May 10, 2012

Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator Review & Swatches

Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator is a product that completely baffles me. It gets some serious raves and I, of course, eagerly wanted to try it out since it promises to act as a fast acting serum to improve dark spots, sun spots, discolorations, etc….so basically a dark spot corrector of a sort.


Technically speaking it’s more of a makeup in some aspects than a dark spot corrector?

Yeah, so I’m completely confuddled.

Here’s the thing…

They are saying this acts to reduce the appearance of redness, acne marks, dark spots, sun spots, discolorations, etc…they have clinical testing claims that say women show a significant improvement in skintone over a two week period…


I felt like this was more of a highlighter than an actual skincare product?

Outside of having the thinner, watery texture of a serum I didn’t really feel I was treating my skin but more along the lines of highlighting or illuminating it due to the yellow gold shimmer of the product. It basically resembles a liquid highlighter of sorts. I was actually very wary of applying it all over my face for fear of looking too “glowy” and indeed that’s exactly what happens when I apply it.

Add to the fact that I typically reserve serums for nightly use and again, I’m confused. Estee Lauder says to use it daily and in the evening….so why throw around “serum” in the marketing of the product? And why create it in an “illuminating” shade/color? Is it skincare? Is it makeup? Someone throw me a bone here.

I will say I don’t particularly like the looks of it on my skin. It feels hydrating, absorbs easily, and has an oil-free formula so it isn’t greasy nor does it leave behind an oily finish. However, the lovely white gold shade of the product is actually too much for me…it makes my skin look overly glow-y and odd when I apply this all over.

They use a stabilized form of Vitamin C for the lightening results here but sadly, I always find this method of lightening a very long term project. You’ll probably have to go through a bottle or two to see any change and when you do notice the change it’ll be incredibly subtle. Or at least that’s been the case for me.

Overall, I didn’t technically give it time to do the job with my own dark spot issues. I only used it for two weeks before ditching it. I just didn’t like the illuminating factor of the product. If I want to use a dark spot treatment I’d like one that acts as a serum or moisturizer, etc…not one that tries to combine the benefits of a makeup or highlighter and a dark spot treatment in one. It just seems pointless to add a golden sheen to a product that’s treating your skin….what’s the point?

Estee Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator is on counters now.

Tried it?



Do share!

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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  • Lorena

    I used for a few weeks and I did not much of results so I gave it to my sister and she has been using it for about four months, no visible results yet.

    Dear Muse: Have you use a serum that you really love?

    • the Muse

      aw sorry lorena that stinks πŸ™ I used it for two weeks and just got frustrated with the “glow” so I ended up gifting it to a friend. I’ve reviewed Philosophy’s Dark Spot Corrector, and that’s the one I love for brighten/whitening/and easing dark spots.

  • Kim

    I like it. I think it helped reduce my marks and scars while I was using it but to see anything significant I would have to buy the largest size bottle and use it all up (maybe two bottles). I plan to try other things to see if they work better than this but so far it’s the best one I’ve tried (Clinique and Murad did nothing for me).

    • the Muse

      it’s odd you say that kim as both clinique and this have almost the same ingredients! surprised this worked but not clinique….I personally didn’t like Clinique either :-/ did nothing for me.

  • Krista

    You should try the Lancome Bright Expert for dark spots, but you do have to use it twice a day and results come in 4 weeks! It TOTALLY worked for me πŸ™‚ Also, Visionaire is a great serum to try too πŸ™‚

    • the Muse

      I tried it and reviewed it krista, sadly wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be. Didn’t try Visionaire though! thanks for the rec, might check that out πŸ™‚

  • Stephanie L.

    This worked great for me. I had some dark spots on each cheek, and all of them are gone save a few that were extra dark. They have faded significantly though. I have used for about a month now. Appreciate your reviews!

    • the Muse

      you’re lucky stephanie! I def didn’t use long enough to see a difference :-/ did you like the glow-y finish? Aw my pleasure appreciate you reading my babble ;D

      • Stephanie L.

        I cant see the glowy finish after I put on my powder foundations, but I agree, not necessary for the product. i just want the dark spot fading properties.

  • aisha

    this actually worked really well for me, it significantly lightened dark acne scars. i know what you mean that it seems like a highlighter but maybe you should give it another try. i was surprised bc it worked even better than the skii brightening derm specialist serum i was using before that which i thought was my holy grail serum xo

  • joolz

    Thanks for the review. I also ‘thought’ I had read good reviews for this product. I was skeptical because I tried another Idealist product – I don’t remember which it was – and I wasn’t impressed.

  • Pam

    I’ve been given about 5 packets of this sample and been using it for about 2 weeks now. I agree that it doesn’t do anything so I’m not buying the full size bottle.. I’m disappointed.. it got so much hype!

  • chibi

    i bought this for my mom for her sun spots on her cheeks but sadly she saw nothing different for two months (yeah she had hopes lol). she just liked the silky texture but that was it.

  • Majick

    I haven’t tried this one but I did try the Clinique and it did nothing. I might consider this but I’m not big on trying to lighten spots in the summer. Even though I wear sunscreen, I still get color and trying to diminish spots at the same time is counter productive. I’ll probably give this a whirl again in November.

  • Daisyv316

    Hey Muse, have you tried the SK II brightener serum? Or any of their products?

    • the Muse

      yeah daisy, quite a few, they are a really great products but results take a while…!

  • Pretty

    This product has been a miracle for me! It has faded very dark spots on my face and neck. It started working so quickly-I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing in the mirror! I even purchased the huge size from Nordies, that’s how much I believe in this product. It does have a golden glow but when I apply my usual makeup over (powder foundation), my skin has nice glow to it (not an oily look-a glow). I have used many prescription products (hydroquinone 4%, retin a, azelaic acid, tretinoin, just to name a few) but none have matched the results of this product.

