The best sort of innovations are the kinds that fix something you didn't realize was broken. Back in 2007, were we actively thinking about how clumsy it was to carry around a phone, an iPod, and a camera? Not necessarily. But when Apple released the iPhone and smashed all three of those things together into one, it felt obvious that no one bag should have all those devices.

That's how we're feeling about the AR filter YouTube just announced that will let its users digitally try on makeup to see how it'll look on their faces without ever having to touch the stuff in person — in retrospect, it's obvious. But right now, it's a game-changer.

So what exactly is AR? And what does its addition to YouTube mean for makeup tutorials going forward? And why is YouTube so specifically perfect for a feature like this? Read on to find out...

Buying makeup feels exhausting.

via: Shutterstock

It's like grocery shopping, in that there are endless choices and you never know if you're getting it right. But with buying makeup, your choices go on your face for everyone to see. I would literally die if other people could see how many frozen Tombstone pizzas I buy.

There are, at minimum, 100,000 shades of lipstick.

From Blushing Pout to Pink Kashmir to light Blushing Pout to dark Pink Kashmir, there are so many lipstick colors that every individual lip could have its own unique shade and we'd never have to repeat.

And eyeliner?

Don't get me started on eyeliner! There are many forms of eyeliner too, including liquid eyeliner, gel eyeliner, and... eyeliner pencils! Did they invent a whole new kind of pencil for eyeliner? Good god eyeliner is out of control.

Do they let you try it on?

Can you go into the Makeup Depot (where I assume people go to buy makeup) and dab on some light nude lip color? Is that sanitary? Would they have to just let you take home the whole lipstick? (Am I revealing how little I know about makeup here? You'll have to forgive me, I'm an adult, bearded man.)

And how do you even find out what works best for you?

No one is so rude as to tap a stranger on the shoulder and tell them their makeup makes them look wretched. So how do people figure out what makeup looks best on their faces without critique?

You make yourself look terrible...

... and the worst part is, you would never know. That's such a scary idea, I think there were two or three episodes of The Twilight Zone about it.

If only buying makeup was like buying new jeans.

via: Shutterstock

Makeup should have a simple try-on policy, where you can go into a dressing room to see exactly how a certain look works for you. Of course, a huge part of trying on jeans is forcing on a pair until it fits, goddamn it. The makeup equivalent of that is packing foundation onto your face until it looks good, goddamn it.

And soon, it will be.

Finally, the problem of using a sweaty, unhygienic trial makeup to see how it looks are over. Nowadays we can use our phones to digitally project makeup onto our faces using augmented reality (or AR) technology.

AR has been on the verge of a major moment for a while now.

AR takes real footage and adds digital elements, and people have collectively shown they're fascinated by the idea of using our phones to change something about their worlds time and time again.

First there was Pokemon Go.

Who didn't love wandering around the world, holding up their phones and capturing Pokemon? Through my iPhone screen, you could find a Bulbasaur running around your house! That'd be horrifying if it were actually happening, but since it happened in the safe space of AR, it was fun!

And SnapChat and Instagram are big on filters.

Selfies are all well and good, but with AR, you can make yourself look like you've morphed into a human-cat hybrid! That'd be horrifying if it were actually happening, but since it happened in the safe space of AR, it's... cute? I suppose?

And when both the video gamers and the influencers agree, you know something big's a'brewin.'

Are there any two groups less similar than Instagrammers and gamers? One group is so obsessed with how they look they spend hundreds of dollars on makeup, and the other group is so obsessed with how their character looks they spend hundreds of dollars on cosmetic DLC.

And now YouTube is using AR technology to let users try on digital makeup.

The feature is called AR Beauty Try-On and will work by having a YouTuber demonstrate a product while you digitally try it on to see how it looks. In a blog post, Google said of the project, "Thanks to machine learning and AR technology, it offers realistic, virtual product samples that work on a full range of skin tones."

That means you can try on makeup without having to go to makeup stores.

via: Shutterstock

Wow, another digital disruptor sticking it to the brick-and-mortar stores. If Google pushes them out of business, what will happen to all the makeup store employees? Will we see panhandlers with signs reading "Will organize nail polish from darkest to lightest shade 4 food"?

