Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Gel vs. Winter Dry Skin – A Review

January, with its sense of renewal, is usually a cold month. Alas, with the winter tends to come dry skin. My combination skin doesn’t escape, and winter makes flaky skin in the morning or the pull of a tight and parched face familiar occurrences. I regularly moisturize my face, but in winter, it can feel like playing endless catch up. Moisturizer serves as a remedy, slathered atop those flaky dry patches, accompanied by the hope for better, but you never quite feel on top of it. I recently had the opportunity to try Neutrogena’s new Hydro Boost Cleansing Gel (MSRP $8)  for free, thanks to Pinch Me and, what follows is my review after several weeks of use.

A bottle of Neutrogena Hydro Boost Cleansing Gel

While Hydro Boost gel cleanser does say “gel”, it’s more of a thick liquid with a base of water and glycerin that comes in a pump bottle. Upon applying the cleanser to your face, you’ll notice that it feels soothing and silky. The formula lathers gently and never feels thick or goopy. Many cleansers feel like they strip your skin of moisture and settle for a squeaky clean effect that feels soft, but will subsequently dissipate, leaving your skin feeling tight or even dry again. Along with glycerin, another key ingredient that helps skin keep moisture is hyaluronic acid, which is used throughout the Hydro Boost line.

It has been pleasant to wake up in the morning without having to worry that my face will be dry and in need of some careful moisturizing and time to try and really repair the texture before I go about my day.

Another task the Hydro Boost Cleansing Gel excels at is removing makeup. Even though it states on the bottle that it removes makeup, I was skeptical. I rarely use facial cleanser to take my makeup off, since most of the time it falls short in one or more ways. For one, it will often melt part of my eye makeup, letting it then run down my face in a clear effort at raccoon cosplay. Two, it will do that masterful melting of part of my eye makeup, then leave the rest in uneven quantities, from bits of eyeliner that cling to the skin under my eye to waterproof mascara still partly coating my lashes. Most of the time, face cleanser is inadequate, but I was pleasantly surprised by this product. To test, I wet my face over my eye makeup and applied two pumps of cleanser into my hand, spreading it over one eye while I watched with the other. Surprisingly, it applied smoothly, but didn’t start dripping with residue that usually makes my makeup migrate all over my face when removing it with a standard cleanser. What’s more, I didn’t have to scrub at my lashes, and everything came off quickly and smoothly.

Finding a product that keeps its promises and works is always exciting, and this one is promising in that regard. Using it several times a week makes my skin feel soft and clean, while helping me avoid the usual winter dryness.The formula feels protective and after several weeks of regular use, I think I have found a cleanser to rely on in the winter months.

I Tried It: Blue Hill Farms Butternut Squash Yogurt

Butternut Squash yogurt

Butternut Squash yogurt

Note: I’m starting a new, casual series of reviews on here. These will be grouped under the I Tried It category and tag. Food (and other) reviews are one way to keep in the habit of writing them. All of these will be for items purchased myself, unless noted otherwise.

I’ve become accustomed to eating plain yogurt, enjoying the creamy freshness and sour tang. Years ago, I wouldn’t have touched the stuff without sweetening it up. Now, I can have it either way. Yet the idea of savory yogurts still harbor a certain strangeness, something that doesn’t make much sense given how wonderful yogurt is in savory dishes. It cools the mouth and adds a creamy texture without the heaviness of butter and cream.

On a recent trip to a local grocery store, I noticed Blue Hill Farms’ line of yogurts in flavors such as sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot, and beet. I bought the butternut squash out of pure curiosity after reading the label. For 100 calories, the yogurt contained milk, butternut squash, sage, maple sugar, and other spices that all made sense to anyone who has ever eaten butternut squash soup. Butternut squash seemed like one of the easier to like flavors, along with sweet potato, but at $2.50 each 6oz cup, this experiment was going to be done one at a time.

The butternut squash yogurt has a pale orange tone, as might be expected, and after one spoonful, I was unsure if I wanted to proceed. Despite the fact this yogurt was sweetened, it was very sour and definitely savory. The flavors were reminiscent of butternut squash ravioli, which is something I love to eat. Yet, having that flavor come not in a pleasantly thick ravioli filling, but in a lightly sweetened, yet tangy-sour, thinner yogurt felt out of sync in my mouth. It was also reminiscent of butternut squash soup with a sour note.

Butternut Squash yogurt

Orange, tangy butternut squash yogurt.

