Friday, March 27, 2015

Skincare on a Budget: Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel

Skincare is EXPENSIVE these days, am I right? I mean, even at the drugstores, a good moisturizer can run you upwards of $25. I've been hearing about the Dr. Lin Daily Hydrating Gel for a few years now, for a number of reasons, but I must admit that the price (between $6 and $8 depending on the retailer) was one of the main factors that pushed me to finally make a purchase.

I've been using this product for several months now (this review is long overdue!) so now that I've had plenty of time to test it, I'd love to share my thoughts with you.

Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel
(retail: between $6 - $8, 4.0 oz.)

I purchased this jar at my local Bed Bath & Beyond with a Harmon Beauty inside for about $6, but you can also purchase it at Ulta for $7.49 in-store and online (Dr. Lin products happen to be BOGO1/2OFF at Ulta as of the time of this post), Walmart for $5.97 in-store and online, Target for $7.49 in-store and online, and it used to be available at Walgreens and Drugstore.com but I see it's out of stock at both retailers right now, so I'm not sure if they'll continue to offer it in the future. At any rate, you have lots of retailers to choose from if you're interested in this product, and it's also available via Amazon if you want to go that route.

Keep reading for my full review...



Made in USA

From the Dr. Lin website:

Description: 
Soothe and rehydrate dry, irritated skin. Intensive gel treatment minimizes inflammation and restores skin moisture with hyaluronic acid, and reduces redness with aloe vera. 

What it Does: 
Hydrates and relieves dry, irritated skin. Minimizes blemish and hair bumps without stinging. Leaves a cool, fresh sensation. 

Formulated With:  
Hyaluronic Acid: Works with the skin’s natural repair cycle to hydrate and heal. Aloe Vera: Soothes and minimizes redness and inflammation. 

Free Of: 
Parabens 

How to Use: 
Smooth onto dehydrated or inflamed skin. Leave on for 30 seconds, then pat off excess with gentle cloth. Can be left on overnight as a mask for maximum results. Use daily. If using with the Dr. Lin Skincare 2-Step Acne Clarifying System, apply after Step 2-Acne Lotion and the bonus Acne Spot Corrector. 

Ingredients:   
Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Arctostaphylos Uva Ursi (Bear Berry) Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Anthemis (Chamomile) Nobilis Flower Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Extract, Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Allantoin, Arbutin, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Phenoxyethanol Polysorbate 20, Sodium Hydroxide, Carbomer, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer.

Looking at the ingredients above, you can see that Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid) is the 7th ingredient here, and it comes before glycerin. For reference, the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel I reviewed a while back has Sodium Hyaluronate listed as the 15th ingredient, right before fragrance (Dr. Lin Daily Hydrating Gel is fragrance-free). So if you're looking for a moisturizer that contains more Hyaluronic Acid than the Neutrogena product, and is more affordable, this could be an option for you.

By the way, in case you're curious, I was testing this product before I started testing the Neutrogena product. I returned to this product after I finished testing the Neutrogena and I've stuck with it since then (I'm on my second jar now).


This is a clear gel (much like aloe vera in look and texture) and you get more than what you see above (I photographed this a few weeks into my testing). Also, there's a foil safety-seal on this jar (you can see that in the background) that you have to peel to open. 


I know that the directions say to apply this to the skin and then, after 30 seconds, pat off the excess with a cloth. Please note that I have only used it that way ONCE. For the remainder of my testing, I used it like a traditional moisturizer, and I've noticed that many other people use it like a traditional moisturizer as well. If you look at the reviews over on Makeup Alley, you'll see that most of the reviews reference it like a traditional moisturizer. By the way, this product also seems to get a lot of recommendations over on Reddit and the Makeup Alley skincare board since it does not contain fatty alcohols, which I know that some people with sensitive/acne-prone skin try to avoid.

So how has it been working for ME? Simple: it's fantastic. I have very oily skin, but I also have more and more dry patches as I get older (mostly under my eyes and also on my forehead). I've been using this product as my nightly moisturizer (both for my face and undereye area) and I also wear it in the daytime when I'm not going to be in the sun for a prolonged period of time (there's no sunscreen here, so I pretty much only use this during the day if my foundation contains SPF and I know I'm not going to be in the sun for more than a few minutes at a time--I never, ever leave my house without at least SOME type of SPF on my face, and you shouldn't either!).

This product feels very much like aloe vera gel when you apply it to the skin. A little goes a long way, and it's very easy to spread. The first few times you use it, you'll probably apply too much (I know I did!) so there's a learning curve here as you figure out how much to scoop out for your face and neck. There's a cooling sensation here, but that's not due to menthol or anything like that--the cooling is due to the gel itself, not any ingredients IN the gel. After application, my skin feels slightly tacky for a few minutes, but that does go away pretty quickly and, afterwards, my skin just feels fresh and hydrated. I find that this gel absorbs into my skin quite quickly, which I appreciate since I don't usually have a lot of time to wait around for my moisturizers to absorb.

