Retinol Correxion MAX Wrinkle Resurfacing System

2.00 pieces for $ 26.99
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Brand Overview

This two-step kit is supposed to be a superior alternative to a series of dermatologist-administered peels. RoC maintains that professional peels done in a doctor’s office or spa do little to help skin beyond removing the surface layers of dead skin, but that’s not true. Yes, peels remove layers of sun-damaged, dead skin, but, when done properly, they also reduce discolorations and, over time, stimulate collagen production and remodeling for firmer, smoother skin. Peels are not an anti-aging cure-all, but they are useful, provided you keep your expectations realistic and see professionals who know what they are doing.

What’s particularly galling is that RoC’s answer to professional peels is this “resurfacing system,” which is incapable of doing anything special for skin. Step 1 is just a moisturizer that contains tiny amounts of skin-repairing hyaluronic acid and cell-communicating retinol. It also contains an intriguing ingredient known as dihydroxy methylchromone.

According to limited research, dihydroxy methylchromone occurs naturally in most plants, but it’s expensive to extract, so its chemical structure was copied and now it can be produced in a lab. It is said to have retinol-like properties in terms of collagen stimulation, and it also appears to increase skin’s natural levels of hyaluronic acid, while inhibiting enzymes that cause collagen breakdown in the dermis (skin’s lower layer). That’s good to know, but what remains a mystery is how much of this ingredient is needed to get that benefit; RoC certainly isn’t using much of it!

Moreover, the research on dihydroxy methylchromone didn’t compare its benefits with those of other anti-aging ingredients, such as niacinamide, green tea, or any of numerous peptides (Source: http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=23292750). In short, it seems this ingredient has promise, but there’s more to learn before we’d recommend you run out and look for products that contain it. However, if you do, make sure it’s not at the end of the ingredient list, as it is here.

After you apply the moisturizer labeled as Step 1, you’re directed to follow with the serum labeled Step 2. The serum is just a blend of silicones with tiny amounts of minerals and vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate). It feels silky, but offers no special benefit beyond enhancing skin’s smoothness—something you can get from numerous other products that also treat skin to proven anti-aging ingredients.

RoC’s directions mention that Step 1 may tingle as you apply it, implying that it’s nothing to worry about because it’s just a sign that the product is working. Analyzing the ingredient list for this product, we couldn’t determine what causes the tingling. Perhaps the dihydroxy methylchromone mentioned above is responsible for the tingling, but we can’t be sure. What we can state with certainty is that, except for the ascorbic acid (vitamin C), none of the other ingredients in Step 1 are known to cause tingling when applied, and the amount of ascorbic acid in Step 1 is so low that its efficacy (and irritation potential) isn’t likely to be less than modest.

This ends up being a two-step kit that offers more pomp than proof. It’s not a harmful duo, but canceling a peel or other dermatologist procedure to use this instead? No way!


  • Makes skin feel softer and smoother.
  • Fragrance-free.


  • Absolutely not a viable replacement for professionally administered facial peels.
  • Contains only a tiny amount of anti-aging ingredients.
  • Mysterious tingling cannot be attributed to any specific ingredient in Step 1’s formula.
  • Step 2’s serum is a lackluster formula that makes skin feel silky, but it should do a lot more.

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

Combines RoC Retinol with an exclusive Resurfacing Serum to work together as one powerful system for maximum results. Together they stimulate skins natural process to give you beautiful, younger-looking skin.

Step 1: Water, Pentaerythrityl Tetraethylhexanoate, Glycerin, PEG-8, PPG-15 Stearyl Ether, Nylon-12 Butylene Glycol, Stearyl Alcohol, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Dimethicone, Cyclohexasiloxane, Ceteareth-20, Isohexadecane, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Polyacrylamide Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Pentylene Glycol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Fragrance, Methylparaben, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ethylparaben, Propylparaben, Laureth-7 Disodium EDTA, Allantoin, Dihydroxy Methylchromone, BHT, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Cyclopentasiloxane Hydroxyphenyl Propamidobenzoic Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Retinol, Polysorbate-20, Sodium HydroxideStep 2: Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Trisiloxane, Silica, Zinc, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Tocopheryl Acetate, Copper Powder

RoC At-A-Glance

Strengths: Some well-packaged products with retinol; all the sunscreens provide sufficient UVA protection.

Weaknesses: Mediocrity reigns supremefew of the formulas are particularly exciting; antiwrinkle claims tend to go too far; jar packaging.

Originally the brainchild of a French pharmacist, RoC does its best to convince women concerned with wrinkles that using RoC products will erase those pesky lines and, of course, that RoC is the only company that keeps its promises. That doesn't bode well for the other J&J product lines Aveeno and Neutrogenawouldn't that mean they must be lying about the promises they make for their products? Regardless, the promises RoC makes, including all of the same old same old "you will look younger too" rubbish, aren't viable and don't hold up under closer scrutiny. None of what they assure you their products can do is possible beyond a cosmetic extent, and moreover the majority of RoC's U.S.- and Canada-sold formulas are either boring or one-note. They don't even come through with distinctive or interesting moisturizers.

For example, RoC is big on retinol, and includes it in products with and without sunscreen in the United States. Retinol is a cell-communicating ingredient as well as an antioxidant, and its benefits for skin are many (Sources: Archives of Dermatology, May 2007, pages 606612; Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, March/April 2005, pages 8187; and Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, December 2005, pages 237244). However, for the most part, the amount of retinol in RoC's U.S.-sold products is barely a dusting, and so your skin won't receive much, if any, benefit from it. Ironically, although RoC promotes retinol much more than Neutrogena and Aveeno (all are J&J-owned companies), the latter two lines sell better retinol products! Several of the moisturizers with retinol sold by RoC in Canada also have much better formulations.

Another ingredient RoC has been touting lately is DMAE (dimethyl MEA). This ingredient is described in detail in the reviews below, but suffice it to say that DMAE isn't a panacea for wrinkles or skin that has lost firmness. Lastly, soy is promoted by RoC as an anti-aging powerhouse. Soy has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits for skin, but once again RoC shortchanges the consumer by including barely any of it. And it's probably no surprise that sister company Aveeno (and, to a lesser extent, Neutrogena) offers better (and less expensive) options if soy is what you want to try.

Taken together, isn't it interesting how all of these Johnson & Johnson brands offer similar products to different target audiences? Neutrogena is the all-encompassing line, going after consumers battling acne and wrinkles; Aveeno stresses its "Active Naturals" and plays on its oat heritage; RoC is made to appeal to consumers who want to take a serious, more clinical-minded approach to fighting the signs of aging. None of these lines have all the answers, but all of them have a few worthwhile products. It's just that with RoC, those looking for state-of-the-art options beyond retinol have the fewest choicesand that's a promise made clear by the reviews that follow!

For more information about RoC, call (800) 762-1964 or visit www.rocskincare.com. And for a better selection of state-of-the-art retinol products from RoC, see the reviews for RoC Canada.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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