The two bottles in the middle of the photo are practically empty. I used up the entire Estée Lauder New Dimension Shape + Fill Expert Serum trying to figure out if I like it and whether it does anything for me, and the answer to both is "No". More on that below. Then there's my renewed love affair with Lauder's classic Advanced Night Repair in its various incarnations, and I remember my mother going through bottles of that as well.
It goes like this: I buy a bottle of Advanced Night Repair, finish it, buys another, use it up more or less, gets distracted by something shiny, experiment for months, then go back to my Estée Lauder and question my sanity for ever letting it go. The main thing is that I don't use ANR at night. For that there's retinol (right now I'm willing to wed Peter Thomas Roth for his one). I use the Advanced Night Repair in the morning, after toning (with a hydrating Asian or Asian-style "lotion", currently sending thanks and blessings twice a day to my reader Eileen for recommending Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence Intensive). I apply the sticky serum to my face and neck, enjoying the way it makes my skin feel upon contact, allow it to soak while I brush my teeth and such before following with a snail product and finishing with a few drops of Best Face Forward oil (note to self: restock soon).
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair is famous for actually working. It brightens, smooths, and improves skin texture, while giving a boost to whatever you use on top for moisturizing. There are more effective nighttime renewal treatments (hence retinol), but I can't think of a better all-around serum that is more action than marketing. I bought the largest size this time.
Now back to the newer Estée Lauder serum, the much-hyped New Dimension Shape + Fill. Firming is a major buzzword these days. It's always been big, but the notion that a skincare product can actually "sculpt" your face seems to have exploded everywhere. I'd call BS, but I have actually encountered products that do something sort-of-kind-of like that, even if on a temporary basis. Estée Lauder New Dimension Shape + Fill Expert Serum is not one of them. Shape & Fill is a nice liquid serum that feels pleasant under makeup (under my sunscreen, really), and absorbs quickly into the skin giving it a soft producty finish. Nothing major, no super powers or extra hydration/tightening/firmness or whatever. Just a harmless light serum that my skin is happy to receive. In my experience, a firmed and plumped up effect can be achieved if the product has this "life of its own" freaky consistency that causes it to re-bond with itself on/in your skin. There are several such products on the market, and what makes them stand out is that a while after you scoop some out of its jar, the dip you made closes and the product's face looks as smooth and untouched as the first time you removed the lid. I swear by Laneige Firming Sleeping Mask, the Korean product (made by Amore Pacific) that I buy regularly at Target, and love using when I take a nap before an outing or an event.
There you have it. Estée Lauder does some things better than anyone else on the market, but seems to stumble and fall when it succumbs to trends (see the Shape +Sculpt eye kit, or Kylie Jenner).
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair ($62-92, 1oz or 1.7oz) and Estée Lauder New Dimension Shape + Fill Expert Serum ($89, 1 oz) are available at every department store and from Sephora.