Foundation is a tricky product for me that I very carefully test and select. I have oily skin and pores the size of craters so my foundation has a tough job to do. Especially in terms of keeping me from looking like a disco ball throughout the day while at the same time not coming off, separating, caking or extenuating any skin texture like pores. As a result, I have gone through many foundations and while some are better than others, and some are even huge disasters, there has been one that stands out for me, far away from the rest. The Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation. And it seems that a lot of others agree, as it is the number 1 foundation on many websites, including Influenster, and is the holy grail of many beauty bloggers.
As a result, when I heard about a dupe, I was intrigued. I was interested to see whether there is a true dupe product out there that is cheaper while behaving in the same way. I was also intrigued, as a chemist, to see whether this dupe is actually strictly speaking, a dupe.
Is the formulation similar or do they just happen to give the same finish?
Which one is the best and is it worth spending the extra money?
What do they contain and which one is best for the skin?
Let’s find out!
The Estée Lauder foundation comes in a nice and expensive looking, glass bottle. The glass is matt (you can see that it doesn’t reflect light on the picture) to the look and touch, which adds that little extra expensive feel. However, the bottle does not come with a pump which means that when you tip the bottle you will get a free flow of foundation.
When I first started using this I was really annoyed and thrown back by this. But I promise you, it is a matter of getting used to it. You can always tip it on your hand or somewhere else first, if you don’t feel confident yet, or you can even buy a pump to place on the bottle. The top lid is gold which adds to the whole expensive look and is made of a sturdy thick plastic that is covered with a thin metal layer that gives the shiny gold look.
The Revlon one comes in a very standard glass bottle that looks very typical of a drugstore foundation. It is a thick durable glass but the top lid is made of thin plastic and is easy to break. It comes with a pump though, so it is easy and practical to use.
However, this specific Revlon foundation comes in two types: for dry and for combination/oily skin. While it is amazingly nice that Revlon caters for different skin types, it is annoying that both types of foundation come in the same looking bottle, with the only difference being the skin type writing on it. You have to be careful and read which bottle you are picking up when you buy it!
Winner: The Estée Lauder is much prettier and high quality looking. The lack of pump is a down side but you will get used to it in no time.
The Estée Lauder foundation is marketed as a medium but buildable coverage and that is spot on. The first layer will give you medium coverage and the second will give you an almost full coverage but not quite. At the same time, whether you go for the 1 or 2 layers of coverage it always looks like natural skin and it never feels heavy or cakey. It is very lightweight and personally I can’t really fell that there is something on my skin. It blends in seconds and dries quickly to a matt finish with a velvet powder feeling to the touch.
The Revlon foundation is marketed as a full coverage foundation and personally I didn’t think that this was the case. It behaved very similar to the Estée Lauder one, with the first layer providing a medium coverage and the second layer providing an almost full coverage but not quite. After using both foundations side by side for a while, I always felt that the Revlon coverage is slightly less than the Estée Lauder one (but still similar) and I always needed to use more Revlon product to achieve the same look.
This is also evident when you place both foundations on the skin or back of your hand. The Revlon is slightly runnier than the Estée Lauder one and you can see that even on the beauty blender there was a lot more Revlon product being absorbed.
The beauty blender absorbs more of it, probably because it is thinner but also because I have to use more to get the same coverage which then means that there is more on the sponge. It’s just a never ending cycle. It is also possible that the actual colour shade of the Revlon foundation makes it more obvious on the pink beauty blender. However, I consistently felt that I needed to use more Revlon product to get the same coverage, even though to be fair I haven’t actually measured how much of each foundation I needed.
This is important for the money argument, see below.
Winner: The Estée Lauder gives a slightly better coverage that doesn’t fade as much after 12h+ of wear.
Both foundations are the same size, so it is straightforward to compare cost. For the 30mL, the Estée Lauder will cost you £32.50 whereas the Revlon is only £12.99. That’s two and a half times the price! The price difference is definitely striking and I can understand why this might be a deciding factor for many. Personally, I don’t think that the £32.50 is too high of a price considering the quality and that it is a top end brand product, but obviously if you can get the same result with half the money then it’s a win-win.
