Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Vs. Gel-Cream

A point-by-point breakdown on how to figure out which is the best for you.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Vs. Gel-Cream
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If you’re on the hunt for a hydrating moisturizer at a great price point, Neutrogena’s popular Hydro Boost line contains two popular products that fit the bill. When you’re deciding between Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel versus Gel-Cream, at first glance, these products appear practically identical. However, there are a couple of key differences between the two that you should be aware of to choose the best one for your skin.


As the name of the line suggests, all of Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost products are designed to replenish and rehydrate, including these moisturizers. Both the Water Gel moisturizer and Gel-Cream moisturizer contain hyaluronic acid as a key ingredient, which is a powerhouse for hydration. They also each contain glycerin — a humectant that attracts water to the skin’s surface — and dimethicones to lock in hydration. And lastly, both products are oil-free, non-comedogenic, and described as having a “gel-cream formula.”

Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel Moisturizer features a lightweight formulation that absorbs quickly into the skin and delivers up to 24 hours of hydration thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. It's suitable for all skin types.

Compared to the Water Gel moisturizer, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Moisturizer offers more heavy-duty hydration — it’s specifically designed for dry to extra-dry skin. The gel-cream formulation keeps skin moisturized for up to 48 hours thanks to ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin (remember: the water gel moisturizer also has these), but also because it contains beeswax, another humectant that helps with hydration.

Fragrance & Dye

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel contains fragrance, which can be irritating for some, particularly those with more sensitive skin. That said, the general consensus is that the smell isn’t overly overpowering — one reviewer on Amazon describes the scent as “light and pleasant,” while another commented that it’s “fresh and mild.” Unlike the gel-cream moisturizer, this water gel moisturizer contains Blue 1, which is an FDA-approved, synthetic dye that adds color to the product.

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream is fragrance- and dye-free, making it a better choice if you have sensitive skin or you simply try to avoid products with fragrance or dye.


  • Winner: Tie

Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel boasts a solid 4.6-star rating overall on Amazon with over 77,000 reviews. Some reviewers refer to it as their “holy grail” moisturizer. “Using this is the highlight of my skin care routine,” writes one fan. “It has a very slight pleasant smell, soaks into my skin quickly and locks in moisture all day. My skin feels bouncy and hydrated. [...] So glad I have found the holy grail.”

Like the Water Gel moisturizer, Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream is quite popular on Amazon, boasting a knockout 4.7-star rating overall after over 40,000 reviews. One fan commented, “This will forever be my favorite moisturizer. I can't go without it.” And another writes, “This stuff feels so light and smooth going on, but it leaves your skin feeling very moisturized and soft.”

Both moisturizers have the same percentage of five-star reviews (80%), making this a tie.


  • Winner: Tied

When adding one of these hydro-boost moisturizers to your (virtual) shopping cart, it would be super easy to accidentally choose the wrong one since the packaging is nearly identical (except for the product names, of course). Pay close attention when doing so to avoid any mix-ups!


Drugstore brand Neutrogena is well known in the beauty industry for making high-quality products that don’t an army and a leg, and both of these moisturizers are no different. The Hydro Boost Water Gel moisturizer costs around $18 for the 1.7-ounce size, while the Hydro Boost Gel-Cream moisturizer comes in at about $20 for the 1.7-ounce size — while they’re both budget-friendly, the Water Gel offers a slightly better value.

The Verdict: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Vs. Gel-Cream

  • Winner: Gel-Cream moisturizer if you have dry or sensitive skin, Water Gel if you don’t

It’s clear that both of these moisturizers from Neutrogena are the real deal — they offer fantastic hydration with a nearly unbeatable price tag. That said, the Hydro Boost Water Gel option is targeted at all skin types, while the Hydro Boost Gel-Cream moisturizer is better suited for those with extra-dry or sensitive skin because it’s longer-lasting and free of dyes and fragrances. You can’t go wrong with either option, so let your skin type guide your choice.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

With a lightweight feeling on application and a mild scent, the oil-free Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel offers 24 hours of moisturization for most skin types.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

The fragrance- and dye-free Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream offers a similarly lightweight application while being more moisturizing, so it works for even extra-dry skin for up to 48 hours.

More Gel-Cream Moisturizers To Consider

1. A Fragrance-Free Moisturizer With Soothing Oat

This gel-cream moisturizer from Aveeno features oat to soothe your skin. It’s fragrance-free and ideal for those with sensitive skin.

2. This Fan-Favorite Gel-Cream In A Convenient Tube

Bouncy and lightweight, this gel-cream moisturizer from Versed features ingredients like aloe and green tea to moisturize the skin and fight inflammation. It’s designed for all skin types.

3. A Popular Gel-Cream That’s Less Than $10

At less than $10, this gel-cream moisturizer from Garnier is a budget-friendly buy that’s packed with nourishing ingredients like vitamin E to hydrate your skin. It’s designed for normal and combination skin.