Estee Lauder Double Wear – Dissected

Estee Lauder’s famous Double Wear Stay in Place foundation has been a favorite of mine for just about as long as I’ve been wearing makeup. I even wore it on my wedding day! I love it for its unbeatable longevity, near perfect match (for my skin, at least), and superb coverage. Nowadays, I go after a more natural look for every day, but occasionally you’ll find me in a full-coverage mood. And for those times, this is the foundation I reach for.

Having approximately zero previous experience or knowledge about cosmetic chemistry, I was intrigued about what exactly makes Double Wear so good.

I’m here to report that I still don’t know.

Sorry about that.

But what I learned has shed some light on what could be the cause of all that’s good with Double Wear. Here I’ve broken down each and every Double Wear ingredient listed on Estee Lauder’s website:

  1. Water
  2. Cyclopentasiloxane
  3. Trimethylsiloxysilicate
  4. Peg/Ppg-18/18 dimethicone
  5. Butylene glycol
  6. Tribehenin
  7. Polyglyceryl-3 diisostearate
  8. Magnesium sulfate
  9. Tocopheryl acetate
  10. Polymethylsilsesquioxane
  11. Methicone
  12. Laureth-7
  13. Xanthan gum
  14. Alumina
  15. Sodium dehydroacetate
  16. Disteardimonium hectorite
  17. Cellulose gum
  18. Propylene carbonate
  19. Pentaerythrityl tetra-di-t-butyl hydroxyhydrocinnamate
  20. Phenoxyethanol
  21. Iron oxides
  22. Mica
  23. Titanium dioxide

Twenty three ingredients honestly isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’ve had soup recipes that have had more ingredients than that. Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what these ingredients actually are.

Silicone/Silicone Products

Ingredient numbers 2, 3, 4, 10, and 11 are all silicones or silicone products. The main purpose of these ingredients is to provide slip to the product and form a type of barrier on the skin. This barrier is to prevent outside factors from adulterating the foundation, as well as prevent skin oils and sweat from degrading the product from the inside out, helping resist transfer. Many silicone products are also water resistant, which helps Double Wear hold up to its water-proof claims. Ingredient 2, cyclopentasiloxane, is known for its fast-drying properties. Ingredient 4, Peg/Ppg-18/18 dimethicone, is a “co-emulsifier”, meaning it contains both silicone and water-soluble groups. This allows the hydrophobic and hydrophilic molecules to coexist within the formula.

Emulsifiers and Solvents

The purpose of emulsifiers and solvents is to allow molecules to be suspended evenly together within a liquid. Since there are so many ingredients at stake here, it makes sense that there are many different emulsifiers and solvents in the formula. Ingredient numbers 5, 6, 7, 12, and 18 are all in this category. Now, most of these ingredients are multipurpose. For instance, number 5, butylene glycol, is also a humectant. A humectant is a product that draws moisture into the skin from the atmosphere. This, along with number 18, propylene carbonate, decreases the viscosity of the liquid to which they’re added. This decreased viscosity is counteracted by several thickeners that are present in the formula.

Thickeners and Stabilizers

Our next category of ingredients increases viscosity and maintains the activity of the other ingredients. The thickeners counteract the thinning effect of ingredients like propylene carbonate. Stabilizers help to maintain ingredient activity and prolong shelf life. Thickeners and stabilizers are found in ingredient numbers 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, and 19.


A dirty word, preservatives. Unfortunately, if you don’t want your foundation spoiling within a couple of weeks, you need them. Preservatives help to slow down bacterial and fungal growth in order to keep your makeup safe and functioning as it should. An overgrowth of bacteria can not only break down the ingredients in whatever product you’re using, it can also cause a nasty infection if you’re not careful. Ingredients 15 and 20 are preservatives used in Double Wear. Number 20, phenoxyethanol, is one to specially note. This particular ingredient has suffered various claims of toxicity and general evil-ness. However, phenoxyethanol is approved to use at concentrations of 1% or less. This is definitely not enough to cause any sort of harm, especially since it’s applied to the skin versus being consumed. The bottom line is, most preservatives are necessary, safe, and good at what they do. If you don’t want them near your skin, be prepared to make your own cosmetics or shell out a lot of cash to buy expensive “natural” products.


Ingredient 21, iron oxides, is what gives Double Wear its impressive 56 shades. There are three basic iron oxide shades: black, yellow, and red. These three get mixed and matched to form any variant of the skin tone rainbow. Along with iron oxides, ingredient number 23, titanium dioxide provides a white, opaque pigment that brightens and lightens. Titanium dioxide is also a sunscreen ingredient.

Everything Else

Ingredients 1, 8, 9, and 22 are the rest of the pieces in the Double Wear puzzle. Water is number 1, the first ingredient. Good ol’ H2O is the most used cosmetic ingredient in pretty much everything (everything liquid, at least). Water is used as a base solvent, suspending all the other ingredients into one. 8 is magnesium sulfate, also known as Epson salt and used as a bulking agent. Tocopheryl acetate, a specific form of vitamin E, is number 9. Lastly, number 22 is mica. Mica is very widely used as an ingredient that adds shimmer. Your favorite metallic shadow and your go-to highlight is probably formulated with quite a bit of mica. This ingredient, however comes with some heavy ethical concerns about child exploitation. Please read this article from Refinery29.

So these 23 ingredients are what make up the number one foundation in the United States. With a massive shade range from 0N1 to 8N1, with neutral, cool, and warm undertones, literally almost anyone can find a shade that fits them. Considering this is the best, most complete foundation I’ve ever tried, I recommend you do too. I’m interested in doing more research on mica mining, but other than that, Double Wear seems like a great bet for nearly anyone. Let me know in the comments if you’ve ever tried Double Wear, or are wanting to! I’m interesting in hearing your thoughts on the number one foundation in the U.S.!