The next time you’re browsing the skincare aisle at your local drugstore or Target, you’ll see plenty of shelf space devoted to one brand in particular- Neutrogena. This brand began with a bar of soap and is now one of the best known mass market skincare brands in the world, selling creams and serums, sunscreen and makeup. Here’s a look at Neutrogena, its product line and is it worth a try?
What Is Neutrogena?
Neutrogena traces its roots back to 1930 when founder Emanuel Stolaroff started a small specialty cosmetic company called Natone that was mainly a supplier to beauty salons affiliated with the film industry. By the 1940’s, Natone began making cosmetics for the retail market. A pivotal point for the company occurred in 1954, when, according to Neutrogena, Stolaroff heard about a soap developed by the Belgian cosmetics chemist Dr. Edmond Fromont. The clear, mild soap was easy to rinse off and returned skin to its normal pH after washing. Stolaroff decided to imported and distribute the Neutrogena soap in the United States, and he focused on selling it to department stores and drug stores. In 1980 Neutrogena launched a haircare line, and was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 1994. Today Neutrogena sells skincare for men and women, sunscreen as well as makeup.
What is the Neutrogena Philosophy?
Neutrogena is a drugstore favorite brand that is known for its straightforward products. The company bills itself as “The #1 dermatologist-recommended skincare brand.” The brand balances heritage with innovation. The original glycerin soap is still available today in both a bar and liquid version, while some of the newer collections include Hydro Boost, which is powered by hyaluronic acid, and Bright Boost, which is centered around neoglucosamine, which helps brighten the appearance of skin.
What Does Neutrogena Sell?
Neutrogena sells a comprehensive line of skincare, haircare and sun protection products. Here’s a breakdown.
Rapid Wrinkle Repair Daily Face Moisturizer with SPF 30 + Hyaluronic Acid – This best-selling daily moisturizer does a little bit of everything. It helps keep skin hydrated and offers sun protection while also helping to fade the look of fine lines.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel with Hyaluronic Acid for Dry Skin – Hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, is the key ingredient in this oil free moisturizer.
Neutrogena Oil-Free Face Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin, Fragrance-Free, Non-Comedogenic – Formulated for sensitive skin, this daily moisturizer has a water base and does not contain any fragrance or oil.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum – Powered by hyaluronic acid, this serum should be applied after cleansing and before moisturizer for another layer of hydration.
Neutrogena Bright Boost Illuminating Serum with Neoglucosamine and Turmeric Extract – This serum is formulated to help brighten the appearance of skin and reduce the look of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Glycerin Soap Bar for Acne-Prone Skin, Dye-Free, Non-Comedogenic – Designed for acne prone skin, this glycerin bar soap is meant to give skin a thorough cleanse without overdrying it.
Deep Clean Purifying Cooling Gel Scrub – The key ingredient in this facial scrub is exfoliating salicylic acid which helps give pores a deep clean.
Neutrogena Body Products
Rainbath Refreshing Shower and Bath Gel – Another cult favorite Neutrogena product, the Rainbath is a rich shower gel. The original formula is still available as well as Pear & Green Tea scents, and an Ocean Mist.
How Much Do Neutrogena Products Cost?
Neutrogena products are priced in line with other drugstore buys. The Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Cream + Hyaluronic Acid is $28.49, and the Hydro Boost Hydrating Cleansing Gel & Oil-Free Makeup Remover with Hyaluronic Acid is $9.99. A single use Hydro Boost Hydrating 100% Hydrogel Mask sells for $3.49 and the Neutrogena Hydro Boost City Shield Water Gel Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 25 is $24.99.
Is Neutrogena Cruelty Free?
On its website, Neutrogena states, “The fact is, Neutrogena doesn’t conduct animal testing of our cosmetic products anywhere in world, except in the rare situation where governments or laws require it.”
What Ingredients Are in Neutrogena?
Neutrogena uses common skincare ingredients to formulate its products. The key ingredient in the Hydroboost line is hyaluronic acid, which acts like a sponge to absorb and retain water. The new Bright Boost collection is powered by neoglucosamine which, according to the company, is an amino sugar that helps make the skin feel softer and smoother, and also helps to brighten the face. Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is the signature ingredient in the Wrinkle Repair line. Other ingredients include the humectant glycerin; dimethicone (a silicone); ascorbic acid and citric acid (vitamin C), and shea butter.
Where Can I Buy Neutrogena ?
Neutrogena products are sold in drugstores including CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens, in large retailers including Target and Walmart. It’s also sold on Ulta and Amazon.
Does Neutrogena Work?
Even with cult favorite brands that have been around for decades, a little trial and error is always necessary to find the right products for your skin. It’s always helpful to look at customer reviews and editorial write ups as a starting point.
