I’ve been using this product for 6-7 months now, and about to start my third tube, so I feel by now clearly know and like this product well enough for a thorough review! I’m surprised I haven’t yet actually. A note first about the name, as in some areas or depending on what stock your store has, it has changed. In the US (and some retailers in Canada, but not all), this product’s name is now Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Night – with the same exact formula as the original. Neutrogena made up a new “original” formula with (insufficient) SPF15 for day. This new other product is in no way the same as the actual original which I am reviewing here. In some places in Canada it is still available as it is labelled in my pictures and write up as Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream (no “Night” label, no “SPF15” label). I double checked ingredients carefully to make sure this is the same, as I can see how it would cause a lot of unnecessary confusion.
About the package:
This cream comes in a pretty standard box packaging, with labels stating it contains retinol, multi vitamins and is intended to treat fine lines, winkles and age spots. The side panel suggests you use a cleanser from their line (which I haven’t tried but hear isn’t bad), their SPF 15 during the day (sorry, that formula doesn’t provide adequate sun protection, so nope), and their eye cream but I am of the school of thought that if your regular skin moisturizer/cream/wrinkle treatment is properly formulated there is no need to spend far more for far less product just to put around my eyes. A well formulated cream shouldn’t bother your eyes or skin regardless, just be careful not to put anything too close to your eye as it will migrate over night and possibly get in there, causing irritation. The back of the box has a write up about the product claims. Click for larger pictures.
About the tube itself:
The tube is metal of some sort, which is nice as it blocks out light keeping your retinol safe and effective. I also like this as it flattens itself out as you use it, keeping air out, which also keeps your active ingredients safe. The tube comes completely sealed, which you pierce open with the outer side of the cap that has a built in point especially for this purpose. The tube holds 40mls, which applied in a thin layer seems to last me for a couple of months. The instructions on the back say to apply a small amount to clean skin, but doesn’t say when or how often. I apply this once (sometimes twice if I’m up late and rewash my face) and only at night, as retinols can make your skin very sensitive to sun damage. It also does warn you that you may experience mild tingling or redness. I would normally say that is just your skin being irritated and to not use the product, but due to the nature of how retinol works, this side effect is common and temporary.
About my results:
As this was the first retinol product I had ever used, along with first moisturizer I planned on using somewhere other than around the eye area, I was a bit apprehensive due to my oily, prone to breakout skin. I decided to first try it out on some test areas to see how it would perform. For the first week or so, I placed it only on my under eye area (not too close to eye, maybe a cm down from lower lid). I did feel some mild tingling, and it was welcome as it let me know there was enough retinol in the product to have an effect. This went away quickly, and from the info I can find, your skin acclimates to retinol treatment in this way very quickly. I did not experience any dryness. After being sure that my skin wasn’t going to completely freak out, I decided to try it on a sample area on my forehead. I figured if it broke me out terribly I could try out some bangs for a while. Luckily, no breakouts! What I did experience however, was a case of the retinol uglies. I had read about them before, and then forgot. Then one day I woke up with the lines under my eyes (which normally don’t bother me) looking deeper and much older, I suddenly remembered the retinol ugies are a very real thing!
Apparently I got off easy without any dryness and irritation and the trade off was the common experience of having your lines and wrinkles looks worse first. Thankfully I knew this effect is TEMPORARY! I suffered through about a month or more of worse looking wrinkles and dull looking crappy skin (ugh, I went to interviews like this), crossing my fingers that the information I found about this was correct. Apparently this is the stage most people give up. I did not. And I’m sure glad I didn’t.
One morning I woke up – and there it was – results! My skin was softer, plumper, smoother, of more even tone, and those lines under my eyes suddenly looked more like they did about 5 or more years ago, possibly better! As an added effect, the tiny bump type of acne that I’d previously had on occasion along my cheeks especially was greatly reduced. I have also noticed a drastic reduction in cystic type acne as well, I can only think of two, maybe three of those since I’ve begun using this. I do still break out, but they are most certainly fewer. Also noteworthy, blackheads that were impossible for me to remove for years in certain areas had started to just disappear. I find this cream also helps bring other types of blackheads and clogged pores to the surface faster as well, and once removed/healed, the skin is much smoother.
About the product/application itself:
The cream feels very lightweight. It spreads out to a thin layer smoothly. It is a pale yellow colour, which I’ve learned is the actual retinol itself, which shows as a pale yellow. I use about a pea sized dab for my whole face. There is no scent and no greasy residue. It is oil free and alcohol free. I apply this only at night as retinol causes sun sensitivity during the day and can make your wrinkles worse and skin drier. Even the back of the tube clearly recommends an SPF for daytime. A thin layer is best, as more is not necessarily better for retinols. The picture below shows about the amount I use for my whole face, and the pale yellow shade.
About the ingredients:
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Original contains green tea, vitamin e and retinol as the ingredients intended to help your skin. Thankfully it contains no fragrance. Research has shown that the polyphenols in green tea have anti-aging benefits, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properies. Vitamin e is a well proven antioxidant and skin protecting agent. Retinol (a name for the vitamin a molecule) is a skin cell communicating ingredient and an antioxidant. Retinol actually changes how your skin cells grow by creating better, healthier cells. If you are curious about more thorough information on any of these ingredients I’d recommend you check out their respective wikipedia pages, or the ingredient dictionary on Paula’s Choice.
Would I recommend this? Absolutely, but with a few caveats. You must be willing to apply a thin layer every day, only at night, and refrain from complete judgement about this product for 3 months. You might get the uglies. They pass. You also must be willing to endure these uglies, which may include dryness, redness, and for me an overall look of deeper wrinkles and not so great skin tone. For some people this is only a couple of weeks, for me it was over a month. If you’re having some kind of awful allergic reaction then yes of course stop. I’d recommend you look up the ingredients if you think there is something you might react to.
I buy this at my local London Drugs (a pharmacy) on sale for about $16.49, which for this type of product is on the low end of the cost scale. Neutrogena has other retinol offerings but from my own research none have as much retinol or work as effectively as the Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream or Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream Night. I sincerely hope they don’t stop making this.
I hope everyone had a good Mother’s Day!