How to Develop a Virtual Makeup Try-on App: The Ultimate Guide

Augmented reality – once only confined to video games and space exploration, has now found a fascinating intersection with the realm of beauty. Virtual makeup try-on apps are the latest avant-grade of this amalgamation, and they are radicalizing global makeup brands.

L’Oréal’s recent study confirms this, which stated that users who used a virtual try-on makeup app were more likely to purchase the products they tried on. Not only L’Oréal but every other beauty brand you know – Smashbox, MAC, Charlotte Tilbury, Maybelline, and more – have enthusiastically embraced the technology.

From a business perspective, these apps are not only convenient for users, but they can also be a great way to boost sales. If you’re a beauty brand or an entrepreneur looking to develop a virtual makeup try-on app, here is your comprehensive guide. Here, we will extensively discuss the core features of the app, explain the different approaches to its development, and give a few pro tips on how to create one for yourself cost-efficiently.

Without any further ado, let’s start. 

What is a Virtual Makeup Try-on App?

A virtual makeup try-on app is a digital application that utilizes augmented reality (AR) technology to allow users to virtually apply and visualize various makeup products on their faces in real time, enabling them to see how different shades, textures, and styles look on their skin before making a purchase or trying them in person.

The Evolution of Virtual Makeup Try-on Apps

Virtual Makeup Try-on App market size
Source- marketsandmarkets

The market for AR, VR, and beauty apps is growing rapidly. In 2022, the global market for AR and VR was valued at $37.0 billion, and it is expected to reach $114.5 billion by 2027. At a CAGR of 16.54%, the global beauty camera app market is also set to reach a valuation of $1.51 billion by 2026

While the YouCam Makeup app was released in 2014, it wasn’t until 2020 that numerous brands began embracing the digital shopping trend and expanding beyond the app itself. Snapchat, for instance, utilized AR technology to enable users to virtually test product shades from MAC, Essie, and a wide range of brands offered by Ulta. Incorporating technology into the beauty shopping experience has proven to be a game-changer, especially for Gen Z shoppers. 

According to Snapchat’s 2022 Generation Report, 92% of Gen Zers expressed interest in using AR for shopping, with 88% specifically interested in trying on makeup or clothes. Additionally, the report revealed that 55% of Gen Z shoppers believe AR will simplify their shopping experiences, and 43% are more likely to experiment with new looks using beauty products they’ve virtually tried on. 

Other platforms and brands, such as Pinterest, Vanity Planet, CHI, Tarte, YSL, and Aveda, have also capitalized on the potential of beauty AR, providing technologically advanced shopping experiences tailored to their customer’s needs and preferences. All this represents just a fraction of the many brands harnessing the power of AR technology and the expediting adoption of virtual makeup try-on apps in the beauty industry.

Understanding the Current State of Virtual Makeup Apps

The current state of virtual makeup try-on apps is one of incremental growth. With over 46% incremental growth within the APAC region,  makeup apps are also being widely adopted in the West, particularly within the countries UK, US, and Germany. 

Some of the most popular apps in this category include YouCam Makeup, Perfect365, L’Oréal Makeup Genius, etc. 

These apps offer various makeup products for virtual try-on, including foundation, concealer, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick, etc. Users also get to adjust the opacity, color of the makeup, and myriad beautification features and save their creations.

Therefore, the apps’ main advantages are that they offer consumers the benefits of making informed purchase decisions, saving time and money, and having fun while experimenting with different makeup looks.

As the technology continues to develop and the market continues to grow, we can expect to see even more innovative and realistic virtual makeup try-on apps in the future.

Key Features and Considerations for Virtual Makeup Try-on Apps

Key Features and Considerations for Virtual Makeup Try-on Apps

These apps use advanced technology to simulate the application of makeup products on the user’s face, providing a realistic preview of how the final look would appear. Here are the key features and critical considerations:

1. Realistic Makeup Application

One of the key features to look for in a virtual makeup try-on app is its ability to apply makeup realistically. The app should accurately map the user’s facial features and overlay virtual cosmetics seamlessly, creating a natural and convincing appearance.

