45 reviews

22% would repurchase

Package Quality: 2.6

Price: $$

Package Quality: 2.6

Price: $$


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on 8/31/2017 11:19:00 AM

Age: 56 & Over

Skin: Oily, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

I wish I would've read the reviews for this process before I had it done because it was a total waste of time. Until Prescriptives makeup came out, I always had problems finding foundation that matched my fair skin tone. Everything was too yellow. I wore Prescriptives (matched as red/blue undertones) for years and it was a perfect match but they've discontinued my foundation. Since then, I've tried various foundations on my own with little success. I thought Color IQ would put an end to my search. To say I was surprised by my results is a understatement. Medium skin tone with warm undertones? The SA immediately determined that the match was too dark and matched me with a lighter foundation with warm undertones. I was dubious since I've never been matched to warm undertones before and I look terrible when I wear clothing in warm shades. I was convinced to purchase the foundation despite my misgivings. (Stupid me.) Oh my goodness, what a mistake! I looked jaundiced especially in natural light. I tried really hard to like the foundation but when my best friend told me I looked yellow, I was done. I returned to Sephora and told them I didn't like the match. The SA was less than happy with me. She told me "Some people want to be cool when they're actually warm." What? I don't care if I'm cool or warm; I just want something that looks right on me. She passed me off on another SA who matched me personally (no machine) with a foundation. The results were much better. Thank goodness for Sephora's return policy as I was able to exchange the foundation.

8 of 8 people found this helpful.

on 4/21/2017 2:54:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Acne-prone, Tan, Warm

Hair: Brown, Curly, Medium

Eyes: Brown

I went to Sephora to try out and find a new foundation to try out. I wear the Tarte Amazonia Clay Airbrush Foundation in Tan Sand, but I wanted to try a liquid or cream foundation. I have a tan skin with yellow/golden undertone. They used the color IQ and what came up was 2y11. One of the foundations they recommended me was a Nars foundation in the shade Cadiz. I didn't try it in there. Instead I garbed a sample and took it home which was my first mistake. When I got home I tried it on and it looked orange. I thought I would let it sit on my face for a few minutes to see it would blend in with my skin. Nope. After a few minutes I looked like a Oompa Loompa. I went to another Sephora and tried it again. 2y11 came up as my closest color match again. This time I went with a lighter shade, Tahoe I could't tell in the lighting if it was a close match so i took home a sample. I haven't worn it out yet but hopefully this time I found a better match. If not I'll try Findation.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

Age: 36-43

Skin: Sensitive, Tan, Warm

Hair: Black, Curly, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

I am very glad to see that I'm not the only Sephora patron to have issues with the Pantone Color IQ. I've never been matched in the store because I have a negative history of being horribly mismatched at counters/stores with the SA flat-out ignoring considerations I've clearly voiced regarding color matching for my skin. For example, I have hyperpigmentation on my neck from old scarring, making it appear slightly darker than ANYWHERE ELSE ON MY BODY, as well as the fact that touching my skin often causes it to flush red, especially if one is using some sort of alcohol-based makeup remover. That flush is NOT part of my natural color!

Anyway, I use the online Color IQ based on foundations I already have that match well in order to shop for other foundations. The results vary wildly and a couple are just plain laughable. I mean, ranging from shades in foundations that I KNOW will have me looking like Ashy McAsherton of Ashville all the way to shades that will make me look so orange, I'll have the nickname Vitamin C. I honestly want to know how these matches are paired. Another reviewer remarked on the fact that you'll be given results that, according to the description of the foundation's undertone that I assume is written by the manufacturer (?), is basically the opposite of your undertone. For example, I have undeniably yellow undertones. I've been given suggestions for foundations described as having "neutral-to-pink" undertones. YIKES. Also, NO. At best, the Color IQ gives you a *possible* range of shades to possibly try, which can be helpful in brands that have a wide range of available shades. Say, you have pink undertones but Color IQ matched you to a shade described as having yellow undertones. Just go up or down to the next shade with pink undertones. It's usually within 1-3 shades from where you were matched. At worst, however, Color IQ will make you second-guess your eye health, self-perception, ancestry, every mirror you ever passed by, etc.

I suggest making use of Sephora's samples or, if you make an incorrect purchase, their return policy is very generous if you are a Beauty Insider. I have returned foundations without the original packaging or receipt, even a year later, but because it is on my BI account, the purchase is verified and the return went smoothly. Another tip is to write down the foundations suggested by the Color IQ and go over to YouTube to see if anyone has posted a review for it. I've saved myself a lot of trouble that way as well.

