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Are You Ready For A Virtual Makeover?

Do you envy the Hollywood stars with their seemingly inexhaustible clothes and grooming budgets? Lord knows I do – I’d love to have a team of stylists catering to my every

hair

hair (Photo credit: bunchofpants)

beauty need. However, the reality of the situation is slightly less glamorous – if I want to try a new haircut, or see what a dress looks like on me, I have to pay for the privilege. Or at least I did, before some enterprising technological genius invented virtual makeovers. Using the latest computer technology, I can now get an infinite number of new looks in the privacy of my own home. In this article, I’ll explain what makes virtual makeovers so awesome, point out some of the best ones on the market right now, and give you everything you need to get started. So let’s go!

First, a quick background on the technology used in virtual makeovers. You will need a digital camera or a webcam to get the most out of these tools, as they require a photograph of yourself taken from a direct forward angle; like a passport or driver’s license picture. But don’t actually use your DMV snapshot (yikes!), those are the worst. Most virtual makeover sites will provide instructions on the ideal picture format, but most recommend the shot be taken in normal light, wearing neutral colors in front of a plain backdrop. Once the picture is taken, the program imports it, resizes it and matches it up to your facial and body features – that’s it! You are ready for your makeover.

The first virtual makeovers that were produced were for hairstyles, and were fairly primitive, only allowing you to layer new haircuts over your existing picture, but as they have evolved they have become more and more realistic. Essentially, the way all these programs work is by taking the data of your image and applying overlays to it – so a new haircut is laid over the shape of your head, or virtual makeup is semi-transparently composited to your face. These tools are, by their very nature, not exact, but if you take care in preparing your photograph you can often get a high-quality result.

Some of the most popular sites that offer virtual makeovers are iVillage, Mary Kay and InStyle. Some of these are trying to sell you a product, but the makeover tools are free. So get your snapshot, scan it in and start living the glamorous life without ever leaving the gentle glow of your computer screen. Hey, you look like a movie star already!