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Murad

Hydro-Glow Aqua Peel

4.00 masks for $ 48.00
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Murad has done some good AHA exfoliants in the past, but their Hydro-Glow Aqua Peel isn't one of them. Its four single-use, two-step packets are steeped in some seriously irritating ingredients that make this an overpriced exfoliating treatment a problem for any skin type.

Two separate products, a Retexturizing Swab and a sheet mask called Moisture Infusion Mask, are packaged in a single perforated pouch. You're instructed to swipe the large swab over cleansed skin, apply the mask, wait 15 minutes or so, remove the sheet mask, massage any excess product into skin, and you're done.

The Retexturizing Swab contains two exfoliating ingredients: lactic and glycolic acids. Both are alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and the pH of the swab's solution does allow them to exfoliate. Murad doesn't reveal how much AHA you're getting, but based on the ingredient list, we suspect it's between 8-10%. Unfortunately, one of the main ingredients in the Retexturizing Swab is alcohol—the kind that really irritates skin. Adding to this skin-misery is a strong hit of fragrance, which can cause further irritation. See More Info to learn why these ingredients aren't desirable in skincare products.

The Moisture Infusion Mask also contains fragrance, and alcohol, and skin-offending peppermint for its 'cooling sensation'. That sensation is actually your skin telling you it's being irritated, not helped. These problematic ingredients are joined by beneficial ones like niacinamide, sodium hyaluronate, and soothing plant extracts; but that's little consolation for your skin. Talk about a mixed bag formula! And, as is the case with many sheet masks, this one can be messy to use. It has a somewhat "slimy" feel and is so oversaturated with product it practically drips down your neck as you wait to remove it.

See our list of Best AHA Exfoliants for alternatives we wholeheartedly recommend, and leave this 2-step product to ride off into the sunset on its own.

Pros:
  • Contains an effective, pH-correct mix of AHAs lactic and glycolic acids.
  • Contains plant-based antioxidants and skin soothers.
Cons:
  • The amount of alcohol and fragrance in the Retexturizing Swab poses a risk of irritating skin.
  • The mask contains skin-drying alcohol and peppermint.
  • The mask can be messy to use and feels somewhat slimy on skin.
More Info:

Alcohol-Based Skincare Products: Research makes it clear that alcohol, as a main ingredient in any skincare product, especially one you use frequently and repeatedly, is a problem.

When we express concern about the presence of alcohol in skincare or makeup products, we're referring to denatured ethanol, which most often is listed as SD alcohol, alcohol denat., denatured alcohol, or (less often) isopropyl alcohol.

When you see these types of alcohol listed among the first six ingredients on an ingredient label, without question the product will irritate and cause other problems for skin. There's no way around it—these volatile alcohols are simply bad for all skin types.

The reason they're included in products is because they provide a quick-drying finish, immediately degrease skin, and feel weightless, so it's easy to see their appeal, especially for those with oily skin. If only those short-term benefits didn't lead to negative long-term outcomes!

Using products that contain these alcohols will cause dryness, erosion of skin's protective barrier, and a strain on how skin replenishes, renews, and rejuvenates itself. Alcohol just weakens everything about skin.

The irony of using alcohol-based products to control oily skin is that the damage from the alcohol can actually lead to an increase in breakouts and enlarged pores. As we said, the alcohol does have an immediate de-greasing effect on skin, but it causes irritation, which eventually will counteract the de-greasing effect and make your oily skin look even more shiny.

There are people who challenge us on the information we've presented about alcohol's effects. They often base their argument on a study in the British Journal of Dermatology (July 2007, pages 74–81) that concluded "alcohol-based hand rubs cause less irritation than hand washing…." But, the only thing this study showed was that alcohol was not as irritating as an even more irritating hand wash, which contained sodium lauryl sulfate. So, the study is actually just telling you that one irritant, sodium lauryl sulfate, is worse than another irritant, alcohol.

Not all alcohols are bad. For example, there are fatty alcohols, which are absolutely non-irritating and can be beneficial for skin. Examples that you'll see on ingredient labels include cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, and cetearyl alcohol, all of which are good ingredients for skin. It's important to differentiate between these skin-friendly alcohols and the problematic alcohols.

References for this information:

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, November 2008, pages 1–16

Dermato-Endocrinology, January 2011, pages 41–49

Experimental Dermatology, June 2008, pages 542–551

Clinical Dermatology, September-October 2004, pages 360–366

Alcohol Journal, April 2002, pages 179–190

Why Fragrance Is a Problem for Skin: Daily use of products that contain a high amount of fragrance, whether the fragrant ingredients are synthetic or natural, causes a chronic sensitizing reaction on skin.

This reaction in turn leads to all kinds of problems, including disrupting skin's barrier, worsening dryness, increasing or triggering redness, depleting vital substances in skin's surface, and generally preventing skin from looking healthy, smooth, and hydrated. Fragrance free is always the best way to go for all skin types.

A surprising fact: Even though you can't always see or feel the negative effects of fragrant ingredients on skin, the damage will still be taking place, even if it's not evident on the surface. Research has demonstrated that you don't need to see or feel the effects of irritation for your skin to be suffering. Much like the effects from cumulative sun damage, the negative impact and the visible damage from fragrance may not become apparent for a long time.

References for this information:

Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, May 2012, pages 1410–1419

Aging, March 2012, pages 166–175

Chemical Immunology and Allergy, March 2012, pages 77–80

Experimental Dermatology, October 2009, pages 821–832

Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2008, pages 191–202

International Journal of Toxicology, Volume 27, 2008, Supplement, pages 1–43

Food and Chemical Toxicology, February 2008, pages 446–475

American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 2003, pages 789–798

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No
This unique 2-step system gives skin a gentle peel with anti-aging benefits by intensely infusing hydration to visibly minimize fine lines and wrinkles, retexturize and brighten skin revealing a youthful glow. The Aqua Peel contains 4 convenient, single-use treatments.
RETEXTURIZING SWAB: Water/Aqua/Eau, Alcohol, Lactic Acid, Tromethamine, Dipropylene Glycol , Glycerin, Glycolic Acid, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Fruit Extract, Citrus Limon(Lemon) Fruit Extract, Vaccinium Angustifolium (Blueberry) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Fruit Extract, Morus Alba Bark Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Portulaca Oleracea Extract, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Extract, Erythritol, Allantoin, Butylene Glycol, Ethyl Hexanediol, 1, 2-Hexanediol, Trehalose, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Methylpropanediol, Glycereth-26 , PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum) MOISTURE INFUSION MASK: Water/Aqua/Eau, Glycerin, Niacinamide, Alcohol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Malva Sylvestris (Mallow) Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Primula Veris Extract, Alchemilla Vulgaris Extract, Veronica Officinalis Extract, Melissa Officinalis Leaf Extract, Achillea Millefolium Extract, Butylene Glycol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Trehalose, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Disodium EDTA, Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Fragrance (Parfum)

Murad At-A-Glance

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.