Maybe retail makeup stores aren't in immediate danger.

It's not like YouTube's presence will cause every last makeup store to close its doors tomorrow. After all, this AR makeup technology has existed in other places for a minute.

Apps like Ulta Beauty will let you try on online makeup right now.


You can try it yourself right now. I did! When I posted my photo to Facebook, my friends said I "need to use coral or mauve rather than scarlet" and that these choices apparently make my lips compete with my eyes?

And even though Google's gotten in on the AR game before...

Google added AR to its search last year, apparently just to make my fear of sharks even worse?

... Beauty AR is a brand new avenue for Google.

With this new feature, Google is ready to change the way we interact with YouTube. If we can put ourselves on camera, suddenly YouTube is a whole new world.

... especially since makeup tutorials are so big on YouTube.

In my estimation, roughly 95 percent of the videos uploaded to YouTube are makeup tutorials. In fact, YouTube videos are so correlated with makeup videos that when I bought one of those light rings the other day specifically for Twitch streaming, I showed my friend and he said, "Are you gonna do YouTube makeup vids?"

But with AR Beauty Try On, you can try the YouTuber's tips while you watch the video.

All that said, it is a very cool idea to do something alongside a YouTube tutorial video and find out — right there, in that moment — whether or not it works.

In college terms, that's like doing a lab and a lecture at the same time.

via: Shutterstock

In college, you've got the information part of the class, and the practical part of the class. AR Beauty Try On is like mashing them both together (which would save college students a ton of time).

Imagine if you could do that with other YouTube videos on, say, changing your tire.

I can't wait for the day when I can watch a YouTube video on changing my tire while I film my wheel well to see if it's working. Seriously, I can't wait. I am currently typing this article on my phone on the side of the road.

M.A.C Cosmetics is using AR Beauty Try On.

via: Shutterstock

AR Beauty Try On works with YouTube's FameBit program, where influencers are able to set up brand partnerships to make some money off their videos. When AR Beauty Try On launches this summer, the initial brand partner will be M.A.C, meaning their products will be the first kinds of makeup you can try on alongside your favorite YouTube beauty pro.

It does sound like brand partnerships are the wind behind AR Beauty's sails.

via: Shutterstock

AR Beauty Try On won't have every kind of makeup ready to slap on your digital face. It'll be only the companies willing to pay for the potential exposure.

And with YouTube sporting over 2 billion monthly users, it's not hard to see why.

That is so many people. Literally everyone is watching YouTube. Without this specific partnership, M.A.C would have zero chance of reaching the coveted 18-49 Caged Orangutan demographic.

Even though this is clearly a money-making move...

YouTube wants to make money selling its audience, makeup companies want to make money getting their stuff in front of that audience. It's the kind of relationship that benefits everyone involved (except, maybe, the little guy spending that money).

... that doesn't mean some good won't come out of it.

Brand partnerships aren't inherently bad, even if they can feel just a bit slimy. Sure, it'd be nice if YouTube was launching AR Beauty Try On because it wanted to make the lives of everyone putting on makeup a little easier. Remember what Batman said to Katie Holmes at the end of Batman Begins: "It's not who we are underneath, but what we do that defines us." Underlying reasons don't matter. Actions matter.

I do hope this technology gets co-opted into other apps that use my camera.

Using my iPad to look around a beautiful villa and learn more about the important people who were born there is a perfect excuse to use my iPad while on vacation and not be accused of "refusing to be present."

And that there are a ton of innovative new uses for AR.

Could we finally find a way to make our fingers look all rubbery and weird? This could be huge for the very small, very specific community that wants to make their fingers look all rubbery and weird.

That said, I am so tired of looking awful on Skype interviews.

It'd be ideal if Google could just go ahead and automatically add makeup to my face when I'm chatting with my friends who live in other states. And you know what? Add makeup to their face too.

How long before we give up on analog makeup all together?

Could we reach a point where so much of our communication is done online, so we can just put on makeup through YouTube? Maybe one day we'll look at the above gif the same way we look at pictures of our grandparents smoking on airplanes.