Neutrogena's Deep Moisture Night Cream differentiates itself from the brand's other moisturizers with claims that it provides intense hydration with the help of a couple of key ingredients (glycerin and vitamin D3). Though this does have some positive aspects, an overall lackluster formula and less-than-ideal packaging doesn't make it worth strong consideration as a great nighttime moisturizer.
Deep Moisture Night Cream comes in a blue jar with a white twist-off cap. That jar is the first of this product's missteps: Jar packaging means this cream's beneficial ingredients aren't protected from light and air, which means they'll begin to lose their effectiveness not long after the jar is opened. See More Info for details on why jar packaging is not ideal for skincare products—at least those purporting to have anti-aging benefits.
As for the formula itself, this cream feels hydrating without being greasy. It's best for those with normal to slightly dry skin, as those with dry to very dry skin will likely need more moisture, and those with oily skin might find this a bit heavy. Included among the ingredients are emollients such as shea butter and petrolatum, and the previously-mentioned glycerin, which can help repair skin's moisture barrier.
Neutrogena claims the vitamin D3 included in the formula (listed as cholecalciferol) is a "superior moisturizer that helps balance skin's moisture levels," but there aren't independent studies showing this to be the case. While topical vitamin D ointments and creams are used to treat certain skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, they don't work by helping moisturize skin; rather they help prevent the body from overproducing certain types of skin cells (Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2010). Vitamin D's value in this formula lies chiefly in its function as an antioxidant, though because of this product's jar packaging, you won't get its full benefit.
As for the other ingredients in Deep Moisture Night Cream, they include some standard emollients, but overall the formula is lackluster compared to its claims. For it to truly provide the deep moisture as claimed, this cream should have additional ingredients that will help repair skin's barrier, such as ceramides, fatty acids, and hyaluronic acid. (Interestingly, Neutrogena uses some of those ingredients in other products that don't claim to provide "deep moisture.")
What about the claims that this is non-comedogenic (that is, won't clog pores or cause acne breakouts)? That term doesn't actually have any value, since there isn't a regulatory or agreed-upon standard for which products or ingredients can or cannot clog pores. See More Info for details about products claiming to be non-comedogenic.
Overall, Neutrogena Deep Moisture Night Cream isn't a bad product, but its packaging and lack of more beneficial ingredients mean it doesn't get our enthusiastic recommendation. You can find superior options on our list of Best Moisturizers.
Jar Packaging: The fact that it's packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, almost all vitamins, antioxidants, and other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air. Therefore, once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also are unsanitary because you're dipping your fingers into them with each use, adding bacteria that further deteriorate the beneficial ingredients.
The vast majority of ingredients that are most beneficial for your skin are not stable in the presence of light and air, which is exactly what happens when you take the lid off a jar (Pharmacology Review, 2013 & Journal of Biophotonics, 2010).
One of the critical factors in any anti-aging or skin-healing formula is the amount and variety of antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients, and the more the better. These function in a variety of ways to reduce the effects of the constant environmental stresses your skin experiences (Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012 & The Journal of Pathology, 2007).
Once you open that jar you bought, you immediately compromise the stability of the anti-aging superstars it contains. (You can visualize their benefits disappearing like puffs of air each time you open up that lid!)
Non-Comedogenic: Labels like "non-comedogenic" or "non-acnegenic" seem like safe bets, but are actually unhelpful because these terms were coined under test conditions that are not even remotely applicable to how you, or anyone for that matter, use skincare or makeup products. The "non-comedogenic" myth got its beginnings from a 1979 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology. This study examined the potential of various ingredients (cocoa and shea butters, lanolin and waxes, among others) to clog pores and lead to the formation of comedones—hence the term "comedogenic."
Under the conditions of this study, 100% pure concentrations of ingredients were layered five times per application over a period of two weeks, without cleansing the skin at any time. The manner in which these tests were conducted is not remotely similar to how we use skincare or makeup products—plus very few products are formulated with 100% of any one ingredient. What really determines whether an ingredient present in your skincare or makeup products is likely to trigger a breakout is how much of the ingredient is present in the formula and what else you apply as part of your skincare routine.
The researcher largely credited for developing the concept of comedogenic, Albert Kligman, said as much in his 1972 study, "Acne Cosmetica":
"It is not necessary to exclude constituents which might be comedogenic in a pure state. The concentration of such substances is exceedingly important. To exile such materials as lanolin, petroleum hydrocarbons, fatty alcohols, and vegetable oils from cosmetics would be irrational. What is ultimately important is the comedogenicity of the finished product (Archives of Dermatology, 1972)."
Last, the terms non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic are not regulated so they're not beholden to any agreed-upon standards. Any product, from the richest cream to the thinnest lotion, can use these claims and not have to prove they really don't clog pores or trigger acne breakouts.
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'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. (We are 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.
The Beautypedia and Paula’s Choice Research teams have one mission: To help you find the best products for your skin, whether they’re from Paula’s Choice or another brand. By combining efforts, we’re able to share scientific research and remain committed to the highest standards based on our decades of experience objectively reviewing thousands upon thousands of skincare and makeup formularies in all price ranges.
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