Finding your Perfect Foundation Shade with Sephora’s Color IQ

Have you guys done this yet? I have really been trying to figure out this foundation thing lately, and I love the concept behind Sephora’s Color IQ system. I bought that Meow Cosmetics foundation last month that I like a lot, however the brutal Chicago winter winds have messed up my skin in a crazy way, so the powder foundation isn’t working as well as it did in better weather.

So I want a creamier, more moisturizing product, but I have so much trouble finding something that matches my skintone (much like every other person who has skin). The idea with Color IQ is that every foundation shade corresponds to a Pantone-identified skintone, so once you know your number you just pick products that match the exact same shade. Brilliant!

The only problem is pinning down the right number. There are two ways to do this: either go in to the store and have an employee use a special device that measures your skintone, or go online and search for the number that matches a foundation you already like.

My attempts with the website have been mixed. foundations that seem pretty good have been coming in as 1Y05, 1Y02, 3Y04, and 2Y04. The shade numbers all start with a number (level of blend between yellow and pink undertones), then and R or a Y (which indicates if you are more on the red or yellow side of the blend) and a two digit number that signifies the color depth (paleness/darkness).


Image courtesy of Sephora

So obviously, I’m yellow-y, but I’m not sure by how much. Am I a 1 or a 3? and how pale am I really? I decided to stop by the store and leave the matching to the professionals.

I went to the store, where the makeup artist used a little handheld device to take a series of pictures that would serve to sample the color from different parts of my face. After taking a picture of my jawline, cheek and forehead, I got her recommendation… 3R06.

Absolutely not! That is way too red and way too dark for me! Unfortunately, my cheeks are pretty red, so I am convinced that my reading was skewed because of that being included in the tone. I want to COVER that redness on my cheeks and even my skintone, not blend the redness into the rest of my face so it clashes with the rest of my skin. Even the MUA didn’t seem to like the system’s pick, because she ended up recommending an entirely different product that didn’t match that profile at all (it’s a 1Y05).

Now I’m kind of back to square one on figuring out my exact, perfect shade. I’m definitely a Y, and I’m just going to split the difference between some of the various shades I picked on my own (after all, those are all shades that have worked for me, so a blend of them should be great). I guess that means 3Y04-ish? Something like that.

So the bottom line is: I really like having all of these foundations mapped by shade and think this is a great idea, but beware to the in-store matching process if you have an uneven skintone.


3 thoughts on “Finding your Perfect Foundation Shade with Sephora’s Color IQ

  1. I had it done by two different people with two different results. One on the red side and the other on the yellow… go figure the second lady took a picture of my neck though so I think that helped make it more accurate.

  2. Pingback: About skin color : Pantone SkinTone Guide 關於膚色的那些事(1):彩通膚色指南 – Colorful Blanche

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