Makeup Testing Services You Should Take Advantage Of (Always Try Before You Buy, Babes)

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In a post-COVID world, online shopping remains a more popular option than ever before, according to the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. While this guarantees ultimate comfort and convenience, it can prove to be a little difficult when you're shopping for makeup. How can you match a foundation or concealer to your skin tone or find the perfect nude lipstick when you're basing your decision on an online product photo? Luckily, makeup brands and retailers are in tune with their consumers.


The answer to online makeup shopping struggles? Virtual try-on services. These services allow you to see what different products and shades would look like on you without having to physically try them on in a store. Simply capture a live video of your face or upload a bare-faced photo of yourself and digitally apply the products you'd like to try on. While there's no guarantee that the filters used by these services will give an ultra-realistic depiction of what a product will look like, they can provide you with enough of a preview to make a more accurate decision. Thankfully, multiple major makeup brands offer try-on services.

IT Cosmetics

IT Cosmetics — best known for its cult classic ultra-full coverage concealer Bye Bye Under Eye — offers a plethora of products that you can sample virtually. This try-on service allows you to either upload a photo saved on your phone or choose the option to try on the product live. The latter feature operates similarly to a Snapchat or TikTok filter, digitally applying makeup to your live video image.


The live try-on feature allows you to see not only how a product looks when worn on your natural skin tone but also how it appears in motion on your face. This means you can move in and out of different types of lighting and watch the impact on the makeup shade you're virtually wearing. Since IT Cosmetics products can lean toward the pricier side, its in-depth try-on service can help you pull the trigger on a product you're nervous about investing in.

MAC Cosmetics

Classic makeup giant MAC Cosmetics offers virtual try-on services for over 800 of its products. Similar to IT Cosmetics, MAC allows you to virtually try on makeup products using either a static photo or a live video. If you're not comfortable using your own image, MAC provides a third option. You can choose from a library of six models with different skin colors and undertones, and then digitally apply the product to the model with the skin tone most similar to your own.


If you're interested in a skin product, such as concealer or foundation, that doesn't offer a traditional virtual try-on, you can take advantage of MAC's related virtual matching service. Simply select the product to open its page, and then click the "Find Your Shade Match" button. An interface will appear directing you to look straight ahead and align your face with an onscreen oval. Your recommended shade will then be revealed.


Chanel offers virtual try-on services in a live video format for its lip, eye, and nail products. Although this may not sound as impressive as more extensive services offered by brands like MAC Cosmetics, it is certainly more useful than blindly ordering these products online. Chanel is a luxury brand, which means that even a basic tube of lipstick will set you back at least $45. Being able to see how the color looks against your unique skin tone can make the difference between an investment and a regret.


The filter used by Chanel's virtual try-on service is particularly realistic. When you digitally apply a product, the texture and finish of the product are also reflected. This makes it easy to see how the product is likely to look on you. Much like Chanel itself, the service is limited in scope but of very high quality.

Estée Lauder

Esteemed prestige skincare, haircare, makeup, and fragrance brand Estée Lauder offers a comprehensive virtual try-on service on its website. Using this service, you can digitally apply mostly foundation and lip products using live video filters. The service also allows you to be virtually matched with a foundation shade using an interface very similar to the one featured on MAC Cosmetics' website. However, the Estée Lauder version asks you to give input by answering questions about your skin's undertone before it recommends a match.


Estée Lauder's virtual try-on service gives you the option of using a static photo of yourself, rather than a live video. It also provides a selection of models for you to digitally apply makeup products to in your place if you'd rather not give permission to access your camera to the site. You can even pick an entire full-face look to try on, curated by the brand and categorized as a daytime or nighttime aesthetic, including a bridal look.

NYX Cosmetics

Budget beauty behemoth NYX Cosmetics offers a virtual try-on service with unique features. Like other brands on the list, the service allows you to digitally apply makeup shades to an uploaded photo of yourself, a live video, or a chosen model representative. However, NYX's virtual try-on service differs in the option for trying on eyeshadows. Instead of applying a sweep of color across the entire eyelid area, NYX's virtual try-on service allows you to choose between several eyeshadow application styles that flatter different eye shapes, including applying a shadow in a cat-eye shape, as an outer corner or crease accent color, and more.


NYX also provides a before-and-after slider, so you can see what your face looks like with and without the product in a side-by-side format. The site does offer virtual foundation matching, which entails answering questions about your skin's undertone and the level of coverage you're seeking. However, you'll have to provide your email address to get your results.

Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte Tilbury — the creator of a TikTok-famous line of cream blush wands — offers extensive virtual services on its website, including a virtual video try-on option. This try-on service offers a before-and-after slider for easy comparison to your bare skin, just like NYX Cosmetics. While the quality of this virtual try-on service is a little basic, it is certainly enough to get an idea of whether or not a shade is a good enough match for you to purchase.


The site also offers a suite of other virtual services — all free of charge. You can complete a questionnaire to get matched to a foundation, highlighter, or lip shade or to have an entire routine recommended. You also have the option to live chat with a Charlotte Tilbury representative for tips or to book a one-on-one video consultation with a trained beauty advisor.


Iconic drugstore brand Maybelline offers virtual try-on services that are comparable to those offered by high-end brands. You can test all Maybelline products using the virtual try-on service available on the brand's website. Like many services on this list, the interface allows you to digitally try on products using an uploaded photo, a live video, or by selecting a model with similar features to yours. However, Maybelline's service offers a unique feature: the ability to compare up to four shades at a time.


In addition, Maybelline provides a virtual foundation matching service that uses a photo you take from within the interface. The service scans the photo and then offers you a few options for your best match. If you are not satisfied with the recommendations you receive, you can tap the "Start Over" button and take a new photo in different lighting. Virtual try-on services are not perfect or fail-proof, but they can provide you with enough information to feel confident when shopping online and selecting the best products for you.