Review: Dermalogica Calm Water Gel (Updated September 28, 2021)

A tube of Dermalogica Calm Water Gel, basking in the sunset, while taking a dip in a bird bath, accompanied with a single plumeria

This moisturizer is the gold standard for sensitive, inflamed, or dehydrated skin. I began using it when it was launched in early 2018. I’ve tried other moisturizers, to no avail, and keep running back to this one. I’ve come to realize that my skin’s dehydration as of late is probably due to running out of this!

Description & usage: Dermalogica Calm Water Gel is aptly described as a water-gel formula. It is not greasy or sticky at all. It layers well with other products (no pilling!) and it absorbs quickly. It spreads well – only a pea-sized amount is needed to cover your face. The 1.7 oz tube lasted about 6 months, then I immediately purchased the 6 oz tube in the photo, which lasted through Spring 2020. I rationed it for about 3 months before fruitlessly attempting to enjoy a different moisturizer.

Key ingredients:
Hydrators & soothers: Glycerin, aloe, 2 types of sodium hyaluronate (hyaluronic acid).
Antioxidants & brighteners: Apple fruit, cactus pear, & licorice root extracts.
Fragrance: I’d like to address Dermalogica’s claim of “no fragrance added” and misunderstandings about it. It refers only to the absence of synthetic fragrance. Fragrance or parfum, as defined by the FDA and other regulations, is not essential oils. Dermalogica has never claimed not to use essential oils. They do use lavender to add scent or neutralize scent in almost every product they offer. I no longer believe claims that lavender soothes skin. Many are sensitive or allergic to it but anything can be an allergen. I’ve had issues with their more heavily fragranced products but have great results with this one. If you know that your skin can’t handle lavender, please avoid this product, and perhaps try Cooling Aqua Jelly from their Clear Start line instead.

Results: Redness is reduced dramatically after a few minutes, on both myself and my clients. It has a cooling effect. Hydration is long lasting, no need to reapply unless you have very dry skin. The only con for me is the steep price in retail spaces, so I wait for a sale, or I purchase from stores for professionals. However, the price is worth it when compared to inferior formulas. I recommend it for anyone with any inflammatory condition – including dehydrated acneic types – and those that want just want a lightweight moisturizer. Please note that while drugstores now carry gel moisturizers, formulation and ingredients do matter, and the composition and results of high-end versus low-end or drugstore products are often not comparable.

Update: Possible formula changes have occurred. My latest bottle of Calm Water Gel has some minor textural changes. It is less “slippy” than it was previously. This could mean they formulated with less glycerin. It feels slightly thinner as well. It absorbs more quickly, so it doesn’t stay on top of the skin for as long as it once did. These changes are probably barely noticeable to the average person but I feel they are worth noting. For me, this change resulted in having to use additional moisturizers, so I began to use Calm Water Gel as a hydrating serum instead. Dermalogica has changed manufacturers, which could mean the ingredients are now being sourced from someplace else.

I do not work with this brand nor do I have any sponsorships whatsoever (at the time of this post). I post whatever I choose with honest reviews.

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