If you’re browsing through the shelves of your favorite drugstore, there’s no doubt you’ll come across 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 everything from face wash to moisturizers to sunscreen and more.
Neutrogena is even considered to be the “#1 dermatologist-recommended skin care brand”. So why do dermatologists love Neutrogena skin care products? To answer that question, we’ll have to dive into the formulation details, including the key ingredients in Neutrogena skin care products and the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skin care. We’ll also share some Neutrogena reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of these products.
Is Neutrogena Skincare Worth The Money?
A common question about this brand is if the products are worth the cost.
In our opinion, Neutrogena products are worth the money, but there are other brands that deliver greater value.
One brand is Carrot & Stick, a clean skincare brand that perfectly balances the gentle nurturing of plants with the powerful results of innovative science.
Carrot & Stick intro bundles deliver great value for money because you can bundle 3 full-size products worth up to
$240 for $88.
What’s Inside Neutrogena Skincare?
Neutrogena combines tried-and-true skincare ingredients — such as vitamin C, retinol, and peptides — with skin-softening ingredients like emollients, humectants, and silicones. Below we’ll explain how these ingredients benefit your skin, as well as a few alternatives to consider.
We’ve been hearing for years that Vitamin C is the best anti-aging ingredient. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals, the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin.
It’s in Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Night Cream, although the brand uses a fairly low concentration of vitamin C in this formula.
Our favorite Vitamin C serum is Carrot & Stick The Defence Serum. It contains 3 distinct types of Vitamin C that work together to help fight free radical damage. We recommend using it every morning.
As you age, your body’s production of collagen and elastin slows down. These two proteins are responsible for your skin’s structural support. As a result, the skin loses its natural plumpness and smoothness.
While collagen is necessary for maintaining youthful-looking skin, the collagen protein is too large to absorb into the skin topically. That’s why applying skin care products that contain collagen won’t provide the anti-aging benefits you’re looking for.
This is where peptides come into action. Peptides are the building blocks of protein, and they are easily absorbed into the deeper layers of skin due to their smaller size.
Neutrogena includes a “micro-peptide” in their Rapid Firming Peptide Contour Lift Face Cream. With just two amino acids, the brand states that the micro-peptide is 2.5x smaller than leading anti-aging peptides for optimized delivery deep within the skin’s surface.
One peptide serum we recommend is Carrot & Stick The Repair Serum. It contains 7 plant-based peptides to promote plumper and smoother-looking skin. It also has skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.
Retinol is the go-to anti-aging ingredient recommended by dermatologists and skin experts. It’s known to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and unclog pores. Retinol also targets hyperpigmentation while smoothing away the look of fine lines.
While retinol provides many benefits to the skin, it’s also known to cause side effects like skin dryness and irritation.
It’s in Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Oil. This formula contains retinol SA, an ingredient patented exclusively by Neutrogena. The “SA” in retinol SA stands for “sustained action.” The company claims that retinol SA is distinct from retinol because of its ability to penetrate the skin and continue to work for 12 hours after its application to reduce skin discoloration and fight the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
It’s best to use retinoids at night. We recommend this retinoid oil serum. It contains Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, an ingredient that provides similar benefits with less irritation.
What Are The Top 10 Best Neutrogena Skin Care Products?
With over 200 products in the Neutrogena skin care collection, it can be daunting to find the right product for your skin care needs. That’s why we’ve rounded up the top 10 best Neutrogena skin care products. Here’s our breakdown:
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is by far the brand’s most popular product, likely due to its weightless, silky texture that absorbs into the skin quickly without feeling heavy or greasy. This is because the formula mostly consists of silicones combined with the humectant glycerin.
While texture is certainly important, so are active ingredients, and this formula really lacks ingredients that are going to make much of a difference in the look/feel of your skin long term. The brand claims that hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in the Hydro Boost Water Gel, but it’s used in a pretty low concentration in this formula (less than 1%). And keep in mind that this product contains a synthetic fragrance blend, which may smell nice, but it’s not doing your skin any favors.
