, L’Oréal recently began collaborating with YouCam, an augmented reality application, which offers consumers the opportunity to virtually create beauty looks using the brand’s products, and then purchase these products in-app.

Given that one in five (21%) consumers globally are often or always influenced by mobile applications when buying beauty and grooming products (GlobalData’s Q4 2016 consumer survey), opportunities exist for brands to tap into this interest, and promote the benefits that augmented reality offers beyond its experiential, interactive aspect.

Augmented reality is also a viable way by which consumers can save time, given that a visit to a physical store is no longer necessary in order to experiment with and then purchase beauty products. This appeals to over a third of consumers (36%) that purchase beauty and grooming products online, directly from a brand, and a further 33% that have expressed their interest in doing so in future (GlobalData’s Q1 2017 consumer survey). Additionally, by essentially eliminating the trial and error aspect of purchasing beauty products, augmented reality can potentially save consumers the additional money they would have spent on products that did not align with their aspired look.

However, while augmented reality does, to an extent, eliminate the need for physical shopping in this context; it does not eliminate the consumer desire for it. The ability to shop for products in a store-environment which projects and emulates a brands philosophy is still valuable in the experience economy in which consumers live. Yet, augmented reality remains a way in which beauty brands can bridge the online and offline gap within their offerings, and interact with their consumers in a fun, personalized way. We are therefore likely to see many more examples of AR infiltrating the beauty industry in the future, with heightened levels of consumer engagement.