Because I was so pleasantly shocked by Clinique's recent attempts to grow up and be all sophisticated (see my post on the pricey, but interesting CX C15 De-Aging Clarity Formula), I was curious to see what was happening to its older sister, Estee Lauder. To be harshly truthful, the Estee Lauder brand has long since gained the frumpiness of a maiden aunt. Looking at one of its latest offerings, Idealist Dual-Action Refinishing Treatment ($50), not much has changed.

Marketed as microdermabrasion at home, this product has Estee Lauder's "exclusive MicroSphere Refinishing System". This seems to be concentrated levels of salicylic acid and glucosamine, plus "a high-performance blend of five specially chosen scrubbing spheres". Despite the smattering of tech-speak, this is basically your mother's department store product.

The most dominant ingredient is epsom salts. Need I say more. Magnesium sulfate is used for long soaking baths partly because it prevents the skin wrinkling from prolonged immersion in water. The effect is only temporary, although magnesium sulfate does have some anti-inflammatory effects. The most notable aspect of the kinds of products that qualify for mother's department store status is the high quantity of chemical fillers: silicones (four of them), thermo plastics, emollients, emulsifiers and the like. They bring little value and sometimes may do harm, such as alumina and titanium dioxide. Take hydrogenated lecithin, an emulsifier. There are concerns over its carcinogenic properties and ability to penetrate the skin at high concentrations (although, it must be said, that concentrations of up to 15% are considered safe).

I do like the inclusion of acetyl glucosamine. Indeed, this precurser to hyaluran (usually referred to as N-acetyl glucosamine) is something we could do with seeing more of. It is good for wound healing and also for reducing melanin, especially if coupled (which it is not here) with niacinamide. Then there are a handful of unexceptional botanicals: antioxidant and soothing cucumber, anti-inflammatory licorice and barley with vitamin B. Doing no harm, but not much good either is bamboo stem extract, which consists almost entirely of cellulose.

There isn't much in here to satisfy today's performance demanding, health conscious consumer. All in all, Estee Lauder needs to take a leaf out of Clinique's book and move with the times.

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Magnesium Sulfate, Dimethicone, Isononyl Isononanoate, Isododecane, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Acetyl Glucosamine, Polyethylene, Polysilicone-11, Phenyltrimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Polysorbate 80, Triethylhexanoin, Salicylic Acid, Cucumus Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract) Bambusa Arundinacea (Bamboo) Stem Extract, Hordeum Vulgare (Barley) Extract/Extrait D'orge, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seedcake, Urea, PEG-15/Lauryl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Nephrite Powder, Propylene Glycol Dicaprate, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Lauryl Methacrylate/ Glycol Dimethacrylate Crosspolymer, Fragrance (Parfum), Caprylyl Glycol, Water/Aqua/Eau. Silica, Alumina, Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891). .