This summer saw the Canada-wide launch of StylU, a Toronto-developed app that delivers a hairstylist or makeup artist to you, wherever you are, whenever you need it. It’s ideal for aesthetic emergencies or—as I found out—last-minute birthday presents. Here’s what it’s like to order beauty on demand.
The way StylU works is this: you download the app, select a service (blowout, makeup application, men’s haircut, or women’s updo), and indicate when and where you want it. I made my appointment a day in advance, and specified that I hoped for “an extremely aggressive contour, like Kim Kardashian might have if she knew she was running into Taylor Swift.”
StylU promises easy, on-the-go access to vetted hairstylists and makeup artists, who are also rated by clients, much like how Uber drivers are rated by passengers. My makeup artist, Agnia, also works as an Uber driver, although she said she prefers the idea of StylU as it allows her to use her makeup training and do what she loves. She also said it’s a great idea in case of a beauty emergency: “It’s not uncommon for brides to get bailed on by makeup artists on their wedding day.
Costs vary depending on the treatment. A blowout is $50; makeup application plus lashes, $90. A men’s haircut will set you back $50 and “updos for three” costs $255. A gratuity of 20 percent is added automatically to your bill, so there’s no awkward last-minute calculations or fumbling with cash.
My sister’s birthday falls in mid-August—which is when I booked my StylU treatment—and my initial plan was to show up at her birthday dinner looking like a Kardashian. Yet when the day arrived I found myself confronted with StylU’s major potential flaw: it offers a fun thing (getting your makeup done) the least fun possible way (alone in your house). The appeal of StylU, to me, is its social function: unlike salons, StylU can provide a makeup or hair professional for a group or as a gift with little lead time. Think: gifting your mom a makeover for her anniversary, buying a sick friend a home haircut, or surprising a friend on their birthday with manicures during a pre-drink.
And so, I called my sister. She showed up with a bunch of pictures of Lauren Conrad on her phone, and we chatted and laughed while she had fake eyelashes and a nice gentle glow applied swiftly and expertly. This is all the gear Agnia brought to my house:
Agnia was professional and affable, in and out within an hour, and I was pleased to discover payment and tip had all been handled at the time of booking. Here’s my sister, on the right, after Agnia got her all glammed up:
In an age where people hire photographers for bachelorette weekends and access to a “glam squad” is the aspiration of many, the potential audience for this app is clear. But my sister, who usually wears very little makeup, said she found it unexpectedly enjoyable as well. “I’m really scared of fake eyelashes in particular, so it’s nice to know I can put that in the hands of professionals once in a while,” she said, adding that she found that StylU more convenient than going to a salon but much simpler (and possibly cheaper) than finding a makeup artist on her own.