Trader Joe’s Hydrating Gel Moisturizer Clinique Dupe Review


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Shopping for skincare product dupes can be just as dangerous of a game as going to Trader Joe’s hungry. Funnily enough, there is one place where the two circles of this Venn diagram overlap, and that is in the Trader Joe’s skincare aisle. Picking up your SPF and butternut squash mac and cheese at the same store may sound too good to be true, but even a skilled aesthetician says the fan-favorite grocery store has some quality skincare products.

I’ve already tried the $9 Trader Joe’s dupe for the $38 Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen, and I was impressed. The dermatologist I consulted, Dr. Muneeb Shah, agreed, and in a YouTube review of the product, fellow dermatologist Dr. Luke Maxfield called the Trader Joe’s sunscreen “one of the best (if not the best) dupes I’ve ever seen.” With that glowing review in my back pocket, I was eager to try out other Trader Joe’s dupes. But then I realized I’d already been using one for years. 

Is Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer a La Mer dupe?

The Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer, which retails for $8.99 for 2.5 ounces (if you can’t make it to TJ’s, you can snag it for about $15 off Amazon), comes recommended by an aesthetician and is also, as it turns out, a dupe for a significantly more expensive face lotion. The rumor mill has long held that this grocery-store find is a budget alternative to the luxurious Moisturizing Cool Gel Cream by La Mer, which costs $380 for 2 ounces (!). 

The Kitchn did some digging, though, and found that according to Trader Joe’s own words, the $9 moisturizer is most likely intended to mimic the Clinique Moisture Surge, which is priced at $60 for 75 millimeters (or about 2.5 ounces). If the TJ’s product is a dupe, the savings are still pretty incredible. 

While I haven’t tried the Clinique option, looking at the ingredient lists of the two lotions side by side reveals some significant similarities. Both include birch extract, green tea, aloe, thistle extract, and sodium hyaluronate, for instance. But there are also plenty of differences — not least of which is the Clinique product’s pink tinge (in contrast to the milky hue of the TJ’s version) and its promise of “hydration that soothes in 3 seconds, lasts 100 hours.” 

My Honest Review of the Trader Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer

The Clinique promise of a “dewy glow” that lasts 100 hours is pretty bold — and if thousands of five-star reviews mean anything, it seems to deliver satisfyingly well on that claim. I can’t speak for that moisturizer, but I have tried the Trader’s Joe’s Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer, and I’ve gone back for seconds, thirds, and fourths over the past few years. 

Aesthetician Joshua Ross, who recommended this lotion to one Apartment Therapy writer, touts its hydrating ingredients and says, “It’s a great option for those who prefer a light, more absorbent moisturizer, especially for oily [skin] types.” 

I agree. I’m not sure I’d cosign the name’s “ultra hydrating” claim (that’s where Cicaplast comes into play, personally), but I do appreciate its light formula that soaks into the skin easily. When I’m rushing in the morning to get ready and don’t want to wait minutes between layers of skincare, this Trader Joe’s moisturizer is refreshing to apply, sits on the skin really nicely, and has a nice slip to it that makes applying my SPF and liquid blush a dream. It’s hydrating enough for my cheeks, which can get chapped in the winter months, but doesn’t make my T zone shiny.

It’s soothing and never bothers my somewhat sensitive skin, and it delivers on a dewy daytime complexion. That said, it’s strictly a morning moisturizer for me. At night, I like to layer on the hydration, and this gel consistency just doesn’t feel thick or moisturizing enough to last through the evening. 

Although I use a few different daytime moisturizers throughout the seasons, I’ve gone back to the Ultra Hydrating Gel Moisturizer several times. It’s refreshing, hydrating enough for the morning, and seeps into the skin easily. Plus, the affordable price point means I can pick up a couple of extra Trader Joe’s groceries without having sticker shock at the cash register.


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