SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ to Debut in Select Sephora Stores

Image from Sephora Beauty Talk

[Update: I tried the COLOR IQ system in San Francisco myself. Read my review here! http://www.nicolereviewsbeauty.com/2012/08/does-sephora-pantone-color-iq-actually.html ]

Exciting news! In its continued collaboration with color authority Pantone, Sephora plans to debut a foundation color matching technology tool. 

Here's what Sephora had to say in their Beauty Talk community forum:

Available at SEPHORA 5 Times Square in Manhattan July 26th and SEPHORA Powell Street in San Francisco, in early August
-    Find Your Scientifically Precise Foundation Shade From Over 1,000 Foundations In Our Stores -

SEPHORA, the leading beauty specialty retailer, and Pantone LLC, the global color authority, unveil SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ, the most advanced foundation matching tool available in North American beauty retail.   Powered by Pantone and based off the color matching technology developed by X-Rite, the SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ system is the first and only beauty device to scan the surface of the skin and assign an official Pantone skintone number, to find your scientifically precise foundation shade amongst our 1,000 foundations, brands and formulas.

“SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ POWERED BY PANTONE is an incredible tool that delivers a real benefit to our clients,” says Margarita Arriagada, SVP of Merchandising at Sephora. “We see this as the first application of this patented Sephora exclusive technology, and are excited to expand its capabilities for other uses in the color world.”

The SEPHORA+ PANTONE COLOR IQ is a hand held tool based off the Pantone X-Rite Spectrocolorimeter used in the design world.  As the first of its kind in cosmetics retail, the device works by taking an image of your skin, analyzing and assigning you an official Pantone skintone number.  With that number, Sephora beauty experts reference SEPHORA’s Universal Skintone Guide (via iPad) which holds over 1,000 foundation skus to determine what products are a precise match for your skintone.    

“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 clients match,” added SEPHORA PRO Gilbert Soliz. “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 clients personalized consultation.”


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

Considering I live in Oakland, I am so excited to try this new technology when it debuts at the San Francisco Sephora store. You can bet I will be there ASAP in August so that I can take pictures to share with you, Dear Readers!

If the new SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ technology is effective, I can imagine it totally changing how we select foundation in the future. I would love to leave difficult color matching behind!

Is anyone else excited for this?

[Update: I tried the COLOR IQ system in San Francisco myself. Read my review here! http://www.nicolereviewsbeauty.com/2012/08/does-sephora-pantone-color-iq-actually.html ]


  1. Awesome post. Colour matching my skin is a huge struggle for me. Everything ends up too yellow or pink on my skin.


    1. I have a lot of trouble too, because I'm super pale but usually just a tad darker than the fairest shade available. I am so excited to try the Color IQ technology. I'm going to have to call the SF Sephora soon to find out exactly when it's available!