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If you’re an avid skin care product user, you’ve likely heard of Neutrogena, one of the top skin care brands in the United States. The brand is known for their variety of affordable facial and body products to support skin health.

The Hydro Boost Water Gel is one of the brand’s bestselling products. With its gel consistency, this customer favorite is not your average moisturizer. Formulated with hyaluronic acid, an active ingredient that attracts and binds water to the skin, this Neutrogena moisturizer keeps skin supple and hydrated.

Hydrating moisturizers are usually geared toward people with dry skin, but those with oily skin also need hydration. This moisturizer is oil-free and noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. This makes it a suitable choice for those with oily skin, like myself.

The gel feels nice on the skin, but is it worth the hype? Here, I’ll review the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel for hydration and see why it’s a top seller.


  • Oil-free, noncomedogenic, and alcohol-free formula is suitable for oily skin.
  • Weightless texture sinks into the skin immediately.
  • Contains dimethicone to smooth out skin’s surface, creating a primed base for makeup.
  • Formulated with sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid, to reduce dryness.
  • Contains 1.7 ounces of product in a sturdy jar.


  • Strong fragrance is very noticeable and lingers. Scented products can cause contact dermatitis.
  • Active ingredient sodium hyaluronate is low on the ingredient list and the concentration is not disclosed.
  • Gets its blue hue from synthetic dyes.
  • Doesn’t contain many active ingredients.
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For a long time, I described my skin type as oily. Once I learned more about how to properly care for my skin, I realized that oiliness was a side effect of dehydration.

Oil production goes into overdrive when skin lacks hydration. I fell into the trap of believing that hydrating products were only for dry skin, so I didn’t use them. My skin was compensating for the lack of hydration by producing excess oil.

Now that I incorporate a source of hydration into my skin care routine, my skin type is closer to combination skin. In the colder months, I notice more dryness, especially on my cheeks and under my eyes. In the warmer months, which is most of the year in California, I lean on the oily side, especially in my T-zone.

I’m also prone to mild breakouts, so I’m mindful of the ingredients I put on my skin.

My skin care routine

As a skin care enthusiast, I enjoy trying out new products to see if they’ll earn a semi-permanent place in my rather simple routine.

In the mornings, I use:

  • hyaluronic acid essence
  • vitamin C serum
  • moisturizer
  • sunscreen

In the evenings, I use:

  • gentle cleanser
  • glycolic acid exfoliant
  • skin-soothing serum
  • rich moisturizer

On days I wear makeup, I double cleanse.

In the daytime, when I’m more likely to experience oiliness in my T-zone, I prefer a lightweight moisturizer. However, I don’t want to sacrifice hydration since it’s crucial for all skin types, including combination, oily, and acne-prone skin. Could the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel offer a compromise?

  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Main ingredients: sodium hyaluronate, glycerin, dimethicone
  • Type of skin it’s best for: oily skin
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Neutrogena is a brand that is occasionally recommended by dermatologists. They’re known for their affordable soaps and facial washes. The company started out with a single soap product but has grown to sell a wide variety of cosmetics.

Though the brand is mainly associated with skin care products, their offerings also include makeup, hair care, and sun protection products.

With affordable prices, Neutrogena aims to marry quality with value by providing products trusted by medical professionals.

I have one previous experience with an oil-free gel moisturizer, and I wasn’t impressed. The formula didn’t leave my skin feeling moisturized enough since it was so lightweight. However, I was determined to try this product due to its glowing reviews and promising claims.

When I first received the product, I immediately swatched it on the back of my hand, like I always do with new products. I also performed a patch test near the jawline and didn’t notice any reaction.

(Dermatologists recommend doing a patch test on the inner forearm, because if you do develop a rash, it’s not on your face or neck.)

One of the first things I noticed about this moisturizer, aside from the blue color, was the fragrance. It has an overwhelming scent that lingers. For those sensitive to fragrance, there is an unscented version, which is formulated for extra-dry skin.

