Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser Gelee Milk review

Summer makes everything lighter. Heavy sweaters give way to skimpy sundresses. Soups and stews are replaced by juicy salads and ice cream. Thick body butters are put away in favour of gel-like lotions. Even the makeup gets lighter. Ok, I might sport the occasional neon pink lipstick or bold green eyeshadow, but I often give foundation a miss. No point in putting it on, it’ll just melt away. 🙂

With less makeup to remove, I’m giving my trusted oils a break. I’ve switched to a micellar water, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Gelee Milk – it’s the perfect cleansing trick for lazy makeup days. Or so they say. Did it leave up to my expectations or will I go back to my trusted oils? Only one way to find out:

About The Brand: Neutrogena

Neutrogena is on a mission to break down the barriers that stand between you and your best skin. Founded in 1930 by Emanuel Stolaroff under the name Natone, the business quickly grew. In 1954, Stolaroff bought the rights to distribute a mild clear soap that removed impurities without drying it out in the US. A few years later, the brand officially changed his name to Neutrogena and the brand started marketing its soaps through dermatologists and luxury hotels. Once that business was well established, the brand launched entire ranges for acne and anti-aging too. These days, they’re moving into supplements too. Its success is due to simple, affordable formulas that work without breaking the bank. What’s not to like about that?

Key Ingredients In Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Gelee Milk: What Makes It Work?


Surfactants is a family of ingredients that cleanse skin by allowing water to mix with oils and dirt, so they can be rinsed away. The catch? Some surfactants do the job so well, they strip skin bare of every trace of the oils that keep your skin naturally moisturised. Cue dryness and irritation. That doesn’t happen here. These cleanser uses Sodium Hydrolyzed Potato Starch Dodecenylsuccinate and Poloxamer 188, two of the mildest surfactants. They won’t irritate skin. But they don’t cleanse too well, either. They’re ok at removing a light face of makeup. But, if you’re wearing long-lasting foundation, this won’t cut it.

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Sodium hyaluronate its a form of hyaluronic acid that attracts and binds to the skin up to 1000 times its weight in water. Plus, it works well both in high and low humidity conditions. When skin has that much moisture, it plumps up. This alone is enough to make your fine lines look smaller – temporarily. Hydration also makes skin soft and gives the complexion a dewy glow (think Korean skin).

Related: Why You Need Hyaluronic Acid In Your Skincare Routine, No Matter Your Skin Type

The Rest Of The Formula & Ingredients

NOTE: The colours indicate the effectiveness of an ingredient. It is ILLEGAL to put toxic and harmful ingredients in skincare products.

  • Green: It’s effective, proven to work, and helps the product do the best possible job for your skin.
  • Yellow: There’s not much proof it works (at least, yet).
  • Red: What is this doing here?!
  • Aqua: The base of the product, it dissolves other ingredients.
  • Glycerin: Like hyaluronic acid, it attracts and binds moisture from the air into your skin, helping to keep it softer, plumper and hydrated for longer.
  • Butylene Glycol: Another hydrating ingredients that plumps up skin and makes it softer and smoother.
  • Ethylhexylglycerin: A skin softening agent with mild hydration properties. It has preservatives abilities that help stabilise a formulation.
  • Hydroxyacetophenone: A synthetic antioxidant that helps boost the preservative system of the cleanser.
  • Glyceryl Stearate: It gives skin a soft and smooth appearance.
  • Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer: It enhances the texture of skincare products.
  • Sodium Polyacrylate: A thickening agent that also helps the watery and oily parts of a product that’d naturally repel each other blend together seamlessly.
  • Zea Mays Starch: It increases the viscosity of skincare products.
  • Disodium EDTA: A chelating agent that prevents active ingredients from binding to the trace elements in water that may spoil them. Thus, it keeps the cleanser effective for longer.
  • Sodium Hydroxide: It balances the pH of skincare products.
  • Tocopherol: A form of Vitamin E, it’s used here as a preservative to keep the formula safe and stable for longer.
  • BHT: A preservative that prevents the growth of bacteria in your cleanser.
  • Parfum: It makes the cleanser smell nice, but it can irritate sensitive skin.


This cleanser is a lightweight gel that only foams slightly when in contact with water. It’s pleasant to use and doesn’t drag on the skin.


Clean and subtle. Personally, I don’t dislike it. If a cleanser must have a scent, this is what it should smell like. But should a cleanser have a scent? Not really. Fragrance is one of the most irritating ingredients in skincare products. If you have sensitive skin, this may cause trouble for you.

How To Use It

Just like you’d use a micellar water. Pump some of the gel out onto a cotton pad and pat it over your skin to remove dirt and makeup. No need to rinse off. You can use it morning and night, but personally I’m not a huge fan of cleansers that don’t need to be rinsed off. So, I’d recommend this more for emergencies, travel, late nights… When you can’t be bothered to use a proper cleanser, basically.