6 of 6 people found this helpful.

on 1/19/2017 11:59:00 AM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

Color IQ is excellent...if you have completely flawless and even-toned skin. For the remaining 99% of us, Color IQ is hit or miss. That's because Color IQ is affected by any skin flaws you have: freckles, melasma, scars, acne, ruddiness, you name it. Some Sephora associates do realize this and try to take pictures of areas not/not as badly affected, but even then, it's a combination of pictures used that determines your ultimate skin tone.

Color code is easy:
First number is how red/yellow your tones are. 1 means least; 5 is the most intense
Letter means you have red tones (R) or yellow tones (Y).
Last two digits is the intensity, how light or dark you are overall.

Once you get a code (e.g., 2Y09), you can look for other foundations in that tone.

I went several times to have it done, by different associates in different stores. I'm one of the 99%. These are the various combinations that were determined to be my skin tone:

This is what I *actually* am, based on good-old swatching to find a match, and then looking up the number:

As you can see, Color IQ was not even close.

A second problem with Color IQ--and the fact that I have two codes matching me perfectly to illustrate this--is that what shades the codes represent are not consistent across different products. I've tried 2Y04s that were ghastly pale, and 2Y04s that were darker than a 1Y06 foundation I tried. I suppose for the most accurate answer about my code, I would have to say my color code is 2Y04 Nars Sheer Glow Deauville or 1Y05 Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Fair/Light Neutral.

The foundation formula itself probably affects the final shade that comes out, but still, the inconsistency is frustrating.

All that being said, Color IQ is good to use as a way to narrow down the field of possible choices. Given that a lot of foundation lines still hold onto names such as Cream, Ivory, Fawn, Nude, Bisque, etc. whose meanings can vary drastically between manufacturers, at least Color IQ puts it on a numeric scale and breaks down the skin tone, so it can tell me which shades *might* work for me.

But would I rely solely on Color IQ to match my foundation? If I wanted to look like I had an accident with self-tanner, sure. If I wanted a natural, looks-like-my-real-skin look? Hell no!

11 of 11 people found this helpful.

on 9/8/2016 6:53:00 PM

Age: 44-55

Skin: Dry, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Black, Curly, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

In theory this should be a really helpful matching system. In practice it's a mess and results are totally all over the place. Results will vary depending on a lot of factors but mainly, accuracy depends on how helpful your SA is.

I was first matched June 2015 as 4Y08. The SA I had at the time was friendly, listened to my skin concerns, removed my foundation for the best match possible, and the lighting was good and natural (close to the window around noon or 1pm on a sunny day). Since Nars Sheer Glow in Stromboli falls into this IQ profile which is my go to shade, I was hopeful. Out of the 14 liquid foundation choices currently shown to be a 4Y08 match, I have tried 4 of them; the Nars listed above, Tarte Rainforest of the Sea (suggested in Medium Honey), UD Naked Skin (suggested in 6), and Cover FX Total Coverage cream Foundation (suggested in G60). I know from experience the Nars and Tarte shades are a perfect match - however, the suggestions in the UD and CFX shades are waaaay off. I am a N40 in CFX and I had tried 5.0 in UD which was far too dark and red for me (so clearly 6 was not going to work). Even though I haven't tried the other color suggestions for 4Y08, I can deduce the accuracy of this match is pretty inaccurate.

In July 2016 I was matched again and the result was 1R09. The SA I had at the time was rushed and seemed really uninterested in helping me, seemed indifferent to my skin concerns (dry skin with the need to cover redness and go with more yellow based colors), she did not removed my foundation, and the lighting s*cked (the store had been remodeled, she didn't pull me as close to the window as possible even though that's where the machine is placed). I can state with all certainty that there is not one shade in 1R09 range which will match my skin. For example, I still rotate btw the Nars Stromboli and Tarte Medium Honey daily which are 4Y08. Further, the suggestions in this range for CFX and UD were 2X's darker than the shades matched prior in which were to dark for me even in those lighter suggested shades! So yeah, I'm gonna go ahead and say the accuracy of 1R09 was a bust, at 0% proper match.

