November 26, 2012

Sephora Pantone Color IQ- Perfect Foundation Match

I was in Northern California over the Thanksgiving weekend visiting my family.  I luckily had time to visit a friend in San Francisco, and I had been dying to visit the Mothership of Sephora (Sephora's headquarters is in San Francisco).  So I dragged my friend to Sephora in Union Square.  The reason I wanted to go to this particular store is because they offer foundation match with a special gadget that is only in this location and New York Time Square location.  I heard about this special foundation matching that's done in London through Boots, No. 7 Brand, and I knew they had to offer this service in the United States, so when I searched, Sephora came up.  Sephora started offering this service in July of 2012 and will be testing it in the two - SF and NY location first before launching it else where.

If you are confused as to what I'm talking about.... Pantone is the master of color matching.  If you have painted your house, you'd have most likely heard of it.  If you were to take a piece of fabric and wanted a paint that color, Pantone will be able to match it or produce that color for you (I believe.... ).  Also recently Pantone has been collaborating with Sephora to create beautiful colorful makeup.  Now, they have created a hand held tool based off the Pantone X-Rite Spectrocolorimeter used in the design world.  This device takes image of your skin, analyzing and assigning you an official Pantone skintone number.  With that number, they will be able to give you a list of foundations carried by Sephora that will match you perfectly!  I have tried numerous amounts of foundations of EACH BRAND, just to achieve that, and it was not an easy task.  So I knew if I had a chance to go to SF location, I had to try this out.


SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Handheld Device:
  • Image takes 1.8 seconds to capsure
  • Produces  27 photographs in black and white using 8 different visible LED bands and 1 ultraviolet band
  • COLOR IQ measures only in red/green/blue
  • Ultraviolet and three split spectrums
  • Grid of 100x100 pixels across skin sample which then becomes one color composite
  • New method of color measurement, including texture and surface sample variables, allowing for the most accurate color positioning

Cameras vs COLOR IQ device for pigment precision:
  • Traditional cameras uses ambient light (huge pigment variables)
  • COLOR IQ can measure pigment in pitch darkness, does not require ambient lighting for precision matching

SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ Skintone Library:
  • Ethnicity isn’t relevant when color matching- there are more factors in the physiology of the skin that determine color (hemoglobin, sun exposure, freckles, skin conditions, sun burn, excess or absence of melanin)
  • 110 colors are mapped out by the Pantone Color Institute that comprise the SEPHORA + PANTONE Skintone Library
  • Colors are based on SEPHORA’s current foundation landscape and can be expanded as more brand offerings are added, making the most comprehensive foundation library available at retail
  • iPad app platform, exclusive to SEPHORA
  • only available in SEPHORA stores

Recommendations for the best SEPHORA + PANTONE Color IQ match:
  • No workout 30 minutes prior to 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
  • If you are wearing self tanner, disclose to the Sephora artist for a better match
As soon as I walked into Sephora, I asked for the Pantone Color IQ, and I was directed to a little kiosk in the middle of the store.  It had a mirror on both sides, with an iPad placed in each of the sides.

They gave me and my friend face wipes to remove the makeup off our faces.  Then they realized I had freckles on my face, and they said there's a chance the images would pick up my freckles too much and I'd end up with darker shade than my face.  So I asked them to get images off my decollette, neck area because I like to match my neck and chest area anyways to get more even/natural foundation finish.  They thought it was a good idea, so I didn't have to remove my makeup.

You see the device on my neck.  This took about 30 seconds to accomplish.  Then the little device spit out a color number, which for me was, 4Y06 (medium skintone with yellow base).

Here's the partial color chart that they use.  They they put the color number into the iPad, and it spits out the results for the foundation matches for you.

This wasn't my results, but this is a sample of what you'd get on the iPad.

If you see on the left side, it says, matching shade, lighter, redder etc..., so you can get results of other shades that are very similar to that. And change the formula, coverage to narrow your results.  Then you can e-mail yourself the results!

The shades/brands I got "perfectly matched" were very limited.  It gave me 3 shades from bareMinerals Foundation, Josie Maran Matchmaker Serum Foundation, and NARS Sheer Matte Foundation.  And from the NARS Sheer, and bareMinerals foundation that I have already used before, it sounded like the matching was spot on.  I also e-mailed results from lighter of my shade since my neck is still a little more tanned than my body, and a little yellower shades.  After going through the list of the foundations I have used, the results were spot on.  I wish I'd have taken off my makeup and got a reading on my face too, just to see what results it would have given me.   So after this FREE service, they offered to make me samples of the foundation.

But overall, I was very happy that I got to go and experience it for myself.  It's such a genius device.  I hope this goes nationwide to all the Sephora stores soon!  It'd make our lives so much easier!!!


  1. Awww, I wish I'd seen this while before I went to northern CA for Christmas - I'd have gone to get this done, too. Thanks for the informative review!

  2. Good news is now a lot of the sephora stores has this technology! I found it at my local store in Los Angeles!