Beauty and the beast: big fashion meets big data (so you’ll never wear the wrong makeup again)

Image Credit: ShutterStock

I’m told that getting the exact right shade of makeup can be more than a little difficult. In fact, according to beauty industry giant Sephora, it takes the average woman seven tries to find the perfect foundation. With the cost of quality makeup what it is right now, that’s gotta hurt.

Cue big data.

Above: ColorIQ from Sephora

Image Credit: Sephora

Sephora has teamed up with color experts at Pantone to help women (and, hey, maybe some adventurous guys) find the right shade of makeup for just their skin, on the first try.

It’s called ColorIQ, and it uses digital imagining technology to record 27 separate color-corrected images in less than two seconds while using eight different visible light settings and one ultraviolet light setting.

In other words, it’s geek enough for any dude.

According to Sephora, your skin tone is a unique combination of ethnicity, hemoglobin, sun exposure, freckles, skin conditions, and melanin levels.

“Our partner Pantone has spent decades working on the science of color,” Sephora senior vice president Julie Bornstein told me today. “We’ve mapped 110 shades of skin tone in the U.S.”

Once the ColorIQ device has measured your specific skin tone signature, big data comes into play. Taking the digital images from your face and breaking them down into 100-pixel blocks, Sephora creates a color composite for your skin, and your Pantone SkinTone number.

Then, all the data from women that Sephora has tested worldwide helps determine what foundation will work for you from over 1,000 different combinations, Bornstein says. A representative will simply enter the SkinTone number into Sephora’s iPad app for personalized suggestions.

As Bornstein told VentureBeat: “This gives us the ability to truly recommend a product based on a woman’s skin for the first time.”

Above: The new me, thanks to Sephora. Or not.

Image Credit: Sephora

Women in one of Sephora’s New York or San Francisco stores will be able to come in and get their skin scanned in the next few weeks. Roll-out to the full 300+ stores in the U.S. will happen at some later time.

“The concept of virtual try-it-on in both the clothing and makeup industries is growing,” Bornstein says. “But this is the first thing that I’ve seen that has a purity to it that’s going to make it very effective.”

Customized fashion using technology and big data to help individual women find the best beauty solutions? Very cool.

But I think I’ll have to pass, personally.

Image credit: Subbotina Anna/ShutterStock

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