2. Diverse Range of Products

A good virtual makeup try-on app should offer a wide variety of cosmetic products to choose from. This includes options for different types of foundation, blush, eyeshadow, lipstick, and more. The app should ideally partner with popular makeup brands to provide an extensive range of choices.

3. Customization and Personalization

Users have different preferences when it comes to makeup styles. An effective virtual makeup try-on app should allow users to customize their looks by adjusting the intensity of the makeup, experimenting with different color options, and even creating unique combinations. Personalization features enhance the user experience and make the app more engaging.

4. Skin Tone and Face Shape Matching

For an accurate virtual makeup try-on experience, the app should be capable of matching the user’s skin tone and face shape. This ensures that the virtual makeup looks realistic and complements the user’s individual features. The app should provide options for different skin tones and offer face shape detection technology.

5. User-Friendly Interface

A user-friendly interface is crucial for an enjoyable experience with a virtual makeup try-on app. The app should have intuitive controls and easy-to-understand navigation. Users should be able to access different features effortlessly and switch between makeup products seamlessly.

6. Social Sharing and Community Features

Virtual makeup try-on apps often include social sharing features, allowing users to share their makeup looks with friends and followers on social media platforms. These features enable users to seek feedback, inspire others, and engage with a community of beauty enthusiasts.

7. Privacy and Security

When using a virtual makeup try-on app, it’s essential to consider privacy and security. Ensure that the app has strict data protection measures in place to safeguard your personal information. Additionally, read the app’s privacy policy to understand how your data is collected, stored, and used.

8. Compatibility with Different Devices

Check the compatibility of the virtual makeup try-on app with your device before downloading it. The app should be available for both iOS and Android platforms, ensuring accessibility for a wider range of users. Compatibility with various devices, including smartphones and tablets, is also important for a seamless user experience.

9. User Reviews and Ratings

Before selecting a virtual makeup try-on app, take the time to read user reviews and ratings. Pay attention to feedback regarding the app’s performance, ease of use, and the accuracy of virtual makeup application. Real user experiences can provide valuable insights into the app’s reliability and effectiveness.

10. Pricing Model

Virtual makeup try-on apps typically offer both free and paid versions. Consider the pricing model and the features available in each version. Some apps may offer additional advanced features or access to exclusive makeup brands through premium subscriptions. Evaluate your needs and budget accordingly.

11. Customer Support

Reliable customer support is essential for any app. Look for virtual makeup try-on apps that provide prompt and helpful customer support, such as live chat, email assistance, or an extensive knowledge base. Good customer support ensures a smooth experience and addresses any concerns or issues promptly.

12. Integration with E-commerce Platforms

Virtual makeup try-on apps often integrate with e-commerce platforms, allowing users to purchase the products they try on directly from the app. This seamless integration streamlines the purchasing process and provides a convenient way to shop for makeup products.

13. App Performance and Reliability

To ensure a satisfying experience, choose a virtual makeup try-on app that performs well and is reliable. The app should run smoothly without glitches or lagging, and it should consistently deliver accurate and high-quality virtual makeup application.

Choosing the Right Path: SDK vs. Whitelabel Makeup App

Choosing the right build path for a virtual makeup try-on app ultimately comes down to choosing between an SDK or a Whitelabel solution. But actually, it depends on your specific needs and requirements. 

SDKs are typically more affordable than whitelabel apps. However, the cost of a whitelabel app can vary depending on the features and customizations you require. You can integrate SDKs more quickly with most of the functionalities, into your website or app than whitelabel apps. However, if you need a highly customized app (would mean higher costs), a whitelabel solution may be a better option. 

Next, technical soundness is required for SDK integration. If you don’t have the necessary skills, you may need to hire a developer to help you. Whitelabel apps typically require less technical expertise to set up and use.

Ultimately, we recommend choosing a whitelabel solution if you need extensive customization, while an SDK with e-commerce integration is better for overall try-on experience whilst also selling makeup products.

Why should you opt for an SDK-Based Virtual Makeup App?

