Review of Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation in 'Shell': a good, full-coverage foundation for pale-skinned redheads like myself!

I'm constantly searching for the best foundation for pale skin: this month I've been trying out Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation in 'Shell' - here's how I got on...

A range of foundations for pale skin, all swatched and compared to each other - which is the best for fair skin?

Can you believe that up until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t ever tried Estée Lauder Double Wear foundation? I KNOW.

I mean, ‘Shell’ is pretty much a pale-girl right of passage, isn’t it? And, regardless of your skin tone, if you’re into makeup, chances are this was one of the first high-end foundations you bought: it gets amazing reviews from just about everyone who ever tries it (Several of my “real life” friends included), and almost always turns up on lists of the best foundation for pale skin… and yet STILL I hadn’t ever tried it. I honestly have no idea why : I’d try to blame the price (at £30, it’s not exactly cheap), but I’ve bought plenty of other foundations for that price, so… yeah, I really don’t know.

Today, however, I’m correcting that oversight, because Debenhams very kindly sent me a bottle to try, which I’ve been using for a few weeks now. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Double Wear bills itself as “stay in place makeup”, and one of the things it’s most famous for is its long-wearing formula, which the brand claim will last for 15 hours without smudging, wearing off, or generally ending up anywhere other than on your face. It’s also pretty well known for coming in a few colours suitable for people with pale skin: I chose the shade ‘Shell’ (1CO), which is pale, with pinkish undertones – but we’ll get to that in a second. First, the foundation itself…
Is this the best foundation for pale skin? I review Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation in 'Shell', and compare it some of my other favourite foundations for pale skin

Eastee Lauder Double Wear Foundation in Shell: review with swatches and comparison to other pale foundations

Double Wear comes in a gold-topped glass bottle, which feels re-assuringly expensive, given the price. My personal preference is for liquid foundations to have some kind of pump dispenser, just so I don’t end up wasting any (I mean, God knows I should be old enough by now to be able to pour out exactly the right amount of foundation, but nope, I ALWAYS get it wrong…), but that’s a minor quibble, all things considered.

The formula offers fairly thick coverage, and I was a little bit apprehensive about this, because I’ve had some disappointing experiences with this kind of coverage before. All too often I find it can be hard to blend, or very visible on the skin, so I was relieved to find this wasn’t the thick, gloopy formula I was expecting: yes, it’s thick, and it dries pretty quickly, but it’s not at all hard to blend, and nor does it leave me with that “pancake makeup” effect I was dreading. Actually, it’s pretty great: the coverage is thick enough to cover most imperfections, but not so thick that you can’t tell there’s human skin underneath it. Depending on how much sleep I’ve had, I can sometimes get away without concealer when I wear this, but I still normally add a touch of powder to my forehead, to stop shine. For reference, I have combination skin, with the typical oily t-zone, and drier cheeks. I don’t need to use as much powder with this as I do with some of my other foundations, and some days I can get away without it, but I actually don’t mind a tiny bit of shine – it looks a bit more natural than a totally matte finish to me.

I apply this with a foundation brush, and have had no adverse reactions to it at all, although it’s worth noting here that my skin is a tough as old boots, and there’s not much it DOES react to! I rarely get breakouts, and haven’t had any since I’ve been wearing this either, so I’m happy with that. As for the ’15 hour’ claim … well, I haven’t exactly been setting a stopwatch on it or anything (because, WEIRD), but yeah, it does last well, and I haven’t noticed any slippage or wear. One thing I HAVE noticed is that it’ll sometimes crease a little on my forehead by the end of the day – I can’t say I’ve seen that happen with any other foundations I’ve tried, but I don’t know, maybe I just have a very expressive forehead? Or something?

So, it’s all good with the coverage and application: now on to the colour, which, as I said, is very pale, with pink undertones, which is my preference in foundation:
Eastee Lauder Double Wear Foundation in Shell - swatched on pale skin

Eastee Lauder Double Wear Foundation in Shell - swatched on pale skin

Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation – swatches

When I saw this in the bottle, I was worried it was going to be too dark, but once it’s on the skin, I think it’s pretty much perfect: it’s worth noting here that I’ve just been on holiday, so my skin’s a little darker than usual because of all of the freckles that have come out, but I’ve swatched it here on the underside of my arm, to give you a better idea of the colour!

Here it is compared to some of the usual suspects in the ‘foundation for pale skin’ lineup:

foundations for fair skin

foundation for pale skin - comparison swatches

foundation for pale skin - comparison swatches

[Rimmel Match Perfection in Light Porcelain;  Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation in Shell; NARS Sheer Matte Foundation in Siberia; Illamasqua Skin Base Foundation in 02]

So this is pinker than the NARS and Illamasqua products, but very similar to the Rimmel Match Perfection, so if you’re a fan of that, I’d say this is a good – albeit much pricier – alternative, if you’re looking for something with thicker coverage, but a similar colour.

Finally, I’ve never managed to master the “before and after” foundation photos that “real” beauty bloggers always do (for some reason the ‘before’ and ‘afters’ always look exactly the same, even although I know the foundation does make a difference!), but here’s what it looks like on, just to give you an idea of the type of skin tone this will work for:

foundation for pale skin: Double Wear Review

foundation for pale skin: Double Wear in 'Shell'

Anyone else use Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation? What do you think of it? 

