Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser Creamy Formula
12 fl. oz. for $8.99
Category:Skin Care > Sensitive Skin Products > Face/Body Cleansers
Last Updated:12.30.2014
Jar Packaging:False
Tested on animals:Yes

The hydrating version of Neutrogena's Ultra Gentle cleanser is a simple, fragrance-free, easy-to-rinse formula reminiscent of the original Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser. There's not much to this but it will hydrate, won't leave skin feeling tight or dry, and is suitable for sensitive skin, including rosacea-affected skin.

This missed our top rating because in some respects the formula, while assuredly gentle, is also kind of "blah". There's no compelling reason to choose this fragrance-free cleanser over others Neutrogena offers, or those from other brands, such as Clean & Clear (which has the same parent company as Neutrogena).

This does an OK job removing makeup, but if apply long-wearing formulas or do full-face makeup, you'll need a second cleanser or makeup remover to ensure everything is taken off. This cleanser is best used in the morning or at night when removing minimal makeup.

  • Fragrance-free and very gentle.
  • Won't strip skin.
  • Rinses well.
  • Given its moisturizing base, the formula should do more to respect and repair skin's barrier.
  • Not great for removing long-wearing or full-face makeup.

Neutrogena® Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is an effective, yet extraordinarily mild cleanser formulated with a skin nourishing polyglycerin formula that helps hydrate and protect skin while it cleans. It's fragrance free, and ideal for dry, sensitive skin. In fact, it's so gentle that it's safe on even the most sensitive skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser effectively cleanses, gently removing excess oil, dirt and makeup, and leaves skin clean and feeling moisturized for naturally soft skin every day.


Water, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-10 Laurate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetearyl Glucoside, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Phenoxyethanol.

Brand Overview

Neutrogena At-A-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive; several recommended cleansers; retinol options, in stable packaging; vast selection of sunscreens, most of which offer excellent UVA protection; several fragrance-free options; many of the Healthy Skin products are state-of-the-art; the foundations with sunscreen provide sufficient UVA protection; some praiseworthy makeup items.

Weaknesses: An overabundance of overlapping anti-aging products that is perennially confusing for consumers; irritating bar soaps; lackluster to downright bad toners; a handful of bland moisturizers and eye creams; some sunscreens too much alcohol or problematic preservatives; most of the Deep Clean products are terrible; mostly disappointing concealers; the lip balms with sunscreen provide inadequate UVA protection.

Johnson & Johnson–owned Neutrogena has been around for over 50 years, and they've come a long way since they launched their first transparent, bronze, detergent-based bar soap (it also contains tallow). The bars are still sold, and while we still don't recommend them (they are too drying for all skin types), the good news is that Neutrogena has come a very long way from where they started. In fact, several of their products represent truly state-of-the-art options.

Strolling the skin-care aisles of any drugstore or mass-market store reveals that Neutrogena vies for shelf space and prominence with only one other brand, Procter & Gamble's Olay. For the most part, both companies offer a similar assortment of products, with Olay being slightly more focused on anti-aging products and Neutrogena going for broader appeal, offering a nearly equal amount of antiwrinkle and anti-acne products. Regrettably the latter category presents few viable options.

Where Neutrogena really excels (and has for years) is with water-soluble cleansers, AHAs, retinol, and sunscreen products. Their Healthy Skin lineup offers some beautifully formulated moisturizers with glycolic acid, and the sunscreens offer something for everyone, including some ingenious options for those with oily skin (or anyone who finds the texture of high-SPF products as unappealing as slathering your skin with Crisco).

A recent self-proclaimed advance in sun protection came with Neutrogena's Helioplex complex. It is not the superior breakthrough Neutrogena makes it out to be. It's a good system to keep avobenzone stable for longer, but Helioplex isn't the only way to get the most out of this important UVA sunscreen. If it were, why didn't Neutrogena scrap all of their other sunscreens that don't use Helioplex technology? And why do they still offer a handful of SPF-rated products that leave skin vulnerable to UVA damage? Although they offer a proportionately greater number of sunscreens that provide excellent UVA protection, it's hard to unequivocally deem them a sun-care leader when they still sell inadequate sunscreens.