If we are to rate this system on accuracy, I give it 1 star. It's simply too flawed to fulfill its promises, be that due to lighting issues or human error (depending on the SA). What this is good for, is to record the list of suggested matches for yourself to bring into Sephora and when it's crazy crowded and you can't get help, you can just test on yourself and start knocking things of the match list. I can honestly say that I have had MUCH better luck figuring out new matches by using online sites which have you enter brands/shades currently in your rotation, in which kick out matches based on that. This is really the way to go if you want to avoid having to constantly return shades that won't work for you.

8 of 8 people found this helpful.

on 7/16/2016 10:35:00 AM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Hazel

I visited Sephora for probably the second time yesterday. I find the store poorly lit and rather overwhelming. I'm admittedly not knowledgeable about makeup application techniques (although I'm trying to learn) and I find the perfectly made-up associates a bit intimidating, but I was looking for a specific product. While I was there, I asked about a natural looking, dewy foundation for my ridiculously sensitive, fair, acne-prone skin. The sales associate offered to color match me and I immediately jumped at the opportunity because it sounded pretty foolproof and I've never been matched. Looking back, I should've gone to the MAC store which was nearby and found my shade because that seems to be the universal gold standard and method.

Anyway, she held the little gadget up to three different points on my skin, two on my neck and one on my forehead. My neck is a completely different color than my face thanks to diligently wearing SPF 50 on my face daily. I'm okay with that. Ideally I'd like to bridge the gap between my paler face and tanner neck, but I also don't want to look like I'm wearing bad bronzer or the wrong shade. It's summer here right now, so I'm a little darker this time of year, I was informed that I'm 1R09. I had the results emailed to me and went on my way.

When I got home and looked at the shades later, I was shocked. 9?! That's medium!! I'm usually the lightest or second lightest shade in drugstore foundation shades and even those are often too dark! Today I'm wearing Alima Pure Neutral 3, which is a fantastic match. I consider myself neutral, but I have rosacea and therefore pink in my skin, so I agree with the 1R rating, but medium? I'm of Irish/German descent with freckles and dirty blonde hair with natural red highlights and can't find a shade light enough to cover a tattoo on my inner thigh. Even Kat Von D's lightest shade is too dark and peachy! I've NEVER been classified as a medium shade. It's like being told I'm a size 10 when I'm actually a 4. There's absolutely NOTHING wrong with being a size 10 (in fact I was last year), but I'm not. Or being told that I wear a size 5 shoe when I actually wear a 8 1/2. Why wear an ill-fitting size? The same applies to an ill-fitting shade.

My excitement quickly turned to disappointment and dismay as I realized I was right back to where I started when it comes to ensuring that I'm wearing an appropriate shade for my skin after enlisting help from "experts" and technology had failed. I guess I'll head to the MAC store next time I'm in the area and shopping without my kids in tow to get a match from a live person. Maybe it was a fluke and I'll try it again for fun sometime, with an expectation of accuracy.

I rated this as a two because it was easy, free, and there was probably some validity to the determination of the color with respect to cool/warm/neutral, but definitely not with respect to dark/light. And I'm glad it was free because I would've been really annoyed if I paid for the service.

Age: 56 & Over

Skin: Acne-prone, Olive, Neutral

Hair: Silver, Curly, Coarse

Eyes: Brown


This is a free service offered by Sephora. They scan your face to determine the light/dark and undertone (red/yellow) components, and then give you an ID number. This varies with the seasons - summer tan vs winter pale, flushing (increases the redness factor), skin discolorations such as moles, melasma etc.

Then they suggest (soft sell) which foundations Sephora carries that are the closest match. You're not obligated to buy, and you can ask for samples.

1. Go at a time when the store is not crowded, and the SA can spend a few unhurried minutes with you.
2. Go when you are not rushed or stressed and have not had any alcohol (not even a glass of wine). Adrenaline (stress) as well as alcohol will dilate your blood vessels and make your complexion flushed ie unusually red. Do you really want to match to your face color when it is flushed?
3. Go to a store where there is the best possible lighting, preferably natural light.
4. Insist that the SA pick spots to scan where you have NO OR AS FEW AS POSSIBLE freckles, red vessels, moles or uneven pigmentation. If you want, make a note ahead of time where these are so it makes the SA's job easier.
5. Take her business card with you, so that if she did a great job, you can maybe come back to see her again for further advice in the future. Maybe even come back wearing a foundation bought with the tester, so she can see what a great job she did :))))

For me, it was very accurate: 2Y04 in winter. My skin has quite a bit of yellow but also a bit of red. The first 2 digits indicate the mix of yellow and red/pink: 5Y being the yellowest and 5R being the reddest/pinkest. They "meet" in the middle where 1Y would be just a smidge yellow and 1R would be a smidge red, and then increase towards the extremes. So it is accurate to say my skin "leans" to the yellow with the 2Y, on the yellow side, but not too far from the middle.