For me the Revlon price tag was not as small as it sounds. I couldn’t find a shade to match my skin tone and so I ended up having to buy two of them and mix them. But it should last me twice the time right? So the original price still holds? Wrong. However, even if the two bottles last you the same amount of time as the one Estée Lauder bottle, you still save £6.52.
Consider though that there is a certain amount of Revlon product loss as you have to mix the two shades every time and even if it is at the back of your hand you will often end up squirting out more foundation than you need because you have to mix the right ratios to get the right colour etc. The fact that it has a pump as well, means that you will always get a set amount dispensed which might be more than what you need. Of course, you can sort of control this with the amount of force you press the pump. However, with the Estée Lauder you can open the bottle and tip as little as a dot of foundation if that is all you need, to cover up some lipstick smudging for example. You can also get a bit with an ear cotton bud, something that you cannot do with the Revlon one. Also, as I mentioned above, you overall need a little more Revlon product to achieve the same coverage and you lose a lot on the beauty blender.
Winner: Overall, you do save money with the Revlon foundation but for the reasons I explained above, it won’t be as much as you think. The Revlon is cheaper no matter what though so it wins this category.
Well, the Estée Lauder clearly loses this one with not much to say to defend it. The Revlon foundation comes with SPF15 which is very standard for a foundation and so the SPF10 that the Estée Lauder one provides, falls a little short. Most foundations offer SPF15 these days, so the SPF10 is a little disappointing here.
This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker though if you do like the Estée Lauder more, just choose a moisturiser with SPF15 and you will get the same protection.
If you are wondering what SPF is, why you need it or even what it stands for, check out “All you need to know about sunscreens and SPF”.
Winner: With a higher SPF, the Revlon foundation clearly wins this one.
This is again a very easy category. With 50 shades to choose from, the Estée Lauder clearly takes the win here. The Revlon one comes in only 30 shades which admittedly is not little, it can be a lot worse (some brands even have 10 shades only), but funnily enough this was the first thing I noticed about the Revlon foundation.
When I tried to colour match my skin, I kept swinging between the colours “Buff 150” and “Sand Beige 180” but neither was a match. The 150 was too light and the 180 was too dark (it oxidises a bit) so I ended up having to get both and mix them every time. Even the numbers they gave to the colours look like there is something missing between! This obviously adds a certain inconvenience to the process. Additionally, the Revlon foundations do not let you know whether they have a red, yellow or neutral undertone so you never really know if you are getting a perfect match.
On the other hand, with 50 shades to choose from, I was able to get a foundation with the exact colour of my skin from the Estée Lauder range. The naming of their foundations is a little awkward and more difficult to match yourself with at first. For example I have the foundation colour 1N2 Ecru, what does that even mean? However, once you know what their naming system means it becomes easier to find your skin tone. In my shade, 1N2, the letter N stands for neutral undertone, where in others there is a C for cool (red/pinks) and W for warm (yellow/peachy/golden). This way you can find the right skin shade but also the right skin tone for you. A perfect match!
Winner: The Estée Lauder foundation takes this one, easily.
Both foundations give a matt finish. However, I feel that the Estée Lauder one has a hint of velvet matt. The Revlon finish looks a little more “harsh matt”. They are very similar though and you might only notice the difference if you have been using the Estée Lauder for a long time. It might also be that the slightly nicer finish is because of the correct shade and undertone that I get from the Estée Lauder one.
Winner: They are very similar but the Estée Lauder one gives a slightly nicer finish to me.
Both foundations are very easy to blend. The Revlon one is thinner and disappears into the skin (or beauty blender) quite easily but at the same time the slightly thicker Estée Lauder spreads and blends effortlessly too. Can’t say much on this one as they both were very blendable, easy to spread and work into the skin.
Both foundations are very good for oil control even after 12+ hours of wear. Neither became cakey or set into lines or broke apart because of oil production. I noticed that the Revlon one was a tiny bit less shiny, than the Estée Lauder, so it might control oil a little bit better. It wasn’t a huge difference though, both were matt and at their worst looked like a natural skin shine, never oily enough for me to need to blot or powder.
Bear in mind that I used the Estée Lauder DayWear Matt Oil-Control Anti-Oxidant Moisture Gel Créme moisturiser under both and this is also responsible for the great oil control.
Winner: The Revlon foundation was a tiny bit more matt but the difference was very small.