The cleanser comes in a blue bottle with a pump applicator. It looks good on your bathroom cabinet (especially for a drugstore product) and is practical, pumping out the amount you need with no unnecessary wastage.

Performance & Personal Opinion

Technically, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser Gelee Milk is a hybrid cleanser that combines the lightness of a gel with the efficacy of a cleansing milk. In practice, you apply it with a cotton pad and don’t rinse it away. Looks like a micellar water to me, ahem. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I love the convenience of a good micellar water on days when I’m wearing minimal or no makeup. It takes off all the dirt and grime and I can just apply serum + moisturizer afterwards.

But, when I’m wearing a lot of makeup? That’s when things get tricky. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser Gelee Milk does remove a full face of makeup (mascara included) but… You have to use three or four cotton pads to get it all off.

  1. That could be irritating
  2. It kinda defies the purpose of a micellar water

Micellar water is something you use when you want to get the job done quickly. If you have to waste 15 minutes and 4 cotton pads to remove everything, you might as well stick to oil-based cleansers. In a minute, everything’s off your face. Remember: micellar water aren’t proper makeup removers. Don’t treat them as such.


How Does Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Gelee Milk Compare To Other Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansers?

Neutrogena makes a gazillion cleansers and are half a dozen in the Hydro Boost range alone. Which one is best for you? Let’s compare them to find out which one is more suitable for your unique skin types and needs – and which ones you should leave on the shelf:

  • Hydro Boost Compostable Cleansing Makeup Remover Wipes ($6.86): I’m not a huge fan of makeup wipes because they work by wiping makeup off your face. It’s the friction more than the solution that does the work. But if you’re in a rush, they’ll do. Available at Neutrogena.
  • Hydro Boost Daily Gel Cream Exfoliating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid ($9.44): I don’t recommend this cleanser. It has papaya extract to exfoliate skin, but there’s not much of it. Translation: it cleanses skin but doesn’t exfoliate it. If you’re ok with that, it’s not a bad option. But there are better cleansers around. Available at iHerb and Neutrogena.
  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser ($10.49): A fragrance-free, gel cleanser with hyaluronic acid to cleanse and hydrate. It’s pretty much identical to the Hyaluronic Acid version and most suitable for oily and combination skin. Available at Neutrogena.
  • Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Hydrating Gel Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid, Fragrance Free ($10.49): A fragrance-free, hydrating foaming formula that hydrates skin while cleansing it. It’s best suitable for oily and sensitive skin. Available at iHerb, Neutrogena, and Ulta.
  • Neutrogena Hydro Boost Soothing Milk Cleanser Fragrance Free ($10.49): Enriched with hyaluronic acid, this oil-based cleanser moisturises skin and cleanses it at the same time. Best suitable for dry skin. Available at Neutrogena and Ulta.

What I Like About Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Gelee Milk

  • Lightweight texture
  • Practical packaging
  • Removes impurities and light makeup

What I DON’T Like About Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Gelee Milk

  • If you wear makeup, you need 3 or 4 cotton pads to do the job
  • It’s fragranced, and that can irritate sensitive skin

Who Should Use This?

I recommend this cleanser/micellar water only to women who wear little to no makeup. Or, if you wear makeup, you could use this in the morning. It’s definitely NOT a makeup remover, so don’t use it as one.

Does Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleanser Gelee Milk Live Up To Its Claims?

NEUTROGENA® Hydro Boost® Gelée Milk Cleanser is an innovative cleanser combining the lightness of a gel with the efficacy of make-up remover milk. True.
The combination of Neutrogena® cleansing technology, hydrating agents and hyaluronic acid which is naturally found in skin, helps the formula to protect the skin barrier, and lock in hydration. True.
Dermatologically tested and suitable for sensitive skin. Fragrance may irritate sensitive skin.

Is Neutrogena Cruelty-Free?

No, Neutrogena isn’t cruelty-free. It does allow its products to be tested on animals, and so does its parent company, Kenvue. *sighs*

Price & Availability

£8.99 at Boots and Look Fantastic

Should You Buy It?

If you’re looking for a micellar water, this is good enough. But I do recommend you get a proper cleanser that can take anything off in one go. There are so many around, why settle for this? (unless you’re in a situation where you need a no-rinse cleanser)

Dupes & Alternatives

  • Bioderma Sensibio H20 ($11.00): If you want to use a micellar water, I recommend this. It removes makeup better (although it struggled with waterproof mascara) and is gentle on the skin. Available at Boots and Look Fantastic.


Aqua, Glycerin, Butylene Glycol, Sodium Hydrolyzed Potato Starch Dodecenylsuccinate, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hydroxyacetophenone, Poloxamer 188, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Sodium Polyacrylate, Zea Mays Starch, Disodium EDTA, Sodium Hydroxide, Tocopherol, BHT, Parfum.