Neutrogena Hydro Boost Review: Does "Water Gel" Hydrate Skin?

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Review: Does "Water Gel" Hydrate Skin?

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Neutrogena Hydro Boost is a two-part skincare product that includes a serum and a gel. The brand claims that this duo can provide a “hydrated, healthy glow” and that it “replenishes and smooths skin.”

But does Neutrogena Hydro Boost contain ingredients shown in clinical trials to have these effects or are these just marketing claims? Does the brand use any questionable additive ingredients? What retailers sell Neutrogena Hydro Boost for the best price? And how do real users rate and describe the effects of the product?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we analyze the ingredients in Neutrogena Hydro Boost based on medical studies to give our take on whether the two-part system is likely to be effective for hydrating and improving skin, or if it’s a waste of money.

We’ll analyze the ingredients in both treatments separately: Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum first and Hydro Boost Gel-Cream second.

We’ll provide a cost comparison featuring the retailer that sells Neutrogena Hydro Boost for the best price, and share customer reviews of the treatment.

Ingredient Analysis – Serum

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Serum ingredients

The ingredients in Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum are shown above.

This serum contains a number of research-backed ingredients for hydration and even anti-aging effects.

Hyaluronic acid, from which the product gets its name, was shown in a 2018 medical review to improve the body’s own production of collagen, to hydrate the skin and to have “remarkable anti-wrinkle” effects.

Yeast extract was shown to relieve itch and soothe irritated skin in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Sodium hyaluronate is the sodium salt of hyaluronic acid, and was shown to have a “positive effect on facial skin health” in a 2023 clinical trial.

Panthenol is a B-vitamin that’s clinically shown to improve skin hydration as we documented in our The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid review article on another cosmetic product containing this ingredient.

Xylitol can improve skin barrier function and reduce levels of pathogenic bacteria when applied to skin, according to a medical review published in the Nutrients journal.

While there are a number of research-backed ingredients in this serum, there are also two inactive ingredients that may be questionable from a health perspective.

Chlorphenesin is a synthetic preservative that was shown to be toxic to human cells in a 2020 clinical trial.

Phenoxyethanol is another synthetic preservative shown to be toxic to human cells in the same trial.

The above-linked trial is a test tube study, so it’s a weaker standard of evidence than a trial with human participants.

Overall, we consider Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost serum likely to improve skin hydration, improve skin barrier function, and reduce the visible appearance of wrinkles due to its many effective active ingredients.

We don’t currently recommend this product due to the inclusion of the two preservatives referenced above.

But how does the Hydro Boost gel compare? We’ll analyze its ingredients after sharing a few unsponsored user reviews of this product in the next section.

Real People Try Hydro Boost

A TikTok creator named “” gives a live product demo and shares her thoughts on Neutrogena Hydro Boost: 💧☁️ @Neutrogena #skincare #neutrogena #neutrogenahydroboost #neutrogenahydroboostwatergel #dewyskin #glassskin #skincarereview #skincaretryon #skintok ♬ original sound -

A TikTok creator named “skinswept” has a similarly favorable review:

@skinswept First review in the Gel-Cream Series! #skincare #moisturizer #gelcream @neutrogena_us ♬ original sound - skinswept

Ingredient Analysis – Gel-Cream

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream ingredients

The ingredients in Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream are shown above.

Like the serum, it does contain some research-backed ingredients.

Sodium hyaluronate was already demonstrated to be likely effective in the previous section.

Beeswax is clinically shown to have antimicrobial activity, which suggests it may be effective at reducing pathogenic bacteria levels and breakouts, although most of the studies we can find on this ingredient involve naturally-derived beeswax which may be different from the “synthetic beeswax” in this gel.

Glycerin is clinically shown to improve skin moisture content, as we documented in our review of Good Molecules.

Unfortunately, the preservatives phenoxyethanol and chlorphenesin are included in this formulation as well.

Overall, we consider Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream likely to improve skin hydration, although we think it’s a worse formulation than the serum because we can’t find nearly as many research-backed active ingredients in the cream.

We don’t recommend this product due to the inclusion of the two preservatives.

But how do medical experts rate and describe this product? We’ll review in the next section.

Medical Experts Review Hydro Boost

A dermatologist named Dr. Daniel Sugai compared Neutrogena Hydro Boost with a cheaper alternative which could be considered a dupe, called up & up Hydrating Water Gel:

A doctor named Vanita Rattan shares her thoughts on whether Hydro Boost is a good choice for individuals with darker skin tones:

Where to Get the Best Price

Neutrogena Hydro Boost is sold at a variety of online retailers. Here’s a price breakdown at the time of publishing this article:

Hydro Boost Serum

Ulta: $29.99 (link)

Target: $19.99 (link)

Brand website: $19.99 (plus shipping, link)

Amazon: $16.39 (free shipping depending on plan – link to official Amazon listing)

Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

Ulta: $29.99 (link)

Brand website: $19.99 (link)

Walmart: $15.99 (link)

Amazon: $15.40 (free shipping depending on plan – link to official Amazon listing)

The price of Neutrogena Hydro Boost is currently around 50% cheaper on Amazon compared to Ulta.

Real Customers Review Hydro Boost

Amazon is a better resource for honest customer reviews than a brand’s website in our opinion.

The gel-cream version has been reviewed over 46,000 times on Amazon with an average review rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars.

The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named “Shahzad a.” who likes the smell and product experience:

“Overall, I would definitely recommend Neutrogena Hydro Boost to anyone looking for a moisturizer that's effective, lightweight, and won't make you smell like a 17th-century perfumery. Give it a try – your skin will thank you!”

The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by an anonymous Amazon customer who dislikes the consistency and claims the product is too small:

“My first disappointment when opening the product was how little there was in the jar. I washed my face as usual and then went to apply. The consistency is very weird, but I expected that since it was described as a gel. Within seconds of applying to my face, my skin began burning. I had to immediately remove and apply my normal moisturizer.”

Our Clean Skincare Picks

Annie Mak Vitamin C Serum is our top anti-aging serum.

It contains hyaluronic acid which was described as a "skin-rejuvenating biomedicine" in a medical review due to its ability to reduce wrinkles and signs of facial aging.

Momentous Collagen Powder is our top anti-aging skin supplement.

Collagen supplementation was shown in a medical review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology to reduce visible signs of skin aging as well as improve skin elasticity and skin hydration.

HYDRAGLOW by CLEARSTEM is our top moisturizer pick.

It features bakuchiol as an active ingredient which was described in a 2014 clinical trial as "clinically proven to have anti-aging effects." 

All of the products recommended in this section are entirely free of ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

Pros and Cons of Neutrogena Hydro Boost

Here are the pros and cons of Hydro Boost in our opinion:


  • Serum formulation is one of the best serums we’ve reviewed
  • Both products should improve skin hydration
  • Fragrance-free
  • Dye-free
  • Relatively affordable
  • Very favorable customer reviews


  • Contains two synthetic preservatives
  • No mention of clinical testing
  • Brand website charges for shipping
Stay up-to-date on our research reviews


Neutrogena Hydro Boost is an above-average moisturizer. 

Both the serum and the gel-cream contain ingredients that are clinically shown to improve skin moisture content.

The serum contains several anti-aging ingredients, and we believe it’s the better formulation of the two products in this set.

Both products contain synthetic preservatives shown in one clinical trial to be toxic to human cells, and we don’t currently recommend either product for that reason.

Most customer reviews we came across while researching this article were highly favorable.

Amazon currently has the best prices on Neutrogena Hydro Boost, at almost 50% less than Ulta for the same product.