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Of the many first-world problems 2020 has created for us, near the top of my list sits the fact that makeup shopping has become a thing of the past, at least in person. While many retailers have reopened their doors, trying on makeup is still a no-no (because safety first). Still, when it comes to beauty, more often than not you need to try before you buy. And since I haven’t been trying, I also haven’t been buying.

Recently, I was introduced to Ulta Beauty’s Virtual Makeup Try-On which, like the name suggests, allows you to virtually see what you look like wearing thousands of beauty products before you purchase them to wear in real life. You can either take a photo of yourself and overlay it with different items; use one of Ulta’s stock photos that matches your complexion, or do a live try-on, which was my preferred method. Here’s my experience with app.

Lips

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

The fact that the first shade that popped up on my lips when I started playing around with the app was Ri Ri Woo (MAC) let me know this was about to be fun. To this day, a better red lipstick has not existed and I appreciated Ulta kicking things off with a shade that literally looks good on everyone. I was also impressed with how well the technology fit my real lips. As I moved the camera around, it literally looked like I actually had the lipstick on my lips and I was looking at a regular camera.

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

The other really impressive aspect of the app is that I could not only judge shades but also textures. It was really cool to be able to tell a lipstick with a matte finish from a shiny lip gloss virtually, which makes you feel more comfortable making a purchase from home. And it reduces the risk that you’ll receive something you didn’t actually want. See how juicy my lips look here?

Eyeshadow

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

The eyeshadow section of the app was equally detailed in its display, with metallic and shimmer shades appearing exactly as such. What I noticed when I started playing around in this area was that the last lip color I tried on stayed on my lips on screen, so when I added an eyeshadow shade I got to see what my entire face would look like with the shadow and lip which was a really cool part of the user experience. Of course, you can also look at each element alone, but I personally enjoyed building a whole look and seeing how everything would work together in real life.

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

Also, the app wasn’t exaggerating when it said you can try on thousands of products. The lip and eyeshadow shades seemed endless as I scrolled through. And if you’re a person who likes pallets, you’ll really enjoy being able to see how every color looks on you and whether you’re better off making that investment or purchasing a single shade.

Foundation

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

The concealer and foundation portion of the virtual try-on got a little tricky for me. The pro of this section is that it includes a shade finder that will match your complexion and offer recommendations based on the results. The very first day I tried the app, I tested the shade finder in several different lights and the results were the same every single time, which was a huge plus. I’ve tried similar apps from other retailers and the recommendations were always inconsistent. The other bonus is the shade finder doesn’t just tell you your shade, but also your undertone, which is a key part of finding the right product. On day one my shade was medium dark and my undertone pink which I was immediately impressed by because my skin was extremely irritated and slightly red at the time and the program was able to pick up on that. Two weeks later, some of that inflammation has gone down and today the app recognized the difference, noting my shade still as medium dark but my undertone now neutral. I ran the finder in several different lights again and the result was the same.

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

Unfortunately, when it came to matching, I didn’t feel comfortable enough with the recommendations to actually make a purchase. Many of the initial shades were too dark or too orange/red for me. And though some of the options on the lighter end of the spectrum looked like they could work from the app, seeing as though the shades were often some variation of beige, which I know isn’t in my color range in real life, I opted out of placing anything in my cart. My experience with the concealer section was the same so I went on to mascara and brows.

Eyeliner, Eyelashes And, Eyebrows

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

I’ll be honest, most of the results in this section looked the same. I couldn’t tell the difference between one mascara product or the other in terms of length or definition. In my opinion, mascara is always a difficult buy for me without reading reviews first. When it comes to brows, I already know I like mine as dark as possible, but I do think this portion would be useful for anyone who has changed their hair color and needs to lighten or darken their brows accordingly so they can see how a warm brunette versus a universal taupe might look on them. And yes, the gray cast over the iris is a bit odd, but remember this is virtual reality.

Ulta GLAMlab

Source: Ulta / Ulta GLAMlab

The eyeliner on the other hand? Loved! I was so happy to see the liner showed up on the upper eyelid and I really appreciated the vibrancy when it came to showing unconventional shades like red, turquoise, and green.

If you’re serious about social distancing but still need to wear makeup for at-home photo shoots, conference calls, and even date nights, GLAMlab can be really useful for picking out a new lipgloss or experimenting with a different eyeshadow shade. When you add items to your cart, you can choose to pick up products that are available at the nearest Ulta store, which is super convenient — especially for those last-minute needs, or you can have everything shipped to you.

Admittedly, I’ve spent hours playing around on the app just experimenting with new looks to try when I can hit the streets again. So if nothing else, this app can help you get over any makeup intimidation you may have and give you a better idea of where to start the next time you step foot in Ulta.

To download the app, click here.

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