Made in the Shade

New apps identify color matches for beauty products

Trying to find a beauty product in a specific shade is often challenging, requiring shoppers to sort through thousands of options to find their ideal makeup match. New tools ease the hunt by operating like a Shazam for beauty, determining which items resemble a color in photos or a higher-end version of that product.


One encounters countless eye-catching colors each day, and chances are that makeup exists in many of these shades. That’s the thinking behind the app ShadeScout, which lets people take photos of items and find beauty products in similar colors. Users upload a photo, hover over the color they want to match, and press the “Scout” button. The app then pulls up a list of products in hues close to that of the object, enabling users to filter by brand and product category. Makeup mavens can even “try on” the color virtually to determine what’s best for them personally.


When one stumbles upon a color they love, whether in clothing, artwork, or nature, for instance, they can find a lipstick in a similar shade thanks to the app Flawless. Users simply snap a photo of the item, and the app analyzes its coloring, providing several options from the thousands of products in its database. Flawless suggests the closest shade as well as variations of it in order to offer choices at different price points. If the color captured does not exist, or if users prefer to create their own blend of a shade, they can make a custom lipstick within the app for $45.


Budget-savvy beauty enthusiasts are constantly on the hunt for inexpensive imitators of high-end beauty products, also known as “dupes.” The app SuperDuper makes their search easier (though not necessarily more ethical) by providing affordable alternatives to pricey nail polish hues. Users select the name brand nail polish they want to find a dupe for, and then pick out the color. SuperDuper lists alternatives available from drug store brands based on colors tested by its staffers and suggested by the beauty community. The creators hope to provide dupes for all types of makeup in the future.