Review | Estée Lauder Illuminating Perfecting Primer and Estée Lauder Matte Perfecting Primer

Here are two foundation primers from Estée Lauder, one matte and the other pearlised.

The Illuminating Perfecting Primer adds a little radiance to the complexion and my face is visibly brightened upon application. The micronised pale gold ‘soft-reflection optics’ aren’t overt on the face and I like how the fine pearlised particles look natural on the skin (the swatch above is a close up – on the face, they look pretty tame).

It actually reminds me of the Estée Lauder Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator in finish, only without certain active ingredients of the latter, I suppose. That said, it does contain hydrators and skin-soothing Vitamin E, rice bran extract and shea butter. Formulated for normal/combination and dry skin, it spreads easily and evenly for a natural glow – you won’t get patches of shimmer here and there.

I almost didn’t bother swatching the matte one – as you can tell, it disappears into the skin. It has a softness that seems to obfuscate fine lines, so if you’d like a nice blurring effect for your face, this is something to try.

Like the illuminating version, this primer spreads easily and has a moistness to it that was surprising, given its name. Containing skin-calming green tea and Vitamin E, this oil-free product is formulated for normal/combination and oily skin to reduce shine and control oil production.

My press samples held up pretty decently, giving me about 4 hours of oil-free wear; the matte one lasting a little longer. When I’m out, I’m usually 1/3 of the time in the open and 2/3 in an air-conditioned environment, so that’s not too bad, considering Singapore’s hot and humid climate.

My facial skin is dehydrated but produces oil along the course of the day, so I can look quite shiny by night-time if I don’t use blotters. However, with these two primers, my base makeup looks practically pristine despite the facial sebum.

Emollient without too much slip, I also like how they clearly belong to the new generation of primers that imparts smoothness and keeps the integrity of base makeup without the suffocating silicone layers of older formulations.

In Singapore, they retail at S$46 and are part of the regular Estée Lauder base makeup range.


  • milktea says:

    I prefer the Matte formula because Illuminating formulas tend to emphasize open pores. It looks like a good buy! :)

    • makeupmag says:

      Hi Milktea,

      This particular illuminating one has very fine iridescent pigments; I didn’t experience that emphasis. I do know where you’re coming from, though. These primers are quite popular with beauty lovers, apparently.

  • Jacqueline says:

    Hi there makeup stash, I would definitely want to try the matte primer, sounds promising. I find that when I use illuminating primers together with sun block my foundation becomes too fair and I look unnaturally fairer, dies that happen to you?

    • makeupmag says:

      Hi Jac!

      Let me know if you’d like a sample; will be happy to send you some in a pot. ;)

      I know what you mean but I think it also depends on our skin tone? I’ve become darker with age (sobs) and do find that some brightening primers/sunscreens can give me an unflattering cast. I usually adjust with foundation/powder. :D

  • germs says:

    hi Mag, i’m curious about the illuminating one – i’ve tried a couple of illuminating primers, but they kind of disappear under my foundation. do the pigments from the estee one still show through after you’ve put on foundation? thanks :)

    • makeupmag says:

      Hi Germs,

      The pigments don’t shimmy, of course but the illuminating effect is there albeit subtle – on me, it doesn’t entirely disappear. I’d advise you to try it at the counter first, nonetheless because it’s also dependent on how you blend and the properties of your foundation. :)

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