Vitamin C Glycolic Brightening Serum
Murad’s Vitamin C Glycolic Brightening Serum contains an undisclosed amount of the AHA glycolic acid and not as much vitamin C (ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) as its name suggests. Still, it’s a very good, fragrance-free AHA exfoliant for all skin types, and its supporting ingredients will brighten skin, instantly and long-term.
Packaged in an opaque, airless bottle topped with a smooth-dispensing pump, this serum feels light and airy, gliding over skin. The pigments mica and tin oxide add instant glow (not shimmer) and this layers well with other products. Murad touts the dual-chamber design which is said to keep the vitamin C and glycolic acid fresh, but these two ingredients don’t need to be separated; in fact, they play nicely in the same pH range, although ascorbic acid does best at a pH of 3 or slightly lower.
Although Murad isn’t revealing how much glycolic acid is on board, as the second ingredient listed we suspect it’s between 5-10%. The pH of 3.9 ensures exfoliation will occur, which is great. Even better, glycolic acid has research showing it can improve hyperpigmentation.
The two forms of vitamin C mentioned above can also improve hyperpigmentation, but we suspect the lower amounts this serum contains won’t have much impact, at least on dark spots. Dullness and uneven skin tone should see some improvement, though, and ingredient hexylresorcinol may also provide some help, but ideally we’d like to see more of each ingredient to significantly improve dark spots.
Another bright spot (pun intended) is the inclusion of some sophisticated hydrating ingredients like yeast amino acids, trehalose, and oleyl alcohol. Murad also added some very good antioxidants to support the vitamin C, including glutathione, Marrubium vulgare meristem, and vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate).
On balance, the beautiful texture, smooth application, AHA efficacy and roster of supporting ingredients won us over; however, you should know there are less expensive AHA exfoliants and more focused vitamin C treatments if the latter ingredient is what you’re after.
Note: This does contain a tiny amount of gold, which can cause allergic reactions for some people, but we suspect it’s very low risk in this product.
- Looks to contain an effective amount of glycolic acid.
- pH-correct formula enables the glycolic acid to exfoliate.
- Brightens skin instantly and long-term.
- Contains some potent antioxidants and intriguing hydrators.
- Packaged to keep the formula’s key ingredients stable.
- Fragrance free.
- Murad doesn’t reveal the percentage of AHA.
- Combined amount of vitamin C unlikely to improve dark spots.
Helps improve look of hyperpigmentation and uneven tone for dramatically brighter, healthier-looking skin. The dual-chamber package delivers a concentrated, fresh dose of vitamin C and glycolic acid with every use. Glycolic acid in Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum may produce a slight tingling sensation that is temporary and normal.
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.