Neutrogena is the “#1 dermatologist-recommended skin care brand”. Ever wondered why that is and what the best Neutrogena products are?
The brand’s gone a loooong way since its humble beginnings. They started off selling a bar of soap and now offers retinol creams, AHA exfoliants and lightweight sunscreens that really help keep those pesky wrinkles at bay. In other words, they give you all those powerful, science-based actives that deliver results (and make the price go up) other drugstore brands leave out of their formulations.
Blend science with a low price tag and you’ve got a brand that dermatologists and consumers alike love. But not all products are created equal. Some give you better results than others. So, if you’re wondering if Neutrogena skincare products are worth the money, the answer is, it depends on the products.
Below, I’m listing the best Neutrogena products to fight premature aging, treat acne, fade away dark spots, and heal dryness. If it’s in the list, it’ll deliver results:
- About The Brand: Neutrogena
- What Are The Best Neutrogena Products?
- Best For Hydration: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($28.99)
- Best For Anti-Aging: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum ($46.99)
- Best For Fading Dark Spots: Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Glycolic Acid Overnight Face Peel ($28.99)
- Best For Anti-Aging Prevention: Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Vitamin C Serum Capsules ($39.99)
- Best For Everything: Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Niacinamide Face Serum – Fragrance Free ($23.99)
- Best For Sun Protection: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70 ($14.99)
- Best For Acne: Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Spot Drying Lotion – Fragrance Free ($19.99)
- What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Wrinkles?
- What Are The Best Neutrogena Products With Retinol?
- What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Acne?
- What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Dark Spots?
- What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Sensitive Skin?
- Is Neutrogena Cruelty-Free?
- The Pros Of Neutrogena Skincare
- The Cons Of Neutrogena Skincare
- The Verdict
About The Brand: Neutrogena
Did you know that Neutrogena was originally called Natone? Started in 1930 by Emanuel Stolaroff, this small specialty cosmetic company supplied products to beauty salons associated with the film industry. The following decade, the brand started to expand into the retail market too.
Now owned by conglomerate Johnson & Johnson, the brand gained a reputation for affordable and science-driven skincare products. For decades, Neutrogena was one of the few drugstore brands who used real anti-aging actives in their products – proof you never needed to spend a fortune for good skin.
The catch? To keep the prices down, the formulas are simple: they only give you an active that works, but won’t go the extra mile. It’s for women who want something that works on a budget and don’t care about all the extra bells and whistles in their skincare products. The real dealbreaker is outdated company policies. Being owned by J&J means Neutrogena tests on animals in countries where it is required by law. *sighs*
What Are The Best Neutrogena Products?
Curious to know the best Neutrogena products to treat dryness, premature aging, and acne? Here’s what really works, according to science (not hype):
Best For Hydration: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($28.99)
A lightweight, fragrance-free serum with two forms of Hyaluronic Acid that hydrates skin without feeling heavy or causing acne. Hyaluronic Acid is a hydrating powerhouse that draws from the air and binds into your skin up to 1000 times its weight in water! All that hydration is a godsend for your skin. When skin has all the hydration it needs, it naturally looks younger: fine lines and wrinkles are plumped up to look smaller, your skin texture is softer to the touch, and the whole complexion takes on a dewy glow. The serum contains both high and low molecular weight forms of Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate every layer of skin plus Panthenol, a form of Vitamin B5, that soothes dryness and irritations. You can use it both in the morning and in the evening, either alone or by mixing it with your fave moisturiser.
BEST FOR: Hyaluronic Acid is a wonderful active for all skin type. It hydrates oily skin without adding more oil to it, quenches the the thirst of dehydrated skin, keeps dry skin softer and smoother, and is gentle enough for sensitive skin.
Available at: Boots, Neutrogena, Sephora, Target, and Ulta
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Best For Anti-Aging: Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum ($46.99)
Neutrogena was one of the first brands to bring retinol to the drugstore. This is huge because retinol is the only OTC active that can reduce wrinkles, not just make them look smaller to the naked eye temporarily. Retinol fights wrinkles in three ways: it destroys the free radicals that destroy collagen and elastin because they can wreak their damage; it boosts the production of collagen (the protein that keeps skin firm); and it speeds up the skin’s natural exfoliating process for a smoother texture. Speeding up exfoliation also makes retinol great at fighting acne and fading away dark spots. The .5% concentration is enough to do the job (retinol works well even in tiny doses). With regular use, it helps you fight wrinkles and fine lines, brighten the complexion, and fade away hyperpigmentation. The catch? Retinol can be irritating. Use it every other night after cleansing and moisturiser well afterwards. Oh, the lightweight, smooth texture absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue behind.
BEST FOR: Intermediate retinol users. If you’ve been using 0.2 or 0.3% without issues and are looking for something stronger (and your skin isn’t sensitive), this is for you.
