Retinol NX Concentrated Retinol Serum (Discontinued)
1.7 fl. oz. for $79
Category:Skin Care > Serums > Serums
Last Updated:05.23.2012
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview
Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena has decided to enter the home shopping market via QVC, and the result is this serum with retinol. Sales of skin-care products on home shopping channels like QVC continue to climb, so it’s not too surprising that the more mainstream lines are dipping their toes into this potentially lucrative pool of business.

First, let me say that there is nothing medical or dermatological about this product in any way, shape, or form. There isn’t even anything special or unique about the formula when compared with the formulas of other retinol products being sold by Neutrogena at the drugstore. And the same is true for RoC’s retinol products, also owned by the same parent company that owns Neutrogena.

Claims on infomercials always sound outstanding, and retinol is certainly an advantageous ingredient for sun-damaged, wrinkled skin, but Neutrogena and RoC make similar claims for their less expensive retinol products. J&J is not telling the truth somewhere.

In reality, for the money and given the exclusive marketing of this retinol serum, the formula is a letdown given the price and all the associated hoopla (though it still deserves a Good rating).

If this version from Neutrogena is really better than what they are selling at the drugstore, then why don’t they stop selling those versions and admit that this pricey retinol serum is the real deal and that what they sell at the drugstore is inferior? What Neutrogena could have done for this pricier, “exclusive” product to make it worthy of the claims is load it with ingredients that strongly differentiate it from their other options with retinol, such as antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, and other cell-communicating ingredients, like so many other cosmetic companies do. Because they didn’t, there’s no compelling reason to purchase Retinol NX Concentrated Retinol Serum.

Taken on its own merit as a stably packaged serum with an efficacious amount of retinol, it is recommended for all skin types. But when compared with retinol products from other J&J-owned brands, it isn’t superior. Think of it as moving from one three-bedroom home to another on the same block with the same interior, but with a different exterior paint job, and the house costs three times as much. I mean really, why would you move? For less money and overall better formulas that offer skin more than retinol, consider Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream, Night Formula or RoC Multi-Correxion Night Treatment.
A powerful serum that works continuously to renew the look of your skin; provide superior, long-lasting hydration; and keep skin moisturized. The serum's patented process of stabilizing retinol keeps it in its purest and most effective form for superior visible skin benefits. This exclusive formulation delivers a high amount of retinol to skin, intensifying the benefits to improve skin smoothness, softness, and luminosity, as well as visibly reduce signs of photo aging. It provides a more youthful, firm look by restoring elasticity, tightening and firming the skin, and smoothing visible lines and deep wrinkles.
Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Glycerin, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Tetrahydroxypropyl Ethylenediamine, Dimethicone, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/Vp Copolymer, Tocopherol, Peg-12 Dimethicone, Nylon-12, Zinc Gluconate, Magnesium Aspartate, Retinol, Polysorbate-20, Copper Gluconate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Gluten, Hydrophenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Bisabolol, Ascorbic Acid, Bht, Allantoin, Laureth-4, Laureth-23, Laureth-7, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Disodium Edta, Polyacrylamide, Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Yellow 5, Fragrance
Brand Overview

Neutrogena At-A-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive; several recommended cleansers; retinol options, in stable packaging; vast selection of sunscreens, most of which offer excellent UVA protection; several fragrance-free options; many of the Healthy Skin products are state-of-the-art; the foundations with sunscreen provide sufficient UVA protection; some praiseworthy makeup items.

Weaknesses: An overabundance of overlapping anti-aging products that is perennially confusing for consumers; irritating bar soaps; lackluster to downright bad toners; a handful of bland moisturizers and eye creams; some sunscreens too much alcohol or problematic preservatives; most of the Deep Clean products are terrible; mostly disappointing concealers; the lip balms with sunscreen provide inadequate UVA protection.

Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena has been around for over 50 years, and they've come a long way since they launched their first transparent, bronze, detergent-based bar soap (it also contains tallow). The bars are still sold, and while we still don't recommend them (they are too drying for all skin types), the good news is that Neutrogena has come a very long way from where they started. In fact, several of their products represent truly state-of-the-art options.

