How well does Woolworths' new virtual makeup try-on feature work?

Our beauty editor gives it a go

28 May 2021 - 07:30
Woolworths' virtual try-on feature lets you test out loads of make-up shades using your phone or laptop.
Woolworths' virtual try-on feature lets you test out loads of make-up shades using your phone or laptop.
Image: Supplied

Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, the in-store beauty experience is no longer the touchy-feely experience it used to be. This, together with the growing popularity of online shopping, has forced brands to innovate and reinvent the consumer experience. 

This includes Woolworths, which in an exciting first for a SA beauty retailer has launched a virtual try-on feature that gives you a safe “no-touch” way to test a wide range of makeup using augmented reality (AR) technology.

This virtual try-on feature works like an Instagram or TikTok filter, layering the shade of a lipstick, eyeshadow or blush onto your face using the live camera option on your phone, or when you upload a selfie.

But how well does it work? I tried it to find out.


  • The virtual try-on feature is very easy to use and works on both a mobile phone and a laptop/PC, so you can use it at home, in-store or wherever you have a connection. As you access it via the Woolworths website, you aren’t forced to download an app to use it.
  • There are now 125 products that can be virtually tried-on; this mainly includes lipsticks, blushes, eyeshadows, eyeliners, mascaras, highlighters, brow products and lip glosses. There are hundreds of shades to choose from, which gives you a lot of variety and makes the testing experience feel endless.
  • Lipstick lovers, in particular, will appreciate this virtual try-on feature as it works well for testing lipstick shades and the shades look true to life.
  • Not only can you test different shades of various products while virtually trying them on, but different makeup looks too. This especially applies to the eyeliners and eyeshadows. There is no “one-size-fits-all” liner or shadow shape, so you can see how you’d look if you used a product to create a graphic fully-lined eye, a subtle cat eye, or a smoked-out shadow look.


  • Unfortunately, the virtual try-on feature does not allow for the shade matching of foundation or concealers.
  • The blush shades don’t really pick up on a darker skin tone so it was a bit difficult to gauge what the exact colour payoff of a product would be. Some pastel and neutral shades were also difficult to differentiate between.
  • You can distinguish between matt and gloss lipsticks, as the glosses have a small white highlight spot to make them look light reflective. However, the virtual try-on feature does not show off the shimmery, pearlescent or light-reflective textures of products like glosses, highlighters or glitter eyeshadows very well, and so it doesn’t feel like it gives a true reflection of what the products would look like in real life.


It’s amazing to be able to shop online without having to worry about buyer’s remorse, because the virtual try-on feature makes you feel like you’ve made an informed decision about your purchase.

I was very impressed by how easy the feature was to use, and think it added an exciting element to the online shopping experience. That said, as it’s so fun to use you could easily find yourself losing a couple of hours as you play around with it.

For this reason, and because the feature takes a couple of seconds to refresh as you click between shades, if you’re pressed for time, I’d recommend you use it when you know that you like a product or shade thereof and just want to confirm 100% that it’s worthy of an “add to cart” click.

Here are some other tips for virtually trying on makeup:

  • When using this feature with a live camera, make sure that you have good lighting to get accurate shade comparisons.
  • It is best to use it makeup free, so that the AR tech is not confused by the existing makeup on your face and you can find the most accurate, true to skintone shades.