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Estée Lauder Double Wear Shades, Explained

Estée Lauder Double Wear Shades, Explained

A key product to perfect the complexion and conceal imperfections, foundation is a must-have for most makeup wearers. Once you find your perfect foundation match, both in texture and shade, chances are that you’re keeping that bond for life. And that’s what has happened to those who have crossed their ways with the one and only Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup.

Let’s go back in time and spot the moment when everything changed in the complexion makeup game. In 1997, a brand new, high-end foundation enters the scene with more promises that may seem possible for any foundation to fulfill. It promised to be fresh and comfortable, as well as resistant to heat and humidity. Once you put it to the test, you’ll learn that Estée Lauder meant every word. The formula is waterproof, offers 24-hour wear, with a matte and transfer-proof result. Equally important, it controls oil thanks to an oil-free and mineral-oil-free formula. Synthetic fragrance, gluten, alcohol and animal-derived ingredients are out of the ingredients list as well.
The bottle looks very much the same since it was first launched, and the formula sticks to its initial claims. You can open your heart to true, lasting love with this one. It’s been around for 25 years and it looks like it’s here to stay.

What do the Estée Lauder Double Wear codes mean

The shade codes may look like wi-fi passwords at first sight, but they prove useful once you crack the code. The important thing to know is that each code character has a meaning, and they’ll prove helpful in leading you to your perfect shade match. It’s interesting to notice that each element of the code provides more detailed information than the previous. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves… Let’s see the meaning behind each Estée Lauder Double Wear shade code!

First digit

The first number guides you on the light-deep spectrum or the shade’s intensity level. All the shade codes beginning with 1 or 2 are described as light; those starting with the numbers 3 or 4 are described as medium, while codes opening with numbers from 5 to 8 are detailed as deep. This should give you an idea of where to start, even if it’s by elimination.

The letter

The second character is a letter and a very important one to note, as it indicates the undertone. You may get the shade’s intensity level right, but if you don’t match the undertone, it will be for nothing!

There are three different undertones that you can expect to find in the Estée Lauder Double Wear shades, determined by the letter in the shade code. Let’s start by decoding the [C], which stands for “cool” undertones. When choosing a foundation with this undertone, you’re getting a shade that’s more on the pink side, if your natural skin tone is light to medium. For deep skin tones, a cool undertone can show hues of pink, red, or blue.

Now, time to take a look at the opposite of cool undertones, the warm shades. If you clearly have yellow, olive, or golden undertones, start taking notes: your shade should include a [W]. Last but not least, if your skin doesn’t have warm or cool undertones, chances are that it’s best described as neutral—and addressed in the Estée Lauder Double Wear shade codes with a [N].

Last digit

To complete our Estée Lauder Double Wear shades course, we need to focus on the meaning of the last digit! Once you determine which is your first number and letter, it’s the last digit that leads you to your shade. The last digit reflects the depth of the color and varies just as the first digit does, from lighter to darker as the numbers go up. This character in particular varies only between 0 and 4, but not all combinations of first number + second letter have options of the last digit from 0 to 4. Let’s see an example! The combo 3W only comes in 3W1, 3W1.5, and 3W2, missing the combinations of 3W0, 3W3, and 3W4 (maybe for the future, who knows!).

How can you determine the right shade for you

It’s incredible to have a foundation range with so many shade options (57 and counting!). Yet, that can be a curse when it comes time to choose your shade. Now that you know everything about the shade codes, it should be easier once you eliminate the ones that are obviously not a fit. We’re dividing our advice depending on your shopping option; we have tips for buying in-store, and different tips for those giving a shot to intuitive online shade matching (this should be a trademark concept!).

If you’re buying on-line…

You should start by understanding what is your undertone, and whether it translates into a [W], a [N] or a [C]. Once that is figured, it’s time to crack the numbers code. The first digit should be easy to get, especially if you look for online references. Once that’s settled, it’s time to decode the last digit. The word on the street is that the second number indicates how strongly the undertone reveals on the shade. In this scenario, a 2W2 should be warmer (or more yellow/olive) than a 2W1. In this particular example, it seems to be true. You may test the theory on your shade segment and see if it makes sense for you. It may end up being useful for you to find your perfect shade match.

If you’re buying in-store…

This is the scenario that makes the job easier since you get to test the product on your actual skin. However, you can follow the directions for online shopping before going to the store. Once you’re there, try the foundation on your face, and not on your wrists or hands. Equally important, you should wait until the formula dries before making a shade decision! Even though the formula doesn’t oxidize, the color looks true to the final result once it sets.


Once you have your shade, the challenge is applying it! Check our suggestions on foundation application tools so you can get the best application experience and results.
If you’d like to know more about the brand, we think you may like our post about Estée Lauder herself, as well as picking on the best Estée Lauder’s products!

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