neutrogena hydro boost water gel lotion sunscreen

Last month, I shared my first impressions of the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen on Instagram. Now that I’ve totally emptied the tube — already?! — it’s time to see how well those initial thoughts have aged.

Enter the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen is a broad spectrum formula rated at SPF 50. The Helioplex label on the front refers to Neutrogena’s proprietary technology that’s designed to offer both UVA (anti-aging) and UVB (anti-burning) protection.

(In case you’re not aware, PA+ ratings are not recognized by the United States Food and Drug administration. Thus, the term “broad spectrum” is used.)

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen is a chemical-based formula that contains the following active ingredients:

  • Avobenzone (2.7%)
  • Homosalate (9%)
  • Octisalate (5%)
  • Octocrylene (9%)
  • Oxybenzone (4.5%)

Additional ingredients include:

Water, Glycerin, Alcohol Denat., Caprylyl Methicone, Diisopropyl Adipate, Silica, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Dimethicone, Polyurethane-62, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Pentylene Glycol, Aluminum Starch Cctenylsuccinate, Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/vp Crosspolymer, Acrylates/Dimethicone Copolymer, Glyceryl Stearate, Fragrance,Chlorphenesin, Menthyl Lactate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium Edta, Trideceth-6, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hydroxide, Violet 2, Blue 1

Revisiting my first impressions

Here’s what I had to say about the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen within my first few days of use:

It’s a very runny, watery consistency. Maybe on par with the last Biore UV iteration. It doesn’t leave my skin feeling greasy for the most part.

Yes, this is one watery formula. I went to cut the tube open to get the remaining sunscreen out and it dripped everywhere. Seriously, it’s like it had a mind of its own (or I’m just a slob).

As for the lack of greasiness, that remained true. For as runny as it is, I found it absorbed into my skin quite well. Unlike other (physical) sunscreens I’ve used recently, this didn’t leave any residue or runoff on my car’s leather seats. (It’s shorts season here, people.) Can’t report any significant pilling or flakiness, either.

The comparison to the Biore UV Aqua Rich Water Essence is apt. If you like your sunscreen to have a thin, watery consistency, then the Neutrogena Hydro Boost is as close as you’re going to get as far as Western sunscreens are concerned.

There is a scent, but it’s not a typical sunscreen smell. If you’ve ever used any of Neutrogena’s other Hydro Boost products, it’s the same fragrance. Honestly, it smells like the color blue. Don’t know how to describe it. But their R&D team got it right.

Yes, this smells like the color blue. I can’t articulate it any better than that! If you’ve ever used any of Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost products, then you’ll have an idea of what I’m talking about.

It’s a scent I don’t hate; however, I think it helps that I don’t use the Hydro Boost Sunscreen on my face, but rather the rest of my body. One of the drawbacks to the Biore Watery Essence — which I did use on my face — was the potent alcohol scent. Fortunately, it would disappear after a few moments.

The scent of the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen doesn’t seem to go away all that quickly. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing…for my ego. I’ve had people compliment me on the scent, even going as far as asking what kind of perfume I was wearing. So there’s that.


…the gel itself has a slight blue tint. Fortunately, it goes away once you start rubbing it in. No white/blue cast.

The blue tint is in line with the rest of the Hydro Boost label. It was slightly offputting at first — blue sunscreen? — but once fully rubbed in, it takes on a more translucent appearance. No blue to be found.

If I have one complaint, it’s the tube itself. The lid tends to get a little messy after use. It could just be me being heavy-handed but I have to be much more mindful of wiping the cap off after I’m finished with it.

This is perhaps my largest complaint about the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen and it’s related to the packaging. No matter how much or little I squeezed out, there was always a slight mess behind for me to clean up.

neutrogena hydro boost sunscreen cap

I unscrewed the cap to see if it would somehow be any better to dispense the sunscreen that way. However, this is so thin and runny that merely turning the tube over would cause some product to spill out before even squeezing it.

Additional thoughts

  • Alcohol denat. (aka denatured alcohol) is listed as an inactive ingredient; the concentration is unknown. When it comes to using products on my face, I prefer to avoid this ingredient as much as possible as it can sensitize skin. I understand that it’s likely been included to help the formula dry quickly. And relative to my face, the rest of my body doesn’t seem to be as averse to it. I’d rather not have it in there but so far, my skin doesn’t seem to have suffered for it.
  • I wish this lasted me longer than a month! This is a 3 fl. oz. (88 mL) tube. I guess this speaks to how well I’ve (re)applied this sunscreen. But even though this is much more accessible to me than the Klairs sunscreen, I’d prefer not to buy a new tube every 28 days. Guess I can always stock up if needed.
  • As much as I like using the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen on my body, I doubt I could ever use it on my face. Between the alcohol denat. and the scent, I’ll stick to something else.

Final thoughts

The fact that I recently repurchased the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion should tell you that I like it quite a bit as a body sunscreen. If you’re a fan of Biore or other similar Japanese sunscreens, this may be worth a look if you’re keen on trying a Western take of a “watery essence.”

However, if potent scents are not your thing, you probably won’t enjoy this, regardless of the compliments you’d get from passers-by on how good/clean you smell. Also, bear in mind that a single tube likely won’t get you very far if you intend to use this as a body sunscreen.

Buy it here:

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen at Target

Now over to you…

What is your favorite body sunscreen? Share it with us in the comments.

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I am not a professional. All opinions are my own. 

6 Replies to “Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen Review”

  1. Very detailed review. Thanks for sharing it with us, I was wondering if this sunscreen matches up to the quality of the other products in the same skincare line 👍

  2. Thanks for reading! I’ve liked every product I’ve tried from that line so far…except the mascara. Clumped too much.

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