Neutrogena has collected plenty of awards from People, Allure, Esquire, Self and Redbook. In 2019 Vogue included the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Serum in an article called “These 10 Hydrating Serums Will Make Dry Skin Vanish” – alongside pricier products from Dr. Sturm and SkinCeuticals. Neutrogena’s Wrinkle-Smoothing Night Cream has earned a Good Housekeeping Seal Star. According to a 2019 article in the magazine, “In a test on 120 women, an impressive 100% had noticeable results after one week; it diminished the look of deep forehead, cheek and crow’s-feet wrinkles as well as brightened skin tone in eight weeks.” Neutrogena’s Easy-On Sunscreen Spray was also a GH Lab test winner, for a Bargain Buy. Their lab lowdown: “It ranked near perfect for effectively protecting skin from the sun.” A 2019 Real Simple article looking at “The Best Anti-Aging Products of All Time, According to Top Dermatologists” included the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel.
Editorial write ups aside, what do real people think?
On Influenster, some of the most reviewed Neutrogena products are its Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes (74,000 reviews); Neutrogena Naturals Face and Body Bar (23,000 reviews) and Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub (17,000 reviews). The Cleansing Towelettes, which also received a 2019 Influenster Reader’s Choice Award and a 4.4 out of 5 star rating, was called people’s “go to” and “seriously amazing.” As Katie R. wrote, “These have been my go to wipes for as long as I can remember. They make my skin feel soft and clean and as if I didn’t even have any makeup on my skin.” Customers who didn’t love it wrote that it was too drying or made their skin feel like it was burning. As Emily J. noted, “I can’t use these. They are so drying on my skin and I feel like I’m still left with a lot of makeup on my face after 2-3 wipes.”
The Oil-Free Acne Wash Pink Grapefruit Foaming Scrub gets a 4.2 out of 5 star rating on Influenster. Fans of the product loved how it made their skin feel. Kyla I. wrote that she is a longtime user – “I’ve been using this face scrub for 4 years. I don’t have terrible acne but this has definitely helped me cut down on breakouts.” Those who gave it low ratings wrote that it made them break out or found it to be too drying. “This just made my skin break out more I tried it because I had a few pimples and it made them worse,” wrote Wendy M.
The Hydroboost Gel-Cream has been reviewed more than 4,000 times on Amazon, with a 4.4 out of 5 star rating. The cream was called “the best” and a “lifesaver.” As one customer wrote, “Neutrogena Hydro Boost is nothing short of miraculous.” People that didn’t love it found it to be just “ok” or they had a bad reaction, like this user- “This stuff felt good when applied but dried my skin out. I thought I had sun burn on my face! Then it caused weird bumps. What is in here?!? My skin never reacts to anything. I will NEVER buy this again.”
On Reddit’s Skincare Addiction thread, much of the feedback is centered on the brand’s sunscreens and the Hydro Boost Gel cream. Reddit user Mxchiavxlli posted about the Neutrogena ultra sheer sunscreen liquid. “If I’m going bare faced, I love it. Leaves a soft velvety finish on my skin, isn’t greasy, goes on great over daytime serums. Under makeup though it’s a nightmare, even just simple B.B. cream. It pills and separates and clumps like you wouldn’t believe.” Some users compared Neutrogena’s moisturizers to CeraVe, like user Onigiri815 who wrote about the Oil Free Moisturizer. “This is a great basic, no frills moisturizer. I was a bit apprehensive because I was afraid it might be too heavy or emollient but it’s actually great. Compared to the CeraVe PM, it does have a very similar consistency. Because it is so basic, I don’t know if many people would rate it but I like that it does what I need it to do – moisturize and seal in my humectant layer underneath it.”
What Are Some Alternatives to Neutrogena ?
Although Neutrogena is a popular drugstore buy, it may not work for everyone. Perhaps it did nothing for your skin or you’re looking for products that can do more. There are a few other brands to consider.
Formulyst’s philosophy is long-term and effective skincare. The brand wants to help its customers achieve their best looking skin. Formulyst’s Super Hyaluronic Water Moisturizer helps keep skin hydrated and dewy looking. This oil free formula is packed with multiple types of hyaluronic acid and it works as a moisture magnet by drawing water to the skin.
Formulyst’s Anti-Aging Night Cream does a little bit of everything. It gently exfoliates the skin to reveal a fresher, smoother looking complexion, while soothing the skin. It is gentle enough to be used every night, and also helps to visibly brighten dark spots and soften fine lines. Skin looks softer, smoother and radiantly revived when you wake up.
Fans of skincare kits, which take all the guesswork out of creating your own regimen, should try Advanced Dermatology. This no nonsense brand offers a pared down approach to skincare. The packaging is simple and streamlined, and the products bring skincare back to the basics. The kit contains just six essential items including a daily cleanser; serum; anti-wrinkle firming treatment; night cream; day cream and an eye cream. In other words, everything you need to achieve your best possible looking skin.