Pros: Reduces wrinkles, diminishes age spots, tightens pores, improves skin texture. Made in USA.
Cons: $$$. Expensive. Need to use for 6 weeks.
My friend and I are approaching a milestone birthday (you know, one of those that make you realize that 30 or 40 wasn't as bad you thought?). My skin loves Estee Lauder moisturizers, so I decided to give some to my friend, who has been self conscious about wrinkles. The saleswoman recommended Perfectionist wrinkle-lifting serum and Time-Zone anti-wrinkle moisturizer. I bought the Perfectionist. It was Free Gift time, so I was also able to get a small jar of Time-Zone as part of the free gifts.
I thought my skin wasn't bad, but I noticed that the saleswoman kept talking about tightening pores as she looked at me. When I went home I took a good look in the mirror and--YIKES--blackheads! And how long have I had those wrinkles? It turns out that my haphazard skin-care routine (dab on moisturizer when I remember) wasn't working.
I used some deep-cleansing products. They left me with gaping pores (where blackheads used to be), so I bought some Estee Lauder Idealist serum, which promised to tighten pores and improve the finish of my skin.
I was already using EL's Hydrationist moisturizing creme. In the back of my drawer I found I had samples of Perfectionist, Advanced Night Repair, Resilience and Time Zone. (I love buying cosmetics during Free Gift time). I contacted Estee Lauder's Beauty Advisors for help on the best way to use them all together. Their response surprised me and prompted me to write the following in the hope that it will help other people avoid buying and combining the wrong products.
Using Estee Lauder Skin Care Products
1. Don't switch back and forth between products. They said that you get the best results by consistently using ONE moisturizer with ONE day serum. (E.g. for a day serum, choose either Idealist OR Perfectionist for the morning.) You can supplement either with Advanced Night Repair serum at night. Add whichever moisturizer best fits your needs. You can also add in an eye cream, etc.
You can of course change to a different moisturizer or day serum at any time. However, the advisors recommend against using more than one at the same time or using one for a day, then switching to another and back...or periodically adding in a different one. They said you won't be getting the best results as the products are meant to have a cumulative effect, and you need to use them for several weeks. They also said using more than one or switching back and forth could "confuse your skin."
2. Use the products DAILY for 6 Weeks. The website says you'll see results in 4, but the Beauty Advisors say that 6 is the optimum time for evaluating a product or combination of products. You can of course use it for longer than 6 weeks (if it's working, why stop?)
3. Best regimen: Cleanse your face in the morning. Apply day serum. Let it dry. Follow with moisturizer. In the evening/night: cleanse your face. Apply Advanced Night Repair serum. Let it dry. Follow with moisturizer. (If you don't want to use Advanced Night Repair at night you can just use your moisturizer).
Although some serums also hydrate, EL's Beauty Advisors say they are meant to be used IN ADDITION TO a moisturizer, not in place of one.
As you start to use the products they also recommend using a deep cleanser to clean out your pores. (No sense in tightening pores that are still filled with dirt and gunk.) They said that otherwise existing blackheads can become more noticeable as the skin firms up.
Daily cleansing is important. When I used to smear moisturizer on dirty skin, the results often weren't good. (Perhaps this caused the dirt and oils to be absorbed as well?) I've found I get better results if I put my moisturizer/toner on CLEAN skin. Plus, my skin is much thirstier after being cleansed, so it seems to absorb more.
Selecting Which Estee Lauder Skin Care Product to Use
(This is meant as a general overview of most of the lines of products that are available as of this review. EL also has a Re-Nutriv line, which is their premium, most expensive skincare product and is listed separately on their website.)
Estee Lauder SERUMS:
(Serums are meant to repair skin. They are thick liquids that come in tiny bottles and cost a fortune. They should be followed by a moisturizer. Idealist and Perfectionist are day serums--use only one at a time--though Advanced Night Repair can be used with either.)
Idealist (Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher): Intended for those who want to tighten their pores and improve the finish of their skin. It is supposed to repair skin texture, flakiness and roughness.
Idealist is a milky liquid, but slightly thicker than Perfectionist and feels heavier on my skin. I tried it when I first started taking care of my skin. The first few times, it had an incredible SILKY smoothness, unlike anything else I'd ever tried. I stopped using it for a few weeks because I had a sample vial of Perfectionist that I wanted to use up first (and was told I couldn't use Idealist and Perfectionist at the same time). When I began using Idealist again my skin was in much better condition, so the silky, indulgent feeling wasn't as dramatic. However, it still left my skin feeling VERY smooth, more silky than it does with Perfectionist. It feels so nice going on that it's tempting to slather it all over my face and keep going down my neck and onto my shoulders. (You can use up a lot of serum this way, so I don't recommend doing this--unless you have a hot date and are planning on wearing something strapless...)
