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With frequent exposure to air-conditioning and temperature fluctuation, it’s not uncommon for our skin to become dehydrated, even if our skin is dry to begin with.

Woman Looking At Skin In Mirror After Shower Source Andrea Piacquadio Pexels

Source: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

Before we continue any further, let’s make this clear: dry skin is a skin type (like oily, combination, acne-prone, and sensitive skin, for example), but dehydrated skin on the other hand is a condition that can happen to any skin type. Usually, skin dehydration is the result of skin losing more water than it is taking in.

That’s because a healthy barrier helps the skin retain a certain percentage of water but when that number drops below a certain amount in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin), that’s when skin dehydration starts to sink in. Signs of skin dehydration include dullness and tightness with visible pore congestion and redness.

Essentially, it’s crucial to first address skin dehydration and quench your skin’s thirst with hydrating skincare formulas before diving deeper into other conditions that your skin may have. One of the newest hydrating skincare products to hit the market is the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Essence Key Visual

Powered by a cocktail of prebiotics and hyaluronic acid pearls, the super-hydrating formulation is said to quench parched skin effectively and help restore skin’s moisture levels to its optimum. The brand also claims that the essence can provide up to 72 hours* of moisture when used with the Hydro Boost Water Gel moisturiser.

To find out if the facial essence and moisturiser can really replenish dry and dehydrated skin, I roped in two of my Daily Vanity team members, Eleanor and Gwen, to put the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel to the test.

Three lifestyle tests, to be specific. Firstly, I wanted to find out if the facial essence and moisturiser can help keep my skin supple even though I work from home all day in my air-conditioned room.

Secondly, I requested Eleanor to try the formulas before she heads out for her spin classes and bouldering sessions to see if her skin remains hydrated despite the intense perspiration. Finally, I asked Gwen to test the products when she goes out to meet her friends – I wanted to see if her skin stays comfortable with minimal redness despite wearing a protective face mask for long hours in Singapore’s humid weather.

Read on to see how Neutrogena’s latest Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel fared. You’d also want to stay until the end of the article because we’ve got eight sets of Neutrogena Hydro Boost skincare to give away!

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel: Test #1 – Working from home

Reviewer: Lynnett, 30

Skin type: Combination-dry

Ever since Circuit Breaker started, I’ve been stuck at home like everyone else. At first, I thought that this would be a good time for my skin to take a break and recalibrate itself but boy, was I wrong. After a few weeks, I started noticing that my T-zone is becoming oilier while my U-zone is starting to become drier – what used to be combination skin type has since become combination-dry (this was confirmed by a therapist during a pre-facial consultation recently).

Neutrogena Review Lynnett Wfh

I usually work at home with just the standing fans on, but I find myself switching on air-conditioning more lately because the weather has been quite warm

It doesn’t help that I usually spend my time working in an air-conditioned space all day long. In my defense, the weather has been really warm on most days and it’s just really tough to get any work done when all I could think about is the level of discomfort I’m in from the heat.

In a bid to restore my skin hydration, I’ve been offered to review the brand new Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel combo, and it couldn’t have been more timely. I tested it out by using it in the morning after a quick splash of water to rinse my face (and also to wake up my system) – that’s slightly before nine o’clock in the morning.

The first thing I noticed was the fresh, clean scent that comes with the facial essence which, in my opinion, makes it such a joy to use because it smells so refreshing. Like other essences that I’ve tried before, the formula is watery and lightweight but it’s got specks of blue capsules suspended in the transparent liquid which immediately dissolve once I warm up the product in between my palms.

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion applied on the skin really nicely without leaving much sticky after-feel. In fact, the stickiness really went away as soon as the product was fully absorbed by the skin – you could hardly feel it’s on your face at all!

In order to test its ability to provide long-lasting hydration, I swapped my regular moisturiser for the ultra-light Hydro Boost Water Gel and followed up with a sunscreen to protect against UV rays (yes, you still need to wear sunscreen even if you’re indoors!). To my surprise, my skin stayed soft and supple when I called it a day at six o’clock in the evening!

Neutrogena Review Lynnett Before After

Before: My skin’s moisture level clocked in at 32.2  | After: My skin’s moisture level went up significantly and stayed at 46.0 after using the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel combo in the morning – this was taken after 6pm

I couldn’t help but be skeptical of course, so I tested the facial essence again – this time on its own at night before I go to bed. As I sleep in an air-conditioned room, I wanted to find out if the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion could really keep my skin moisturised throughout the night.

Again to my pleasant surprise, I woke up to smooth, hydrated skin that was neither flaky nor dry the next morning! Mind you, I used the facial essence on its own after cleansing and toning at night without any moisturiser or face oil after it. Yes, it was that hydrating.

