Skip to main content


When you have a bit of a sheet mask addiction, a new big-brand drugstore entry that rings in at less than $5 is a wallet blessing. But how effective is it?
  • Author:
  • Updated:
Neutrogena Hydro Boost and Deep Clean Hydrogel Masks_a little science

The launch of Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrogel Masks makes me think about my shopping habits.

When you need to re-stock your sheet mask supply, do you hit the drugstore? I rarely do – most of my favourites are carried at Sephora. But that's changing now that Neutrogena has joined my list of Drugstore Sheet Masks I'll Buy Again and Again. (I'll tell you what else is on that list in another post.)

Beautygeeks regulars already know that I have no patience for thin, lightweight sheet masks that provide a level of hydration I equate with having someone just lick your face. I'm a dehydrated skin type; my complexion needs significant water infusion. For me, the new Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrogel mask delivers, and does so without making my wallet frown.

A split structure with separate sections for upper and lower face, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost hydrogel mask ($3.99 CAD at drugstores and $2.99 USD at is one of two the skincare brand launched last November in Asia and in the United States. Along with a Deep Clean version, the mask is launching any day now in Canada. I bought both when I was last in NYC, in mid-November.

According to Naomi Furgiuele – she's Senior Director of Global Beauty Face Care at Johnson & Johnson and she has a chemical engineering background – what makes these Neutrogena sheet masks different from many at this price point and higher is that they're 100% essence, but in gelified form. 

"In North America, the terms 'essence' and 'serum' are used interchangeably," says Naomi, noting that Neutrogena has had sheet masks and essences in Asia for years. "In Asia, serums are concentrated, typically made with very few ingredients, and they're a little thicker – they form a droplet when you put a drop on your skin. Essences have more ingredients, and they're usually thinner, not an emulsion like moisturizer. They prep the skin for serum." (If you've ever poured water on bone-dry soil and watched the water run off rather than sink in, you know what it means to prep skin to receive serum. Like damp soil, damp skin absorbs serum more efficiently.)

neutrogena hydro boost hydrogel mask review

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrogel Mask-BEAUTYGEEKS

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrogel Mask

Although any sheet mask will moisturize, out of Neutrogena's options I prefer Hydro Boost because it's dosed with hyaluronic acid. As well, my dehydrated skin digs that the hydrogel format contains 50% more essence than a paper sheet can hold, and it clings smoothly to the contours of the face to ensure thorough moisture absorption. 

These masks are super slippy, though: the plastic backing slid off in the package as I removed the mask. If that happens to you, this is worth noting if you aren't sure which side is which: the slightly textured side goes against the skin. (The smooth side will slide around too much and make you say bad words.)

Handle with care because the material is delicate (not quite as delicate as Boscia's hydrogel masks), but each of the upper and lower mask sections is easy to position and smooth over the face. And yeah, it's fragranced, but not overpoweringly so. (I asked Naomi whether Neutrogena might launch a fragrance-free mask, but that doesn't seem to be on the books in any official capacity at the moment.)

The instructions recommend 15 to 30 minutes of wear; I hit somewhere around 20 minutes both times and each time was rewarded with a satisfying boost of hydration that banished the red from my skin and made it soft and happy. (I'm totally leaving it on for 30 minutes next try – more is more when it comes to hydration and my complexion.)

And here's a tip: the lip cutout isn't fully cut out, so flip the flap up over the lips to treat them too! #happylips

neutrogena deep clean hydrogel mask review

Neutrogena Deep Clean Hydrogel Mask

Neutrogena Deep Clean Hydrogel Mask

Although the Deep Clean mask isn't quite hydrating enough for me, if you've got normal skin, or oily skin, you might find it enough for yours. And you might prefer not to flip the flap up to cover your lips while using it. (My lips are quite sensitive; they prefer the Hydro Boost mask essence.)

words about pricing

I'm left with this question: if these Neutrogena hydrogel masks contain the essence equivalent of a bottle of serum (they're usually 30 mL), how can they charge such a budget-friendly price? "I can't answer why some companies charge so much for their formulation," says Naomi. "I can just tell you that at Neutrogena, you know our quality standards – and we managed to do it for $3.99."

Do you sheet mask? Where do you shop for them? Have you used hydrogels before? If you're in the US, have you tried this mask yet? And how about that price??

shoppity shop-shop

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hydrogel Mask ingredients: Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Propanediol, Ceratonia Siliqua (Carob) Gum, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Chlorphenesin, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Chloride, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Tremella Fuciformis Sporocarp Extract, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Sucrose Cocoate, Tocopherol, Blue 1

Neutrogena Deep Clean Purifying Hydrogel Mask ingredients: Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Propanediol, Ceratonia Siliqua (Carob) Gum, Xanthan Gum, Chondrus Crispus Extract, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Potassium Chloride, Fragrance, Disodium EDTA, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil, Glycerin, Sucrose Cocoate, Moringa Oleifera Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Blue 1, Yellow 5

iBought prsamples affiliatelinks