I used Idealist for about a week (which is NOT enough time to fully or fairly evaluate it), but I went back to Perfectionist. Athough Idealist left my skin feeling VERY nice (extremely smooth, soft and supple), I think Perfectionist left my skin looking better. If I were younger, Idealist would be fine, but I'm sad to say that I've reached the age where I need more firming and help in dealing with lines and skin tags.
Perfectionist (Wrinkle Lifting Serum): According to EL's Beauty Advisors, Perfectionist does everything that Idealist does (funny, but you don't see this written anywhere). Like Idealist, it's supposed to reduce pore size and improve skin finish. In addition, it's also supposed to reduce wrinkles and diminish age spots, so it's a better choice for someone older (say over 40).
It doesn't have that marvelous, silky feel of Idealist though it looks similar. It feels very rich and indulgent going on and leaves my skin feeling soft and velvety. It has a faint flowery scent that shouldn't conflict with anyone's perfume, plus the scent fades. The serum is lighter than Idealist and easily absorbed. It goes on smooth and dries quickly. After a few weeks of using Perfectionist (and the other products), my skin texture improved a lot.
The full-sized bottle can dispense a large squirt of liquid. It's tempting to squeeze out a large blob, spread it, then squeeze out more. However, I find it works better for me to squeeze out little droplets initially and dab them on my problem areas, working out from there. (This way I can be sure that the serum gets to the places that need it the most and that I don't waste it.) I then add more if I need it.
I initially used Perfectionist for 2 weeks (because I had a small sample vial). In that short time I did see results. I have two wrinkles and they became less noticeable. One got significantly shorter. The circles under my eyes plumped up and I think my skin got a firmer, younger look. My skin tags became less noticeable. When I switched to Idealist for a week my wrinkles maintained their improvement, but my skin tags started to come back, so I went back to Perfectionist.
(Update:) It's been a year. I used Perfectionist off and on for several months (applying it about 3-6 times a week). My skin became definitely smoother and the skin tags completely disappeared. My two wrinkles went away--but because they are in the smile/frown areas, they tend to come back. I think the Time Zone moisturizer helps keep them away. Even if the serum doesn't make the lines go away permanently, at least it has stopped them from getting worse and might be slowing down the formation of others--I haven't seen new wrinkles. My age spots lightened, but did not go away entirely. At times when I'd get busy and forget to use it for several weeks, the spots would become darker and the skin tags would start come back.
(Update/New:) Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator is a new day serum that is supposed to improve skintone by reducing redness, discoloration, and spots.
Unlike Perfectionist or regular Idealist, the Illuminator doesn't give me that instant rich, smooth feeling as I put it on. It reminds me a lot of Aveeno's Triple Acting serum in the way it looks and feels: a lightweight, beige liquid with a faint shimmer (like a very light-colored base with a pearly sheen). The faint bit of color helps the serum to cheat--your skin might look better immediately because you've just put on make up (the pigment helps to even out skin tone and cover up marks, and the pearlessence reflects light to help hide imperfections) however if you give it time it does change your skin.
It took my skin several days to adjust to it, during which my skin tags and wrinkles started to come back. Once my skin adjusted, the skin tags and wrinkles faded again, plus the age spots seem lighter than they did under Perfectionist. I think I needed to use it for at least a month to really evaluate it. Although I didn't feel a difference right away, I think my skin is now even softer than before. It doesn't feel as velvety as it did under Perfectionist, though it might feel smoother. I'm not sure, but I might have fewer blackheads and better pores than I did with Perfectionist.
EL's Beauty Advisors say you can use it twice a day (in the morning and again at night--after Advanced Night Repair). I've found that it works better for me if I don't put it on right after or right before I use another product (like ANR or moisturizer). Waiting awhile or adding it later in the day works better. I've also found that I get faster results and my skin looks better if I use it more often (2 or 3 times a day). With Perfectionist once a day was enough--using it more often didn't make a difference.
Advanced Night Repair (Synchronized Recovery Complex): According to the literature it repairs past damage, evens out skin tone, protects against current environmental damage and hydrates. EL's Beauty Advisors say it can be used in conjunction with the day serums.
You apply this using an eye dropper. I find that I fill the dropper a few times to do my whole face. It's much thinner than the other serums, so you have to be careful or it can drip off. I let it dry before I apply moisturizer, but my skin still feels wetter afterwards than it does with the other serums. As a night treatment this damper feeling is fine and it goes away. When I've used it at night my skin often looks better when I wake up in the morning than it does the mornings when I don't.
