Electronic Mirrors Sell Lipstick and a Makeover

Cosmetics aisles in supermarkets and drugstores are adding electronic makeover specialists with the help of an Israeli start-up.
Retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), France’s Carrefour SA and Superdrug Stores PLC in Britain are testing EZface Inc.’s “virtual mirrors” in their stores to simulate what makeup and hair dye would look like on shoppers. Faced with stiff competition from specialist cosmetics stores including Sephora, where shoppers get to try on products before buying them, retailers are looking for new ways to boost sales and reduce damaged inventory from opened packaging by consumers experimenting with products.

The virtual mirror kiosks are designed to be easy to use. A person stands in front of the screen and an internal camera takes a picture. Then the person scans the bar codes of various cosmetics—such as mascara, foundation, eye shadow, blush and lip gloss—and each automatically appears on the appropriate part of the face. A list on the right side of the screen reminds the person what products she is virtually testing. The user can print out the image, send it by email, or post it on Facebook.

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