Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser Calms Sensitive Skin

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Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Holly Rhue

What We Like
  • Dermatologist-developed and hypoallergenic

  • Fragrance-free

  • Non-comedogenic

  • Soothes and hydrates even sensitive skin

What We Don't Like
  • No exciting ingredients

  • May leave behind some makeup

A straightforward cleanser that’s budget-friendly and won’t disrupt sensitive skin, Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is worth having on-hand.


Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Holly Rhue

We put the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Facial Cleanser to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

I’ve never been someone who gets excited about drugstore products. This isn’t because I have a budget that allows me to buy luxury skincare only, but mostly because I’m a pessimist and tend to have a bias against putting things on my face that are less than $10. The reason? I’m about as sensitive-skinned as they come. Over the last few decades I’ve struggled with figuring out what irritates or improves my finicky complexion, and while it’s always a work in progress, I’ve found that sometimes it’s worth paying the extra money for soothed skin. 

All that goes to say when I was tasked with testing Neutrogena’s beloved Ultra Gentle Hydrating Facial Cleanser, I panicked a little bit. Would my skin be thrown out of balance and have a flare up of rosacea or acne? Would all of my hard work in recent months be thrown out the window? Hint: nope. In fact, my skin responded rather nicely to this drugstore staple—ahead, learn how it all went down.

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser

Best for: Dry and/or sensitive skin.

Uses: A daily cleanser to gently remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup.

Star Rating: 4.7/5

Potential allergens: Not likely

Active ingredient: Glycerin

Byrdie Clean? Yes

Price: $11

About the brand: Founded in 1930, Neutrogena has grown to be a staple in the beauty industry over the last nine decades thanks to its affordably priced drugstore staples, including favorites like the Ultra-Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen and Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover.

About My Skin: Sensitive and prone to redness

As mentioned, my skin is sensitive and often pink, which makes finding skincare products an especially challenging feat. Over the years, I’ve found that when my skin is in a good place, the best course of action is a less-is-more approach—keep it simple and things won’t spiral out of control. Introduce a bunch of new ingredients at once? Expect trouble.

The Feel: Gel to cream

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser Texture

Nicole Kliest/Design by Cristina Cianci

Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser pumps out in a slightly runny gel form, but once you apply it to your face, it becomes creamier and quite enjoyable to spread. A little bit goes a long way, so don’t go overboard.

The Ingredients: Less is more

There are no luxurious oils or potent actives to be found in this cleanser–just simple, clean fun. Though I’ll be the first to admit I’m a sucker for a buzzy ingredient, my skin and I can appreciate a pared-back approach. This formula is free of soap, dyes and parabens.

  • Polyglycerin formula: This aids with nourishing the skin, particularly if you’ve got dryness or sensitivity. This ingredient is a humectant that draws moisture out of the air into your skin.
  • Cetearyl alcohol: When you hear the word "alcohol," you often think of it as drying however this ingredient is actually an emollient that helps to soften skin.

How to Apply: Massage into skin

Wet your face, pump the cleanser into your hands and massage into skin. As stated earlier, this formula turns from gel into a foam. Rinse off completely and pat skin dry. Because this formula is so gentle, you can use it daily as needed.

The Results: Chilled-out skin

Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser Results on Nicole Kliest

Nicole Kliest

I tried Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser out for a week, and each morning I woke up to soothed, hydrated skin. The results weren’t dramatic, but I was pleased with how easily this new product fit into my existing skincare routine. Because it is so gentle, it may leave behind some makeup so you may need to follow up with a face wipe or toner.

Will I give up my fancy cleansers? No. Will I keep Neutrogena on my shelf for times when my skin needs to hit the reset button? Absolutely.

Pull Quote

There are no luxurious oils or potent actives to be found in this cleanser–just simple, clean fun.

The Value: Very good

I don’t know precisely how many uses you’d get out of this bottle (maybe 100?) but at around $11 for 12 oz., it’s a steal. Since a little goes a long way with this formula, that just makes the value even better.

What to Look For: Active Ingredients

When considering the best facial cleanser, consider both your skin type and what needs you are looking to address. Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is a great choice if you have sensitive skin or are using other products with active ingredients that could make your skin sensitive. If you find this product doesn't remove all your makeup, you may need to consider a product that has more cleansing ingredients, such as Cocamidopropyl Betaine, which is a cleansing ingredient derived from coconuts. If you have acne-prone skin, you may want to consider a cleanser that has salicylic acid to help clear up pimples. Those with anti-aging concerns may want to use more of an exfoliating cleanser to help with cell turnover to improve skin texture and wrinkles.

Similar Products: You've got options

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser: Similar to the Neutrogena cleanser, this pick from Cetaphil ($10) is reliable for getting my sensitive skin to a stable place. No fancy ingredients here, but this is a delightfully effective formula that I can rely on.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser: The milky-creamy texture, combined with La Roche-Posay’s prebiotic thermal water, elevates this drugstore cleanser ($15) to the next level.

Final Verdict

If your bathroom shelves could use a versatile, gentle face wash you can use any season and no matter what shape your skin is in, I think you should give Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser a try. Safe for sensitive skin, this is a good basic option for anyone.


  • Product Name Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser
  • Product Brand Neutrogena
  • Price $11.00
  • Weight 12 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Water, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol.
Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Becker LC, Bergfeld WF, Belsito DV, et al. Safety assessment of glycerin as used in cosmeticsInt J Toxicol. 2019;38(3_suppl):6S-22S. doi:10.1177/1091581819883820

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