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Sephora Found a High-Tech New Way to Sell You Foundation

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When we first heard that Sephora was debuting a new color matching technology, we envisioned lasers, lab coats, and solar-powered brushes. In reality, the Color IQ service, created in collaboration with global color authority Pantone, is a surprisingly user-friendly, approachable way to help you find the perfect foundation.

Color IQ revolves around Pantone's Capsure—a highly advanced camera, known as a spectro-colorimeter if you want to get technical, that can accurately identify your true skin color, disregarding blemishes or ambient lighting.

First, one of Sephora's staffers will take images of your skin on three different areas of your face. Next, the machine composites the 81 pictures it has snapped. The machine will then identify your color and assign it an official Pantone SkinTone number. We applaud the decision to use a number system, as this prevents the horror of discovering that your skin tone is labeled "Ruddy Poppy" or "Sickly Alabaster."

You then enter this number into an iPad app—of course there's an app for that—which refers you to every single foundation in Sephora that matches your skin tone. Depending on your tone, the number of matches can range from four to upwards of 25. If you're overwhelmed, you can use filter the results by brand, SPF, consistency, and ingredients. In addition, if you're not content with your skin tone and want to go a shade darker, lighter, or redder (we aren't sure who would choose that one), the app will adjust your number accordingly.

This process and the technology surrounding it have taken years to develop, but the company thinks it's worth it, as customers return foundation more than any other product. In the future, Sephora hopes to use this same color-match technology for other products, such as eye makeup or lipstick. For now, you can test it out on your own skin at the chain's Time Square location. The product will be unveiled in San Francisco on August 2nd.—Madeline Berg

Correction: As of now, Sephora cannot confirm that the Color IQ service will appear in other stores this fall.
· Sephora [Official Site]


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