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Welcome to the Racked Awards, our annual celebration of the best in fashion, beauty, shopping, and health. Below, see our nominees for the Buzziest Apps of the Year.
For all the mindless apps we put on our phones to burn time, there are also the must-download lifesavers—the ones that save us time, help us score deals, and change the way we do everyday tasks (like, yes, shopping). But which are the best? There are dozens of fashion, beauty, and fitness apps out there, but so many are copycats, buggy, or don't actually add anything to the space.
We took to the App Store to determine which ones are actually making a difference in our digital lives, and chose the five that impressed us most with their functionality, user interface, and overall concept. Apps come and go, but we believe these will be sticking around for quite some time.
Facial recognition technology has come such a long way that it was only a matter of time before it was applied in the beauty sector. L'Oreal debuted its sleek Makeup Genius app in June, and everyone from Businessweek to Vanity Fair to Allure believe it will change the way we shop drugstore beauty. With this app, you can try on all of L'Oreal's products (just like you would, say, Bobbi Brown products at a department store counter) without worrying you'll get in trouble for opening a closed package at Walgreens. Using the front-facing camera of your smartphone, the app maps out 64 points on your face to analyze your features. Once you've chosen beauty looks you want to try, the app virtually applies the makeup and moves with your face in real time. The technology is insanely impressive and the process is super fun. So go on, venture into some wild color territory from the comfort of your own home.
Everyone needs a little extra help scheduling some wellness into their day, and this app is an incredible tool to facilitate that. Mindbody lets you browse for nearby exercise classes, chiropractor, and even manicure spots. You can scroll through reviews to decide which acupuncturist best serves your style, and once you've made a decision, book an appointment right through the app. It also comes with a schedule function, which is a great way to keep yourself perfectly organized. Perhaps the best feature, though, is the ability to catalog which salons and studios you visit most so you can plan ahead of time on the app, instead of jumping back and forth on different sites.
We can forgive the name because Pretty In My Pocket will be your new best friend: Walk into any drugstore or department store beauty section, scan the barcode of your desired products, and user reviews pop up on your phone. The app allows you to follow bloggers, beauty experts, and brands to see their reviews, top picks, and wish lists. You can also look at other users' uploaded photos, just in case you're worried that smoky eye set you bought only works when used by a professional. The perks page keeps you updated on sales and coupon codes for tons of companies, and like a true BFF, the popular page recommends the best products in the beauty industry.
Spring is like a shoppable Instagram, only better. The app allows you to follow and browse an impressive list of brands (from Alexander McQueen to Opening Ceremony to Warby Parker), and keeps you up to date on their latest inventory (as well as what has gone on sale). And did we mention that the universal shopping cart lets you shop from as many places as you'd like and still purchase with one click? The platform is incredibly easy to navigate, putting it far ahead of other shopping apps that look messy and can be overwhelming. Complaints from users about high prices and slow shipping are among some of the critiques, but since Spring's only been around since August, we can assume the app will continue to get better as it signs on more brands and straightens out its kinks.
Have you ever remembered you had a fancy event just in the nick of time, only to realize your hair is a positive disaster? Or gotten out of work early and wanted to book a last-minute exercise class, but couldn't find a slot available on your studio-of-choice's website? Beautified has you covered. Launched by It girl Hannah Bronfman, this app allows you to book appointments—anything from facials to spin classes to blowouts—on the fly. And because its 2014, the app incorporates everything you would expect, like the option to upload a selfie and tip your stylist via credit card. For those who are fussier about their beauty treatments, it also lets you send service notes ("Please only use sulfate-free shampoo on my hair!") to stylists. We love this app because it solves the problem of booking for the busy (or lazy) in a delightfully simple way.
While we recommend downloading all these apps, we just can't get enough of Pretty in My Pocket's barcode scanner feature, which is why we've crowned it the Buzziest App of the Year. It's completely changed the way we browse for products—both in department and drugstores— and it has us scrolling through different bloggers' pages to try new looks every single day.