I think this could help someone with a dry-skin problem, as it does seem to hydrate my skin. It also helps with wrinkles. When I don't use Perfectionist for a few days, I think it's the ANR that helps to keep the wrinkles at bay.
I am also seeing improvement in the way the skin looks at the front of my cheeks, but it's hard to be sure it's due to ANR alone.
Estee Lauder MOISTURIZERS:
(Most moisturizers have dry and normal versions and are available with or without sunscreen. I'm focusing on the products I've tried. In addition to the moisturizers listed here, EL also makes DayWear Plus, Verite and Swiss Performing Extract.)
Hydrationist (Maximum Moisture Cream): Instant, long-lasting hydration. With continued use it's supposed to keep skin hydrated for maybe 24 hours. (I use the dry skin version).
I really like this cream. It's light, easily absorbed and my skin loves it. I have dry skin. Sometimes I have very, very, very dry skin. This quickly takes care of the dryness, leaving my skin feeling hydrated and soft without feeling greasy. It also has a pleasant, light, flowery scent. It's hard to tell if it hydrates better than Time Zone, but I seem to need to apply much more Hydrationist than Time Zone. It's much cheaper than Time Zone and Resilience.
Time-Zone (Line and Wrinkle-Reducing Cream, SPF 15): This has sunscreen, but you can use it day or night. It's supposed to hydrate and reduce/prevent wrinkles.
It's a very lightweight creme. Easily absorbed. It hydrates well. I think Hydrationist moisturizes slightly better, but Time Zone leaves my skin feeling a little smoother and possibly firmer. It helps reduce fine lines temporarily. If you have only a few fine lines, then this might help. If you have more serious wrinkles this should help to soften them, but you should probably combine it with Perfectionist day serum or maybe even Perfectionist Targeted Deep Wrinkle Filler. I haven't used it--mainly I don't like the dispenser.
Time-Zone Night (Line and Wrinkle-Reducing Cream): It's a light pink creme with a stronger, sharper scent than the day cream.
I didn't expect to like this, but I REALLY do. It moisturizes much better than Time Zone day and it does a better job with the wrinkles. It might be my imagination, but I think my skin is even softer too. I use both the day and night Time Zone because in the day I want the sunscreen. If I had to choose just one Time Zone I'd choose this Night one (and then apply sunscreen during the day).
Resilience Lift Extreme (Ultra-Firming Creme): Supposed to lift and firm as well as hydrate.
A much, much thicker creme than Hydrationist or Time Zone (and also more expensive). Like the rest it's non-greasy and it really does hydrate. It firms better than Time Zone, though Time Zone might be better with the wrinkles. I don't think of my face as looking saggy, but my cheeks seem slightly more young looking (firmer/lifted). I notice it when I turn my head and look in the mirror. Resilience also quickly healed some itchy, dry skin on my shoulder that I had damaged by scratching. My skin went from being red and bumpy to smooth and nice in just a few days. My husband had a small burn on his neck that had gotten red and irritated. I dabbed a little of this on and by the next day, it was much less red.
Skin-Perfecting Cream: Lightweight moisturizer that softens and smooths skin.
It's a good, basic moisturizer, but meant for normal skin under regular conditions. If your skin or the air is very dry you will prefer something that hydrates more. I think it's meant for the YOUNG (teens/20s). I used it for years (when I lived in a more humid climate). When I got older the salesgirls diplomatically recommended I try stronger moisturizers.
Go to the EL website at www.esteelauder.com
or contact their Beauty Advisors for more information
EL sometimes has boxed sets that will have full-sized bottles of serum sold with free jars of moisturizer or full-sized jars of moisturizer sold with sample bottles of serum, etc. The dept stores have a Free Gift period twice a year (buy something and you get a cosmetic bag with free samples) usually during Fall and Spring. The website will often have special promotions that change frequently (free shipping, free samples with purchase) and monthly sweepstakes.
Something to Think About:
I feel I should point out that it is likely that if you do a good job of cleansing your face twice a day, follow it up each time with a good moisturizer and periodically use a deep cleanser to make sure that your pores stay clean--that you should see an improvement in your skin. If you are unsure whether these EL products are worth it, then try this regime with a less-expensive set of products for 6 weeks and then (if you wish) try Estee Lauder for 6 weeks (if you have time, write a review about the results).
