These Personalized Beauty Products Are Game-Changers

The beauty world has a long-held obsession with customization. We buy fragrance layering kits in pursuit of that truly signature scent, craft bespoke palettes suited for our unique skin tones, and cocktail non-traditional hair pairings to achieve an exacting combination. But that's just the beginning.
Thanks to spectro-colorimeter matching technology (pioneered by Sephora a few years ago) and the increasing necessity to stand out in a crowded marketplace, customization has reached new heights. In the past few months alone there have been a handful of breakthrough launches — and we're not just talking $300 color-matching pens.
Having trouble finding a foundation that plays well with your complexion? Just have one made. Want a one-and-done serum to combat all of your specific skin gripes? That's easy. Want to touch up your roots with the exact shade your colorist blends in the salon? Come on, got anything trickier?
Ahead, we round up the latest and greatest in custom beauty offerings, all tested and approved by us. Get ready to feel fancy.
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Makeup: Lancôme Le Teint Particulier Custom Made Makeup

What To Expect: Plan to arrive without makeup, as the process requires clean, dry skin. A technician will wipe your face, then take three photos with a special camera that looks a bit like a laser gun. You can direct them to an area on your face where you like the skin tone best, or they may suggest the chin, cheek, or forehead. A unique shade number is generated, and then you answer a few questions to determine your preferred coverage and finish.

Then, the machine goes to work (you get to watch it all go down through the front window). Depending on your skin tone, different amounts of black, red, and yellow go into the base, and it gets mixed up like a can of paint at Home Depot. Et voila, your bespoke makeup is packaged right before your eyes. You try it on; the shade is adjusted as needed. They'll even save your number for easy reordering — and print your name on the front (for fanciness).

Tip: To minimize waiting, Lancome reps tell us it's best to call and make an appointment ahead of time.

Cost & Availability: A bottle will set you back $80, and at the moment, the service is only available at two Nordstrom locations on the West Coast (Del Amo Fashion Center in L.A. and Downtown Seattle) with plans for expansion.

Our Thoughts: The whole experience was really rad. It's fun to be fawned over, and the blending and shaking made for a hot snap, but the final product was the best part. The foundation matched my skin perfectly and I got to avoid the hemming and hawing of the normal foundation-buying experience. My only gripe is quite small: The bottle itself is a little cheap-feeling. Expensive foundation generally comes in a more substantial glass bottle, but since this is mixed in its plastic packaging, it's more utilitarian.
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Hair: Function Of Beauty Personalized Shampoo & Conditioner

What To Expect: Log on to the Function of Beauty website and get down to business. Start by making a series of selections about your hair type (straight, wavy, curly, or coily), texture (fine, medium, coarse), and scalp condition (dry, normal, oily). Then, select up to five hair goals (strengthen, hydrate, color protection, anti-frizz), color of your formula (shower aesthetics matter, guys), and scent (essential oils, white tea jasmine, cucumber mint, and a few more). Then pick your sizes, pay, and you're done.

Cost & Availability: Prices for the online-only service range from $22 for a single shampoo to $38 for a duo. Shipping is free and, as of now, only available stateside. As of publication, the wait time is a few weeks.

Our Thoughts: For this one, I made the following choices: wavy hair, fine texture, normal scalp oil; my goals were color protection, anti-aging (I don't really know what that means but sign me up!), and volume. The scent is where I went wrong: sandalwood violet, but let's go in order.

The packaging is great (narrow bottles are good for a crowded shower; the pumps work well, and your name is printed on the bottle). The actual formula look me by surprise. The shampoo is very thin and viscous, not as rich as your average luxury shampoo, but it cleansed well and rinsed clean. The conditioner was a little light for my taste, leaving my highlighted hair a bit drier than my normal color-targeting conditioner. Overall not bad.

The only real drawback was the scent. The company sent me four bottles, all sandalwood and violet, and they all smelled differently. An office sniff test confirmed the inconsistent scents, some earthy, some minty, some fresh. Translation: If you're scent-obsessed, be wary.
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Hair: ShampYou Custom Shampoo

What To Expect: ShampYou is a bit like the Function of Beauty shampoo option, except it's at-home DIY. There are four different scented shampoo bases (including lemon-verbena and duos like juniper/mint) and one conditioner, but you don't mix anything into that one so let's ignore it for now. The shampoo of your choosing doesn't need to be fortified, but that would be a bit like not taking a boost at Jamba Juice. There are eight little ampoules, which each serve a different purpose. Some are for texture (Gimme More Moisture, Turn Up The Volume, and Curl Me Up) while others are for color preservation (High Definition Blonde, Beautiful Brunette, Ravishing Red), heat protection (Thermo Straight) and scalp balance (Back To Your Roots). Cute names aside, it is pretty smart to be able to offer color-specific care alongside common concerns. That market doesn't really exist. The rest is simple: pop the top, dump the serum, shake it up, hit the shower.