Transfer proof tests:
I found that the Estée Lauder was a lot more transfer proof than the Revlon foundation. It doesn’t come off on the fingers, if you accidentally touch your face, whereas the Revlon does a little. The Estée Lauder also doesn’t come off on clothes or scarfs etc if you bring it down the neck. There was also less foundation transferred on the phone after a call.
The Revlon is not bad, it still transfers less than other drugstore foundations but it is definitely less transfer proof than the Estée Lauder one. However, both dealt well with a splash of water in the face and neither came off unless I then rubbed the wet face with my hands or a cloth. Patting is your friend!
Winner: The Estée Lauder foundation transfers less.
Neither of them hide pores on their own, but at the same time neither of them exaggerated the pores any more than any other foundation. Personally, I felt that the Estée Lauder dealt with skin texture a little better, maybe because it is thicker or maybe because the finish is less harsh.
Winner: The Estée Lauder foundation gives a slightly less harsh texture finish than the Revlon but they were very similar.
Practicality of use – user experience:
The Revlon foundation comes with a pump which obviously adds some ease of use to it, whereas the Estée Lauder one comes as an open bottle and you have to practice and learn how much foundation to tip out at a time. On the other hand, this means that you can eventually control the amount of foundation you get out a lot more accurately.
Additionally, the fact that I have to mix two shades of the Revlon foundation adds a little less practicality and extra time taken to do make up. It also means that your face might not be the exact same colour every time because you may have mixed a little more of the lighter colour this time etc.
Winner: Even with the lack of pump, the Estée Lauder is more practical for me. I don’t need to mix colours and once you get over the pump loss, you might find that there are actually more advantages to the open bottle than you thought, including getting the last bottom bits of the foundation out and not losing any inside a pump tube.
The Estée Lauder foundation smells faintly like a cosmetic. You will only get the smell if you put your nose close to the bottle but even if you manage to smell it otherwise, it is pleasant.
On the other hand, the Revlon foundation smells like insect repellent to me. Different people can perceive a smell differently, so hopefully it might not be that bad for you. However, either way, the smell is a lot more intense than the Estée Lauder and I could even smell it when I was wearing it which ended up being annoying.
Winner: I like that the Estée Lauder doesn’t smell of anything when you wear it.
Both foundations became a little darker after wearing them for hours but that’s natural oxidation/dirt/wear etc. It’s not really the type of initial oxidation that would make you choose a lighter shade. Foundation always looks lighter and more fresh the first hour you put it on. They both behaved equally here.
Surprisingly, the Revlon foundation has a much more complex formulation than the Estée Lauder one. The Estée Lauder contains 20 ingredients plus 3 “might contain ingredients”, whereas the Revlon contains 42 and the same 3 “might contain ingredients”.
If we take the Estée Lauder as the standard, because it has less ingredients, then the two are approximately 60% similar. That’s only based on what they contain, not the amounts, as the quantities are not stated on the ingredient lists. This means that although they contain a lot of the same ingredients it doesn’t mean that they have them in the same amounts. This would of course change the formulation and behaviour of the foundation but as we don’t know, we shall ignore this factor for now.
Still, the 60% gives us a rough idea that these two products are fairly similar, especially since the remaining differences are not all important for the foundation behaviour. For example, a lot of the extra ingredients in the Revlon foundation are “skin care” ingredients so in reality the formulation that makes up the foundation might be even more alike than 60%. But, we will judge the products as a whole here.
In terms of oil control – both foundations contain alumina and magnesium sulphate which are likely the primary oil/sweat absorbers. Both contain other compounds that can help with absorption, but instead of absorbing directly they form protective layers on the skin, so that the oil or sweat doesn’t come through. For example, methicone and other compounds.
Revlon also contains silica and silk powder which also absorb sweat and oils. No wonder then why I noticed that the Revlon kept me a tiny bit more matt than the Estée Lauder. With that being said the quantities of each material would matter too, it’s not just about how many different ones there are and as I mentioned above, we don’t know this information.
The remaining ingredients of the Estée Lauder foundation, that are not found in the Revlon, are all to do with the formulation. They are either anti-caking, emulsifiers, preservatives, solvents etc. The only skin care type of ingredient (other than the many standard skin conditioners) is tocopheryl acetate, a form of vitamin E, but the Revlon one has it too. Overall, there are no extra, special good for your skin ingredients in the Estée Lauder foundation.