SDK-based virtual makeup apps have various advantages and benefits:

i) Advanced functionality

SDKs provide a range of tools and resources that enable developers to incorporate advanced features like facial tracking, gesture recognition, and realistic makeup application. These functionalities enhance the user experience and create a more immersive and engaging app.

ii) Time and effort savings

Using an SDK can significantly reduce development time and effort. Instead of building complex features from scratch, developers can leverage the pre-built capabilities of the SDK, accelerating the development process and enabling faster time-to-market.

iii) Reliability and support

Reputable SDK providers offer ongoing support, regular updates, and bug fixes, ensuring the stability and reliability of the app. This saves developers from the burden of maintaining every aspect of the app and allows them to focus on other critical tasks.

iv) Community and resources

SDKs often come with a community of developers who share knowledge, tips, and solutions. This can be immensely helpful when facing challenges or seeking guidance during the development process. The availability of documentation, sample code, and tutorials further aids in understanding and utilizing the SDK effectively.

v) Compatibility and platform support

SDKs are designed to be compatible with various platforms, such as iOS and Android, ensuring broader reach and accessibility for users. This eliminates the need for developing separate codebases for different platforms, saving time and effort.

vi) Performance optimization

SDKs are usually optimized for performance, providing efficient algorithms and techniques that ensure smooth and responsive user experiences. Developers can rely on the expertise of the SDK provider to handle complex tasks, such as rendering realistic makeup effects, without compromising performance.

Developing an SDK-Based Virtual Makeup App: Step-by-Step Guide

Developing an SDK-Based Virtual Makeup App: Step-by-Step Guide

Developing a sophisticated and user-friendly SDK-based application involves an extensive step-by-step process. Below we will outline the key stages of creating such an app, along with insights and considerations at each stage.

1. Conceptualization and Research:

  • Define the objectives and target audience for your virtual makeup app. Understand the specific features and functionalities you want to offer.
  • Research existing virtual makeup apps in the market to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and unique selling points.
  • Analyze the latest trends in virtual makeup technology, such as augmented reality (AR) and machine learning (ML), to understand how to leverage them effectively.

2. Design and User Experience (UX):

  • Create a user-centered design (UCD) approach by conducting user research, creating personas, and understanding user preferences.
  • Develop wireframes and prototypes to visualize the app’s structure, navigation, and user flow.
  • Pay special attention to the user interface (UI) design, ensuring it is intuitive, visually appealing, and aligns with your brand identity.
  • Consider usability testing to gather feedback and make necessary improvements before moving to development.

3. Backend Development:

  • Select a suitable software development kit (SDK) or multiple SDKs for implementing virtual makeup functionality. Examples include ARKit (iOS), ARCore (Android), or cross-platform SDKs like Unity or Vuforia.
  • Integrate the chosen SDK into your development environment and set up the necessary dependencies.
  • Implement the core functionality, such as face tracking, facial feature detection, and makeup application algorithms using the SDK’s APIs and libraries.
  • Test and optimize the backend code to ensure it performs well on various devices and platforms.

4. Frontend Development

  • Develop the user interface (UI) using frameworks like React Native, Flutter, or native development (Java/Kotlin for Android, Swift/Objective-C for iOS).
  • Integrate the backend functionality with the UI, enabling users to interact with the virtual makeup features seamlessly.
  • Implement additional features like real-time camera preview, photo and video capturing, and sharing options.
  • Optimize the app’s performance and responsiveness, ensuring a smooth user experience across different devices and screen sizes.

5. Makeup Content and Customization

  • Collaborate with makeup artists or beauty brands to create a diverse range of virtual makeup products, such as lipstick shades, eyeshadows, blushes, and foundations.
  • Develop a user-friendly interface for browsing and selecting makeup products, allowing users to customize their virtual looks.
  • You might also consider integrating ML algorithms to suggest personalized makeup recommendations based on the user’s skin tone, facial features, and preferences.

6. Testing and Quality Assurance

  • Perform rigorous testing across different devices, platforms, and operating system versions to identify and fix bugs, glitches, and compatibility issues.
  • Conduct user testing with a diverse group of individuals to gather feedback on usability, performance, and overall satisfaction.
  • Implement analytics tools to track user behavior, app usage, and identify areas for improvement.

