The much-vaunted Lancôme Le Teint Particulier foundation has finally arrived on U.K. shores. Just launched with its own fancy new counter at Harrods, it lets you custom mix your own personal foundation, matched to your skin tone via algorithmic technology. Choose your level of coverage and hydration, let the machine do its thing, then take away your own individual bottle, complete with unique-to-you code and printed label.
The Le Teint Particulier foundation first launched in selected U.S. Nordstrom boutiques last year and has been publicised via blogs and social media creating a frenzy of interest. In today’s globalised culture, there’s an expectation for all skin tones to be catered for. But everyone’s skin tone is unique, with varying degrees of yellow, blue or pink undertones, which means it’s just not possible to have hundreds of exact matches stored on a shop counter.
We’re also experiencing the age of individuality in which technology such as 3D printing allows for mass customisation at an accessible price. Give the customer a taste of that and it’s very seductive.
How does it work and what are the benefits?
Your custom mixed foundation takes place at the Harrods Lancôme counter where three readings of your skin tone are taken using a special electronic scanner. The data is instantly processed through algorithms that work out your perfect shade. You decide on the level of coverage and can then watch the pigment being added to the moisturiser and thinning agent in a machine in front of you.
Then in a separate machine, the product is whizzed up for 45 seconds. At this stage you can try the product on your skin and decide if you like the shade match. You can choose to go warmer or cooler, in which case more pigment can be added to tweak the colour. The filled plastic cartridge is then put into a bottle and labelled with your name and unique number. think of it as your own special Pantone shade…
To reorder, there’s no need to visit the store. Once armed with your number, you can restock remotely and even order in bulk. For the affluent Harrods customer, this is handy for stocking those multiple international residences.
Is it effective?
I was able to trial the service the day before its official launch. It took an hour once the explanations and, um, Instagram storying had been factored in and I also had the rest of my makeup done (by Lancôme Pro Make-up Artist Georgios Tsantirakis). We started with serum and primer, then the three readings were taken from my neck, forehead and top of cheek (where there was a little redness). The algorithm then worked out an average skin tone shade. I went for medium coverage, which is buildable. I also decided I wanted it a bit warmer as I always feel my skin is too greige.
While the resulting foundation looks slightly orange when tested on the back of my hand (compared to my usual foundations), once blended into my skin with fingertips, the shade is a natural-looking match. You definitely feel a sense of theatre and pampering with this service, it’s not an experience you want to rush. For retailers I imagine this is a prime opportunity to upsell to the customer while she is nice and relaxed in the chair. Overall I’m impressed with the consistency although I find I have to blend it fairly quickly. This is where fingers help, although there’s also a new brush that’s both rounded and flat on one side for optimum blending.
What are the limitations?
Note: this foundation is primarily for colour matching. You can choose your level of hydration as well as coverage (sheer, medium or heavy), which is determined by the ratio of base fluid (moisturiser) to pigment. You can also choose to go slightly cooler or warmer. But it’s a standard ‘natural, flawless’ finish; you can’t choose matte or illuminating for example. The formula is non-scented and suited to sensitive skin. You’ll also need to book an appointment as the process takes about half an hour. There’s currently a waiting list…
One other downside is you can’t take away a small sample to try at home. While the colour matching is great (and you get to tweak it mid-way), that’s only one factor in a perfect foundation. So you’ll have to trust that the finish will be right for you. I noticed I had a little dryness on my cheeks and under the eyes by the end of the day but I’ve remedied that by making sure I prep the skin properly with extra moisturiser and eye cream.
Is it worth it?
The Lancôme Le Teint Particulier foundation costs £90 for 30ml. That’s a lot for a foundation that you can’t trial at home, but it’s worth it if you have a lot of trouble finding your shade. You also don’t have the bother of trying to track down a difficult-to-find shade from store to store – this will always be in stock.
Long term forecast
With more brands now addressing the foundation colour conundrum, there’s more choice available – from mainstream giants like Bobbi Brown and Maybelline, to budget names including The Ordinary and Superdrug B Makeup. The Lancôme Le Teint Particulier is only the beginning of algorithmically mixed foundation so understandably it costs more. With the technology in place and if customers respond well, there’s scope for the machines to get smaller (meaning wider distribution – at the moment the two devices take up a lot of counter space) and the process even speedier. And once other brands buy into the patented technology, the price should come down too.
In the not too distant future, we might even have our own bathroom counter top devices (it’s happening already in skincare). The game changer will be when you can also choose your finish, the fragrance of your choice, and perhaps other skincare actives to make each formula truly bespoke. Today’s consumer values personalisation and speed and with this product there are already potentially 72,000 shades of foundation at your fingertips. That’s no bad achievement.
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Harrods; Disneyrollergirl
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