Is it worth the hype? Neutrogena Hydro Boost Sunscreen SPF 50 review 2021

The itch to put down my thoughts on the Neutrogena Hydro Boost water gel lotion sunscreen- broad spectrum SPF 50 got to me earlier last month but I decided to wait. I had just run through my first bottle and was contemplating using another one for it to give me enough time to make a viable stand. Now that I am halfway through the second bottle of the coveted sunscreen, it surely is a good time to table my two cents.



Before January 2021, I could not be bothered to use sunscreen as part of my daily skincare routine. I could occasionally grab any tube from retail shop shelves that had the term ‘sunscreen’ on it and only used it when I go to the Kenyan coastline, which happens approximately once a year. Cringe-worthy, right?

Read: 10 Skincare mistakes that we have all made in the past. 

It was not until when I realized that I was moving from Nairobi to Lodwar that I discovered how dearly I was going to need sunscreen. For anyone that has never been to Kenya, Nairobi boasts of its tropical, sometimes chilly weather whereas Lodwar is an arid location in Turkana’s North-Western Kenya where the sun with its uncomfortably high temperatures is the order of the day.
Towards the end of January, I purchased my first bottle of the holy grail. I wanted to test it out in Nairobi before I could change locations. 6 consistent months down the line, we are doing a review on this coveted product.


A cream, gel, spray, or lotion applied onto one’s skin to protect them from the sun’s harmful UV rays. We will get into this later on.


Neutrogena Hydro Boost spf 50 review

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost water gel lotion sunscreen is a broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen with an SPF rating of 50. It comes in a beautiful blue tube with accents of black, white, and yellow. With a size of 88ml (3.0 FL OZ), it is portable enough to fit into your tiny everyday errand bag.


  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen- it protects one’s skin from both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays are responsible for premature aging and wrinkling of your skin whereas UVB rays are responsible for sunburns.
  • Invisible finish, which I think is its major selling point especially to people of color. It claims to leave no white or grey casts after its application on the skin, making it suitable for everyday wear on the get-go.
  • It has the Helioplex technology which promises longer periods of sun protection by stabilizing the active elements.
  • Provides sun protection in water for up to 80 minutes. Indeed, sunburn in water is more severe than that on land since water reflection makes the UV rays stronger.
  • SPF rating of 50. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor, which protects you from UVB rays. The SPF rating is a measure of how long one can stay in the sun without getting sunburned. Dermatologists recommend a rating of 30+.
  • It is a Chemical SPF– it works by trenchating the skin then absorbing the said rays.
  • A water-light non-greasy feel and finish, which makes it easy to apply on the skin.
  • Non-comedogenic, meaning that it has no oils or products that will clog your pores. This is especially important to people with acne-prone skin.
  • Quenches the skin with vital hydration.


It looked smaller than I expected. I want to blame my heightened expectations on how product angles can make them seem bigger. The packaging is sleek and firm, making it easy to move around with.
The product
When I press the product out of the tube, I realize that it has a gel-like, almost runny consistency. It is white but with the faintest hint of blue. Once on my palm, I notice some aspects of oiliness or greasiness but this is nothing to fret over at this point. Once the product builds up in the cap area, I noticed that it turns blue once it settles there.
Application and Finish

Neutrogena sunscreen

I must state that I go by the two-finger rule. After rubbing it in between my palms, I go ahead and spread it on my face, extending it to my neck, chest, and the skin behind my ears. I am worried about it looking greasy but surprisingly, it is lightweight and blends easily onto my skin. The finish is mostly on the oily to dewy side, something I am not too happy about because, on most days, it leaves me looking like a glazed doughnut.
This sunscreen has a strong floral fragrance. I wanted not to mind it until my scent-sensitive self got a headache from the fragrance.
It stays put when I am in cooler or windier areas. However, when I am in a hot place, I find myself sweating more when I have the sunscreen on as opposed to when I don’t. Also, it irritates and stings my eyes when I sweat or when the product finds its way to my eye area.


  • It has an invisible finish for sure, something that is a plus for people of color (POC) like me. This is what drove me to buy the product in the first place.
  • It is hydrating and moisturizing. If you skip the moisturizing step, you do not need to worry much since it comes in handy.
  • The SPF 50 rating ensures that I get maximum protection from the UVB rays of the sun.
  • Easy and lightweight application. The finish is not greasy or tacky. I love that for me.
  • For someone who currently lives in an extremely hot part of Kenya and Africa at large, this sunscreen protects me from sunburns as well as aging. It has only been a few months but I cannot compare it to the last time I was here when I was using no SPF.
  • It is affordable for the size (88mls). One tube lasts me for up to 3 months. I apply sunscreen on my face, neck, chest, and sometimes arms daily. In Kenya, it retails for ksh.1800 (approximately $17) and it is easily accessible in most known beauty and skincare shops.
  • It is non-comedogenic, meaning that it does not block pores. This is a plus mostly for people with acne-prone skin. In the beginning, I think the greasiness gave me some rashes but it went down after a few days. My skin has since been popping.
  • It does not stain my clothes.


  • It irritates my eyes. This happens either when it gets too close to my eyes or when I sweat and it somehow trickles there. To avoid the sting, I have tried my eye area but to be honest, with the heat and sweating, the product finds its way there and my eyes end up being stung. This fact makes it unsuitable for swimming unless you are not using it on your face and arms.
  • The strong floral scent is something I strongly dislike about it. I am someone who hates having fragrance in my skincare products as well as makeup. If it was the slightest whiff, that would have been a no-brainer for me. On the flip side, this one stays on enough for other people to pick the scent, something that proves to you how strong the scent is.
  • For someone with combination skin, it leaves my face shiny, something I dislike. In addition to that, it leaves my face feeling heavy, almost like you cannot wait to wash it off type of feeling.
  • One has to apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure. This means that you cannot simply apply it on the get-go.


Is it good for the face?
I find it perfect for people with dry to combination skin. Also, use it if you are not sensitive to scents since it has a very strong floral fragrance.
Is it a moisturizer?
It ups the skin’s hydration level since it has humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin. However, this does not endorse you to skip the moisturizing step and bank on it to do the job.
Is it good for acne-prone skin?
I have seen people with acne-prone skin swear by it. It is oil-free and non-comedogenic, something that ensures that one’s skin pores are not clogged. I am blessed to have nonproblematic skin. However, all I can say that if your skin is sensitive to scent and the feeling of heaviness, then this product may not be ideal for you.
Is it good for oily skin?
The product claims to work best for all skin types. However, for people with oily skin, use it if you don’t mind the shiny finish.
Can it be used at night?
One is not advised to wear sunscreen at night.


I really wanted to love this sunscreen, something that led me to purchase and trying my second bottle of the same. My skin is vibrant, youthful, and soft, thanks to the sunscreen shielding me from the harmful effects of the sun. However, the scent has not grown on me and I am certain it never will. Also, the fact that it leaves me quite shiny is not my favorite part. I particularly think it would work well for the rest of the body, excluding my face but then again, I cannot escape the greasiness. All in all, it is an amazing product but not the best in the market. I cannot wait to try another brand and compare it with this one.

PS- These are my thoughts and opinions. Someone else could have a different view of the same. Please do your research before running with this information.

Raisa Ichalut
Raisa Ichalut is a wellness- nichéd Content Curator who seeks to use this website as a tool that informs, empowers, and enlightens people on topics around self- discovery, development, and love, general wellness, positivism, energy, healing, and mindfulness.

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