Online Exclusives

Virtual Makeovers

December 1, 2008 enables women to experiment with cosmetics, beauty treatments and hairstyles.


Virtual Makeovers enables women to experiment with cosmetics, beauty treatments and hairstyles.

By Joanna Cosgrove
Online Editor

Variety is indeed the spice of life but when it comes to the sheer array of colors and formulation variations in the cosmetic aisle, variety can be downright daunting. Women hoping to emulate the season’s latest color cosmetic and hair care trends can easily regret wasting money on the wrong shade or lipstick, eye color or worse, permanent hair color. lets women upload a digital photo of themselves, then experiment with a broad palette of brand name color cosmetics to see which color best flatters their own features. The experimentation doesn’t end with makeup. Women can also try on new hairstyles, complete with color and highlights, as well as teeth whitening, lip plumping and eyebrow shaping in the convenience of their own homes.

Launched in March 2008 by San Diego, CA-based Photometria, is the brainchild of David Kriegman, Satya Mallick and Kevin Barnes. According to the company’s Deepy John, vice president of marketing, Mr. Kriegman is a world-renowned Computer Vision and former professor at University of California at San Diego. The other team members are experts in Computer Vision and in online technologies. Computer Vision is a scientific discipline concerned with the theory for building artificial systems that obtain information from images. The image data can take many forms, such as a video sequence, views from multiple cameras or multi-dimensional data from a medical scanner.

“The TAAZ founders started out planning to do enhancements of photos,” explained Mr. John. “While that looked interesting, they suddenly realized that if one expanded that and targeted it toward women and beauty, it could provide a lot more value and be a lot more fun. They then made a test site and showed it to some women and they absolutely loved it. That was the beginning of Taaz.”

The site quickly evolved to showcase more than 5000 branded beauty products from the likes of Stila, Bobbi Brown and Revlon.

“The site has many thousands of colors/products/brands that are recommended. This will keep expanding with time.” he said. “When you then consider the combinations of these productions there are millions of looks that are possible.”

Having Fun with Color

To create a customized look, site guests are encouraged to upload a personal head shot. Starting with a palette of foundations and concealers, women can build the look they envision, adding eye color, blush and lipcolor using actual product colors sold at retail. Users can also customize the relative lightness or heaviness of each cosmetic’s application, the glossiness of the lips, as well as the configuration of blush and eyeshadow application.

Now women can see how a shade will look on them without leaving their computers!
What’s more, users can see how their look would change by tinkering with teeth whiting and lip plumping options. They are also offered the opportunity to top off their new look with a new hair color and style.

The site’s ability to produce authentic looking results hinges on cutting edge facial and feature recognition technologies.

“The abilities the behind the site revolves around the latest in Computer Vision, Facial Recognition and Image enhancement,” said Mr. John. “The challenging thing in doing such a website is achieving realism of the makeover application. TAAZ technology deals at the level of light dealing with face/skin and interacting with it. Face recognition makes it easy to use. The combination makes it a fun experience.”

Mr. John said that more than three million women have visited the site to date, largely by word of mouth, blog or instant messaging.

“Our guests come to TAAZ for various reasons,” he said. “Some come there wanting to know what their next hairstyle should be and what hair color would suit them. They print out their made over picture and take it to their hair stylist. Others come to TAAZ and spend hours just clicking around having fun. Others try on a look and print it out with a product list and buy it at the store. Some have used it to plan their wedding updos or holiday party looks. Some want to try on other colors that they would not dare try on in person. Some try on new contact lens colors and find out that some daring colors look good on them.”

Mr. John added that the company does not have any arrangements with cosmetic companies in terms of showcasing one brand over another. Rather, the site generates its profits from advertising and through partnerships with InStyle.

“Cosmetic companies benefit from having their products exposed to users,” he concluded. “Many hundred million brand impressions have been served to women on Taaz to date.”

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