I also try to stay within one manufacturer's line. Sometimes when I combine a moisturizer from one company with say a toner or cleanser from another, my skin can get irritated. I'm not saying this will happen, but just be aware that it could.
Thinking of Giving a Gift?
These ARE nice gifts. EL products feel nicer and more indulgent than many less expensive cosmetics. They are a perfect gift for someone who has tried one or some of these and liked them but hesitates to buy more because of the price. If someone hasn't tried them, it depends on the person. Some will just adore getting expensive cosmetics. Products for the young, like Hydrationist or Idealist are usually safe to give anyone. For products aimed at older women, you have to consider the vanity of the person you are giving it to. Some women who are starting to wrinkle would dearly love to get something like Time Zone or Perfectionist. However, others might react with "Why are you giving me ANTI-WRINKLE or firming cream--are you telling me I look old?" (You might get around this by saying this is to "prevent wrinkles and help you to continue to look young.")
How Is it Working for Me?
For the first 3-4 days I used a bunch of conflicting products: Idealist AND Perfectionist, plus a few moisturizers--Hydrationist, Resilience, Time Zone. I was using a few different facial cleansers too and probably overdoing it on the deep cleansing. I think the Beauty Advisors are right and just limiting myself to ONE day serum and ONE moisturizer feels better.
After they set me straight, I used one day serum and one moisturizer (initially Time Zone day) and also started using Advanced Night Repair. I later started using Time Zone Night
I think of moisturizers as a temporary treatment, so in evaluating them, I judge how my skin feels shortly after I've applied them (right away to a few hours later). Serums, on the other hand, are called "repair" serums, so I'm more interested in how well they have REPAIRED my skin. I expect more lasting effects, so I judge how well my skin looks and feels half a day or more after I apply them.
I've been using the products off and on for about a year. When I use them daily my skin looks and feels better. The serums will lighten spots, but they don't make mine go away entirely. I've had better luck with wrinkles and the skin tags.
Regarding the three day serums: I loved the silky smooth way Idealist feels as it goes on and the touchably smooth and soft way it made my skin feel. However, it seemed to me that my skin looked better while I was using Perfectionist--firmer. Plus it was helping to reduce my age spots, skin tags and wrinkles. I love the way Perfectionist feels going on, but I think that Illuminator makes my skin look better and feel softer. Illuminator seems to work on wrinkles and skin tags too. (After I use up this bottle of Illuminator, I'm going back to Perfectionist, so I can truly compare.)
For moisturizers I've tried Time Zone, Hydrationist and Resilience. I was surprised that it took my skin several days to adjust to a change in moisturizer, so I now understand why the Beauty Advisors recommend trying the products for so many weeks.
Hydrationist moisturizes very well, but Time Zone seems to do more for my skin, leaving it a little softer, firmer and probably helping more with the fine lines. Time Zone Night works even better than the day version. I'm thinking of seeing if using Time Zone Night with Resilience in the day might work. I'm hoping to get the lift of Resilience and the moisturizing, wrinkle protection of Time Zone.
Since I've started taking care of my face, my skin has become noticeably softer. The skin tags have not been back. My skin has remained impressively smooth. My skin finish has greatly improved, the skin on the front of my cheeks looks more like the rest of my face--smoother, flatter, less pink with finer pores. It used to look more red, dry and damaged (like I scrubbed too hard). I suspect that it's Advanced Night Repair doing most of the work, but that using ANR in combination with Perfectionist or Illuminator has helped. I think the Time Zone Night has also made a difference.
A salegirl recommended that I also try Idealist Dual Action (it's a exfoliant that you use once a week--it's a light scrub with glycolic chemical peel). She said that it will help my skin improve faster. I use it sometimes and it does help to remove the damaged, dead skin.
I use EL's Soft Clean creme cleanser (I use the foaming version in the shower). I've been paying extra attention to the areas with blackheads--really working the cleanser in there--and making sure I rinse my entire face thoroughly. My reward has been that the dirt came out of the stubborn, deeper blackheads alongside my nose, allowing the skin there to look cleaner--less red/bruised with smaller pores. Even with twice daily cleansings and my skin looking so clean, I've needed to watch out for the return of blackheads on and alongside my nose. The now tiny, deceptively clean-looking pores can still accumulate debris. Fortunately, I've only found a few, very small blackheads, which is nothing compared to what I had before.
I wish the age spots were completely gone instead of just lighter. Lighter is better, but I think I will see them no matter how faint they are. I think if your main goal were to get rid of your age spots completely, you might want to see a dermatologist to see if he could remove them with lasers. A laser treatment would cost much more than one bottle of Perfectionist, but might be cheaper than a year's supply.