The Revlon foundation also contains a lot of standard skin conditioners, but also some especially good for your skin compounds such as: Orchid flower extract, Lactobacillus/Eriodictyon Californicum Ferment Extract, Lilium candium bulb extract and malva sylvestris extract. Some of these have scientific evidence to their claims and other are more speculative but all are meant to be deep skin conditioners, some even skin replenishing agents and anti-oxidants. The Revlon also contains hyaluronic acid, which is known as the fountain of youth to scientists (for details see post Hyaluronic acid – the fountain of youth?) as it can boost collagen production and provide intense moisturisation by absorbing 1000 times its weight in water.
The Revlon foundation also contains bisabolol which is meant to be a sweet floral fragrance but is also a dry skin conditioner (this is an oily/combo foundation?!) and it is perceived to have skin healing properties. It also contains ethylene brassylate which is another fragrance molecule from the muck family.
The Revlon also contains alcohol denat. and while this is found in many skin acne treatments and oily skin products, some believe that low molecular alcohols denature the skin and should be avoided at all costs. I’ll leave the judgement on to you and maybe write a science evidence or no-evidence post another time.
Finally, it also contains tocopherol, which is a family of compounds that can act as anti-oxidants, and salicylic acid which is said to have aspirin like anti-flammatory effects and is popular in acne treatments.
There were no real negative ingredients or “red flags” in the Estée Lauder foundation. There are a couple of compounds that might cause irritation to some but that is true with any product and it is so personal that it might not be worth listing here. You just have to try and see if a product irritates you or not unless you know specifically that it is a certain compound which causes you a reaction.
On the other hand, there were a couple of question mark compounds in the Revlon foundation. It contains two parabens, ethyl and methylparaben. There is no solid scientific data that suggests directly that parabens can cause cancer or interfere with hormone levels, studies are still on going and some already showed that it doesn’t interfere with hormones. As a result, it is up to you if you feel that you don’t want to “take the chance”.
This foundation of course also has many ingredients that might cause irritation. Compounds worth mentioning are the salicylic acid, which is a beta hydroxy acid and while the CIR panel approves this, the U.S National Toxicology Program and FDA are doing longer tests to make sure that it is not a carcinogen. Again, up to you whether you want to “take the chance”.
If you ask my opinion as a Chemist, unless a compound is proven “guilty”, I wouldn’t worry so much. Cancer and toxicology tests are done on a lot of things and only very few times there is a real link or proof. Especially for very complex diseases, like cancer, where a lot of things could cause it and is almost impossible to pin point which one exactly it was. If there are other options though, like for example here the Estée Lauder foundation, and you’d rather keep your mind at ease, then go for that one.
Verdict – Is the Revlon Colour Stay 24h Foundation for Combination/Oily skin a true dupe for the Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation?
Yes and no. In terms of finish, oil control, long lasting, and coverage they were very similar indeed. So much so that if I was wearing them on each half of the face you probably wouldn’t notice that I am wearing two different foundations. Not very surprising then that their formulation is fairly similar too.
What was surprising however, was that the Revlon foundation has more “nutritional for you skin” ingredients than the Estée Lauder one but it also has some ingredient “baddies” like parabens. It’s really up to you if you feel that you want to avoid parabens or not etc.
For me, the Estée Lauder foundation is just holy grail. Yes you get a very similar finish and behaviour from the Revlon one, you save money and you also get more “good for your skin” ingredients. However, if you have been using the Estée Lauder for a while, you can still tell the difference on the face. Perhaps it’s more because of the right colour match or slightly less harsh finish. Whatever it is, the Estée Lauder one wears a little longer on the face and looks a little nicer on me and I’m afraid I will not be switching to Revlon. On the other hand, the fact that we are even comparing a drugstore foundation to the world’s number one, high end foundation is amazing. Definitely a job well done by Revlon.
A count of points from each category brings the score to: 8 for Estée Lauder vs 3 for Revlon. However, this doesn’t mean much as the deciding factor for you might be a specific point that you feel is more important to you, like for example the price difference. I hope this comparison was useful and helps you choose or think about what you want out of your foundation most. Let me know which one you picked and which products you want to read about next!
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
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