If you've ever bought foundation online, sight unseen, then you know the meaning of disappointment. (Hell, you've probably been let down with a shade choice even if you picked it up at the store.) Guessing the wrong shade for your skin tone is practically a guarantee when you're just going over descriptors like mocha, ivory, and buff.
The truth of the matter is, looking for the perfect shade of foundation can be a daunting — and often overwhelming — task. It's one of those notoriously hard-to-shop-for products, like bras or running shoes, and it often takes a lot of trial and error to land on one that's just right for your complexion.
That's why the new Custom Blend app from CoverGirl is so brilliant: It uses a patent-pending, 180-degree video feature that adjusts to the lighting when you take a selfie, and then pinpoints your exact undertones and skin color. After a few questions and a quick scan, it sends your personalized blend directly to your door for $25 (shipping's free). You even can name your customized formula so it truly feels like yours, and the brand throws in a little extra product swag with delivery, too.
And we have proof that the technology works. CoverGirl let us take the app (which will only be available until the end of March) for a spin to try it out on a range of staffers with different skin tones. Check out our unfiltered before and afters ahead, then click into your app store to download before it's too late.
Diana Cenat, first impressionist
"Drugstore foundation is usually a no-go for me, mostly because there are never enough options for my skin tone. I usually skip it and wear the NARS Creamy Concealer instead, but replacing it can get expensive."
"The app was easy to use! The steps were simple, and it took ten minutes to fill everything out, get scanned, and confirm the order. I was skeptical about the app working for me, but the shade is almost perfect. It costs less than my fave too, so I'm down to have it in my makeup stash for days when I want a lighter feel."
Kelsey Castañon, Beauty news editor
"Foundation is one of my favorite things to test — and as a beauty editor, I can confirm that I've tested a lot. (We're talking hundreds at this point.) Still, finding a true match is hard, which I suppose is why I'm constantly on the hunt. In the bottle, this formula looked a little warm. But as soon as I smoothed it on, it blended in perfectly. I've never had a shade match my skin so seamlessly, ever."
"First of all: The formula itself is so damn good. It's creamy yet lightweight, and didn't look too heavy or cake-y on my skin. In terms of the actual shade, I was surprised it actually picked up on my coloring and undertones because the lighting in my bedroom was dark. (I ordered it on a pretty gloomy day, so there was little sunshine coming through my window.) I feel like I need to order 10 more of these — that's how good it was."
Mi Anne Chan, beauty writer
"I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting to fall in love with this foundation. I'm a tinted moisturizer or BB cream gal through and through. I was really surprised by this one, though. Even though it doesn't look like the exact shade on my arm (which is a bit pale after the winter months), it really blended into a natural-looking color on my face. I actually let out an audible wow when I looked at my face in the mirror."
"I completed the steps for the app in less than 5 minutes and got my personalized foundation in the shade 'It's Mi!' (I was a little buzzed when I named it...) a week later. The entire experience was hassle-free. It instantly evened out my complexion and covered minor blemishes, but didn't mask my skin like many foundations tend to do. Instead, it just left a thin veil of coverage and a matte (but certainly not flat) finish.
I will say that my shade might be a touch darker than my current skin tone, but with a little blending, it's not noticeable at all. I scanned my face in the app in relatively low light, so that might be the culprit. Still, I'm definitely going to continue using it."
Marshall Bright, food writer
"I never wear drugstore foundation because I am completely incapable of picking it out myself. Things like 'undertones' totally elude me, and I also tan (and lose my tan) very quickly, meaning I require at least three different color foundations over the course of the year. My compromise is using a high-end tinted moisturizer, which means I'm matched at the counter and the lighter coverage can be more easily blended to my ever-changing complexion. So I was both hopeful and skeptical that an app could solve my drugstore woes forever (and save me some money, too)."
"The app was easy to use, but I got nervous when it asked for indoor light. I have such a dark apartment, so I wasn't confident that the scans were going to turn out, and when it arrived a few days later, I was actually surprised that it appeared darker in the bottle. (The full-coverage simulation made me think the shade they would mix would be lighter.)
Maybe it's because of my aforementioned inability to understand undertones, but the seemingly too-dark shade is perfect on my face. It does exactly what I want a foundation to do: evens and brightens tone, without going on like a mask. Plus, the foundation is oil-free and actually makes me less greasy throughout the day than my regular tinted moisturizer formulated for oily skin. So, while I'm going to still stick to my summer tinted moisturizer since it comes with SPF, I think I've finally found my go-to winter shade!
Valis Vicenty, Snapchat Discover beauty writer
"I was excited to try out the CoverGirl Custom Blend app. I usually have trouble finding the right foundation, as they tend to run yellow on me when I'm more neutral. I loved that it did focus on factors like undertone, which are usually where foundations tend to stumble by not having enough variety — this and the fact that many brands don't offer options for those with deeper complexions like my own."
"Lighting is incredibly important to getting the scan to work. My apartment has yellow lights, save for the bathroom, so that's where I took the scan. I got the foundation a week later, and while it looks somewhat lighter than my true skin tone, it still blended well.
As it turns out, the bright, white light of the bathroom had blown out my complexion a bit, thus the lighter shade. So if I were to do it all over again, I'd probably re-do the scan outside in natural light for the most accurate shade. I'm excited to try it again though."
Anna Maltby, deputy editor of health & wellness
"I can count on one hand the number of times I've bought foundation — I'm more of a tinted moisturizer person. The few times I've tried more serious makeup, I've never had the patience to find a product or shade that actually matched my skin. But I do sometimes wish I had a more full-coverage option for special occasions days when I want to look more put together, or times when my skin isn't looking great.
I was a little skeptical of this process — how can the app really tell anything about your skin tone when there are so many factors that can affect how an image looks on your phone camera? But it was super-easy to use. As you can see, the color doesn't match my inner arm, which is a good lesson in why that's not actually a good place to test stuff for your face..."
"Because my hand is not the same color as my face! The makeup totally matched my facial skin tone perfectly, and I loved the level of coverage — it covered up blemishes and unevenness but didn't look unnatural or cake-y. I was really impressed. And while I probably won't use this every day, it's a great option for times when I want something a little more advanced than tinted moisturizer."
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