Even though Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel is the brand’s #1 best seller, we don’t see what the hype is about. The formula mostly consists of silicones, glycerin, and fragrance. It could be a good option for those with oily skin or if you need a lightweight moisturizer for summer weather. But honestly there are better options out there! (See our recommendations below in the Alternatives to Neutrogena section)
With hyaluronic acid being in the name of this serum, we thought we’d find a higher concentration of it in the formula. But once again sodium hyaluronate (the salt form of hyaluronic acid) is used in a concentration of less than 1%. Despite this, the formula does contain quite a few humectants (glycerin, butylene glycol, panthenol, and pentylene glycol). These ingredients act like moisture magnets, drawing moisture into the upper layers of skin in order to improve hydration.
A combination of silicones, humectants, and emollients give the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Night Pressed Face Serum a smooth, silky feel. These ingredients will help to lock moisture into the skin, giving you a smoother, more supple complexion. This serum is a good option if you’re looking for lightweight hydration, but if you’re looking for a serum to tackle signs of aging, check out our list of the best anti-aging serums.
If you’re looking for a body moisturizer that hydrates without leaving your skin feeling sticky or greasy, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Body Gel Cream could be for you. The formula consists of the humectant glycerin, the occlusive emollient petrolatum (aka vaseline), the silicone dimethicone, and a couple other emollients. Even though petrolatum is a key ingredient, the formula doesn’t feel greasy whatsoever, and it actually absorbs into the skin pretty quickly.
This Neutrogena sunscreen provides broad spectrum SPF 55 protection due to the combination of four chemical sunscreen ingredients (avobenzone, homosalate, octisalate, oxybenzone). While these chemical sunscreen ingredients won’t leave a white cast like mineral sunscreens, research has shown that they do absorb through the skin and into the bloodstream. The formula also includes several different emollients and silicones to give the product a soft, silky skin feel.
If you’re trying to prevent or reduce signs of skin aging, then you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to add a retinol cream into your nightly routine. Retinol is clinically proven to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores. If you want to reap these benefits, then the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Retinol Cream may be a good option for you. Pure retinol is combined with humectants, silicones, and emollients to help keep your skin hydrated and smooth.
This lightweight retinol oil is enriched with 0.3% pure retinol in order to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores. Even though it’s a facial oil, it absorbs into the skin very quickly, so you don’t have to worry about looking like a greasy mess!
This Neutrogena face wash is a pretty basic formula, containing surfactants to clear away excess oil, dirt, and other impurities. The formula also contains cellulose in order to physically exfoliate the skin, which helps to remove dead skin cells from the surface of skin that can clog pores and cause a dull complexion. Hyaluronic acid is claimed to be a key ingredient, but it’s actually the lowest concentration ingredient in this formula!
In case you weren’t aware, salicylic acid (a beta-hydroxy acid) is one of the best acne-fighting ingredients. It works by exfoliating the pore lining, which loosens clogged dirt and oil. It also has the ability to dissolve keratin, the protein that acts as a “glue” to keep dead skin cells together in the stratum corneum. This is effective because dead skin cells can build up on the surface of your skin, leaving it looking dull and also possibly clogging pores.
Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash includes 2% salicylic acid (the maximum amount that can be used in an OTC product). The rest of the formula consists of surfactants. A surfactant molecule contains one end that is hydrophilic (attracted to water) and one end that is lipophilic (attracted to oil). This allows surfactants to attract and suspend oils, dirt, and other impurities that have accumulated on the skin and wash them away.
This Neutrogena moisturizer promises to improve the look of skin discoloration and dark spots in just one week. The formula consists of pure retinol combined with emollients, silicones, and humectants. Vitamin C is claimed to be a key ingredient in this moisturizer, however, the formula contains a very low amount of this ingredient. In fact, this Neutrogena moisturizer contains more fragrance than vitamin C!
Is Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Right For You?
