Ulta Beauty Facing Claims that Virtual Makeup Try-On Programs Illegally Collects Users’ Data

Elizabeth DiNardo, Esq. | Associate Counsel


On June 24, 2021, class claims were filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois against popular cosmetic retailer Ulta Beauty Inc. alleging that the company has been illegally collecting, storing and using biometric identifiers and biometric information collected via its Virtual Beauty Programs without consent, in direct violation of the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”).

In the complaint, named plaintiff Fiza Javid outlines how in recent years, Ulta Beauty has begun to heavily advertise its artificial intelligence-powered personalization or augmented reality-driven virtual try-on capabilities through its Virtual Beauty Programs, which allows customers to digitally try on beauty products. In recent years, the Virtual Beauty Programs have expanded to include virtual previews of hair color, brow tints and false lashes. In addition, Ulta’s Skin Analysis program uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality technology to analyze a user’s skin and offer tips and product recommendations to address skin concerns like redness or fine lines. Consumers can also access a virtual Benefit BrowBar.

The plaintiff argues that the defendant encourages its website visitors to download the free Ulta app in order to virtually try on makeup and hair colors and subsequently collects users’ biometric data without their knowledge. Specifically, the plaintiff argues that unbeknownst to the average Ulta customer, and in direct violation of the BIPA, the defendant scanned, collected and stored in an electronic database digital copies of each consumers’ facial geometry through Ulta’s Virtual Beauty Programs.

The plaintiff is seeking to represent a class made up of all individuals who, while residing in the state of Illinois, had their facial geometry collected, captured, received, or otherwise obtained and/or stored by defendants. The suit brings causes of action for violation of 740 ILCS 14/15 (a)- Failure to Institute, Maintain, and Adhere to Publicly Available Retention Schedules and violation of 740 ILCS 14/15 (d) - Failure to Obtain Informed Written Consent and Release Before Obtaining Biometric Identifiers or Information.  

The case is: Fiza Javid v. Ulta Beauty Inc., Case No.: 2021-CH-03109, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, Chancery Division.

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