Strolling the skin-care aisles of any drugstore or mass-market store reveals that Neutrogena vies for shelf space and prominence with only one other brand, Procter & Gamble's Olay. For the most part, both companies offer a similar assortment of products, with Olay being slightly more focused on anti-aging products and Neutrogena going for broader appeal, offering a nearly equal amount of antiwrinkle and anti-acne products. Regrettably the latter category presents few viable options.

Where Neutrogena really excels (and has for years) is with water-soluble cleansers, AHAs, retinol, and sunscreen products. Their Healthy Skin lineup offers some beautifully formulated moisturizers with glycolic acid, and the sunscreens offer something for everyone, including some ingenious options for those with oily skin (or anyone who finds the texture of high-SPF products as unappealing as slathering your skin with Crisco).

A recent self-proclaimed advance in sun protection came with Neutrogena's Helioplex complex. It is not the superior breakthrough Neutrogena makes it out to be. It's a good system to keep avobenzone stable for longer, but Helioplex isn't the only way to get the most out of this important UVA sunscreen. If it were, why didn't Neutrogena scrap all of their other sunscreens that don't use Helioplex technology? And why do they still offer a handful of SPF-rated products that leave skin vulnerable to UVA damage? Although they offer a proportionately greater number of sunscreens that provide excellent UVA protection, it's hard to unequivocally deem them a sun-care leader when they still sell inadequate sunscreens.

It's common to see commercials and magazine ads for Neutrogena's plethora of products designed to combat breakouts and blackheads. It's nothing short of amazing that, after all these years, the majority of these products, while well intentioned, still don't get it right. Far too many of them contain irritating ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, and menthol, none of which are the least bit helpful for someone struggling with breakouts. If your dermatologist recommends these products for acne without reservation, definitely consider a second opinion! Even Neutrogena's on-the-spot benzoyl peroxide product contains some potentially problematic thickening agents. Despite this, if you choose carefully, there are some great products (including a BHA lotion) that can make a positive difference.

What's most frustrating and, frankly, surprising, is that Neutrogena's enormous assortment of products represents both the best and the worst the cosmetics industry has to offer. Given their worldwide distribution and research capabilities, they really should be offering a consistent range of effective, irritant-free products to address a variety of skin types and conditions. As things stand now, healthy, protected skin is only assured if you know which Neutrogena products to look for and which ones to never put in your shopping cart.

For more information about Neutrogena, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (800) 582-4048 or visit www.neutrogena.com.

Neutrogena Makeup

Neutrogena's "beautiful and beneficial" pronouncement is a great tag line, but most of their makeup doesn't live up to that assertion. This line was lacking in several key areas when it first hit store shelves in 1999, and although some things have improved, the number of problematic products is a bit startling. (I'm not aware of any cosmetic line that uses menthol or its derivatives as often as Neutrogena.) Each product carries on about the vitamins it contains, yet compared to the leading roles played by cosmetic staples like silicones and thickening agents, the vitamins have mere cameo roles, and as such have little to no impact.

There are a few key items to seek out, especially if you're looking for makeup with excellent sun protection. We also found their lip gloss to be one of the best at any price, and a few of their foundations successfully bridge the gap between skin care and makeup.

The most frustrating aspect of this line is that almost all of it is packaged so you cannot see the color. Even worse, the color swatch on the box is a poor representation, not only of how the color looks in the compact, but also how it looks on your skin. What would truly be beneficial is for Neutrogena to offer more revealing packaging or provide testers or offer trial sizes. Their overall collection and in-store displays aren't nearly as tempting as most other drugstore makeup lines, so in most cases they're relying on their constant magazine and television ads to drive shoppers to explore the world of Neutrogena makeup, or they're relying solely on those who don't mind guessing what color they are really buying. It's obviously working, because despite the problematic elements, this is a line that has survived and is very well distributed.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

Member Comments

No members have written a review yet. Be the first!

Enter a title for your review
First Name, Last Initial
Email Address
How would you rate this product on the following:
500 characters left

Terms of Use

585623-IIS1 v1.0.0.379 3/29/2015 7:30:34 AM