7. Deployment and Maintenance

  • Prepare the app for release by creating developer accounts on relevant app stores (e.g., Apple App Store, Google Play Store).
  • Follow the respective guidelines and policies for submission, including providing necessary app metadata, screenshots, and promotional materials.
  • Continuously monitor user feedback, bug reports, and crash analytics to address issues promptly and release updates regularly.
  • Stay updated with platform updates, SDK enhancements, and new makeup trends to ensure the app remains relevant and functional.

8. Marketing and Promotion

  • Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to create awareness and attract users to your virtual makeup app.
  • Leverage social media platforms, influencer collaborations, and targeted advertising campaigns to reach your target audience.
  • Provide engaging and educational content, such as tutorials, tips, and tricks, to encourage user engagement and retention.
  • Consider partnerships with beauty brands or retailers to offer exclusive virtual makeup products or discounts within the app.

Throughout the entire development process, prioritize user feedback, market research, and continuous iteration to refine and enhance your virtual makeup app. By following this step-by-step guide, you can develop a high-quality and captivating virtual makeup app that meets the needs of your target audience.

SDK-Based Virtual Makeup App Costs

By now, we hope you’ve decided on the type of try-on app your business would need. 

If you still haven’t, here’s a detailed cost breakdown mentioning each cost aspect associated with your app.

a) Development Cost

Development cost primarily depends on the hourly rates of developers and the time required to build the app. 

The complexity of the virtual makeup app, including features like facial recognition, real-time rendering, and a user-friendly interface, also affects the development time and cost.

b) SDK Integration Cost

If you plan to use a third-party SDK for virtual makeup functionality, there might be licensing fees involved. 

The cost will depend on the SDK provider and the terms of their licensing agreement. Some SDK providers charge a one-time fee, while others may require a monthly or annual subscription. 

These costs can vary greatly and range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.

c) Testing and Quality Assurance (QA)

Thorough testing and QA are crucial to ensure the app functions seamlessly across different devices and platforms. 

This includes testing for various makeup styles, skin tones, and compatibility with popular devices and operating systems. The testing process can be time-consuming and may require a dedicated QA team. 

d) Design and User Interface (UI)

Creating an intuitive and visually appealing user interface is essential for a makeup app. 

The design cost will depend on factors such as the complexity of the UI, the number of screens, and the level of customization required. 

e) Ongoing Maintenance and Updates

Once the app is launched, ongoing maintenance and updates are necessary to ensure it remains compatible with the latest devices, operating systems, and SDK versions. 

This includes bug fixes, security updates, and feature enhancements. 

Ongoing maintenance costs vary but typically range from 15% to 25% of the initial development cost annually.

f) Backend Infrastructure

If your virtual makeup app requires server infrastructure for storing user data, managing user accounts, or supporting cloud-based rendering, additional costs will be associated with setting up and maintaining the backend infrastructure. 

The cost will depend on factors such as the expected user base, data storage requirements, and server hosting options (cloud-based or on-premises). Such costs can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per month.

Apart from these, you must also consider other expenses like marketing, app store fees, and legal considerations, which depends on your specific requirements.

The Future Scope of Virtual Makeup Try-on Apps for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners

The market for virtual makeup try-on apps, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) is witnessing remarkable growth, presenting a plethora of opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners. With the global market for AR and VR projected to reach $114.5 billion by 2027, and the beauty camera app market set to reach a valuation of $1.51 billion by 2026, it’s clear that these technologies have captured the attention of consumers and are transforming the beauty industry.

The success of apps like YouCam Makeup, as well as the adoption of AR technology by major brands such as Snapchat, Pinterest, Vanity Planet, CHI, Tarte, YSL, and Aveda, demonstrates the potential and value of incorporating virtual makeup try-on apps into the shopping experience. Gen Z shoppers, in particular, have shown a keen interest in using AR for shopping, with 92% expressing interest in trying on makeup or clothes virtually.

For entrepreneurs and business owners in the beauty industry, the future scope of virtual makeup try-on apps is promising. These apps can offer various benefits and opportunities to enhance customer engagement, drive sales, and differentiate their brand in a competitive market. 

