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Beauty Byte: Would You Let a Computer Choose Your Cosmetics?

If you've been hoping for a Jetsons-style way to shop for makeup, you'll be pleased to learn this. Hewlett-Packard has created a service that will help you find the right shades of foundation, lipstick, blush and eye shadow for your skin tone.

According to a new story in Scientific American, all you need is a cell phone camera and a sheet of color swatches that HP provides. Just snap your picture with the color sheet and send it as a picture message to HP, where computers will use algorithms to deduce the right colors for you. The software color-corrects the image, matches your skin tone to a database of colors chosen by makeup artists, and sends you the findings via text message.

Hewlett-Packard is mum on when this service will roll out, and it'll likely happen with only one cosmetics brand at first. Admittedly, the idea is innovative, but I have some reservations. To find out what they are,

Beyond the novelty aspect of this concept, I'm not sure how successful it would be in the long run. Most women I know enjoy playing around with different colors, and trying new products. I've spent many hours buzzing around Sephora seeing what I'd look like with, say, green eyeliner with yellow eye shadow (the answer: not very good). So unless you really hate shopping for makeup, it seems like you might be giving up some of the fun factor.

Additionally, who's to say that a certain color is flattering? Although the hues were selected by makeup artists, every person has different tastes. While a makeup artist might think you look great in tawny tones, what if your tastes are a little wilder?

With all of that said, I do think this kind of technology is innovative. It would probably be most helpful at the drugstore, where it's nearly impossible to figure out which colors will look good under that fluorescent light. But I'm still not completely sold. What do you think?

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