We are born with 10 makeup application tools at the ready: our fingers. You’d think I’d be in command of those tools given that I’ve used them my entire life, but I definitely am not. At least once a week I detect a large swipe of tinted moisturizer, BB cream or foundation that typically starts at the tip of my cheek and descends to the base of my chin, where it peers at me in my car mirror, the dreaded revealer of my makeup mishaps. On other occasions, the mirror exposes patches of skin at the tips of my forehead that have gone coverage free, which I attempt to remedy by pushing makeup from the center of my forehead to the apex or else hide the rest of the day with a top-of-the-forehead version of The Thinker pose. To avoid these makeup misadventures, I’ve occasionally forgone fingers in favor of brushes or sponges, and have plenty of foundation-soaked versions of them stuffed into my bathroom drawers to prove it. Still, despite the issues with them, I keep coming back to my digits. They’re always there, usually clean and don’t cost a thing.
At his gorgeous San Francisco home, Eric Jimenez, co-founder of Color Me, the company behind a new $54 makeup application device sold at Ulta, is trying to convince me to ditch the digits once and for good. It doesn’t hurt that he is feeding me delicious Banh Mi sandwiches and spring rolls. (He somehow knew that the way to this beauty editor’s heart is through her stomach.) Between bites, I watch him pump a drop of MAC foundation onto the Color Me sponge – it comes with two kinds of sponges that attach to a circular component on the battery-operated palm-sized machine, one for liquid foundation and another for powder – and spread the foundation onto the right side of his face with the device. As he does so, Jimenez explains that the Color Me pulsates 15,000 times per minute. Remember those vibrating foot massagers sold at Sharper Image that you could have work over your tired toes as you sat in comfy chair? For some reason, Color Me reminds me of those massagers. Of course, it is way smaller and not for your feet. Still, the sensation is similar.
Color Me is the result of a career impasse. A 25-year veteran of the beauty industry who’s career has included stops at the brands La Mer, Benefit and Urban Decay, Jimenez wasn’t sure exactly what to do with himself after departing Urban Decay, where he was the global makeup artist and worldwide chief retail sales officer, in 2013. He had a feeling he could improve women’s complexions, but he didn’t want to launch a humdrum beauty line. Then, during a trip to Asia, he recalls, “I saw something that just vibrated all over the place. It didn’t do anything. It was supposed to put a BB cream on you. It wasn’t consistent. It just shook. I looked at it and thought, ‘That technology needs to be refined.’ So, I worked on it for a year and a half, and refined it.” As he is telling the story, he finishes covering half his face in foundation. It looks flawless. If women are often troubled by foundation that creases, oxidizes or doesn’t last, Jimenez insists Color Me can solve those dilemmas. “Most of the time, she blames her foundation for it not performing. She will buy another foundation, another one and another one until she has a shoebox full of them. At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily the foundation’s problem. It’s your problem in applying it,” he says.
The true test will be whether I can replicate Jimenez’s process back at home. I unbox my Color Me to give it a whirl. Jimenez had informed me that he’s paired the device with everything from BB creams to press powder from brands across the beauty spectrum, so I feel comfortable trying it with my Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream, and put a dollop of it on Color Me’s sponge. When I bring the Color Me to my face, the cream spills out from the sponge onto my cheek. My dollop was far too large. Because some of the cream soaks into the sponge, the device doesn’t need very much. Once I get the amount sorted out, I’m can easily disperse the cream over my entire face. The finish is impeccable, and there are no nasty streaks. My car mirror would be happy. Will I switch from fingers to Color Me? Well, probably not totally. The next chance I have to do my makeup, I can’t seem to find the darn device. It’s lost somewhere in my hoard of brushes and sponges. My fingers, though, they’re available to do the job.