Related: The Best Foundation for Pale Skin | Tips for people with fair skin

12 Comments
  1. I LOVE foundation and shell is perfect for me too. I’m yet to find a foundation that lasts as long with as good coverage as ELDW, my “holy grail” base.

  2. As a double wear devotee my top to make it last longer is to tip the bottle upside down (with the lid on ) turn it upright then use the foundation left in the lid. I also mix it with a drop of cheaper foundation before applying.

  3. I’ve wanted to try this foundation for ages now, but sadly living in Italy means I could only find it in darker shades, because *of course* Italy is the land of the perennial tanned girls, so you can’t find lighter shades, because no perfumery sells them. I could always buy online, but I fear I would end up with a shade that’s either too dark/light for me. I swear, being a pale girl in this country is so difficult sometimes, make-up wise (not to talk about the industrial amounts of sunscreen I have to use basically from April to October); if it wasn’t for Mac NW10-15 shades and Nevemakeup (an italian brand who blessedly makes make up for pale girls) I wouldn’t be able to use foundation! 😀

  4. Oh Double Wear. I used to LOVE this foundation. I had no qualms paying £30 for it – it worked and the shade Bone (their ‘warm’ palest shade) matched my slightly yellow fair skin perfectly. And then, one day, they did what all great products seem to do at some point, they tried to fix it when it wasn’t broke. The formula now is not a patch on the one before in terms of coverage and wear, but far, far worse is the fact that Bone became less ivory and more… dark orange. It looks horrendous on me. I know I don’t have enough pink in me for Shell to work, so I basically can’t wear this foundation anymore since they changed the formula a couple of years ago. I miss this foundation every day – that’s not an exaggeration, as I wear my inferior Revlon one every day and every day I wish it was my old Double Wear!

  5. I need a pale shade with yellow undertones and found that they didn’t do one pale enough for me- hence dreaded foundation lines and all the usual problems that come with wearing a shade or two too dark.

  6. My skin is very similar to yours and I also have freckles. For most of my life I have avoided using liquid foundation because I don’t like the way it covers my freckles. It’s not that I’m so smitten with my freckles that I REFUSE to cover them, my objection is how FAKE foundation makes my skin look… It always looks like I am intentionally trying to cover them up. Alternatively I use a mineral powder foundation. Looking at your photos, everything looks great, but up close, what is your experience with this product and your freckles? Does my question even make sense?

    1. Are you asking if it covers freckles? The ones on my forehead are much darker than usual at the moment because I’ve just been on holiday, so this foundation doesn’t cover them now, but it may do once they fade back to their usual colour. I haven’t really noticed a difference between this and any other foundation, but to be honest I haven’t really been paying much attention to freckles specifically when I compare foundation: I don’t set out to cover them, but I don’t mind if they’re covered up either!

  7. I have the exact same colouring as you, but always found the Nars SIberia to be too yellow, and the Illamasqua one felt like a mask. Have you tried Koh Gen Do’s Moisture Foundation in 1? It is literally the best thing ever. And another surprising foundation I have found is the Smashbox BB Cream in Fair. It’s not ultra pale, but it somehow works and with SPF 30 in it – who is going to scoff at that?! I’ve also worn both the MUFE Mat Velvet in 15 and the Marc Jacobs Gel Foundation in the palest shade, but nothing is as natural as the Koh Gen Do in my experience, and as you would know, us redheads have a tough time finding not only a shade that matches out pale skin, but also a consistency and finish that we are happy with!

    Love your blog! xx

  8. Hi there,

    I’ve tried the Double Wear in a darker shade, just so I could have an idea of the finish and I quite like it. But the lighter shades aren’t available here in Belgium. I’ll probably have look while in London in December. Just for reference, which Mac shade are you?
    Many thanks xx

    Elisa

  9. Have just discovered this site, so a bit late in posting, but I absolutely love Shell! Definitely my HG foundation in terms of colour and coverage. I also use the Compact Foundation in this shade, or a tiny bit darker for summer – the shade Cool Bone is the next shade down after Shell and it works for me in Summer. Thank you for this post.

  10. Thank you-I was interested to read this as I recently ended up having to go to 3 different Boots stores on 5 occasions to get anywhere near the right shade -one assistant in particular was insisting on one shade that looked way too orange on me. I ended up with Cool Bone but I still feel that’s too warm, so when that runs out I’ll have to give shell a go. I have very pale skin with freckles and I think the freckles must confuse their device! The coverage is great though and it really does seem to last all day.

  11. Hello! I am currently seacrhing high and low for the best high coverage foundation. During my time of wearing makeup I have only ever worn drugstore/ high street brands such as rimmel and maybelline but now i am seeking to find the best value for money on high end/ premium brands and i am excited to try such a luxury, but i don’t want to waste money so I am looking for around the prices of £28-£35 and I see you have tested the NARS sheer glow foundation and Estee Lauder double wear foundation. These two foundations have very high reviews and i believe similar coverage and I was just wondering which foundation you prefer? I have quite pale skin with pinkish undertones if that helps x

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