I was accurately rated as a mid-pigmented skin (last 2 digits): in the winter, 04 out of 15, and in the summer 07 out of 15, where 1=lightest and 15=darkest.

Go to, search color IQ, then click on the color chart to view the entire range, and see where you might fall in it.

I think the fit between the ratings and your foundation depends on the transparency of the foundation, the ambient lighting, as well as the color IQ rating. So the only way is really test it is to try it out with a sample of the foundation(s): daytime indoors and daytime outdoors, night time, camera flash etc. BEWARE OF FOUNDATION NAMES, THEY MEAN NOTHING, AND THEY ARE JUST ADVERTISING GIMMICKS. Test for yourself!

The main advantage of Sephora Pantone IQ is that it limits the number of foundations you need to try out to get a perfect match - they give you both a suitable range, and an understanding of where your individual skin fits on the spectrum of human skin coloration.

You still need to try out samples, as mentioned above, because color is only one of the important variables (although an essential one).

For the record, Ellis Faas 103 Skin Veil foundation (see my review) is a perfect match for me in winter. I ordered it with great confidence because they sent a complete rainbow spectrum of free samples on request to try out- so I could check it out at my leisure under different circumstances. This foundation is an excellent formulation for photography (no dreaded white flash) because it was developed originally for models and professional photography. (I am no model, by the way, just someone who likes a foundation that looks natural under all circumstances and does not break me out ). On the Faas color scale of 1 to 8, I am a 3 in winter, 4 in the summer, and blend the two in spring and fall.

7 of 7 people found this helpful.

Age: 36-43

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Grey

Agree with a lot of the negative reviews. My skin VERY obviously has a lot of pink in it. I tried the "Color IQ" on a lark, and it came up with a 2Y05 for my skin. The MUFE powder it had recommended was almost straight-up yellow. It looked great with the lighting in the store; when I got it home, it ended up looking too yellowish - and, eventually, as the day wore on - orange on my skin. Back it went.
The foundation that I typically use (which is a good match in natural light) is a "Pantone" 1R06, According to the Color IQ, it should be darker than a 2Y05, but the particular 1R06 foundation I use (Clinique Even Better in Ivory) is actually lighter than the 2Y05 the Color IQ recommended, and more of a pinkish light beige. So, I'd have to say this tool and the associated "color-matched foundations" could use a little tweaking. I'll continue to trust my own eye/instincts as to what matches.
Also agree with another reviewer about the store lighting. I'm starting to make more purchases at ULTA - where I have access to windows that will let me see how something looks in natural light, prior to making a purchase.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

on 11/29/2015 6:04:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brunette, Curly, Medium

Eyes: Brown

First of all let me say that I don't really know that much about foundation/skin makeup. I've never had a use for it until this year (experiencing PCOS related adult acne breakouts). I've tried a variety of samples and drugstore foundations and have found that no matter what the colour is either too dark or too pink and makes my face look hyper pigmented.

I was HOPING that this machine would help me out so I went into a sephora today. Unfortunately the only thing that this stupid thing seemed to pick up was the hyper pigmentation on my cheeks and matched me to a variety of foundations that are still too red [1R06]. My neck and forehead undertones are yellow, but I guess the darkness of the scarring threw the machine off and it assumed I wanted to match that. The sales person working though was very friendly and helpful though she ended up matching me to a foundation that was a completely different colour [2Y04]. It looked decent in the store but I've yet to go outside in it. I'm a little worried about it being too dark.

Hoping something else better comes along, I'm getting really tired of swatching and testing to make sure nothing breaks me out. Wouldn't recommend. You're better off going to a counter and having the artist swatch you based on what they can see themselves (since my sales person ended up just ignoring whatever my number was anyway).

on 10/24/2015 12:31:00 AM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Acne-prone, Medium, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Brown

The SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ SkinTone Library is a great online reference. Though, I haven't had the in-store experience with the SEPHORA + PANTONE COLOR IQ Handheld Device. Here's some facts and tips provided by PANTONE:

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

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

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