Look app-solutely great

Women looking to enhance their image but wary of spending money on expensive cosmetics can take the guesswork out of finding a new look, or improving selfies, with the latest beauty apps.

Consumers can experiment with different looks in the apps that act like augmented reality mirrors.

With the Beauty Mirror app, which uses filters, people can see how they would look with fewer wrinkles, bigger lips or lifted eyebrows in a real-time photograph or video.

Said Mr Parham Aarabi, the chief executive officer of Toronto-based ModiFace, which created the app: "Our idea was to apply a subtle, realistic change to a person's reflection so that when someone put it on Facebook, no one would know it was an altered video."

The app uses facial-tracking technology to apply anti-ageing and beauty enhancements, such as a lip enlargement, to the person's image in real time.

"They look the same but everything is just a little better - their wrinkles are gone, their eyes are retouched," he added.

In addition to enhancing self-portraits, Mr Aarabi said the company plans to use the technology to help skincare and cosmetic companies to showcase their products.

"Selfie apps have become all the rage. The ability to change 2-D photos before uploading them to Facebook has been really popular, but now people can take a video and touch it up using the app too," he said.

A similar app called Makeup Genius, created by the France-based cosmetics group L'Oreal, lets users change the colours of products they have applied, such as lipstick and eye shadow, in real time so they can test them before buying.

Both Beauty Mirror and Makeup Genius are free for iPhone and iPad and available worldwide. Most looks within Beauty Mirror are free, but some advanced customised options cost US$1.99 (S$2.50).

Ms Sarah Maria, a California-based body image expert and author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, said people are constantly bombarded with enhanced images in films and magazines that portray unrealistic standards of beauty.

"The apps probably add to the already prevalent idea that the face needs to be enhanced to look younger or thinner," she said, adding that it could also contribute to the problem of negative body image among those already struggling with it.

Mr Aarabi said consumers are already improving their self-portraits before posting them to Facebook or Instagram, a trend he believes will grow.

"Today, people care about enhancing how they look before they take a photo," he added.

"But in the future, I can see a scenario where people care less about putting on make-up or skincare products before they take a photo or video, knowing that they can apply one-click effects after the video is taken."