OVER THE YEARS, color matching foundations has been the least enjoyable experience for me when makeup shopping. Between the color tone and shade variation across the brands it is hard to feel confident in choosing my perfect shade all on my own. Now I will say that department stores and Sephora stores are the easiest places to shop for foundation, because you have the opportunity to “try before you buy” or take a sample home, but even then sometimes I find myself making two trips to get the right shade. So after seeing promo photos of a this futuristic “tricorder” type device (raise your hand if you are a Star Trek fan!) you could say I was just as intrigued as Seven of Nine would be, trying to determine if this this “device of the future” would be able to tell me what shades of foundation are perfect for me!
IF YOU ARE not yet familiar with the Sephora + Pantone Color IQ, here is an excerpt from the press release:
“Using Pantone’s color capture and measuring technology, SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ is the first and only beauty system to scan the surface of the skin, assign an official PANTONE® SkinTone™ number, and match a scientifically precise foundation shade from Sephora’s 1,000 foundations, brands and formulas.”
THE DEVICE USED is the Pantone CAPSURE, which is a hand-held spectro-colormeter, a device used in the design world to identify color with unsurpassed accuracy. This device is one of the first of it’s kind used in cosmetics retail, and its purpose is to accurately match a customer’s exact skintone and shade; referencing data from over 1,000 foundation SKUs at Sephora, you can imagine this is quite revolutionary in the cosmetics industry!
AFTER THE SKIN has been analyzed by the Pantone CAPSURE, the SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ SkinTone Library searches through 110 shades based upon Sephora’s current foundation landscape (and will be expanded as more brand offerings are added).
ON MY VISIT to Sephora I called ahead to see if I needed to make an appointment for Color IQ. The sales associate stated appointments are not necessary – you could just come in and have it done anytime, which I found very convenient. Before getting matched, Sephora suggests the following for the most accurate match:
- do not work out for 30 minutes prior to your match;
- no chemical or harsh peels 3-6 days prior to match
- Drink more water and less caffeine prior to match; caffeine restricts blood flow, affecting flush of skin.
- Disclose if you are wearing self-tanner to the Sephora artist for a better match.
While I did not have access to this information ahead of time, I did follow the above guidelines and only wore transparent SPF to my matching session.
THE SEPHORA SALES associate was very friendly and cheerful, and I could tell she enjoyed using the Pantone CAPSURE which made it a nice experience. Before using the device she explained that she would be placing it on areas such as my forehead, cheek and jawline to allow the device to accurately measure my skintone, which would then tell me my skintone number giving me the perfect foundation shade options for me throughout the store across brands to choose from. The device is linked to an iPad so that the associate can see and read which foundations are recommended after the device measures the results, and it also allows the associate to email the skintone number to the customer for future reference – now that is handy!
THE FIRST TIME the device measured me too dark. I do not recall the skintone number I was first assigned, but as the sales associate was reading off shade names from the iPad screen, she read, “Clinique Even Better Makeup in Espresso”. Now while I am an espresso addict (double-shot please!) I have been at the pale end of the spectrum my entire life, so we both realized very quickly this reading was incorrect. The second time she used the device on several areas of my face, going back a few times and often shading the device from the lighting with her hands as she was getting a measurement to see if it would read more accurately. Finally we emerged with a better Skintone Number for me. I was declared to be: 1Y07. Pictured to the right is the email I received from Sephora showing all of my foundation matches. There are a total of sixty-two (62!) foundation shade recommendations for me, ranging from tinted moisturizers to light, medium and full coverage foundations, to powder and BB Creams as well. What an impressive selection!
WITH MY SKINTONE number determined, the sales associate helped me locate the foundation I wanted to purchase that day, MAKE UP FOR EVER Mat Velvet+ in my matched shade 35, Vanilla. I then requested a makeup artist to apply it to my face to confirm this was the correct shade, which they were more than happy to do. The makeup artist asked my skin type to confirm I would like the Mat Velvet +, applied a primer beforehand that was appropriate for my skin type, and then began applying shade 35 to my face, giving me application tips while doing so. After application he said it looked a little too dark for me, and so he applied shade 30, Porcelain to the other side of my face, comparing the two, and we decided the lighter shade was more accurate.
Going back to my skintone number and the foundations I was matched to, I did not go through each foundation shade that was recommended for 1Y07, however, based upon my experience with the shade that does work for me, I can still utilize the COLOR IQ system. By visiting Sephora online I can input whatever current foundation I use, and so based upon the MAKE UP FOR EVER Mat Velvet + No. 30 I am skintone number Y105, so I can choose from 26 foundations that match me! Now that is perfect!
The SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ station at my local SEPHORA Store.
SEPHORA PRO Gilbert Soliz says, “SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ eliminates many of the variables that can affect shade selection, including pigment challenges, skin texture and undertones, which can often distort the client’s match. As an artist, I know the right foundation is essential to a great makeup look so this is an amazing resource to have for my consultations. It allows me to pull the best matches across all our brand offerings for my client’s personalized consultation.”
OVERALL I found the entire COLOR IQ experience pleasant and very interesting. Although the first reading was completely off for me, the second one did get closer and was definitely a step in the right direction, and although I ultimately found a different shade that matched my skin better, I love that I can still utilize the COLOR IQ shade library even online, by inputting my current foundation shade and I can still get 26 foundation recommendations to add to my wishlist! Of course depending on how you look at that, adding to my wishlist could be either a “blessing” or a “curse”!
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
This experience has definitely got me thinking about what the future holds for us in the makeup industry, as consumers, makeup artists and retailers. Is the future of makeup becoming more computerized and automated? Or how about color-matching at home with either a device or even better yet, a color matching iPhone app? The possibilities are endless! I know I am excited about what the future holds, and even if it doesn’t get as futuristic as I can imagine up in my actual lifetime, it sure is fun to think about!
I’d love to know what you think about the SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ and if you are going to give it a try. Share your experience and perspective if you have tried it already!
The Sephora + Pantone Color IQ service is available now at select Sephora stores. Call yours today to see if it is offered!
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