Ruth Gal in a before (right) and after photo. ‘We turn the computer screen into a virtual mirror,’ says Gal, creator of EZface Inc.With children, jobs, activities, meetings, social outings, perpetual commitment and endless obligation at the fore, leisure time for women appears to be the fastest disappearing commodity in today’s spinning society.
Israeli businesswoman Ruth Gal, was thinking exactly that a couple years ago as she surfed the Web one night after putting her daughters to sleep. Being a busy executive as well as a fan of fashion and makeup, she clicked around the Internet intent upon checking out the seasonal cosmetic colors and placing orders. Her dilemma, however, was determining how the powders, shadows and lipsticks she viewed online would match with her appearance and skin tone in real time.
“Every site looked like a catalogue. I had no idea how I would decide what looked good on me because I could only make the right decision by seeing the color on my face,” she recalls.
So Gal began searching for a site that would provide virtual makeup matching but had no luck. On the spot she decided to create a company that would provide that service – and EZface Inc. is the result.
“We turn the computer screen into a virtual mirror,” Gal proudly told ISRAEL21c. “The user uploads a picture to the site he or she is browsing – either our site or a cosmetics firm – and within a short waiting period a processed image comes back. Using that image the user can start trying on makeup or hair color virtually. It’s easy and very, very convenient for the user.”
A perky brunette with bright, sparkling eyes, Gal says that the EZface concept began from a basic need.
“When I couldn’t find a search engine I started investigating because I understood that this need applies to all women in the world. We need to be able to see how products work on us virtually. What’s the best color for me, the best application and how can I be most beautiful?” she said.
Once she had the concept, the tricky part was figuring out how to implement it. Gal’s background at the time – a CPA serving as chief financial officer to a networking applications company – was not aligned with the development end of computer technology. To garner support, she tapped into her list of contacts calling on Rami Orpaz, the CEO of a company she had audited in the past.
“I had audited him but I knew he was a businessman who understood marketing,” Gal chuckles. Orpaz liked her idea and partnered with Gal to found EZface where he currently serves as CEO.
Working together Gal and Orpaz raised $3.5 million in funding from a private investment company and engaged expert technicians from Israel Defense Forces’ photo-processing field to develop their product idea. They then registered the patent associated with the algorithm permitting a realistic mix of color matches between makeup and skin tone and two years later – the time it took from research to final product stages – they set up a parent company in Manhattan and dubbed their already operating Bnei Brak, Israel branch as the corporation’s official R&D headquarters.
With an eye on partnering, they then approached cosmetics firms with their comprehensive marketing solution intended to meet client needs in an all-inclusive package. Today, several major cosmetics firms, including L’Oreal Paris, Maybelline U.S.A. and Garnier US and France, are all utilizing the EZface technology.
Gal said that users wishing to try out the virtual makeup matching and purchase products can opt for visiting websites of partnering cosmetics firms or the EZface site itself.
Customers who have tried the technology seem pleased with the interface and say the results are realistic. “I was planning to attend my friend’s wedding and had no idea how to do my makeup,” relays Elizabeth White of New Jersey. White tried out the technology while visiting the site. “What fun. I chose the best look and colors for me and I looked terrific at the wedding.”
Because fees are integrated into contracts with cosmetic concerns, end users try out the technology for free. Gal cites a 10-15% per annum company growth rate thus far and estimates triple that figure once plans for in-store cosmetic kiosks are fully implemented on an international scale.
“Instead of having to try on makeup, apply and re-apply, you can walk into a department store or pharmacy and use a virtual kiosk to decide what to buy,” Gal explains.
With a reduced processing time of only two to three minutes, the kiosk sales point technology means the photographed image is returned quickly enough to apply virtual makeup at the cosmetics counter mess-free. The kiosks are currently in the trial testing phase of development in several branches of Israel’s chain pharmacy SuperPharm.
EZface is a privately owned venture, and plans to go public will be appropriated when “the time is right’ says Gal. Meanwhile, future plans include online beauty consultation, image enhancement for dating websites and cellular technology for teens, centered around upload and manipulation of images using masks, hats, colored hair and colorful makeup.
Already popular in the US and Canada, EZface virtual makeup technology is also gaining in China, England, France, Germany and Spain and, aspirations remain high.
“This could be a marketing tool for the future,” concludes Gal. “It’s the ultimate solution for personal advertisement.”
In the meantime, though, it seems like the ultimate solution for a woman who wants to have it all – career, kids, time for herself – and perfectly matched makeup.