It’s also worth noting that its hydration power didn’t come with any greasiness or caused my T-zone to break out, so I could safely use the facial essence on my entire face and neck without having to worry that it’s too rich for my skin.

After trying the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel combo for a week, I could see a positive difference in my skin texture which is usually dry and rough in the cheek area. Not only that, but my skin also feels refreshed every time I use both products and I especially like the fact that the lightweight formulations don’t clog my pores at all.

In addition, I also appreciate how user-friendly the essence is – I could easily pour out my desired amount of facial essence by just lightly squeezing the bottle without creating a mess. Typical packaging for facial essence usually consists of an opening that’s too big, which causes the product to be poured out too quickly.

I don’t usually have a facial essence in my routine but after trying the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion, I am definitely thinking of including it permanently in my skincare routine because of how hydrated it leaves my skin.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel: Test #2 – Exercising

Reviewer: Eleanor, 27

Skin type: Combination-dry, sensitive, and acne-prone

Even though my job requires me to be indoors most of the time (especially during the WFH period), I still make time for activities such as bouldering and spin classes after work during the week – it’s my way of de-stressing.

Neutrogena Review Eleanor Sports Activity Bouldering

If I’m not in the bouldering gym, you’ll find me working up a sweat in a spin class

So, I applied the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel during my morning skincare routine after a nice shower, went through my workday as usual, and then got ready for my workout session as soon as the clock hit six!

For the facial essence, I used it after cleansing and toning, and the first thing I noticed was the product’s scent. Not the unpleasant kind, mind you – just a very nice aroma that isn’t overpowering at all. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very, very particular about scented products and I’m especially wary about them – regardless of how effective they are – because I worry that my skin might react adversely to the fragrance.

I’ve also tried other facial essences before; one broke me out severely while the other one didn’t do much for my skin (it smelled nice though). With the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion, I especially liked how the formula feels super lightweight on the skin and absorbs really fast. There was an initial stickiness to it at first when I applied the product, but it soon disappeared once it’s fully absorbed into my skin.

Neutrogena Review Eleanor Before After

Before: My skin’s moisture was on the low side, measuring at just 24.4 | After: My skin’s moisture level increased to 43.8 after using the essence and gel moisturiser, and it wasn’t affected by all the perspiration I got from my evening workout

After my bouldering session ended at 9pm that day (it usually lasts for about three hours), I was positively surprised that my skin looked as good as it did in the morning when I first applied the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel.

As someone with sensitive skin, trying on a new skincare product can sometimes drive my skin nuts and it’ll get all itchy after a workout session (most likely because of the sweat and daily grime all mixed up there). It also doesn’t help that I have to keep my protective face mask on at all times in the gym premises even when I’m bouldering (it’s such a bummer, I know), so that only serves to aggravate my delicate skin even more.

With the facial essence and moisturiser, however, my skin did not experience any negative reaction which I was pleasantly surprised about! In fact, I was a little taken aback by how well my skin accepted the formulas and was just reaping in all the hydrating benefits that both products have to offer.

Due to hygiene reasons, I usually wash my face after my workouts so I reapplied just the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion right after a quick shower at the bouldering gym – this helped my skin to stay hydrated throughout the day. In case you’re wondering, I did in fact bring the facial essence with me to the gym. Although it’s a full-sized product (150ml to be exact), it didn’t feel heavy at all and fitted in my gym bag nicely.

After using the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel for five days, my dry, textured skin has definitely taken a turn for the better – it feels hydrated but not greasy and the rough bumps that usually reside on my face are noticeably minimised now.

I definitely am planning to repurchase the hydrating skincare combo because of two reasons: it’s sensitive skin-friendly (at least for me) and I didn’t need to brace myself for a skin purge like how I usually do with new skincare formulas – that seems to be the process my skin has to go through in order to get used to a new skincare product.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel: Test #3 – After a day out in Singapore’s humid weather

Reviewer: Gwen, 20

Skin type: Dry, sensitive

Like my other colleagues, most of my days are now spent at home but on weekends, I try to make it a point to meet up with my close friends for a quick meal since weekends are also the time when I run some errands for my family.

Neutrogena Review Gwendolyn Outing Errands

I managed to squeeze in a quick claw machine game after having lunch with my friends, because who can say no to the cute Minions?!

I used the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel in the morning before I headed out for the day. On that particular morning, I had to rush a little because I overslept (oops!) and was worried that the new products – especially the essence – might set me back a few minutes to be fully absorbed into the skin.

To my surprise, it felt really light and non-sticky at all! I was especially astonished at how quickly the facial essence was absorbed into my skin – it was so hydrating that I almost felt like all the dryness in my parched skin “melted away” after applying the product. I also liked how it left a refreshing sensation on my skin.

