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How Augmented Reality Is Changing The Beauty Game

Business

From roller coasters to video games, new virtual reality technology seems to be the new hip thing in tech. But while VR literally transposes you into the experience through special goggles or a headset, augmented reality apps (think Pokemon Go!) seem to be equally on the rise, especially since they too change how we experience reality.


Augmented reality apps are relatively a new and budding concept, so it's no real surprise that beauty giants like Shiseido, Sephora, and OPI want in on the action. These innovative apps usually allow consumers to make better buying decisions through interactive technology, allowing them to try on virtual makeup and nail polish shades before they actually buy in stores.

“Augmented beauty technology is definitely revolutionizing the beauty industry,” says Parham Aarabi, CEO of augmented beauty app ModiFace. “This comes in the form of apps that show makeup on your live video, or through technology that appears as mirrors in stores.”

Now, if you’re curious to know just how augmented beauty reality works, Shiseido’s new Telebeauty app proves to be a good example. Partnering up with Microsoft Japan and Skype For Business, the revolutionary app takes makeup application to next level, by applying non-straying virtual eye shadow, foundation, (bye bye blemishes and dark spots) and lipstick to the user's video image during teleconferences. This supposedly takes away the frustration of finding (and applying) the right makeup before Skype calls.

Augmented beauty reality also comes in the form of anti-aging simulators, as Modiface has created an app that allows users to track and monitor any skin health changes through smart phones. Similarly, Map My Beauty uses augmented reality to become the world’s first "selfie-powered beauty coach." This works by providing users with how-to lessons on creating the perfect selfie, helping bridge the gap between beauty education in-store and online.

“There is a lot of quality beauty content out there, (YouTube tutorials, Instagram gifs, online editorials) but none of it is personalized to unique consumers features. Even professional makeup courses online are powered by tutorial videos alone,” says Daily.

“With our selfie-powered beauty coach technology, consumers can learn about makeup essentials and trends right through their selfie.”

But while these apps definitely take beauty to the next level of technology, some believe that they can have the opposite effect on mental health. According to the Dr. Lisa Strohman, clinical psychologist and founder of the Technology Wellness Center, augmented beauty apps are causing adult women to experience higher levels of anxiety, making it harder on their confidence and self-esteem levels.

“While these apps can help women make better buying choices, they also create an unrealistic expectation of body image,” says Dr. Strohman. “Continuously altering how we look through these kinds of apps can make women feel like they aren’t good enough, encouraging self-harm and eating disorders.”

However, app founder Annabella Daily believes augmented beauty reality can have an empowering element to it, as her brand focuses on consumers celebrating their uniqueness, and gaining control over their self-image.

“We are really focused on serving the teen consumer, and letting them know how hard it is to feel confident and beautiful when you are growing up,” says Daily.

“We give our users all of the tools they need to gain control over their image and their purchasing decisions.”

While augmented reality apps may have some setbacks, we can't help but be in awe about how such apps are starting to revolutionize the industry. Sure, we've all tried those fun snapchat filters, but augmented reality is something industry professionals think is the future of the beauty sphere.

“I think augmented reality is all about how you bring the one-on-one element to the online experience,” says Daily. “This allows consumers to learn, discover and experiment on their own time, wherever they are. Besides, AR video, messaging, and gaming will be key elements in capturing the next generation of beauty consumers.”

We want to know: Would you try virtual makeup? What augmented reality apps do you want to see going forward?

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Health

How This CEO Is Using Your Period To Prevent Chronic Diseases

With so many groundbreaking medical advances being revealed to the world every single day, you would imagine there would be some advancement on the plethora of many female-prevalent diseases (think female cancers, Alzheimer's, depression, heart conditions etc.) that women are fighting every single day.


For Anna Villarreal and her team, there frankly wasn't enough being done. In turn, she developed a method that diagnoses these diseases earlier than traditional methods, using a pretty untraditional method in itself: through your menstrual blood.

Getting from point A to point B wasn't so easy though. Villarreal was battling a disease herself and through that experience. “I wondered if there was a way to test menstrual blood for female specific diseases," she says. "Perhaps my situation could have been prevented or at least better managed. This led me to begin researching menstrual blood as a diagnostic source. For reasons the scientific and medical community do not fully understand, certain diseases impact women differently than men. The research shows that clinical trials have a disproportionate focus on male research subjects despite clear evidence that many diseases impact more women than men."

There's also no denying that gap in women's healthcare in clinical research involving female subjects - which is exactly what inspired Villarreal to launch her company, LifeStory Health. She says that, “with my personal experience everything was brought full circle."

“There is a challenge and a need in the medical community for more sex-specific research. I believe the omission of females as research subjects is putting women's health at risk and we need to fuel a conversation that will improve women's healthcare.,"

-Anna Villarreal

Her brand new biotech company is committed to changing the women's healthcare market through technology, innovation and vocalization and through extensive research and testing. She is working to develop the first ever, non-invasive, menstrual blood diagnostic and has partnered with a top Boston-area University on research and has won awards from The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and Northeastern University's RISE.

How does it work exactly? Proteins are discovered in menstrual blood that can quickly and easily detect, manage and track diseases in women, resulting in diseases that can be earlier detected, treated and even prevented in the first place. The menstrual blood is easy to collect and since it's a relatively unexplored diagnostic it's honestly a really revolutionary concept, too.

So far, the reactions of this innovative research has been nothing but excitement. “The reactions have been incredibly positive." she shares with SWAAY. “Currently, menstrual blood is discarded as bio waste, but it could carry the potential for new breakthroughs in diagnosis. When I educate women on the lack of female subjects used in research and clinical trials, they are surprised and very excited at the prospect that LifeStory Health may provide a solution and the key to early detection."

To give a doctor's input, and a little bit more of an explanation as to why this really works, Dr. Pat Salber, MD, and Founder of The Doctor Weighs In comments: “researchers have been studying stem cells derived from menstrual blood for more than a decade. Stem cells are cells that have the capability of differentiating into different types of tissues. There are two major types of stem cells, embryonic and adult. Adult stem cells have a more limited differentiation potential, but avoid the ethical issues that have surrounded research with embryonic stem cells. Stem cells from menstrual blood are adult stem cells."

These stem cells are so important when it comes to new findings. “Stem cells serve as the backbone of research in the field of regenerative medicine – the focus which is to grow tissues, such as skin, to repair burn and other types of serious skin wounds.

A certain type of stem cell, known as mesenchymal stem cells (MenSCs) derived from menstrual blood has been found to both grow well in the lab and have the capability to differentiate in various cell types, including skin. In addition to being used to grow tissues, their properties can be studied that will elucidate many different aspects of cell function," Dr. Salber explains.

To show the outpour of support for her efforts and this major girl power research, Villarreal remarks, “women are volunteering their samples happily report the arrival of their periods by giving samples to our lab announcing “de-identified sample number XXX arrived today!" It's a far cry from the stereotype of when “it's that time of the month."

How are these collections being done? “Although it might sound odd to collect menstrual blood, plastic cups have been developed to use in the collection process. This is similar to menstrual products, called menstrual cups, that have been on the market for many years," Dr. Salber says.

Equally shocking and innovative, this might be something that becomes more common practice in the future. And according to Dr. Salber, women may be able to not only use the menstrual blood for early detection, but be able to store the stem cells from it to help treat future diseases. “Companies are working to commercialize the use of menstrual blood stem cells. One company, for example, is offering a patented service to store menstrual blood stem cells for use in tissue generation if the need arises."