The Climb is our series that highlights a top-selling item from brands both established and buzzworthy. In these monthly features, you'll hear straight from the brands about the fascinating history of how one extra-special piece exceeded expectations and became a forever favorite. This month's focus is on the best-selling overnight serum, Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair. Find the story behind the brand’s decades-old formula below.
There are cult favorite skin care products, and then there’s Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair. The decades-old favorite withstands the test of time, not only delivering impressively youthful results, but in maintaining its position as a best-selling serum since its debut in 1982. It’s a formula that defined the times with a laundry lists of firsts, and paved the way for skin care innovations which led each of its five upgraded iterations to triumph the version that came before it.
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair is a formula so popular it’s been universally referred to by three letters: A-N-R. With each updated formula, the frenzy remains and intensifies. It’s a best-selling bottle that flies off shelves at record speed — about 22 bottles a minute, the brand shares with TZR. But in a world of options and new complexion-smoothing formulas emerging every day, what puts this powerful pampering serum in a league of its own? The answer lies in its technically advanced formulations and impressively fast — and favorable — results that have redefined beauty sleep since day one.
This bottle meant business since its first days on the job. It was a standout in its own right, and not just for the impressive formula. Its unique pharmacy-inspired, brown-colored bottle and apothecary dropper were ahead of its time, preserving the efficacy of the precious ingredients inside and serving as a visual reminder that this formula was different and something to be remembered. “There’s a reason it was a best-seller, and that’s because it treats so many of the symptoms and signs of aging such as enlarged pores, lines, and radiance,” Dr. Jason Emer, M.D., a Beverly Hills-based cosmetic dermatologist, tells TZR.
But to fully understand the ANR legacy, you must go back to 1982 when the first version of Estée Lauder Night Repair, Cellular Recovery Complex, debuted on shelves as the first-ever serum, first-ever skin repair product, and first-ever product to use the super-hydrator, hyaluronic acid. “Our research philosophy has been the same since Mrs. Lauder introduced the original repair serum in 1982," Dr. Nadine Pernodet, Vice President, R&D Skin Biology and BioActives at Estée Lauder, explains to TZR. "And that's to understand what is naturally happening in young and healthy skin and find ways to support these critical pathways over time.”
The original ANR formula was designed to work in sync with the skin’s natural repair processes, by boosting cell renewal to repair visible signs of aging — specifically those from UV light exposure — all while you snoozed. "It really comes down to the mix of short term-hydration and moisture with long term planning-antioxidants and overnight repair," Dr. Ranella Hirsch, M.D., a Boston-based dermatologist, tells TZR.
Nearly a decade later in 1991, Estée Lauder upped the ante on its own formula for the first time, reformatting Night Repair with proprietary anti-oxidant technologies in the new, fancier-named, ANR Protective Recovery Complex. This advanced formula worked double shifts — day and night — helping to boost the skin’s natural renewal process at night while strengthening skin’s natural resistance to environmental damage during the day, the brand explains to TZR. In 2009, the formula relaunched as ANR Synchronized Recovery Complex with the introduction of the brands Chronolux Technology, and again in 2013 as ANR Synchronized Recovery Complex II.
Chronolux marked a milestone in Estée Lauder’s skin care innovation, and one that catapulted ANR Synchronized Recovery Complex II into cult-favorite status, selling over 11.7 million bottles globally in 2019 alone, the brand shares with TZR. This breakthrough technology supported the natural synchronization of the skin’s day and night rhythm, signaling cell repair and protection at the appropriate time, the brand explains. “It's the perfect combination anti-aging product which shows results quickly," Dr. Emer explains to TZR. "It has powerful hyaluronic acid to give plumping and it’s cell renewal complex, Chronolux, signals cell repair which improves the appearance of wrinkles, tones, the skins, and builds collagen,” he adds.
In case you’re in need of something — heck, anything — to celebrate in 2020, the newest version of the Advanced Night Repair Serum debuted in September 2020 with proprietary Chronolux Power Signal technology, a blend so special that it's patented until 2033. But what exactly does this fancy-sounding name mean for your skin? In short, one dropper of this powerful formula targets multiple signs of aging caused by the environment — like the dulling, drying, inflammatory effects from air pollution and the sun. It’s the most advanced iteration of the ANR serum, penetrating deeper and faster into the skin for smoother, brighter, and longer lasting results. “The new Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Multi-Recovery Complex, featuring our new Chronolux Power Signal Technology, helps skin maximize its natural visible repair fast including, for the first time, its natural production of collagen,” Pernodet explains to TZR. “Now, in addition to all of the previous benefits, our new Advanced Night Repair helps firm skin, minimizes the look of pores, and provides new eight-hour antioxidant power and 72-hour hydration," she adds.
A deep dive into the ingredient list for the new ANR Multi-Recovery Complex will also reveal an impressive cocktail of skin-loving ingredients. “There’s seed extracts that are anti-inflammatory and used for firming, peptides used for cell renewal, HA (hyaluronic acid) for skin plumping, botanicals for soothing and softening, and caffeine to decrease puffiness, tighten skin, and improve dark circles and radiance,” Dr. Emer tells TZR.
In case you’re wondering how all those scientific technicalities measure up to social proof, it doesn’t hurt to have famously glowing faces like Carolyn Murphy, Karlie Kloss, and Elizabeth Hurley as avid fans of the beloved little brown bottle. Add an impressive 7,200 glowing online reviews to reiterate the love, and another 125,000 tags on Instagram to reconfirm that #advancednightrepair is one extremely popular bottle that's appropriately earned its countertop stop since 1982, and is worthy of clearing some space and treating yourself.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.