Woman applying makeup in mirror with light
Accessibility & Technology

Award-Winning Makeup App from Estee Lauder

Sep 26, 2023

Award-Winning Makeup App from Estee Lauder

A visual impairment does not stop a woman from applying makeup, but it could prevent her from seeing clearly, how the makeup looks. Now there’s an app for that and it fits neatly into her smartphone’s accessible app collection with many other accessibility apps she uses daily. The inclusive beauty technology is developed by one of the biggest players in the world of cosmetics, the Estee Lauder Companies.

The ELC Voice-Enabled Makeup Assistant was awarded Fast Company’s Innovation by Design Awards, winning in the Beauty and Fashion Category and as a finalist in the Artificial Intelligence category. And we’ll give it a prize for inclusion. The Virtual Makeup Assistant works with all makeup brands, it is not restricted to people with vision loss, or women for that matter, everyone is welcome!

It’s good to have the objectivity of AI give you an individual scan to review makeup on face, eyes and lips, then say if blending or touch up is needed. And it’s utterly affirming to hear you look “Fabulous!” The VMA uses the phone’s camera for face scan, directing the user to position face properly. The app assesses the makeup uniformity, boundaries and coverage. The assistant makes specific touch up recommendations, if applicable, then it reassesses.

Woman checking makeup application with the Estee Lauder virtual
Makeup Assistant. Image credit: Vogue Business

The assistant is completely voice-enabled and talks you through the process each time. As the app opens the VMA says “Welcome back, to begin checking your makeup, say “start.” Next question is, “Should I check foundation, eye shadow or lipstick first?” When there is a pause, the assistant will turn off the camera and say to tap the “Continue” button at the bottom of screen when ready to resume. With each scan the voice provides guidance, for example: “Look to the right for 3 seconds, then to the left for 3 seconds, or tilt your head up slightly. Feedback includes specific description and location of area that needs attention. Positive feedback tells you the makeup looks “Beautiful!,” and you’re good to go. It sure beats walking out the door and having someone inform you there’s a smudge on your face. 

The app works automatically with or without a screen reader. Change the voice speed or submit feedback about your VMA experience by saying, “Open Settings” and selecting Voice Speed or Feedback.

The VMA is compatible with iPhone 8 and iOS 14.1 or later, currently available in the UK and US. Coming soon to other markets and to Google Play.

Download the EL VMA app for iOS on the App Store.

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About the Author: Dorrie Rush

Dorrie Rush is the Chief Content Officer and Visual Accessibility Expert at Ophthalmic Edge Patients (OE Patients), an online resource, presented by the Association for Macular Diseases, providing practical information and empowering advice for living a full and successful life with vision loss.

She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.



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