The main thing I've noticed after using this product for several months now is that my skin just looks BETTER. This is really not something I can capture in a before-and-after photo-- it's been a slow, gradual improvement. It just looks brighter, clearer, plumper, more even and my cheeks look rosier. In fact, after about a month of using this product, Mr. G and I were sitting at the dining room table eating breakfast one Saturday (I was in my PJs with no makeup on), and he just all of a sudden said, "Your skin looks really good right now." I was sitting next to an open window with sunlight pouring in, so I figured he was just being nice since my skin NEVER looks good in full sunlight. I asked him to tell me exactly HOW it looked better, but all he could really say was, "I dunno..it just looks really healthy right now." There you have it. 

I personally prefer to use this product at nighttime because, as explained above, there's no SPF here. But the times that I've used it during the day have been quite successful. It provides a great base for makeup that doesn't lend to oiliness (again, I have very oily skin and it never makes my makeup slide off). I also love this product both on my face and under/around my eyes. It never stings when I get it too close to my eyes, which is a great bonus.

Would this product work for normal or dry skin? Now that's where I'm really not sure. I've read some reviews that say it doesn't provide enough moisture for those with dry skin, so you may have to use something (another moisturizer or serum) in conjunction with this if you have dry skin. But during the warmer months, this COULD be a nice option even if you have dry skin, if you're looking for something light and calming. For my oily skin, this product is absolutely perfect in both cool and warm weather--whenever I use it, my skin always feel hydrated without ever feeling greasy or slick. 

As I mentioned before, this gel is fragrance-free, and to me it really just smells like aloe vera gel (very faint; pretty much no scent at all). 

FINAL VERDICT: If you have oily and/or acne-prone skin and you're looking for a nighttime (or daytime) moisturizer that will hydrate and calm your skin without adding any heaviness or greasiness, then I think this is definitely one to consider. I've noticed a visible improvement to my skin since I've been using it, and I love how refreshing it is to apply at nighttime. I'm not sure if this product will provide enough hydration for those with normal to dry skin, but I still think it might be worth a shot if you have acne-prone normal/dry skin and you're looking for something light and calming during the warmer months. At about $6 a jar, you really don't have much to lose, right? And if it doesn't work for you, you can always give it to any of the men in your life (my boyfriend loves this stuff and he NEVER likes putting anything on his face). Really the only negative thing I can say about this product is that I wish it came in a squeeze tube instead of a jar, just for sanitary reasons. Other than that, this one's a winner for me and I hope it will be for you too, if you try it.

Do you already own Dr. Lin Skincare Daily Hydrating Gel? If so, I would love to hear how it's been working for you!

The products featured in this post were purchased with personal funds. For more information, click here.
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30 comments

  1. I'm going to have to give this a try. Thanks for the review, this product sounds amazing!

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    1. You're so welcome! Please let me know what you think if you do? :)

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  2. I don't know if you know/have posted about it but Ulta has Butter London polishes for just $9

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    1. Thanks! Yep, I posted about the 21 Days of Beauty a few weeks ago. That was a good deal! :)

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  3. I am also going to try it out. It sounds great and it is inexpensive on top of that.

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    1. Please let me know what you think if you get it? Thanks!! :)

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  4. I have been using the Garnier gels (green in warm weather, pink in cold) but I might give this a try.

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    1. Sadly, neither of those worked for me (the denatured alcohol in both formulas ended up drying out my skin after a while). I'd love to know how you think this one compares if you give it a try!

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  5. I bought this right after you posted about a deal on Ulta with it last time. It is definitely going to remain my nighttime moisturizer. I have acne-prone oily skin with dry patches from time to time and it got rid of the dry patches in less than a week of use. My face feels so soft when I wake up in the morning. Thanks so much for the recommendation, G.! I've also been drinking spearmint tea to help with my hormonal acne so I can't say for sure if the moisturizer is what's helping in that department, but it doesn't look like it made my monthly breakouts any worse. :)

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    1. Oh my gosh, that's great to hear!!! So glad to know it worked for you! :)

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  6. Wow, I have never heard of this brand. Some things just aren't on my radar, so that's why I love beauty blogs. Never in a million years would I have purchased this. But I am going to check Ulta tomorrow because this product sounds pretty amazing. Just goes to show you that sometimes cheap products really are worth a try. Thank you so much for this great review!

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    1. You're so welcome, Carol! Happy to be able to put this one on your radar! Please do let me know what you think if you give it a whirl. :)

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  7. I really need to find a new moisturizer that can help with my acne healing and redness. My usually normal/combo skin has gotten so dry lately too.

    I've heard of Dr. Lin skincare products before. I've tried the Acne Cleansing Pads, but they leave a little bit of a soapy-like foam residue on my skin so I wasn't impressed.

    I wish I had thought of the hydrating gel before my recent Ulta haul. I will give it a try though. Thanks for the review!! I hope it works for me.

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    1. I hope it does too! Please come back and let me know what you think? Thanks! :)

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  8. Ohhh, this sounds interesting! At this price its worth a try as I think what Im using may be causing me to break out a little. Thanks for the thorough review!