Here are a few key aspects to consider:

1. Enhanced Customer Experience:

Virtual makeup try-on apps provide customers with an interactive and personalized experience. By enabling users to try on makeup products virtually, experiment with different looks, and make informed purchase decisions, these apps enhance customer satisfaction and increase the likelihood of conversion.

Increased Sales and Conversion Rates: The ability to virtually try on makeup products eliminates the guesswork associated with online shopping, reducing hesitation and boosting purchase confidence. Studies have shown that customers are more likely to make a purchase after trying products virtually, leading to increased sales and higher conversion rates.

2. Targeted Marketing and Personalization: 

Virtual makeup try-on apps generate valuable data on customer preferences, enabling entrepreneurs and business owners to tailor marketing strategies and product offerings. By leveraging this data, businesses can create targeted campaigns, recommend personalized products, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

3. Brand Differentiation and Innovation: 

Incorporating virtual makeup try-on apps into the beauty shopping experience allows entrepreneurs and business owners to differentiate their brand from competitors. By embracing technology and offering cutting-edge AR experiences, businesses can position themselves as innovative leaders in the industry and attract tech-savvy customers.

4. Partnerships and Collaborations: 

Virtual makeup try-on apps open up opportunities for partnerships and collaborations with beauty brands, influencers, and social media platforms. By collaborating with popular brands or influencers, businesses can expand their reach, tap into new customer segments, and leverage the influence of social media to drive brand awareness and sales.

As the market for AR, VR, and beauty apps continues to grow, entrepreneurs and business owners should actively explore the potential of virtual makeup try-on apps. By embracing these technologies, staying ahead of consumer trends, and delivering exceptional customer experiences, businesses can thrive in an increasingly digital and tech-driven beauty industry. The future scope of virtual makeup try-on apps presents an exciting frontier for innovation and growth, offering endless possibilities for entrepreneurial success.


In summary, developing a virtual makeup try-on app has enormous potential for success and market impact. Throughout this comprehensive guide, we’ve covered the essential aspects of creating an exceptional app that seamlessly combines beauty and technology. By focusing on advanced features, user-friendly experience, and real-time accuracy, you can captivate users and take their beauty exploration to new heights. 

When it comes to bringing your vision to life, partnering with a trusted and experienced development company is crucial. Idea Usher, a renowned name in the industry, is ready to aid you in your virtual makeup app building journey. With our unwavering commitment to innovation and excellence and our skilled team of developers, we will build you a sophisticated and engaging application that leaves a lasting impression. Get in touch with us today, and together, we’ll embark on an exciting journey to revolutionize the beauty-tech landscape and set new standards in virtual beauty exploration.

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Q1. What is a Virtual Makeup Try-on App?

Ans) A Virtual Makeup Try-on App is a mobile application that utilizes advanced technology to allow users to virtually apply different makeup products and styles to their own faces in real-time using their smartphone’s camera.

Q2. How does a Virtual Makeup Try-on App work?

Ans) Virtual Makeup Try-on Apps use facial recognition and augmented reality (AR) technologies to detect and track facial features. The app overlays virtual makeup products onto the user’s face, enabling them to see how different shades, textures, and styles look on their skin.

Q3. What features can a Virtual Makeup Try-on App offer?

Ans) A Virtual Makeup Try-on App can offer a range of features, including a variety of makeup styles and colors, different beauty filters, options for adjusting intensity and blending, social sharing capabilities, and even integration with e-commerce platforms for direct product purchases.

Q4. Is it possible to customize Virtual Makeup App to match different skin tones and facial features?

Ans) Yes, a well-developed Virtual Makeup Try-on App can provide customization options to match different skin tones and facial features. Users can typically select their skin tone or input specific details to ensure accurate color representation and realistic makeup application.

Q5. How can I monetize a Makeup Try-on App?

Ans) There are several ways to monetize a Makeup Try-on App. Some common strategies include offering in-app purchases for additional makeup products or styles, partnering with cosmetic brands for sponsored content or product placement, and integrating affiliate marketing programs to earn commissions from product sales generated through the app.

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