  • Avalith

    I use the Origins Mega Bright Serum, and I can find little tiny specs of blue ish sparkle in them if I look super closely. Now, I dont know if they are glitter for the sake of making the face look more “bright” (though temporarily), or they are actually a working ingredient of the serum to actually improve my skin in the long run. Some people claim that there is no such thing as glitter in the product, but I think they’re blind or need to get some glasses, because when I first found it out I was panicking and was looking through the internet to find that I’m not the only one. I’m not sure if this will have any effect on me but I definitely won’t be repurchasing it… I was hoping this product would be a great one, but it sounds like it’s doing the glitter/shimmer technique here too ;;;


  • Kirsty

    Great review, thanks! All of the reviews I have read for this product have been amazing for acne scars, but does nothing for hormonal/melasma pigmentation. So, if it is just acne scars maybe give it a go, but for pigmentation in deeper skin layers this is unlikely to be of help

  • Olivia

    Hi! I was hoping someone on here could give me their opinion. So here’s the thing I am looking for a serum that will help diminish slight acne marks on my forehead and redness on my cheeks. I am looking into this one but I also heard Clinique had several good products as well. I would love to get an opinion before I buy anything seeing how they are so expensive, so any help would be appreciated!

    • Zoorkirty

      Hi Olivia, according to Paula’s choice website clinique even better spot corrector and is idealist are exactly the same except the EstΓ©e Lauder one has a golden sheen! I would go for price point and get clinique as the cheaper and equally good (option) in my life I haven’t seen any cosmetic do a dramatic job of taking care of something that happens inside the body and you see the results outside ie acne, scars, pigmentation. Anyway see how you go

      • Olivia

        Quite the late reply, but I ended up going with the Clinique redness solutions; I’ve been using it steadily almost every night for a year and have only seen a slight improvement with the redness in my cheeks.Didn’t really do the job for me but I still use it because it’s a good, basic moisturizer. When I finish the pot I probably won’t rebuy though. Anyway thanks for your advice and hope this might help anyone else looking into these products.

  • Jeni

    Olivia, sadly, imho, this serum does nothing unless you are young and have great skin. I am a woman of many , many years ( lol, old bag ) and find that many products do not work for women of ages 40 plus. I have sensitive skin also, so this is a great serum if you like a nice even texture, but nothing else.

    • Olivia

      Thanks for replying Jeni! I am actually a teenager so possibly this might work for me, but we’ll see… Anyway have an awesome rest of your day!

  • Katie

    I actually LOVE this product. The golden sheen that you are seeing is there for the optimal effect… Estee Lauder promises that you see immediate results with their products and in this case, it is optimally. It is not intended to be a serum/make up combination… just a serum. I have a few dark spots but my main concern was an even skin tone in general (redness, blotchiness, etc) I always had to use a thick foundation(double wear) with powder everyday. After using this product twice a day for 12 weeks like it said,(and i did see the results in claimed after 2) I only had to wear a tinted moisturizer with a little bit of powder. I also made sure to use a moisturizer with spf of at least 15 over it during the day and a night cream over it at night. After the 12 weeks, I just started using it once a day to maintain. It worked great for ME but everyone’s skin is different!

  • Anita

    I agree with your review. I tried Idealist for about 2 months religiously to even out hyper pigmentation caused by acne scars and other patches of dark skin. I wanted to give the product time to work. I have brown skin so when I get a blemish on my face it’s not long before it turns dark. I was very disappointed by this product. I generally avoided the sun and wore sunblock when I went outside–so I know that wasn’t a factor. I also thought the glitter in the product was strange.

    • the Muse

      anita yeah, no luck here either le sigh! just wasn’t doing it for me…! πŸ™ the shimmery bits and bobs also are unflattering on my skin!

  • farzana

    Oh no:( i just purchased a bottle hoping it would help overall brightening but the shimmer is unexplainable and when used after my night repair it starts to ‘ball’off my skin if i rub it. surely it shouldnt do that??

  • Tamara

    Do you know which is the best treatment for melasma (pregnancy mask)? I have some serious dark spots and need a lightener. Any advice for me? Thanks!

  • Ruby

    I tried this for about 2 weeks and it broke me out like crazy. NEVER AGAIN!

  • TBell22

    I have to say, it did work for me and I was a bit upset when I found out they had discontinued it. I suffered from really bad acne scarring and discolouration around my face especially my nose and chin areas and when I use a product like this I tend to use it only where I need it most and it did definitely improve the discolouration and scarring although it was a gradual effect. I’m sorry though it didn’t work for you, you may be better off trying the enlighten serum which I have now switched over to. That though has a much faster effect, you can have blemishes now and in about a week its going to be visibly improved and after two the marks from them will have absolutely if not almost entirely disappeared. I will say though its definitely something only to use where you need it so dotting it on spots where you want it to work and continuing till they’re gone. Using it like that also means the product lasts much longer. Also many say these products cause breakouts and I was also baffled because initially using Enlighten I experienced that too, but I queried about it because I have used Estee products for ages and not one has ever done that and I was helped by a counter assistant at Estee Lauder and she explain that is the antioxidant properties in it, it heals any underlying acne faster to provide you with clearer skin so if you are experiencing it means its just ridding your skin of anything brewing underneath but that is also why I recommend the targeted approach, it is less overwhelming and you’ll see a bigger difference.

  • Pat

    Estee lauder Idealist illuminator is or shall I say a great product for me and some others, is it completely discontinued?