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    1. You're so welcome! And yeah, you just can't beat the price. I'd love to know what you think when you try it! :)

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  9. I will try this for sure! For $6, why not? I also have very oily skin and it's so hard to find a good moisturizer that works for me without creating an oil slick, lol! Walmart, here I come! Thanks G!

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    1. You're so welcome!! Please come back and let me know how it works for you? Thanks!! :)

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  10. This sounds really interesting for when it gets 90+ degrees and high humidity. I'm going to have to look for it at ulta my next time there. Most of the time I use Acure Organics CoQ10 body lotion on my face. It's 8.50 for eight ounces, and has lots of good stuff in it. It absorbs nicely without being greasy, and is fragrance free. (Its also made in the USA and is leaping bunny certified) I refuse to pay $20+ an ounce because something is intended to go on your face.

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    1. Ooooh, thanks for the rec! I'd love to know how you think this compares if you try it! :)

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  11. Looks like this might be a good post bikini shave treatment for me. I'm prone to terrible razor bumps/ingrowns if I don't take extra special care "down there" and sometimes it doesn't matter how careful I am. I have found over the yrs that quality facial products work wonders for that area, and I basically treat it as I would if I were dealing with acne.

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    1. I cannot believe I haven't tried it on that region! Aaaah, what a great idea, considering that I have the same issues (sigh...). I've been using Tend Skin for that, which totally works but OUCH does it sting. Lol.

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    2. Paula's Choice 2% regular strength Clear acne toner works wonders for me to prevent & treat any ingrowns in the bikini area! I get professionally waxed and used to get annoying ingrowns. Now I just treat the area once a day to prevent that altogether. I imagine shaving can cause more ingrowns than waxing but any hair removal can cause it really since the hair can get trapped under the skin as it grows back in. Paula's Choice KP treatment cloths with lactic acid and salicylic acid work great for that area too! The Dr. Lin product, I never tried on the bikini area but it was not hydrating for my dry skin when I was looking for a new hydrating serum type of product. The one I came to love is Sebamed care gel (formulated for acne-prone skin). That is much more hydrating. I'm not sure why they say the Dr. Lin product is good for ingrowns because it doesn't have any exfoliating properties. I guess it has some mild anti-inflammatory properties. Still, I think a leave-on salicylic acid product is the way to go for preventing ingrowns! I just ordered Dollar Shave Club's "miracle serum" after reading a rave review from Beautypedia saying it is a great hydrating/anti-aging serum (it's only $12 for 2oz!) That and their moisturizer are supposed to be good for ingrown hairs too. You have to be a member though, and I cancelled my account with them a while ago... so I just re-activated and chose the $1 razors option so I could order the skincare products and plan to cancel/pause my account after this order.

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  12. I was just contemplating on whether I should purchase the Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel or not. Boy am I glad I came across your review on this product! It's so much cheaper than the Neutrogena one and it has more product also! Score! I am so getting this when I come across it in-store. Thank you so much for your thorough review!

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  13. I'm obsessed with gel moisturizers and yet have never heard of this one or this line until now! I guess it is something I have just overlooked. I cannot wait to try this, I love the ingredient list.

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  14. Target says it is not sold in stores, bummer. And my local walmart is sold out. I guess I will have to check ulta this week!

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  15. Needed a new moisturizer as philosophy take a deep breath makes my HG primer Smashbox pore filler pill. Bought this yesterday & it's already love. Light, cooling & plays well with my primer. Thank you for review & rec.

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  16. I started using this gel well over a year ago. I was particularly drawn to a drugstore product containing hyalauronic acid at a reasonable price. I realize investing in your skin is good, but I simply can't drop $100 in skincare. I have the driest skin on the planet. Using my regular nighttime cleanser (it varies by my mood, I'm recently enjoying the biore charcoal cleansing gel), I follow it up with my toner and some of this gel. I wait for it to totally soak in for a few minutes, and then I use my nighttime moisturizer. You're right in the aspect that dry skin needs a little extra. This gel alone doesn't quite cut it, but my moisturizer didn't really do it either! Using both, I'm in love! Two big thumbs up.

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  17. I actually have a jar of this that I purchased awhile ago at CVS before it became popular on reddit. I was attracted to it because of the ingredient list, which reminded me more of Korean moisturizers than American drugstore ones (the arbutin and many plant extracts). I think my local CVS stopped carrying Dr. Lin though and replaced it with another acne line that is more expensive. I also find it soothing on my skin (skin looks calmer/brighter the next day if I use it at night). I have dehydrated but oily skin, and I don't find it moisturizing enough on its own. Gel moisturizers generally aren't enough on their own for my skin; initially, my skin feels hydrated but with nothing layered over it, eventually feels tight. I usually layer it with an oil (argan is probably my favorite). Thanks for this review. Maybe if there is increased awareness/demand for it, CVS will bring it back. xD

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  18. I've probably been using this stuff for a year now and it's so awesome! I mix in some hemp oil in the winter for extra moisture. I have acne prone skin and love the minimal effective ingredients. Accessible, inexpensive and you're right, just makes skin look healthy. I notice this makes the redness from old acne scars less noticeable when I wake up too!

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