Cost & Availability: Shampoo and conditioner ring is at $10; serum boosts are $3.50 each. Available online and at Ulta stores.

Our Thoughts:
The flip-top dispenser is a bit tricky to pop open — my guess is that it's extra strong to prevent leaking during the initial shake-up. Once you figure it out, though, you're good. The ampoules are clean, precise, and easy to open, and they blend with the shampoo almost immediately. I tried the blonde color and volume boost in the mimosa and jasmine base and despite the very bright yellow color it turned my shampoo, I liked it. The consistency is also very thin (is this a trend?) but the smell was lovely and made my hair smell like a tipsy jasmine field.
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Skin: Skin Inc My Daily Dose Custom-Blended Serum Set

What To Expect:
This next one is a hybrid between Function of Beauty and ShampYou, except for skin: An online quiz gives you the recipe, but then you mix it yourself. Questions include basics (age, gender, how often you tan or burn), lifestyle (stress level, if you smoke, how much sleep you get), and finally, your skin concerns (enlarged pores, blemishes or acne scars, under-eye bags). Then the system suggests three serums to address your woes. You pick your master bottle color and the extras arrive packaged together and ready to mix. (Note: You can also use them individually if you prefer, which is a good deal for essentially three serum samples.) Pour 'em in, shake it up, and apply three drops to clean skin morning and night.

Cost & Availability: The entire mixing set is $90 and is available online and in select Sephora stores. Shipping is free.

Our Thoughts:
Question numero uno: How are all of these serums able to blend without compromising their efficacy? Short answer is that the serums are made in Japan using patented encapsulated actives. This is likely why they look a bit like bubble tea — each serum has little colorful floaters that stay intact when mixed but melt away when applied.

I'll spare you my skin history and just say I ended up with a licorice serum to hydrate, French pine bark to reduce fine lines, and chlorella to banish uneven pigmentation. The actual serum is nice: It's light, unscented, and fully soaks in after just a minute or two. It plays well under makeup and night cream and it didn't irritate. I'll tell you in six to eight weeks if my skin is brighter and more radiant, but hopes are high.
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Skin: Kiehl’s Personalized Concentrate

What To Expect: This serum is catered to your particular skin issues, like redness, dullness, pore size, wrinkles, and more. It works a bit like this: A Kiehl’s apothecary representative will show you a series of images and, based on your own evaluation of your skin, have you select where you think your skin falls. Based on your answers, the rep will pick out your top two concerns and supply you with the complexes for you to then mix together, DIY-style, with a good-for-all-skin-types concentrate. Et voilà!

Cost & Availability: The custom serum will run you $95 and is currently available in-store at Kiehl’s NYC flagship. But, fret not, it’s set to roll out to tons of locations in September.

Our Thoughts:
Being based in NYC, we had the luxury of trying this treatment IRL and color us impressed. One of the most frustrating things about skin-care products is that they’re usually solely meant to target one particular issue. And, let’s be serious, no one truly likes having to pile on three different products to combat three different concerns. With the Kiehl’s route, you can kill two birds with one effective stone. Anything that will cut down on the number of items we have piled on our vanity is a winner in our book.
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Hair Color: Various Offerings From ESalon

What To Expect: Like those that have come before it in this slideshow, this one starts with a online profile to identify your exact hair color and needs (hair type, history, frequency of coloring, amount of gray — you get it). Then you're matched with a colorist, you upload a photo of yourself, and (if you have it) send over the exact recipe your colorist uses. All this intel is then used to customize products like hair dye, a color-boosting treatment, and a color-depositing hair mask. They arrive in the mail, and you start DIY-ing your 'do.

Cost & Availability: One shipment of the hair-color kit costs $24.95 but if you sign up for auto-refill you can bring it down to $19.95. The color-depositing treatment is $15 and the mask is $19. Everything is available online only.

Our Thoughts: This one was a bit harder to test, so we enlisted a fellow beauty insider, Allison McNamara, and her vibrant-red, slightly high-maintenance hair. Many tubes of treatment later, and she's a huge fan. "As a redhead, there are very few color-depositing shampoo and conditioners that actually work, and even less that accurately match my exact shade of red," she says. She swears by the color-enhancing shampoo in copper and the custom mask and treatment that she uses three weeks post-color for a boost.
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