Press release from the issuing company

SEPHORA, the leading beauty specialty retailer, and Pantone, the global color authority, unveil SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ, the most advanced foundation matching solution available in North American beauty retail. Using Pantone’s color capture and measuring technology, SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ is the first and only beauty system to scan the surface of the skin, assign an official PANTONE SkinTone number, and match a scientifically precise foundation shade from Sephora’s 1,000 foundations, brands and formulas.

“SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ is an incredible process that delivers a real benefit to our clients,” said Margarita Arriagada, senior vice president of merchandising at Sephora. “We see this as the first application of this exclusive Sephora technology, and are excited to expand its capabilities for other uses in the color world.”

“Skin tones are comprised of many distinct shades so developing this particular application for our color measuring technology was an exciting challenge for us,” explained Lisa Herbert, vice president of consumer licensing at Pantone. “Even within the broader range of fairest ivory to deepest ebony, there are nuances that need to be calibrated correctly to determine the right match, and this solution eliminates many of the variables that can affect shade selection.”

The SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ system is based on Pantone’s CAPSURE, a compact, hand-held spectro-colorimeter that is used in the design world to identify color with unsurpassed accuracy. As the first of its kind in cosmetics retail, the device works by taking an image of the skin, analyzing it and assigning an official PANTONE SkinTone number. With that number, Sephora beauty experts reference SEPHORA’s Universal SkinTone Library on an iPad, which holds over 1,000 foundation SKUs, to determine what products are a precise match for each skin tone.

“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 client’s match,” added SEPHORA PRO Jill Powell. “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 client’s personalized consultation.”



  • Uses powerful tri-directional image capture technology
  • Records  27 color-accurate images in 1.8 seconds using 8 different visible illuminations and 1 ultraviolet illumination for unsurpassed accuracy
  • 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 definition of color


Cameras vs. COLOR IQ device for pigment precision:

  • Traditional cameras use ambient light, creating huge pigment variables
  • COLOR IQ illuminates skin surface from 3 different directions,  and does not require ambient lighting for precision matching



  • Ethnicity isn’t the only consideration 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 shades comprise the PANTONE SkinTone Library
  • Foundation shades 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
  • iPad app has email capability, suggested matches can be emailed directly to the client
  • Only available at SEPHORA stores


Recommendations for the best SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ match:

  • Do not work out for 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, effecting flush of skin
  • Disclose if you are wearing self-tanner to the Sephora artist for a better match


This exclusive SEPHORA foundation service will be available at SEPHORA 5 Times Square, Manhattan beginning July 26th and SEPHORA Powell Street, San Francisco beginning August 2nd.


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