Had to Share

The Drugstore Gel Moisturizer That Saved My Super Dry Skin

It’s magic, I swear. (And over 60K 5-Star Amazon reviews can't be wrong.)

Had To Share

Do you remember those “What kind of skin do you have” quizzes that filled every teen magazine in the late ‘90s, early aughts? You’d labor over questions like where you got most of your acne (the chin!) and if you had an “oily T-zone” (took me forever to figure out what this even was) and then, like shaking a Magic 8 Ball, you’d be told that you either had combination skin, oily skin, dry skin, sensitive skin, or the elusive normal skin.

Well, it didn’t matter how I answered those questions or if that particular day my skin wasn’t quite as red and angry as it normally was, I always knew which skin I had: dry. Dry, dry, dry. Dryyyy! I never once felt shiny or oily and it kind of feels like sensitive skin just goes right along with dry skin, you know? All this is to say I’ve tried a billion (roughly) different moisturizers and creams and serums meant to combat dry skin. But there’s only one that I’ve held tightly to: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. The name alone makes my cheeks plump up.

Seriously, if you have dry skin like me, you just know the feeling of bad moisturizer. Skin flakes off on your forehead; you get dry bits in the corners of your nose, even the inch of skin above your lip is desert-like. And trying to put makeup on top of that skin? Forget it. You need Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel.

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  • Price: $19
  • Size: 1.7 ounces
  • Who it’s for: Those of us battling dry skin no matter how much water we chug
  • When to use: Every day, just like a regular moisturizer!
  • Pro-tip: If you also struggle with liquid foundation, pump a bit of foundation onto your fingers and mix with some Hydro Gel for a light, tinted moisturizer. Trust me.

The science

It’s pure magic, descended from huge clouds full of rain for the perfect lush moisturizer. Obviously. But also, there is some science. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is made with hyaluronic acid, which is literally the stuff your body produces naturally for your eyes and joints. It’s basically goo. And is good for hydrating and keeping your skin flexible as a quarter-teaspoon of hyaluronic acid holds around one-and-a-half gallons of water. Insane!

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is also oil-free and non-comedogenic so it won’t clog up your pores. And because it’s a gel, it absorbs quickly without losing any of its moisturizing properties. It’s like it just immediately gets soaked in by your skin.

The packaging

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel comes in the perfect size — a 1.7-ounce jar lasts me almost an entire month, and that’s using it every morning and most nights (I swap in a night mask every few days). It’s a nice, heavy jar that’s not too big.

The results

OK, as anybody with dry skin can tell you, there’s a difference between having a dry patch on your skin and having dry skin. I definitely have the latter. It doesn’t matter how much water I drink, how much I avoid washing my face, the weather — my skin is dry. Once I get out of the shower, it’s like a ticking clock to get moisturizer on my face before everything feels tight and terrible.

I’ve tried a lot of things, from expensive serums and moisturizers to good old Pond’s and I’m telling you — Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is the only moisturizer I’ll ever use again. Granted, I’m no skincare expert — I don’t have a skincare routine or seven steps to follow every day — but I know what makes my makeup lay better, I know what feels good on my skin, and I know what visibly helps my dry, dehydrated skin.

It’s strange to describe a gel as lush, but that’s exactly what it is. The moisturizer is thick and a little goes a long way, but I love to slather it up over my cheeks, forehead — basically all over — and then rub any excess into my neck. You’ll feel your skin soaking it in. It’s amazing. And I can tell a major difference in what my skin looks like before I put it on and after — it’s like even the apples of my cheeks feel plumper and more rejuvenated.

It also has no real scent (fragrance is included in the ingredients, but I can barely smell anything in it), and with my dry skin often comes some sensitivity — certain products claiming to help dry skin have absolutely given me irritated, itchy, red skin that’s somehow even more dry than before. But this Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel literally feels like someone turned a crisp cold glass of water into a goop.


The ingredients in Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel read like a chemistry class, but let’s break it down a bit here.

  • Hyaluronic acid, a hydrating component naturally found in skin and is what helps this moisturizer keep your skin so supple and hydrated.
  • Water, because of course.
  • Dimethicone, a silicone-based polymer often found in moisturizers as a skin protectant in skincare products.
  • Glycerine, a moisturizing ingredient known as a humectant that is used in skin care products to trap moisture it draws into the skin.
  • Cetearyl olivate, made from fatty acids of olive oil and cetearyl alcohol, keeps the texture of the gel thick and easy to spread across your face while also having some moisturizing and skin-softening properties.

The verdict

I would assume even if you don’t have dry skin, you’ll appreciate how moisturizing the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is. I don’t know how else to explain it: it’s thick water. Slather it all over your skin (I like to do it as soon as I’m out of the shower while I’m still steamy) and notice the difference. It’s like pushing water straight into your pores to make everything feel less paunchy and tight and dry and more bouncy, glowy, and fresh. I often wear just this with some mascara and tinted lip balm for a day of running errands. It’s that good.

I’ll just add this note: It currently has 4.7/5 stars on Amazon with over 75,000 reviews.


When I was pregnant with my third daughter, my sister threw me a shower that was really just all of my friends and family buying me gifts, and I put this moisturizer at the top of my list. It’s that good — even at its incredibly nice price point, I will forever and always accept Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel as a gift.

Had To Share highlights the products and finds that Romper editors and contributors love so much, we just had to share in the group chat.