Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

In a world where ‘instant’ rarely means ‘quality’, is Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum the exception to the rule?

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Editor Rating:
4.0 / 5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.
By: Ariel Bailey
Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum Overview

Serums, oils, tonics, and tinctures. Over the years, the cosmetic industry has interchanged these words on their products with impunity. What makes something a serum versus an oil? Or something else entirely? Nowadays, the word ‘serum’ is meant to suggest ‘lightweight’, as opposed to the potentially greasy and heavy ‘oils’ of the past. Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum keeps this in mind, including several additions to prevent their product from having that heavy, sticky feeling. It’s a pared down version of their heavier alternative cream products, concentrated to have all the wrinkle fighting power and none of the ache-inducing effects that some heavier products can.

A Closer Look at Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

This serum relies on Neutrogena’s current all-star lineup of Retinol SA, Glucose Complex, and Hyaluronic Acid. These do the heavy-lifting wrinkle repair work by penetrating, plumping, and moisturizing skin. They are in almost every product in the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair line, but this serum is the only one which claims instant results. That is because there is- or at least, appears to be- an instant change. That’s thanks to one ingredient in particular, and it’s none of their top three.

'Instant' results may not mean 'lasting' results. Check for both!
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate (aka, modified food starch), is the responsible party for giving this serum ‘instant’ benefits. College students and busy moms have all made instant mashed potatoes at one point or another. Just add water, right? Well, in this case, your skin is the water. As soon as they touch, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate melts into a smooth paste on a molecular level. And since it is colorless, it matches the skin-tone of any user. This gives the seemingly instant effect, while the Big Three do their work under the surface over time.


  • Great for quick skin pick-me-ups
  • Skin benefits both now and later
  • Colorless and odorless; no need to match skin tones


  • Some users have reported skin redness, flaking, and other irritation
  • Lack of testing on efficacy of Retinol SA over other Retinol versions
  • Does not protect against UV or sun exposure
  • Can be more expensive due to retail store mark-up

Active Ingredients

We have already talked about Neutrogena’s favorite wrinkle fighters a little bit, but they aren’t the only ingredients in this serum. Far from it. This little one-ounce package packs a whopping 30-item ingredient list, with their headliner- Retinol- as seventh from the bottom. Ingredients on cosmetic packaging are listed in order of inclusion, meaning the most prevalent ingredients, the ones which make up most of the product, are at the top. But don’t let that fool you. Everything included in a product has an effect, even the little additions at the end.


This compound comes from the wood of Taiwanese ninoki trees, as well as other trees in the Cupressaceae family. It was discovered all the way back in 1936, but only recently, researchers found it has the miraculous potential pharmaceutical benefit of fighting off the bacteria responsible for the STI, Chlamydia. Even further, it effects iron transportation in both animals and humans. When found in cosmetics, it is mostly for its antibacterial properties, but also carries a typically pleasant natural fragrance.

Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate

Aluminum and Starch are reactive compounds when they touch one another, and the resulting compound is Octenylsuccinate. It is, at its most base level, an aluminum salt left over after the reaction of its two parent ingredients. This salt is used in cosmetics to prevent caking- an important thing in any serum which aims to be smooth and slick. It also can help increase viscosity and thicken nearly anything. In food, it is labeled as ‘modified food starch’, and used in almost every grocery store item with the word ‘instant’ in the title. Instant mashed potatoes as a face mask? Yummy…

C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate

This clear and odorless chemical is a lightweight combination of benzoic acid and C-12-15 alcohols. It’s an oil-free wetting agent, which is how skincare products achieve that silky smooth feeling without leaving a greasy residue behind. Since it is oil-free, it readily absorbs into our water-based skin, and brings along any accompanying chemicals or compounds with it for the ride deep into your dermis. It does not contain any GMOs or animal-derived products. It is also antimicrobial.

Full Ingredient List:

Water, Dimethicone, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Trisiloxane, Nylon-12, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Glycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Polyacrylamide, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Sodium Hyaluronate, Sodium Lactate, Hydrolyzed Myrtus Communis Leaf Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Polysorbate 20, Laureth-7, Retinol, Sodium PCA, Sorbitol, Proline, Hinokitiol, Mica, Titanium Dioxide.

Directions: How to Use Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

Apply daily to a freshly cleansed face and neck. Neutrogena recommends their own brand of cleanser to accompany use. It is also noted that this product can be used under makeup, thanks to those anti-caking agents. Smooth a few drops over your fingertips, then gently massage in even strokes until absorbed, giving extra time to the most wrinkle-affected areas.

The Final Word on Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum

If you’re looking for smoother skin right now, then this serum might just give you what you want. Or at least, it will appear to, for a little while. Whether or not the Retinol SA and other wrinkle fighters work long-term seems to be dependent on the individual skin, as there are no studies on the SA formula outside of the parent patent company. It won’t leave you feeling greasy, but the ‘instant’ benefit could be the only one, depending on how your skin reacts to Retinol.

For more information of other Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair products and all of your health and beauty needs, click the links below to read more of our articles.


(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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