Can An App Match You With The Perfect Lipstick Shade?

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I’ve often found myself looking, hoping, and wishing for a way that I could match shades of my favorite flowers to their cosmetic counterparts. While I have seen (very expensive) professional devices that match real-world colors with Pantone tones, I needed to know if my fantasy could become a reality.

If you’ve taken advantage of Sephora’s Color IQ foundation shade identification system, then you’re already familiar with the general concept of ShadeScout. Available for both iOS and Android devices, ShadeScout uses your device’s live camera view to identify an on-screen color and searches a database for makeup products in that shade. After selecting a product that you’re interested in, the device allows you to virtually try on the color & provides an (affiliate) link to purchase.

There have been many times where I’ve seen a beautiful flower while walking in a garden and I’ve wished that I could be wearing that exact shade in the same velvet petal texture on my lips, so this was the experience that I hoped to recreate with ShadeScout. I am currently using a Samsung Galaxy Note 5, so any experience or design comments are made based on my experience while using the Android app.

My first point of frustration with the app was that I could not upload previous images to the app. In order to identify a color, ShadeScout uses the live view from your camera. There were gorgeous flowers from my favorite garden in England that I would have loved to match, but sadly I had to scour the neighborhood for vivid late summer blooms.

The interface is a bit clunky and I found it difficult to navigate through the list of recommended products without losing my place. While there is an ability to save product recommendations for later, listed under Favorites, I found the layout to be less than intuitive. When sharing a photo or a screenshot from the app, the resulting image doesn’t include the specific shade or product recommendation, which is likely intentional in order to drive you to buy products linked through affiliate links.

I next wanted to see if the app could correctly match the shade of lipstick or foundation that I was wearing. For reference, in the above screenshots, I am wearing Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Moss lipstick in shade 10 and Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation in shade Pure Beige 2C1. Sadly, ShadeScout didn’t recommend either of these shades as color matches in my search.

There’s a variety of plausible explanations for the imprecise shade matches including camera calibration, resolution, and lighting, to name a few. If you’re interested in similar tones to a color that you encounter in real life and would like to see how it might look on you, ShadeScout is a fantastic option.

Die-hard beauty fanatics might feel like this app is lacking specificity and depth, but the potential is there. I’d love to be able to use this tool to find a lip liner companion to my natural lip color or a more unique shade of lipstick, but sadly lip liner is not a product category that’s currently available. I’d also love to use it to precisely shade match discontinued lipsticks or eyeshadows I’ve hit pan on in a palette. There’s also a lot of room for improvement when it comes to filtering shade recommendations by texture, coverage, or price range.

Is this an app that you’d find useful? Do you use virtual try-on apps or would you rather try products on IRL at Sephora or Ulta? Tell me your thoughts in the comments below!

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Sarah Conley
Focusing on style and self-esteem with her inimitable sass, Sarah has helped change the conversation about plus size fashion. She is a socially connected influencer, has been the star of viral videos, and helped lead an anti-body shaming campaign that earned an apology from O, the Oprah Magazine. With an approach that is more Role Model than Runway Model, Sarah has built a credible connection with the fashion community as a whole. As a freelance writer, her work has appeared in TIME, CNN, Teen Vogue, Glamour, InStyle, Lucky, and more. As a consultant, her social strategies have been executed by former clients ELOQUII, Undone Beauty, NARS, MAC Cosmetics, David Yurman, Diane von Furstenberg, Nine West, Clé de Peau Beauté, and many more. Currently, she serves as the Director of Marketing for Arkansas’s only cut-to-order cheese shop, Sweet Freedom Cheese in Bentonville, Arkansas. When she’s not educating people on the wonders of artisanal cheese or taking her rescue dog, Blueberry Shortcake Flowers, for a walk, Sarah can be found on Twitter and Instagram at @imsarahconley.

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