Reviews, Skincare

Branching Out: Murad Skincare Review

[cf-shortcode plugin=”acf” field=”affiliate_link”][cf-shortcode plugin=”acf” field=”press_sample”]

Murad Skincare Review

It’s been a while since I felt brave enough to start trying out new skincare products. Now that my skin is finally breakout-free (aside from the few hormonal spots that crop up on a monthly basis) I stuck to my tried-and-true skincare routine like my life depended on it for a pretty long time. Eventually, though, I starting running low on things, so I decided to suck it up and try something new. Or, correction – some things. I had a chance to try out several products from Murad, and of course I jumped right on that! And was promptly reminded of the importance of only adding one new product at a time. Total noob mistake. After a few weeks I started noticing a lot of clogged pores around my hairline, small breakouts on my cheeks – in other words, the same places that I used to get breakouts pre-Accutane. Womp womp. But I didn’t want to be a quitter, so I backed off and switched back to my old routine for a while. Once my skin went back to its baseline (whew!) I started incorporating the Murad products one at a time. Y’know, the way I should have in the first place. That worked much better, and it also makes more sense for reviewing purposes since now I know what effects each product had on my skin. Duh.

Skin Smoothing Polish

I started out with the Skin Smoothing Polish ($30/3.5oz) because if my face disagrees with a physical exfoliator, it lets me know pretty much right away. It was happy with this one. It’s SLS-free (SLS isn’t inherently evil, but I never have good results with it) and I didn’t have any stinging or flaking. After using my skin feels extra-smooth and baby soft. I’m happy to report that it doesn’t use plastic bits for exfoliation – the micro-polishing beads (as they describe them) feel like maybe very fine salt granules? They aren’t rough on the skin at all, so they didn’t cause any dryness for me. It also has some other nice ingredients in it like sodium hyaluronate (moisturizing) and witch hazel (oil balancing). It has a very light floral scent that isn’t overpowering at all. I only use this once or twice a week because that’s about as much physical exfoliation as my skin can handle. Considering you only need a tiny bit – the size of two peas, since vegetables seem to be the standard unit of measure for skincare – this should last me approximately forever.

Advanced Active Radiance Serum

Even though a lot of my hyperpigmentation has faded, I’m still eager to get it completely out of my life. With that goal in mind, the next product I added was the Advanced Active Radiance Serum ($89/1oz). It has all the right ingredients – glycolic acid, vitamin C, urea, green tea. All sorts of exfoliating, brightening, anti-oxidant goodies. Unfortunately I’m 99% sure this was the culprit for the minor breakouts I had initially. Again, all was good for a couple weeks and then I started noticing more clogged pores and minor pimples in spots where I don’t usually get them anymore. I’m not sure if it’s a little weaker than my usual daily chemical exfoliant (Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Gel), or if the pH isn’t low enough, or if I was reacting to an ingredient in it or, or, or…. In any case, my skin was not pleased so I had to stop using it.

Essential-C Day Moisture

I had much better results with the Essential-C Day Moisture lotion ($60/1.7oz). Even though fall was in full swing by the time I started using this, I think it would be an excellent moisturizer/sunscreen combo for the summer. Applying enough to make sure you actually get the rated SPF is always tricky with the two-in-one products, but this one soaks in nicely. Aside from the ingredients, it’s un-sunscreen-like in every way. No white film, no stickiness or greasy feeling, and it doesn’t smell like banana-coconut smoothie. Instead it has a light, lotion-y texture and a light citrus fragrance. It’s probably worth noting that fragrance and chemical sunscreens don’t cause any problems for me, but if you’re sensitive to them, this is definitely not the product for you. But me, I like it.

Rapid Collagen Infusion

I had a sample of the Rapid Collagen Infusion ($78/1oz) long ago (from a subscription box, I think) so I was happy that I got to give it a longer test run. According to the product description, it ‘targets wrinkles and loss of resilience by rapidly revolumizing your skin, supporting its natural restoration of more youthful collagen levels’. I fortunately don’t have too many major wrinkles yet, but an ounce of prevention, right? I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know enough about the science of collagen synthesis to say whether this stuff really truly works in that department. What I can say, though, is I really like this as a hydrating serum. It feels more like a lotion than a serum, but it’s more silky than emollient, if that makes sense. Once it’s rubbed in, it doesn’t leave any sort of residue. My skin feels more supple and looks less tired when I use it, and it keeps my skin hydrated longer than just moisturizer. That’s important folks, because that keeps my skin from drinking all the moisture out of my foundation over the course of the day (like I said, earth-shaking stuff here). One pump is enough to spread easily all over my face, so it lasts longer than you’d think, but I still only use it in the morning to make it last a bit longer. Still, it’s pricey enough that I definitely recommend snagging a sample before buying if you can, to make sure you really love it.

Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisturizer

I’m not usually one to toss the term ‘holy grail’ around willy nilly, but the Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisturizer ($65/1.7oz) might actually be my HG night moisturizer, at least for winter. For once my skin doesn’t feel dry again by the time I wake up in the morning. The texture feels incredibly rich, but without being dense, so it’s still easy to spread. I wouldn’t wear it under makeup – much too heavy for that. My only minor gripe with it is the packaging. The smooth jar is very sleek-looking, but it comes with two problems. One: it’s a jar. It does come with a little scoop, so it’s easy to use sanitarily, but I’ve always read that retinyl palmitate (a vitamin-A-derivative antioxidant) loses its effectiveness when it’s exposed to air. I know a tube isn’t as sexy, but I’d be willing to sacrifice looks to keep all the ingredients intact. Problem the second: do not attempt to open this jar if you’ve used any sort of hand lotion. Seriously, it’s frictionless enough to baffle modern science. I mean, it’s a dilemma easily solved by just using a towel to open it, but I prefer packaging that doesn’t require additional tools to get into. The stuff inside is more than good enough to make up for the packaging though. Like the Rapid Collagen Infusion, you only need a tiny bit so it lasts for an unexpectedly long time.


