Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Water Gel Hydrates the Skin From the Inside Out

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Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What We Like
  • Absorbs fast

  • Lightweight

  • Hydrates with hyaluronic acid

What We Don't Like
  • Not for ultra-dry skin

  • Strong scent

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is aptly named for its lightweight texture, and while it hydrates well there might be better options out there.


Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

We purchased Neutrogena's Hydro Boost Water Gel so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.

Finding a moisturizer for any skin type can be an uphill battle. While heavier creams can really lock in that much-needed hydration, many people want a moisturizer that will leave their skin soft and supple without feeling like a greasy mess.

Enter the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. This popular moistruzier manages to have two highly coveted qualities in one—it’s both lightweight and hydrating. Like gels, its claims, the formula absorbs quickly. But thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid, it moisturizes like a cream. For those who are looking for something, they can apply before heading out for the day or wear comfortably under makeup, a formula that absorbs quickly like this one is a must.

The aquamarine gel sure feels nice going on, but does the light-as-water hydrator do enough to keep skin supple and healthy? I tested out the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel to see if the drugstore favorite did enough to hydrate skin. Read on for my honest review.

Best for: Normal to oily skin

Uses: Hydration

Potential allergens: None

Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

Byrdie Clean?: Yes

Price: About $22

About the brand: Neutrogena is the #1 dermatologist-recommended brand, offering affordable products for skin, makeup, hair, and more.

About My Skin: Acne-prone and normal

My skin leans towards normal, sometimes combination skin. But as the weather cools down and the humidity falls, I like to treat my skin with heavy hydration. In the morning I prefer something lighter though, which is where it was perfect to try out Neutrogena Hydro Boost. I used it every morning after a quick cleanse, and after applying Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 and vitamin C (and before sunscreen, on days I needed it). 

Because I’m prone to breakouts, I kept a close eye on my skin to make sure nothing in the moisturizer would spur any irritation or spots. 

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

The Feel: Super light—like literal water gel

Water gel is an apt description. Hydro Boost is nearly weightless in the hand and sinks into the skin quickly, although if I use too much I can feel it on my skin after it dries. Mostly though, the formula feels super light and the addition of dimethicones in the ingredients makes skin feel smooth. 

I don’t normally mind a scent in my skincare products, but in this case, it was too overwhelming. Rather than a natural, botanical smell from the ingredients, the added fragrance was strong and smelled like perfume. Even after applying, the scent lingered. Their Hydro Boost Gel-Cream for extra dry skin, however, is fragrance-free.

Ingredients: Hydrates with hyaluronic acid

The star ingredient in Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is hyaluronic acid (HA). HA works by attracting moisture—up to 1,000 times its weight in water—which not only plumps skin but hydrates it. In this case, it’s in the form of sodium hyaluronate, a derivative of HA, which can penetrate even deeper than pure HA. 

Despite its lightness, it seems to soak into skin and hydrate it from the inside out.

Sodium hyaluronate can be used in concentrations of up to 2%, however, Neutrogena does not share the concentration of it in this particular product.

The Results: Lightweight hydration

Thanks to ingredients like dimethicone and HA my skin feels soft after using, but it doesn’t necessarily feel super hydrated like it can after I use heavier moisturizers (my current go-to is First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream). But with that said, despite colder weather and declining humidity, Hydro Boost has kept my skin from becoming too dry, and I think that’s part of the magic of the formula—despite its lightness, it seems to soak into the skin and hydrate it from the inside out. 

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi 

I wouldn’t recommend this moisturizer for those with severely dry skin or anyone looking for major hydration in colder or drier climates. But for summer weather or oily skin, I think this moisturizer is a solid choice to hydrate without being heavy. And, as in my case, it works well for those with normal skin looking for a morning hydrator that wears well under makeup.

I’m always wary that new products will break me out—especially with a fragrance as strong as this one—but even after a week of use, I didn’t have any new out of the ordinary acne. One reason for this might be how light the formula is. It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, so it shouldn’t cause breakouts for most people.

The Value: Slightly overpriced

If you’re browsing the drug store shelves for a new moisturizer, this one would stand out as a pricey option. It sells at around $22 for 1.7 ounces (or you can pick up the half-ounce jar for around $10), which is more expensive than my usual higher-end moisturizer pick.  To me, this price feels a little inflated for a silicone-heavy and low-actives-ingredient product.  

Lightweight Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel
 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

Similar Products: More affordable and powerful

Tatcha The Water Cream Travel Size ($20): For less than Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost—and the same amount of product—you can try out The Water Cream from Tatcha. It too has sodium hyaluronate, along with other extracts that boost skin circulation, balance skin, and improves the look of pores.

Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream ($20): Again, for a more affordable alternative, Honest Beauty’s Hydrogel Cream gives you hydration with two types of hyaluronic acid. It also uses squalene (a moisturizer) and sodium PCA (another hydrator) to boost the skin’s hydration levels.

Final Verdict

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel certainly isn’t a bad product, in fact, it does a good job of keeping skin hydrated with a lightweight formula. But when there are products with better ingredients—and better prices—it’s hard for me to all-out recommend this one. If it works for you, that’s great, but if it doesn't, check out some of the recommended similar products.


  • Product Name Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Water Gel
  • Product Brand Neutrogena
  • SKU 07050111047
  • Price $22.00
  • Weight 1.7 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Water, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Dimethicone/vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Polyacrylamide, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Dimethiconol, C13-14 Isoparaffin, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Chlorphenesin, Carbomer, Laureth-7, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Fragrance, C12-14 Pareth -12, Sodium Hydroxide, Blue 1

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