I didn’t finish this yogurt, though I did continue eating it for a bit to see if my tongue would think of it as less strange over time and simply begin to enjoy it. The yogurt is seasoned well, but the flavor wasn’t balanced and that was a big reason why I won’t be trying more from this line. It just doesn’t work for me, but if you go in expecting a savory treat, something along the lines of a chilled squash soup, you may just love it.

With all of the flavors in this line lending themselves to sweetness so well, it was jarring to encounter something so sour inside. At $2.50 each cup, the cost did not justify further experiments.

Blue Hill yogurt comes in carrot, sweet potato, tomato, parsnip, butternut squash, and beet. More information, as well as full nutritional information is available at

Cover Girl Lip Perfection Review

My very first real lipstick as a teen was from Cover Girl. The shade was called Toasted Almond, and was a brownish-red that was typical of what I wore throughout high school. I received samples of this product from BzzAgent. I was really glad to be able to try Lip Perfection. I had seen it in the store, but my previous experiences with drugstore lipsticks have been mixed. A lot of the time, they’re not very evenly pigmented or don’t last very long. Also, given how these came out in the winter, when I am constantly fighting a battle with my lips over how chapped they can get, the promise of softer, smoother lips and an emollient formula were attractive.

My first reaction when I opened the cap is these lipsticks smell like those gummy blackberry and raspberry candies. If you’re not familiar with them, expect a slightly floral fruity scent. It’s pretty pleasant to me, but dissipates with some wear. The first one I applied was Hot, since red lipstick is my thing.

The formula is really creamy and it feels light on the lips for having such a moisture-rich formula. But best of all, given the texture, it’s very pigmented. Gone are the days of drugstore lipsticks playing it safe with a limited color palette. Lip Perfection comes in 44 different shades, and there’s something for every taste.

When I applied to the campaign, I chose the color Hot as the one I wanted to try the most. Hot is a gorgeous, classic red. It’s bordering warm and cool, which means it will flatter a lot of skin tones. This is a boon for those who can’t seem to find their perfect red. I’m a firm believer in the notion that there is a perfect red lipstick for everyone; it’s simply a matter of finding it (and being confident enough to wear it). Hot is a go-to color, and it has become one of my all-time favorite red lipsticks. This is no easy feat, considering I am a red lipstick addict. This is just that pretty and complete a package. Kudos to Pat McGrath for overseeing these new lines.

While I thought I was only getting one color from BzzAgent, Hot, I opened my kit pleasantly surprised to find a second color. Spellbound is a fuchsia hot pink that really delivers on the bright front. It’s definitely for the bold spirit in you, but the color itself is actually very wearable. If you’re not used to such bright lips (psst, it’s a Spring trend this year!), you can always blot it down or put clear gloss over it. For those of us who do like a bold mouth, this color only needs a slick of liner and some blended blush to look amazing.

As someone whose skin tone is sometimes hard to match, I used to be afraid of hot pinks because so many of them are too blue toned to suit me. Spellbound does have blue tones to it, but it’s not overly cool, so if you’re on the fence about it, I’d say to give it a try. Just shop somewhere with a good cosmetics return policy, like Rite Aid or Walgreens.

I’m not sure if my lips were truly softer as the cold air does a number on them each year, but in general while I wear this formula, my lips feel quite nice. I get about four hours or so of wear out of an application before touchups, and it doesn’t fade completely or leave rings of color around my lips with the centers extremely faded like other formulas can. The one major downside to this lipstick is it stains your lips. While this is great when it comes to fading evenly, the color itself can be hard to remove. While most of it will fade in a day or so, a tiny dry spot of skin on my lip was stained by Spellbound for three days. None of my makeup removers would take it off! These removers will usually dissolve the most waterproof of anything. I have only tested these two bold colors, so less pigmented or lighter shades might be more easily removable.

That said, Lip Perfection is a great product overall and value. If you’re used to disappointment from drugstore lipcolor, do take a look at this line. I’m pretty excited about drugstore makeup recently with some of the new products from Wet & Wild and Cover Girl. Having higher quality, longer lasting cosmetics within budget reach is definitely a plus for anyone who loves beauty products. I plan on purchasing more colors and see if my quest for the perfect nude still eludes me.


Cover Girl Lip Perfection Lipstick

Pigmentation: 4.5/5

Durability 4/5

Value 5/5

Would repurchase? Yes