It's common to see commercials and magazine ads for Neutrogena's plethora of products designed to combat breakouts and blackheads. It's nothing short of amazing that, after all these years, the majority of these products, while well intentioned, still don't get it right. Far too many of them contain irritating ingredients such as alcohol, witch hazel, and menthol, none of which are the least bit helpful for someone struggling with breakouts. If your dermatologist recommends these products for acne without reservation, definitely consider a second opinion! Even Neutrogena's on-the-spot benzoyl peroxide product contains some potentially problematic thickening agents. Despite this, if you choose carefully, there are some great products (including a BHA lotion) that can make a positive difference.

What's most frustrating and, frankly, surprising, is that Neutrogena's enormous assortment of products represents both the best and the worst the cosmetics industry has to offer. Given their worldwide distribution and research capabilities, they really should be offering a consistent range of effective, irritant-free products to address a variety of skin types and conditions. As things stand now, healthy, protected skin is only assured if you know which Neutrogena products to look for and which ones to never put in your shopping cart.

For more information about Neutrogena, owned by Johnson & Johnson, call (800) 582-4048 or visit www.neutrogena.com.

Neutrogena Makeup

Neutrogena's "beautiful and beneficial" pronouncement is a great tag line, but most of their makeup doesn't live up to that assertion. This line was lacking in several key areas when it first hit store shelves in 1999, and although some things have improved, the number of problematic products is a bit startling. (I'm not aware of any cosmetic line that uses menthol or its derivatives as often as Neutrogena.) Each product carries on about the vitamins it contains, yet compared to the leading roles played by cosmetic staples like silicones and thickening agents, the vitamins have mere cameo roles, and as such have little to no impact.

There are a few key items to seek out, especially if you're looking for makeup with excellent sun protection. We also found their lip gloss to be one of the best at any price, and a few of their foundations successfully bridge the gap between skin care and makeup.

The most frustrating aspect of this line is that almost all of it is packaged so you cannot see the color. Even worse, the color swatch on the box is a poor representation, not only of how the color looks in the compact, but also how it looks on your skin. What would truly be beneficial is for Neutrogena to offer more revealing packaging or provide testers or offer trial sizes. Their overall collection and in-store displays aren't nearly as tempting as most other drugstore makeup lines, so in most cases they're relying on their constant magazine and television ads to drive shoppers to explore the world of Neutrogena makeup, or they're relying solely on those who don't mind guessing what color they are really buying. It's obviously working, because despite the problematic elements, this is a line that has survived and is very well distributed.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula Begoun herself.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Very nice cleanser

This is a really nice cleanser. It has a clear, gel-cream consistency and no fragrance. It cleans my face nicely and leaves it with no residue and my skin feels soft and smooth.

Reviewed by
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Very gentle

I don't know if this could remove makeup but I love it for a morning cleanser. And since I use a retinoid product, I find this cleanser non irritating.

Reviewed by
Thursday, January 01, 2015

Even PC cleansers have been bothering my skin lately. This is the only cleanser I have found so far that truly leaves my skin soft, supple, and not dried-out or irritated. Love it. And it's a great value.

Reviewed by
Kate P
Saturday, May 17, 2014
Best gentle cleanser of the many I've tried

A long time Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash user, I wanted something even gentler and more hydrating. Purpose was starting to dry me out as I've gotten older. I've tried various cleansers, including CeraVe, Cetaphil, and Neutrogena's Extra Gentle Cleanser, but got breakouts with all. This cleanses well, and doesn't break me out or leave my skin feeling tight.

Reviewed by
Ashley M
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
only good?

I have combination skin and I am on retin-a micro and this cleanser has been a godsend. It is gentle, moisturizing, but not overly oily on my skin. If I wasn't on a retinoid, I doubt I would even need much moisturizer afterwards. I don't really understand why this product is rated good and it's sister, heavily fragranced cleanser is rated best. To my mind, this is the stronger product, even if it isn't great on makeup. If you are on a retinoid, try this cleanser.

Reviewed by
Sunday, February 09, 2014
Great Product

I have tried many cleansing creams.... I have very dry skin/sensitive. This product doesnot leave my skin tight as in the other products I have tried....I do love this product...

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