Additionally, I appreciate how the brand put a lot of thought into the product packaging. The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion came in a simple, easy-to-use plastic bottle packaging that allowed for the essence to be easily poured into my palm.

The best part is that I could easily control the amount of product to be poured out, so I don’t have to worry about getting too much product on my hands or cleaning up any spillage or liquid mess – it was super fuss-free to use!

Like Eleanor, I am one of those who are concerned about fragrance in their skincare products, and I try my best to avoid strongly scented formulas because they usually irritate my skin. With the facial essence and moisturiser, however, both had only a hint of fresh aroma which didn’t bother my sensitive skin at all.

Neutrogena Review Gwendolyn Before After

Before: My skin’s moisture level was rather low like Eleanor’s, at 26.4 | After: My skin’s moisture level maintained at 41.9 after using the essence and moisturiser, and this measurement was only taken after 8pm when I reached home

I usually have my trusted facial mist in the bag with me when I’m out because I have to spray my skin a couple of times throughout the day as it tends to feel parched after a few hours. But after using the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel however, I’d stopped using my mist as I realised the hydrating skincare duo was already doing a great job at keeping my skin hydrated – my skin did not feel tight even after being out and about for more than eight hours.

Because of mandatory mask-wearing in the humid Singapore weather, the skin around my cheek area tends to get irritated and red but after using the facial essence, I noticed that the redness was a lot less severe at the end of the day.

Throughout the day, my skin felt really moisturised even though I was out from 10 o’clock in the morning until eight o’clock at night. Typically, my skin starts to feel tight and dry around late afternoon because I don’t drink as much water when I’m out (my usual go-to drink is bubble tea when I’m out, oopsie!) but the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel really helped to keep my skin hydrated.

After using the products for about a week, I could really see and feel the difference on my skin. It usually feels dry and taut after cleansing but with the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion and Water Gel, my skin felt instantly hydrated, softer and smoother to the touch.

Because I don’t have a habit of using a facial toner (bad, I know!), I feel that the facial essence served as a two-in-one toner and serum for me to achieve hydrated and supple skin. For that, I highly recommend this multi-purpose product because it makes a great skincare addition for all of us busy urbanites.

Meet the all-new Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion

Overall, my colleagues and I all agree that Neutrogena’s all-new Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion is an effective skin hydrator that locks in moisture like a hydrating mask.

For some of us who have previously tried other facial essences, we find that the Neutrogena version works a lot better than most luxury facial essences but at a much more wallet-friendly price point – yay!

All three of us are especially surprised (but in a good way!) that the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion was able to seal in moisture for such a long period of time without leaving any oily unpleasantness on our skin.

We then learned that this awesome feature was made possible because of the formulation’s “bottom-up” approach. Most skincare products in the market can instantly boost moisture levels on skin’s surface but Neutrogena’s facial essence does it differently – it offers longer-lasting skin hydration by boosting the skin’s natural hyaluronic acid production from within.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Essence Packshot

Developed after a decade of research and ingredient screening, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion is formulated with a combination of prebiotics and hyaluronic acid-packed bursting pearls (made with a unique Jet Cutter encapsulation technology) to provide instant hydration boost to the skin while keeping the formula’s texture ultra-light and fast-absorbing.

On top of the deeply hydrating concoction of ingredients, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion is also packed with glycerin and trehalose – two ingredients popular for their effective moisturising properties. With such a moisturising formulation, the facial essence is able to alleviate post-cleansing tightness that’s brought on by frequent washing with harsh facial cleansers as well as relieve dryness and discomfort from environmental aggressors.

The gentle formula also boasts the ability to help re-balance skin’s pH levels so that you can have skin that’s not only hydrated in the long run, but also radiant and healthier-looking. Oh, and did we mention that the facial essence is free from alcohol, mineral oil, and paraben?

That’s not all – as proven in our lifestyle tests, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion works best when paired with the reformulated Hydro Boost Water Gel as both work synergistically to provide up to 72 hours* of moisture. That’s quite a feat and also something we all need for our skin, considering that we toggle between air-conditioned spaces and also the humid outdoors quite frequently.

Neutrogena Review Hydroboost Essence Texture

It’s recommended to use the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion twice daily, once in the morning and another time in the evening. Simply pour out a few drops onto your palms and press them together to activate the hyaluronic acid pearls before gently patting the essence onto the skin. As mentioned previously, it is best paired with the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel moisturiser.

*Based on an eight-week study conducted on the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel.

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Activating Essence Lotion retails for S$26.90 at all leading supermarkets, Guardian, and Watsons, as well as online at Shopee and Lazada.

Win yourself a set of Neutrogena skincare to achieve supple, hydrated skin today!