Essential-C Sun Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 35 PA +++
This sunscreen stick doesn't have as balm-y a texture as you may think from the name, but we suspect many people will like this stick's lighter, very smooth texture. As with most Murad products, UVA protection is provided by avobenzone, and this also contains other sunscreen actives capable of providing robust UVB screening and partial UVA screening, adding up to broad-spectrum protection.
We love that this is not only easy to apply and a brilliant option for more sunburn-prone areas (think bridge of nose, hands, tops of feet, and hairline) but the formula, which contains only a tiny amount of fragrance, is loaded with a broad range of antioxidants as well as repairing and smoothing ingredients. All told, this is a great option for normal to oily or combination skin, including breakout-prone skin.
What about using this around the eyes? Well, it's an option but one we'd suggest approaching with caution. The active ingredients can be more sensitizing to the eye itself (causing stinging if they get into the eye) and with a small amount of fragrance in the mix, that could make these ingredients more troublesome. For best results, apply a mineral-based SPF product (active ingredients: Titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide) around the eyes.
- Provides broad-spectrum sun protection.
- Easy to apply; feels lighter than the balm name and stick format may lead you to believe.
- Loaded with skin-beneficial ingredients, including lots of antioxidants.
- Minimally fragranced.
- The active ingredients plus fragrance might be sensitizing if applied around the eyes.
Powerful SPF protection in a portable package allows quick and easy application and broad spectrum protection from aging UVA/UVB rays, free radicals and dehydration.
Strengths: A few good cleansers; a selection of well-formulated AHA products centered on glycolic acid; most of Murad's top-rated products are fragrance-free; the sunscreens go beyond the basics and include several antioxidants for enhanced protection.
Weaknesses: Expensive; no other dermatologist-designed line has more problem products than Murad; irritating ingredients are peppered throughout the selection of products, keeping several of them from earning a recommendation; the skin-lighteners are not well-formulated.
Dr. Murad was one of the first doctors to appear on an infomercial selling his own line of skin-care products, and quite successfully so, at least the second time around. This was largely because the company paid for independent clinical studies to establish the efficacy of Dr. Murad's products. There's no question that AHA products, when well-formulated, can be a powerful ally to create healthier, radiant skin. But in terms of independent clinical studies, we're skeptical, given that there are countless labs that exist solely to perform such studies in strict accordance with how the company wants the results to turn out. Murad certainly wouldn't mention in an infomercial that the clinical studies for his AHA products weren't as impressive as, say, those for Neutrogena's AHA products, or any other line for that matter. And what about BHA products? Clinical studies and testimonials may have prompted consumers to order, but the results from Murad's AHA products are hardly unique to this line.
Although this is a skin-care line to consider for some good AHA options, the majority of the products are nothing more than a problem for skin. Murad may have been one of the first dermatologist-developed skin-care lines, but by today's standards his line is deplorable. This is largely due to a preponderance of irritating ingredients that show up in product after product. Any dermatologist selling products that include lavender, basil, and various citrus oils plus menthol and other irritants doesn't deserve to be taken seriously. The same goes for Murad's overuse of alcohol and his preference for treating acne with sulfur, both factors that keep some of his otherwise well-formulated, efficacious products from earning a recommendation.
Yet what is most objectionable is the endless parade of products claiming they can stop, get rid of, or reduce wrinkles and aging. Regardless of whether dermatologists know best about lotions and potions, no conscientious doctor would or should be selling products using the ludicrous claims Murad makes. Most of the anti-aging products have the same hype, the same unsubstantiated claims, and the same exaggeration about the beneficial effects of ingredients that are often present only in the tiniest amounts, without even a mention of the standard or potentially irritating ingredients that are also present. Dr. Murads skin-care philosophy, stated on his Web site, includes the following statement: "Take all the necessary steps to achieve healthy skinincluding the right products, the proper nutrients (from both food and supplements) and positive lifestyle choices." That's an excellent piece of advice; the problem is that it is contradicted by Murads own products, most of which are far from the "right" options for all skin types.
For more information about Murad, now owned by Unilever, call (888) 996-8723 or visit www.murad.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.