The year was 2016. I was working on a piece about affordable night creams for women in their 20s, and I had just received a product that would change my beauty routine forever: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel ($20).
Nary a mention of "moisturizer" or "cream" on this label - but that's because this product isn't either of those things. For someone that has been dedicated to thick night creams for over a decade, I was skeptical. The beauty industry pumps out truckloads of innovative products every day - was "water gel" just another gimmick?
No, my friends. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is the real deal, and two years later, it's still a staple in my beauty pantry.
Initially, I used it as a night cream. I'd slather it on post-serum before bedtime. I noticed that unlike a lot of moisturizers that sit on the surface on my skin, my pores sucked this stuff up like a vacuum. One of Neutrogena's claims is that the water gel "instantly quenches and continuously hydrates skin," and they are not f*cking around. The active ingredient is hyaluronic acid, which locks moisture into your skin, keeping it hydrated for hours.
I liked the product so much that I started using it in the morning, as well. I'd layer it on under my sunscreen as a way to prep my dry skin. (If you've ever put sunscreen on and noticed your skin flaking, try this.) If ever I noticed a dry spot while applying makeup, I'd dot on a bit of the water gel, wait for my skin to absorb it, and continue on my merry way. It's one of the most versatile products in my arsenal, by far.
I'm not the only one who loves it, either. A dedicated army of fans has made it one of the most consistently highly rated skincare products at Ulta, and the initial Hydro Boost line was so successful that Neutrogena has expanded it to include sunscreen, serum, hydrating tint, and more. (I can personally attest to the gentle effectiveness of the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Exfoliating Cleanser ($9).
If you're in the market for moisture - and really, who isn't? - you need this drugstore gel cream.