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From manis-on-the-move to virtual makovers, the slick new apps that promise to streamline your beauty routine


"Being a woman is worse than being a farmer there is so much harvesting and crop spraying to be done"

So said the inimitable Bridget Jones. Unfortunately for her, Bridget was writing in a pre-app era, otherwise she could have taken advantage of the flurry of on-demand services now available at the tap of a finger.

The world of service apps is booming right now, with a stream of start-ups looking to meet our needs more quickly and conveniently than ever before. This is no more true than in the world of beauty, where demand is rife for emergency manis, quick-fix haircuts and spray tans at the drop of the hat. 

From personal training to massages, a growing market of beauty apps are looking to provide us with the best and cheapest treatments around - either by coming to us (in our home, office or hotel), or by pinpointing our location and providing the nearest available service we want (with places that are pre-vetted as being great, naturally). 

While these apps are generally launched in the States, they're expanding every day to include London and other UK cities.

At the same time, virtual make-up apps are becoming more sophisticated than ever, with facial recognition technology to let you try the look, and give you personalised skincare and application tips.

 We take a look at the brightest new beauty apps around to save you money and shave hours off your weekly routine: 

Urban Massage


Anyone for an in-office massage?

Love massage but struggle to find the time to squeeze appointments into your jam-packed diary? Then, no hyperbole, Urban Massage is here to change your life. 

This app of dreams will deliver quality treatments to your home, hotel and office within 60 minutes notice. At the moment, it services Bristol and London but it's doing so well, we fully expect it to expand to other UK cities soon. You get to choose what kind of massage - from Swedish to Thai, deep tissue and beyond - how long for, and at a time and place to suit you before paying securely via Paypal or on a card, with no need for cash. Perfect.

Free, iPhone and Android


This genius app brings the beauty services you want direct to you, from spray tans to blow-drys and beyond. The advantage of Priv lies its enormous scope; drawing on a vetted network of mobile professionals, it can even provide on-demand personal training at an address of your choice. It's a one-stop, solves-all concept that currently applies to London, with plans to roll it out in other British cities soon.

Free, iPhone and Android

Virtual Makeover 

Virtual Makeover

The Virtual Makeover app

Want to try before you buy? Virtual Makeover lets you do exactly that. Upload a selfie of yourself to preview what you would look like with different hairstyles, hair colours and make-up techniques. The app uses facial recognition and shade matching technology to instantly map your face and show the effect of shine, glitter, and different make-up textures and intensities. Choose from more than 40 hairstyles, 2,000 unique colours and a blemish removal service, or experiment with eye shadows, eye liners, mascara, lipstick, lip liner, blush, false lashes, bronzers and foundation with just a few touches of the screen.

Free, iPhone and Android


Obviously Wahanda is well-established on the beauty scene, but its excellent new app launched just last year.

The free mobile directory lets you book appointments at over 7,000 salons and spas across the UK, including London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Brighton, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Search by treatment or area, discover great value offers in your neck of the woods, and get instant confirmation of your appointment - be it a mani-pedi, a bikini wax or a massage. You'll never need to ring somewhere again with this virtual black book of beauty treatment. It will pinpoint your location to offer beauty treatments nearby, make a note of your favourite venues and let you change appointment times whenever you need to. 

Free, iPhone and Android


Sephora has a custom-made contouring tutorial

Sephora Pocket Contour

Contouring is one those tricky techniques that you either have a knack for, or you don't. For those in need of a helping hand, Sephora has created a free mobile-only tutorial to teach you "the art of using shadow and highlight to sculpt, refine, and slim your face". You choose from four set face shapes, then upload a make-up free selfie of yourself. The app will give you a step-by-step guide of exactly where to apply contouring and highlighting - plus recommended products - to create a beautifully chiseled face.

Free, sephoracontour.com


Trusper is your one-stop (free) shop for all manner of weird and wonderful beauty tips. No matter what you want to know - from creating a feline flick eye to mastering the art of threading - Trusper will have the answer. Browse thousands of bite-size tutorials and how-to guides from all over the world, or put your query to the very engaged community of Trusper experts. Best of all, you can pay it forward by uploading your own fail-safe beauty hacks.

Free, iPhone and Android

Get bespoke skincare advice from Visada

Get bespoke skincare advice from Visada


Hailed as "the most advanced beauty app on the market", Visada scours makeup thousands tutorials to find vloggers that look like you (based on a selfie) - and will then  virtually place their faces on yours, so you can try out the look. It will also analyze your face's fine lines and dark spots to give you specific skincare recommendations, along with make-up tips based on your skin and eye colour. You can then shop the products direct, drawing from a legion of world-class brands including Benefit Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, Make Up For Ever, Nars and Clinique.

Free, iPhone and Android

L'Oréal Makeup Genius

This nifty app lives up to its name by letting you virtually trial products - either by scanning the barcode of a product you're thinking of buying, or by selecting a face chart you'd love to copy (each one comes with its own video tutorial). The simulation technology used here really is brilliant and incredibly life-like. It seeks out your eyes, cheeks, and lips for a flawless virtual application and works like a mirror so you can see how different shades and styles would look according to your expression, as it changes in real-time. 

Free, iPhone and Android

Photos: ThinkStock



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