Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Facial Oil

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Editor Rating:
3.5 / 5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.
By: Ariel Bailey
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Facial Oil


Neutrogena has launched an impressively expansive new line of facial products, each featuring their new ‘It’ ingredient, Retinol SA. This particular product, Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil, is recommended for twice daily use, once in the morning and once before bed.

Neutrogena advises using this skin-repairing serum after daily cleansing, but before deep moisturizing. The brand claims that this product will wage war on even the deepest wrinkles, and wipe away the presence of fine wrinkles all together.

Beneath the Slippery Surface

At first glance, Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Lightweight Anti-wrinkle Retinol Facial Oil might seem like just another snake oil serum with the hottest fad ingredient at the forefront. But when we take a closer look, what lies under the slick surface of this cosmopolitan oil blend?

Neutrogena’s main event in this line of products and in this oil in particular is Retinol SA. It is an ingredient blend that the company patented itself in 2009, though Retinol in some form has been used for skincare since the 70s. After so many decades of use, there is still a lack of definitive, unbiased studies done on the long-term effects of retinoic acid, the chemical that Retinol breaks down into upon skin contact. Neutrogena’s parent company, industry juggernaut Johnson & Johnson, has conducted almost endless research on a plethora of skin and beauty drugs, enough to fill libraries worth of data. However, the precise ‘how’ which allegedly makes Retinol SA superior to regular Retinol remains an untold story. The company line is that the ‘sustained action’, the SA in the name, keeps the Retinol active for up to 12 hours on skin. Consumers have no choice but to take them at their word, since no scientific studies have proven or disproven the claim.

Can a lightweight retinol oil really be effective?

Reactions to this oil and its signature ingredient appear hit-or-miss. Some personal testimonials on the Neutrogena website rave extravagantly, proclaiming their skin as never been smoother or softer, and that the oil is a veritable miracle. On the other side of the spectrum, however, some users have woeful and cautionary tales of burning, flaking, and skin worse off than what they began with in the first place.


  • Has a short, fairly simple ingredient list
  • Claims to contain the highest concentration of Retinol available commercially without a dermatologist prescription
  • Works much faster than comparable products, which can take months to see results


  • Some users experienced skin irritation after just one use
  • Other users claimed to have no change at all after prolonged use
  • No additional SPF benefits
  • More expensive per ounce than a fine vintage champagne


Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil has an incredibly small list of ingredients, particularly for a cosmetic beauty product. With under a dozen items on the list, each one becomes vitally important in composing the single ounce oil. Of course, there is Neutrogena’s new ‘It’ ingredient, Retinol, seen here as “Retinal”, but also notable are a small selection of other additions.

Dicaprylyl Carbonate

It may be hard to say, but this plant-derived fat compound is key in making almost anything feel velvety soft on the skin. Being a lipid component, it is used to great effect in a wide variety of cosmetics as an emulsifier. It has the unique ability to hold itself and other components together, while still spreading smoothly on the skin, and all without leaving behind any unwanted, greasy residue.

Triethyl Citrate

This citric acid derivative has a plethora of applications across multiple industries, from beauty to food, though in all arenas it mainly acts as a stabilizer. It can commonly be found as an additive to egg-whites for a fluffier foam, or even in electronic cigarette vaping liquids to keep them viscous. In Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil, it helps to keep the different oils bound together in a slick, smooth product. The FDA has deemed it perfectly safe for both consumption and application to the skin.

Polysorbate 20

Oil and water just don’t mix; that is, unless you invite Polysorbate 20 to the party. This emulsifier can sometimes be derived from berries, adding a naturally sweet fragrance to anything it is in. In Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil, it helps to ensure a well-blended, homogeneous product, rather than a collection of separated oils. Some research shows low levels of toxicity in reproductive and developmental systems, but only when animals were exposed to large amounts. More commonly, it has been noted to cause mild skin irritation in moderate doses.

Full List of Ingredients:

Isohexadecane, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Triethyl Citrate, Polysorbate 20, Retinal, Fragrance, Tocopheryl Acetate, Bisabolol, BHT

Using Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil

The best practice as advised by Neutrogena is to utilize this product as the second part of a four-step skin regimen. Naturally, Neutrogena recommends using their own products for the other steps, for increased efficacy.

Whether or not the user chooses Neutrogena for the other portions of their skincare routine, it is important to follow their outline nonetheless.

First, cleanse the face with lukewarm water and a mild soap. This is the most essential part of any beauty routine, as it prevents any buildup already on the face from being trapped by any products placed on top of it. Next, apply four or five drops of Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil in the palm of your hand, and massage gently into the face using your fingertips and small circular motions.

The manufacturer suggests then proceeding to steps three and four, which include moisturizing with their Regenerating Cream and spot treatments with Neutrogena’s newest eye cream. To be fully informed and decide for yourself whether or not you wish to include these additional steps, see our other articles on Neutrogena’s newest product line.

Gambling for Great Skin

It seems that Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Lightweight Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Facial Oil delivers for some, and for those that do have a positive reaction, it is a marvelous one. However, not all users are so fortunate. Skin sensitivity issues are evident, and the cost barrier is a real difficulty, especially when there is a chance it won’t work on your skin at all, depending on your skin’s individual reaction to it. It is a risk that almost every skin product poses, but it is up to you if the potential for fewer wrinkles is worth the wager.

For more information on Neutrogena’s newest lineup and all your other burning beauty questions, click here or see our links below.


(5.0 / 5.0)
  • #1 recommended to support younger-looking skin.
  • Clinically shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
(4.5 / 5.0)
  • Rescues and protects skin from damage.
  • Deeply moisturizes to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
(4.0 / 5.0)
  • All-in-one, full spectrum anti-aging serum
  • Repairs and fights damage to keep skin healthy and youthful
(3.8 / 5.0)
  • Contains Ritapro 165, a next-gen moisturizer
  • Helps to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles
(3.6 / 5.0)
  • High level hydration that lasts all day
  • Uses Padina pavonica algae to boost collagen.

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