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Style & Living Beauty

Can an iPhone App Help You Find Your Perfect Shade of Foundation?

Will shade numbers soon become a thing of the past?

By Adele Chapin
Erika Jayne Offers Skincare Tips

The beauty industry is thankfully getting the message that foundation shades need to be inclusive (in no small part to Rihanna's massively successful Fenty Beauty launch). But what if the future of foundation involves no pre-set shades at all and no more puzzling over two shades in the Ulta aisle? Over the summer, BareMinerals launched an innovative way to get a made-to-order foundation for your individual skintone, all via iPhone app. It's called MADE-2-FIT Fresh Faced liquid foundation.

1. How it works

It's not magic behind the custom foundation—there's a "complex algorithm" that powers the BareMinerals app. The app is from by MatchCo, a new startup purchased by BareMinerals parent company Shiseido in the beginning of 2017. The app takes six photos of your face to determine your skin tone using just your iPhone, and then a customized BareMineralsFresh Faced Foundation is individually blended anddelivered right to your door. So it's truly bespoke foundation, and perhaps this customization technology could really shake up the way we buy makeup.

2. What it's like to try the app

This is embarrassing, but I downloaded the app, dutifully took off my phone's case, and then proceeded to get stuck on the "calibrate" camera section. A voice guided me through the process, but I still didn't understand that when they said tap, it didn't mean tap the phone screen. It meant physically tap the camera lens to a piece of paper.

All this became clear when I showed up in a BareMinerals store (I was trying to do this all in the mall food court, which might not be the ideal spot for foundation matching). Retail stores for the win! Especially when you aren't that tech-saavy.

A BareMinerals associate pulled out an iPhone and started the app. She literally tapped the phone camera against my wrist and then my forehead, cheek, and chin on both sides of my face. A little bit awkward, yes, but the app got a lot of data points.

She scanned my credit card and uploaded my address, and then I just had to wait for my custom foundation to get whipped up in a lab. It did feel strange to leave the store empty-handed without trying the $50 foundation I just bought. There were samples in various shades in store you could try to get a sense of the texture.

When the bottle arrived at my door, I fell in love with the "Made-2-Fit for Adele" label inscribed on the bottle along with the date it was made. Very personalized! It's the kind of thing you want to Instagram.

But did the foundation match my pale with cool undertones skin tone? I tried it out and put it on half of my face using a sonic makeup brush. The foundation had a nice, mousse-like texture, and when I put it on, it was almost like using Photoshop to edit out redness. The match was pretty dead on. I sent a photo of my half-done face to my friend who is a makeup artist and she said "Can't tell the difference between the sides, which is a good thing!"

Gotta give it to the app. It looked like my real skin, only a bit more airbrushed. This isn't really heavy-duty coverage, though. It's not for the days you want to spackle on foundation. Also, it seemed that having moisturized skin before you apply would help this BareMinerals foundation.

But in the end, I'd order this again, even though it is quite expensive at $49. The biggest test for foundation via app will be if women are willing to give up D.I.Y. swatching entirely and trust an iPhone to deliver custom makeup to them, sight unseen. Maybe it's not such a risk after all, considering you can return it if you don't like it.

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