The blue formula, which gets its hue from synthetic dyes, glides onto the skin and disappears shortly after. It sinks in without a trace, leaving only the feeling of soft, moisturized skin. It also layers well with other products. The gel consistency feels more “wet” than your typical moisturizer, so multiple layers of skin care products can blend together seamlessly.

I’m always feeling wary that my skin is too oily or shiny, but this gel moisturizer didn’t make my skin feel or look greasy. I could apply this and go out into the world without feeling self-conscious about my shiny forehead. I also took advantage of this moisturizer’s skin-smoothing dimethicone and used it as a primer for makeup. It held up nicely.

Unlike some rich moisturizers, which leave a tacky residue on the skin (the kind that pet hair loves to cling to), this one is super smooth. It quenches skin, but you hardly realize it’s there. It also dries down after a few minutes. This makes it a nice final step in my skin care routine without feeling bogged down by heavy layers of product.

Overall, this wouldn’t be my choice for a nighttime or winter moisturizer, as it’s hydrating but lacks richness. The strong fragrance and synthetic dye are also deal breakers for me. However, for a lightweight moisturizer with the sole purpose of reducing dryness, it performs how it should.

The star ingredient of this moisturizer is sodium hyaluronate, a form of hyaluronic acid — the gold standard for hydration in skin care. This ingredient attracts and binds water to the skin, giving a more plump appearance and hydrated feel. The effects of sodium hyaluronate in this moisturizer are noticeable. Skin looks and feels more hydrated instantly.

However, this moisturizer only has one job — to hydrate the skin. It does its job well but left me wanting more. I prefer a moisturizer that not only hydrates but also offers other benefits, like:

  • antioxidants
  • moisturization
  • skin barrier support
  • brightening
  • anti-aging

It’s a simple moisturizer with simple ingredients, so it will fit nicely into a simple daytime routine.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $25
  • $$ = $25-45
  • $$$ = over $45
PriceMain ingredientsGeneral performance
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel$, for 1.7 ouncessodium hyaluronate, glycerin, dimethiconehydrates skin without leaving a greasy sheen, according to user reviews
Honest Beauty Hydrogel Cream$, for 1.7 ounceshyaluronic acid, squalane, jojoba esters, sodium PCA, fruit extracts, hydrolyzed sodium hyaluronatelightweight, fragrance-free formula smooths and softens skin, according to user reviews
Kiehl’s Since 1851 Ultra Facial Oil-Free Gel Cream$$, for 1.7 ouncesglacial glycoprotein, amino acids, glycerin, dimethicone, salicylic acidhelps oily skin to appear matte and clear, according to user reviews
TULA Skincare Dew Your Thing Moisturizing Gel Cream$$$, for 1.7 ouncesprobiotic extracts, rice water, prickly pear extract, sodium hyaluronate, fruit extractssoaks into skin immediately and is suitable for sensitive skin, according to user reviews

This moisturizer is marketed to people with dry skin, but its weightless texture makes it amazing for those who run oily. It’s oil-free and noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores or lead to any new breakouts. It may even help those with active breakouts calm their skin since the ingredients are so simple.

Those with sensitivities to fragrance and synthetic dyes should be aware that both are present in this product, however.

The dimethicone-based moisturizer may also work for those looking for a lightweight daytime moisturizer. It layers well with other skin care products and makeup, too.

I was skeptical about the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel from my prior experience with a gel moisturizer but was pleasantly surprised. It feels nice on the skin and leaves my skin feeling supple, smooth, and hydrated. My combination skin, which leans oily and acne-prone, had no issues with this product. My nose, however, was overwhelmed with the strong fragrance.

Others with similar skin types can benefit from this product, especially as a daytime or summer moisturizer. It also makes for a nice makeup primer since it contains skin-smoothing dimethicone. For a lightweight moisturizer, it gets the job done, though other moisturizers with more active ingredients may offer more benefits.