Available at: Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta
Best For Fading Dark Spots: Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Glycolic Acid Overnight Face Peel ($28.99)
This liquid, fast-absorbing exfoliant uses 10% Glycolic Acid, the most powerful member of the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHAs) exfoliating family. Glycolic Acid dissolves the glue that holds skin cells together, so they can slough off and reveal the brighter and smoother skin underneath. In this way, it fades away dark spots, smoothes out rough patches of skin, and even makes your wrinkles look smaller. Plus, it has water-binding properties that hydrate skin. Glycerin and Hyaluronic Acid also had an extra boost of hydration to plump up skin and counteract any dryness from the exfoliation. Glycolic Acid works but, like all exfoliants when abused, can cause dryness, redness, and irritation. Use it every other night.
BEST FOR: Dry skin, sun-damaged skin that’s not sensitive, and fading away dark spots.
Available at: iHerb, Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta
Best For Anti-Aging Prevention: Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Vitamin C Serum Capsules ($39.99)
Ascorbic Acid, the pure form of Vitamin C, is a powerful anti-aging actives. Here’s why: it fights free radicals before they can give you wrinkles, brightens the complexion, boosts collagen, and helps fade away dark spots. Layer it under sunscreen, and it helps to enhance its sun protection, too! Too good to be true? There’s a catch… or two. Ascorbic Acid is VERY unstable and goes bad quickly, especially when it contact with light and air – hence why Neutrogena packed it into tiny little capsules. They keep Vitamin C effective until you’re ready to use it (and are biodegradable, too!). Neutrogena gives you a whooping 20% concentration. It’s high enough to do the anti-aging job, but can also cause irritations in sensitive skin. The silicone base gives your skin a smooth texture and keeps Vitamin C stable too. Result? Softer, smoother, brighter skin.
BEST FOR: Resistant skin that can tolerate 20% Vitamin C, fading away dark spots.
Available at: iHerb, Neutrogena, and Ulta
Best For Everything: Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Niacinamide Face Serum – Fragrance Free ($23.99)
I call Niacinamide the jolly of the skincare world because it helps with everything. It hydrates skin, fights wrinkles, treats acne, fades away dark spots, and even soothes irritations – and, for once, science backs ALL of these claims! Whether you’re dealing with acne, sensitivity, wrinkles, or dryness, this is an active you want to add in your skincare routine. This serum pairs 10% niacinamide with hydrating Hyaluronic Acid to give your skin a plumping boost that makes your fine lines and wrinkles look immediately smaller. Its lightweight texture sinks fast into the skin without leaving a greasy residue behind, and it’s gentle enough you can use it both morning and night daily.
BEST FOR: Everything – dry skin, oily skin, sensitivity, acne, premature aging, dark spots…
Available at: iHerb, Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta
Best For Sun Protection: Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 70 ($14.99)
I love Neutrogena sunscreens for two reasons. One: they work. Two: they’re so affordable, you can apply them generously (if you only apply a tiny layer to make the product last as long as possible, you won’t get adequate sun protection). The lightweight formula sinks in quickly into the skin without leaving it a greasy mess. Its secret? Synthetic UV filters. They’re not as thick as mineral filters, which makes them a great choice for oily skin – and any other skin types that doesn’t want to deal with a thick texture. Plus, it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes, making it perfect even on the hottest days of the year, when you’re swimming, exercising, or just sweating outside. Just be careful if you have sensitive skin. Synthetic UV filters may irritate your sensitive skin type.
BEST FOR: All skin types bar sensitive, high protection for sports and hottest summer days.
Available at: Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta
Related: Chemical VS Physical Sunscreen: Which One Should You Use?
Best For Acne: Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Spot Drying Lotion – Fragrance Free ($19.99)
Out of all the acne treatments I’ve tried, sulfur is by far the most effective. Research shows it fights acne in lots of different ways: it has antibacterial properties that kill the bacteria P.Acnes and prevents it from spreading to other areas of your skin; it exfoliates dead skin cells so they can’t fall into your pores and cause breakouts; it dries out blemishes; and it even reduces oiliness (another leading cause of acne). Like all effective acne treatments, it’s harsh. Use it only on active pimples (never on clear skin!) as needed. Neutrogena also added 4% niacinamide, a soothing active that fights acne while counteracting dryness and redness. You should start seeing those angry pimples shrinking within a day (yes, sulfur works that fast!).
BEST FOR: Acne-prone skin that’s not too sensitive.
Available at: iHerb, Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta
What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Wrinkles?
- Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum ($46.99): As mentioned above, it’s a great serum for intermediate retinol users who want to fight wrinkles but are not ready for 1% retinol or prescription retinoids yet. Available at Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta.
- Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Vitamin C Serum Capsules ($39.99): These 20% Vitamin C capsules help you fight free radicals and boost sun protection to keep premature wrinkles at bay. Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, and Ulta.
What Are The Best Neutrogena Products With Retinol?
- Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum ($46.99): I know I’m repeating myself at this point, but this really is my fave retinol product from Neutrogena. Available at Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta.
- Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil ($41.99): A gentler formula than the one above (that’s why it didn’t make the cut), it contains 0.3% retinol, a dose good for beginners. Although oil-based, don’t let that put you off. It’s lightweight and fast-absorbing. Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, and Ulta.
What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Acne?
- Neutrogena Stubborn Acne Spot Drying Lotion – Fragrance Free ($19.99): As I shared above, this is my fave anti-acne treatment. It shrinks pimples and makes them disappear faster than any other products from the brand. Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta.
- Neutrogena Stubborn Acne AM Treatment ($15.49): If sulfur is too harsh for you, try this acne treatment with Benzoyl Peroxide. It kills P.Acne – and the bacteria doesn’t grow resistant to it! Benzoyl Peroxide is harsh, so use this on pimples only. Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, and Ulta.
What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Dark Spots?
- Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Vitamin C Serum Capsules ($39.99): At a 20% concentration, Vitamin C is great at brightening skin and fading away dark spots. Plus, it prevents wrinkles, too. Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, and Ulta.
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Glycolic Acid Overnight Face Peel ($28.99): Glycolic Acid is the most effective exfoliant for fading away dark spots. While it’s at it, it also hydrates skin and fights wrinkles. Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta.
What Are The Best Neutrogena Products For Sensitive Skin?
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost+ Niacinamide Face Serum – Fragrance Free ($23.99): Niacinamide is a godsend for sensitive skin. It literally does everything, from fighting wrinkles to treating acne and fading away dark spots without irritating skin! Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, Target, and Ulta.
- Neutrogena Hydro Boost Soothing Milk Facial Cleanser ($13.49): A gentle, hydrating cleanser that removes dirt and makeup without irritating skin. Available at iHerb and Ulta.
Is Neutrogena Cruelty-Free?
No, Neutrogena is not cruelty-free. Owned by Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena sells in China, one of the few countries that still requires animal testing. As long as it sells there, it needs to comply with the law (unless China finally decides to change it, which is looooooong overdue!).
The Pros Of Neutrogena Skincare
Neutrogena has never shied away from using powerful, science-based actives, like retinol and glycolic acid, that can fight the premature signs of aging and treat acne. In the past, the brand would add just a few drops – barely enough to give you results while keeping the prices as low as possible.
Since The Ordinary came on the beauty scene with affordable, highly concentrated products, Neutrogena had no choice but to adapt to keep up with demand. These days, their concentrations of actives are much higher – and much more effective. If you’re on a budget, this is definitely a brand worth investing in.
The Cons Of Neutrogena Skincare
Like all drugstore skincare brands (including The Ordinary) that need to keep the prices low and competitive, Neutrogena gives you only one active per product. While more expensive brands, like Paula’s Choice, pack their retinol serums and exfoliants, with antioxidants, peptides, and other goodies that go the extra miles, Neutrogena only gives you the minimum actives, in the minimum dose, needed to produce the results you’re looking for. As much as I love multitasking products that go the extra mile, I see a place for simple skincare that gives results without breaking the bank.
Oh, and not being cruelty-free is another con, obvs.
If you’re on a budget, Neutrogena offers some affordable products loaded with science-backed actives that can fight acne, prevent wrinkles, heal dryness, and even fade away dark spots. Like every brand, it has its duds, so be careful when you shop. The products in this list are all excellent buys – you can’t go wrong with them.
Neutrogena is generally a very good line, and the price is certainly right. I’ve had good luck with their sunscreens and gentle cleansers, especially the products you list here. And yes, the hand cream is a classic!
Laurie, I agree. It’s rare to find a brand that makes good products at such an affordable price. 🙂
Is their sunscreen in the yellow bottle mentioned, and the other body ones they have the same stuff that they package under the name Dry Touch and Clear Skin…. (the line of face sunscreens)???
Guess what? I found out Neutrogena makes a mineral face sunscreen for sensitive skin. It’s the Pure & Free™ Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 and it’s 1.4 oz. for $12.49. Does that sound expencive for the amount you get????
Hannah, I like their sunscreens, but there are only so many products I can mention, or this post would be as long as an encyclopaedia.
And glad to know they are finally making a mineral sunscreen too. Wonder if I can find it here. Thanks for sharing.
I absolutely LOVE their hand cream!!!!! Glad to see that it made it to the flawless list. Well actually… the handcream I use didn´t make it to the list, but I can assume all their handcreams are good, right?? 🙂
Barbara, most of them are. Which one are you using?
I just discovered your blog and I absolutely love it! I especially appreciate your attention to problems women experience at all ages. As a 50 year-old I find sifting through reviews written for women in their 20’s and 30’s to be frustrating. And the information you give about specific ingredients is very helpful in comparison to those who are little more than ads for expensive brands. Brava!
Amy, thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you find this little blog useful and I hope to see you around here often. Let me know if you ever have any questions. 🙂