Before purchasing Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, here’s a summary of the most important factors to consider:
- Key ingredients? Glycerin and silicones
- Skin type? Most skin types, except those with very dry skin
- Texture? Weightless water gel
- Fragrance? Yes
- Cruelty free? No
- Cost? $23.99 for 1.7 oz
Which Neutrogena Face Wash is Best?
Earlier we mentioned just two of the best sellers from the Neutrogena face wash collection: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Daily Gel Cream Exfoliating Cleanser and Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash. But the brand’s face wash and toner collection actually consists of almost 100 different products, which makes choosing the right one pretty daunting.
The Liquid Neutrogena face wash would be our top pick because it’s fragrance free and contains a basic formula of surfactants to clear away excess oil, dirt, and other impurities. However, if you’re struggling with clogged pores and acne breakouts, the Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash would be a better option since the formula contains 2% salicylic acid.
Where to Buy Neutrogena Skin Care Products?
Neutrogena Skin Care products are sold on the brand’s website, as well as numerous third party retailers, such as Walmart, Walgreens, Target, Amazon, and many more.
What is The Neutrogena Return Policy?
The Neutrogena return policy states, “If for any reason you are not completely satisfied with your Neutrogena.com purchase you can return the products for a full refund of the purchase price (less original shipping and handling fees) within 30 days of purchase. Shipping costs for any returns will not be reimbursed by Neutrogena.com unless there was a shipping error or product damage.”
Is Neutrogena Cruelty Free?
No, Neutrogena is not cruelty free because Neutrogena products are sold in mainland China where animal testing is required by law.
Neutrogena reviews on the brand’s website are a mix of very positive and very negative. The product with the most reviews is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, which has earned an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars after more than 1,500 customer reviews.
The positive reviews for the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel mention how well it helps to hydrate skin without leaving it greasy, oily, or sticky.
For example, one review says, “Yes. This works sooooo well. I have really sensitive skin and for the past few weeks I have had a dry and sensitive face that feels vulnerable to the elements (wind, humidity, sun and heat damage, stress). Hydro-Boost did the trick. Upon using Hydro-Boost my skin feels hydrated; the water gel is not heavy, it’s not oily and it won’t make your face look shiny. You don’t need to slather it on even – I just use a little each time and it immediately calms my face.”
And another very positive review for Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel says, “This product leaves my skin feeling fresh and soft. It’s very light and I feel like it makes my skin glow. In the summer, I wash my face, apply this and I’m good to go!”
However, there are quite a few negative reviews for the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel from customers who experienced reactions after using this product, such as burning, redness, and itching. This is likely due to the inclusion of fragrance in this product.
One reviewer even had to go to urgent care due to her reaction to Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel. The review says, “I ended up with the equivalent of an unwanted chemical peel on my eyelids. Within 45 minutes, I had swelling, burning, and looked like I’d been in a fight. I spent time at my urgent care, was given medication and when the swelling subsided, my skin peeled. I thought Neutrogena was supposed to be gentle, but this was a painful, ugly nightmare.”
And a similar review says, “I bought this product after reading reviews for the best facial product for dry skin. After using it 2 days in a row I had to stop, as my face had a burning sensation during that time. I had applied it all over, including under eyes because I wanted more hydration in that area. Now my under eyes are wrinkled and parched. I am now trying to repair the damage.”
Overall, we think that Neutrogena is an affordable brand, but there are definitely better options out there. Some Neutrogena products are better than others, and we recommend avoiding the products with synthetic fragrance ingredients and parabens.
- Products contain emollients, humectants, and silicones
- Many positive Neutrogena reviews
- Some products contain low concentrations of key ingredients
- Most products contain synthetic fragrance ingredients
- Some products contain parabens
- Several Neutrogena reviews mention allergic reactions
What Are Some Alternatives to Neutrogena Skin Care Products?
If you’re looking for skincare products to address the signs of aging, we recommend Carrot & Stick. Carrot & Stick maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in advanced skincare solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin. We recommend The Defence Serum, followed by The Moisturizer.