Could colour capture technology be the next big beauty step?

June 16, 2015
4 min read

Struggling to find exactly the right colour to suit their skintone or that right shade of red is an issue that many consumers face when shopping for beauty products and it could be technology that has the solution.

SwatchMate has introduced a Colour Capturing Cube, a handheld equivalent of a digital pipette, that can collect colour from any physical surface, enabling the user to reproduce it at a later date using a digital design programme. It works using an aperture port, collecting colour parameters such as RGB or L*a*b, and reproducing the colour in programs such as Photoshop. The portable device can store up to 20 colours or infinitely more when paired with an app.

A more accurate way to colour match?

According to Mintel’s Colour Cosmetics UK 2014 report, a third of face colour cosmetic users are interested in devices that identify products which are right for them, such as matching foundation to skin tone. Technology such as SwatchMate offers opportunities for superior colour matching. For example, the device can be used to measure a consumer’s skin tone and direct them to the shade best suited to them.

Although the Boot’s Match Made service already offers this, it is limited to recommending shades within the Boots range. SwatchMate’s Colour Capturing Cube could therefore be utlitised by other brands to direct women to their perfect shades. It is not only colour cosmetics that could utilise this technology. With almost a quarter of UK hair colourant users interested in in-store colour matching services, the technology can also be used in the hair colour category to allow users to measure their hair colour and direct them to the closest shade.

The technology can also be used to make online colour matching easier. In 2015, Techkon’s InnovationLab developed the Catch Your Skin Tone technology to capture colours on mobile devices, allowing the user to find the shade best suited to them. The technology has the ability to allow users to order products online, removing the barrier of colour matching which can be an issue for online shoppers.

Personalised Colour

Mintel has identified a consumer trend that suggests that for consumers, personalisation is a right, not a privilege and one-size-fits-all is dead. By allowing consumers to get exactly what they want and how they want it, brands can build a more personal relationship with consumers. This trend is growing in beauty care, with personalised colour fast becoming a reality. In 2014, MINK introduced the 3D printer which allows users to save a desired colour from the internet or photos into software such as Microsoft Paint. The printer then prints the shade, applying pigment onto raw materials used for creating cosmetics.

SwatchMate sets itself apart from the other technology on the market however, mainly through its accuracy in capturing colour. Although MINK enables the user to save any colour, aspects of the colour may be lost in transferring it into Microsoft Paint for example. In addition, the colour is saved from an image, rather than the original source. The Cube, on the other hand, isolates the surface from where the colour is measured, illuminating it with its own inbuilt light source to collect accurate surface colour values.

With 33% of UK colour cosmetics users matching their make-up colours with their clothes or outfits, SwatchMate’s Cube technology presents opportunities for greater personalisation. Where the MINK 3D printer is limited in regard to offering the additional benefits that other cosmetics brands can, SwatchMate’s Cube can be used by cosmetics brands to allow users to measure a desired colour and create bespoke shades. Brands can even add bespoke skincare or long-lasting wear benefits to suit the user. In the hair colour category, a brand can enable consumers looking for vibrant shades to measure colours in nature around them, and create bespoke shades tailored for them.

Roshida Khanom, Senior Personal Care Analyst at Mintel, joined in 2012 and writes about the OTC, Beauty & Personal Care industries. Prior to joining Mintel, she was a Senior Researcher at Procter & Gamble’s R&D department in the beauty division, where she launched products globally, identified trends and analysed consumer responses to new innovations with a particular focus in qualitative methods

Roshida Khanom
Roshida Khanom

Roshida Khanom is Director of Beauty & Personal Care Insights, EMEA.

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