Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair claims 100% of users see results. I tried it to find out.
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I’m what you would call low maintenance (read: lazy) with my appearance. Most of the time, I can’t be bothered with makeup (and use just tinted moisturizer, under-eye concealer, and mascara when I do), and I recently made the full transition to embracing my naturally curly hair, retiring my hair dryer for good.But I also had a milestone birthday this year, one that made me more critical of those fine lines around my eyes, caused by my negligence with the sunscreen before my regular outdoor runs and, ya know, the advancing years. I’ve always been told I look “young for my age,” to which I attribute good genes (thanks, Mom!) and my love of exercise, which keeps me fitter than the average 40-year-old. Though it was vaguely annoying to look "young" when I was getting carded into my late 20s, I must admit, it's something of a point of pride now when someone gasps at the fact that I was born in the '70s. But I wondered: Could I be doing something to slow, or even reverse, the toll the years are taking on my skin?
I interrupt my musings to make an important statement: Wrinkles are not bad. Women who have them are not haggard, lazy, or less worthy.
That said, smooth, youthful skin is still revered, and looking “old” and “tired” (its more polite synonym) is not something I aspire to do.
As it happens, around my birthday, Neutrogena Rapid Repair crossed my radar. Its hallmark claim: “100% of women had noticeable results in one week.”
Only one week? A hundred percent? From a respected drugstore brand, at a price per bottle of around $20 a pop? Intriguing.
The skincare line consists of six products: an oil, an eye cream, a serum, a day and a night moisturizer, and a “regenerating cream.” As I’m allergic to a number of cosmetic ingredients, including chemical sunscreens and some fragrances, the regenerating cream caught my attention. It’s fragrance-free and—bonus!—“delivers the highest concentration of Neutrogena Accelerated Retinol SA and works faster to smooth wrinkles than any other Retinol product.” Retinol is a type of retinoid, a vitamin A-derived chemical exfoliant known to speed the process of dead-skin shedding and diminish the appearance of wrinkles in the process.
I ordered it via Amazon Prime moments later.
Before I began using the product, I needed photos to chronicle my experience. As I work from home and my one roommate is four-legged and lacks opposable thumbs, I recruited a friend to come over and snap some shots of my “before” face, in all its makeup-free glory.That evening, I applied my first “dose.” The instructions say to use a “pearl-sized” amount, which I found an odd description, because it’s a light cream that’s impossible to roll into a ball or visualize in ball-shaped form when it’s smeared on one’s fingertips. In any event, my idea of a pearl must be a lot smaller than Neutrogena’s, because I found the amount too sparing to cover my entire face and neck, as instructed. (This struck me as surprising, because since when do companies want you to use less of a product than more?)The cream indeed has no fragrance to speak of, and it spreads smoothly. Occasionally I felt a slight stinging sensation moments after applying, but nothing that dissuaded me from continuing the experiment. I have highly sensitive skin, so I doubt someone with less reactive skin would feel anything at all.
I used the cream diligently, twice a day, for seven days, then invited the same friend over to take "after" photos. Being harder on myself than the rest of the world is (well, I hope), I didn’t initially see a huge difference.
I uploaded the above image in Slack (our office chat software) to put it to a vote among my—hopefully more objective—coworkers, as one does when one is a remote employee. Their verdict was unanimous: The fine lines around my eyes were still there but softer, and my complexion was more even, my pores less prominent. Not the miracle fountain of youth I'd been hoping for, but "noticeable results in one week" nonetheless.
As someone who doesn’t like to see things go to waste, especially having spent hard-earned money on them, I kept using the product, though maybe not as consistently as prescribed. (Remember: low maintenance/lazy over here.) Somewhere in the ensuing weeks, I began to feel a stronger burning sensation after application, around the same time I learned about the pitfalls of disturbing the "acid mantle," or the naturally occurring oils that protect one’s skin. I reduced to once-daily use and added CeraVe cream—a protective and gentle moisturizer—before the Neutrogena product, which solved the problem and made my skin seem to look even smoother in the process. (I considered switching to the Rapid Wrinkle Repair Oil that purports to be more moisturizing, but it contains fragrance, which I avoid.)
As the 1.7-ounce pot began to dwindle about eight weeks after purchase, I added the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream to my Amazon Subscribe & Save (15 percent off!). There may be other products out there that work better, but for me and my money—and my relatively low level of dedication to the cause—this one seems to do the job.
If you're someone who's concerned about your skin's appearance and hope to reduce—though not erase—the appearance of fine lines, large pores, or uneven skin tone, and feel that spending about $20 is worth the experiment, give it a go.
If you're someone who's used other products to even better effect, drop me a line.