One truth to emerge out of self isolation is that life can be (theoretically) lived almost exclusively online. In the past month I’ve experienced wine tasting via Zoom, a virtual cooking class, live-streamed Pilates and had Friday night drinks with girlfriends on House Party. Professional WIP’s have gone digital and breakfast meetings now look like Uber Eats and a Google Hangout. Forced distancing has meant we’ve had to get creative with how we temporarily interact, but as it turns out, the whole movement is taking on a permanent appeal.
The beauty industry is a prime example. It’s one that lives in two parallels: online we have YouTube and influencers and in-depth product reviews, whereas offline we’re afforded the ability to walk into a store, try things out and engage with in-store experts. Both go hand in hand – there’s not one that trumps the other – but a third platform where the two are merged is looking more and more like a permanent industry fixture.
A fine example is MAC Cosmetics. It’s a beauty business known for its roots in artistry – the in-store experience is part retail, part professional makeup lesson where tips and techniques are part of the experience. So when COVID forced the closure of all stores and counters, Virtual Appointments were introduced. When booking on the website, you’re given a few options, from a free 15 minute Ask MAC appointment to the 45 minute Makeup Masterclass, $79 (redeemable on product).
I trialled the 45 minute experience myself two weeks ago (in the name of research, obviously). My call was with National Educator Ocea McKenzie and I *bravely* asked to learn the sacred art of winger liner. I took the call at home on the lounge and brought whatever products I had (some Mac, but it doesn’t matter). We then spent 45 minutes walking through the process step by step, Ocea coaching and guiding me through the phone from her post in an at-home studio. It was casual but educational and I hung up with a steadier hand and the perfect flick – like a YouTube tutorial but personalised and with a constant flow of feedback. I had also just upgraded to the iPhone 11 Pro, elevating the entire experience with its extremely crisp front-facing camera. See my handiwork below.
Editor’s note: I find winged liquid liner fiddly and difficult, so Ocea suggested I stick with powder and an angled brush for more control (and greater margin for error). The best tip I took away was to sketch in the wing first while staring straight on into the mirror (or iPhone, in my case). This means the wing will flatter your eye shape and remain even on each side. Previously I had tilted my head in all sorts of directions resulting in bumps, wobbly bits and weird angles. When you’re happy, fill in the rest of the lid and add a small amount of liner in the water line (top and bottom. Finish with a touch of shimmery shadow in the centre to bounce the light. Try a black, grey or chocolate brown shade single shadow, or build your own palette on the MAC website.
For Mac, Virtual Appointments started to bridge the gap social distancing wedged between its products and consumers, but the runaway success has meant the service will stay on as a permanent fixture. It might assist those who have difficulty accessing counters, or just want to ace their makeup at home in a personalised setting (without other people or fluorescent lighting).
But the digital beauty revolution doesn’t stop at makeup. Skincare brands like La Prairie and Ultraceuticals are offering bespoke online consults that mimic the luxurious service given on counter but from the safety and comfort of home. Even Mecca, who arguably offer one of the best in-store experiences around, have launched Mecca Live virtual consults: a system where you can book in for 15-30 minute skincare, makeup and fragrance appointments with store hosts, all of which are complimentary.
It makes a lot of sense when you consider services like Uber Eats or iCal – we streamline and digitise so many aspects of our life that it was only a matter of time before our skincare routines went virtual. And while there’s no real substitute for a professional facial or playing with the new Hourglass highlighter in Mecca Cosmetica, theres services are filling a huge gap we didn’t even really know was there.