The only reason I gave Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum ($15.99) a go at all was the seven-day challenge. Neutrogena promised “visible results in just one week.” Although the ingredient list looked fairly terrifying, I thought how bad can it be if it is just for a week. And, who knows, I might even get visible results. I did, but not the ones Neutrogena would want to boast about.

My skin went red and blotchy overnight and within two days was breaking out. I gave it another few days and carefully removed other products to isolate the Neutrogena serum, but in the end there was no getting away from the fact my skin didn’t like it. Five days in, I gave up. Sorry, Neutrogena, but I didn’t even meet your seven-day challenge.

Although Rapid Wrinkle Repair has what is claimed to be Neutrogena’s highest concentration of sodium hyaluronate, I found this product extremely drying. This is likely due to the retinol. And it may be that the retinol was responsible for the way breakouts – I have sensitive skin and need to be careful with most retinol formulations.

A number of other things could also be marked us culprits as well. Sodium Hydroxide is a known irritant. Studies by the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health found that this ingredient causes “Irritation eyes, skin, mucous membrane; pneumonitis; eye, skin burns; temporary loss of hair” and recommends that consumers prevent skin and eye contact. Solutions as weak as .12% have shown to destruct healthy skin cells within one hour. Laureth 7, an emulsifier, can also be an irritant.

As if these weren’t bad enough, there’s worse to come. BHT is a controversial ingredient that is linked to cancer and in the state of California it is listed as a carcinogen. So too is polyacrylamide as it can be contaminated with acrylamide, a known toxin. Hinokitiol, an antibacterial, is subject to concentration limits in Japan because it is unstable in light and can contain chlorine that is harmful to human skin (source).

All in all, my skin’s warning system did me a favor by giving me a very strong hint that Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum is probably best avoided altogether.

Ingredients: Water, Dimethicone, Trisiloxane, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ammonium Acrylyl Dimethyltaurate / VP Copolymer, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Retinol, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Myrtus Communis Leaf Extract, BHT, Sodium Hyaluronate, Polysorbate 20, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium PCA, Sorbitol, Polyacrylamide, Laureth 7, C13 14 Isoparaffin, Sodium Lactate, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Proline, Hinokitiol, Mica, Titanium Dioxide, Fragrance