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Boots rolls-out colour matching skin tones from X-Rite
Jan '13
Boots UK has begun offering in 668 stores a new service that accurately measures colour values of customers’ skin with a specially designed X-Rite instrument, then identifies the closest colour match amongst the No7 Foundation collection.

More than 1,000 No7 advisors have been trained to carry out the No7 Foundation Match Made Service, which uses a handheld X-Rite spectro colourimeter to identify the colour of a customer's skin, then precisely targets the closest matches among 17 colours of No7 foundations across a number of formats.  Boots is the UK’s leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer with close to 2,500 stores across the UK, and X-Rite Incorporated is the world's leading designer and manufacturer of colour management solutions and parent company of Pantone LLC.

The No7 Foundation Match Made Service is the result of more than three years of research and development by Boots UK.  The research included the measurement of skin tones of over 2,000 British women to create a whole new shade palette of skin-true foundation shades unique to No7.

"Our researchers found that 78 percent of women in the UK said they would change their foundation if they could find a better match," said Joanne Watson, Innovation Technologist, Boots UK.  "Our customers who have used the No7 Foundation Match Made Service say it delivers on providing accurate, better matches.  They are very, very satisfied with the results."

Watson said that early trials of the system showed that women appreciated the experience of having their skin tones measured with a sensitive instrument that could give more accurate and objective colour readings, no longer relying on in-store lighting conditions.  The device shows a digital photo of a person's skin, and the foundation colour that is the closest match.

Boots UK selected the device from X-Rite because it provided a robust method of colour measurement and was easy for advisors to use and keep on their person, Watson said.

Matthew Adby, Product/Market Manager for X-Rite, who oversaw the European introduction of the device, said X-Rite engineers customised aspects of the device's firmware to handle some of the unique challenges of measuring a person's skin accurately.  He said they had to take into consideration the translucent nature of skin, its texture and variations in colour in a small measurement area.

The device employs proprietary camera technology that illuminates the skin from three different directions while simultaneously recording 27 colour-accurate images within 2 seconds, eliminating the shadows and interference inherent to textured surfaces.  With 8 different visible illuminations and 1 ultraviolet illumination, the instrument is able to more accurately define the location of a skin tone in colour space than traditional colourimeters that typically have only three illuminations of red, green and blue light.

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