In Short: The Active Radiance Serum just didn’t work out for me, but everything else gets a thumbs up. The Hydro-Dynamic Moisturizer is the real standout of the bunch, and I’ll more than likely be buying another one when I run out.



Skin Smoothing Polish

Water (Aqua), Silica, Stearic Acid, Jojoba Esters, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel) Water, Cetearyl Alcohol, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Butylene Glycol, PPG-2 Hydroxyethyl Cocamide, Urea, Yeast Amino Acids, Trehalose, Inositol, Taurine, Betaine, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum Bark Extract, Sarcosine, Capryloyl Glycine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Borago Officinalis Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Punica Granatum Extract, Sodium Lauroamphoacetate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG-100 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ceteareth-20, PEG-32, Carbomer, Disodium EDTA, Aminomethyl Propanol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Fragrance (Parfum), Red 40 (CI 16035).

Advanced Active Radiance Serum

Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Cyclopentasiloxane, Urea, Yeast Amino Acids, Trehalose, Inositol, Taurine, Betaine, Hydrolyzed Opuntia Ficus Indica Flower Extract, Hexapeptide-2, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Jojoba Esters, Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Enantia Chlorantha (Bark) Extract, Oleanolic Acid, Ectoin, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Biotin, Mannitol, Zinc Gluconate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Ascorbic Acid, Chitosan, Propyl Gallate, Methyl Diisopropyl Propionamide, Ethyl Menthane Carboxamide, Menthyl Lactate, Lauryl Laurate, Hydroxyethyl Behenamidopropyl Dimonium Chloride, Ethylhexylglycerin, Silica, Xanthan Gum, PPG-26-Buteth-26, PEG-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Limonene, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Orange 4 (CI 15510)

Essential-C Day Moisture

Active Ingredients: Octinoxate 7.5%, Homosalate 6.5%, Octisalate 5%, Avobenzone 3%, Oxybenzone 2%; Inactive Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Butylene Glycol, Stearic Acid, Diisopropyl Sebacate, Cocoglycerides, Lauryl Lactate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Dimethicone, Cetyl Alcohol, Cetyl Phosphate, Urea, Yeast Amino Acids, Trehalose, Inositol, Taurine, Betaine, Phospholipids, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Pelvetia Canaliculata Extract, Ectoin, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, Tripleurospermum Maritimum Extract, Zinc Gluconate, Ethyl Linoleate, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Xanthan Gum, Aminomethyl Propanol, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Limonene, Linalool, Fragrance (Parfum), Yellow 6 (CI 15985), Red 33 (CI 17200)

Rapid Collagen Infusion

Water (Aqua), Isodecyl Neopentanoate, Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Glycerin, Pentylene Glycol, Neopentyl Glycol Diethylhexanoate, Cetyl Ethylhexanoate, Stearic Acid, Cetearyl Olivate, Dimethicone/Bis-Isobutyl PPG-20 Crosspolymer, Sorbitan Olivate, Butylene Glycol, Honey (Mel), Urea, Yeast Amino Acids, Trehalose, Inositol, Taurine, Betaine, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Alaria Esculenta Extract, Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Codium Tomentosum Extract, Hydrogenated Olive Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil Unsaponifiables, Sodium Hyaluronate, Collagen Amino Acids, Citrullus Vulgaris (Watermelon) Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus (Apple) Fruit Extract, Lens Esculenta (Lentil) Fruit Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Sodium PCA, Sodium Lactate, Zinc Gluconate, Ascorbic Acid, Chitosan, Propyl Gallate, Polysorbate 20, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Aminomethyl Propanol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Chlorphenesin, Linalool, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Extract, Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil

Hydro-Dynamic Ultimate Moisturizer

Water (Aqua), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Butylene Glycol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Behenate/Eicosadioate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), Cetearyl Alcohol, Myristyl Myristate, Cetyl Alcohol, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenyl Trimethicone, Stearic Acid, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Yeast Extract (Faex), Algae Extract, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Linoleic Acid, Phospholipids, Polysorbate 60, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Isohexadecane, Glyceryl Polymethacrylate, Panthenol, Jojoba Alcohol, Potassium Jojobate, Polysorbate 80, Urea, Glucosamine HCl, PEG-8, Bisabolol, Sorbitan Oleate, Cetearyl Methicone, Dimethicone, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Retinyl Palmitate, Allantoin, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, BHT, Ethylhexylglycerin, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol


Murad products are available at Nordstrom, Sephora, Ulta, and of course The products in this post were kindly provided for review by the company, but all the opinions here were provided 100% by me.



  1. Stephanie

    December 7, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    I’m almost done with my Murad moisturizer and I have the same complaint about the jar! Sometimes even a towel wouldn’t help and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle one time trying to open that jar when my hands were slightly lotiony.

    1. Nikki

      December 7, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      The things we do in the name of skin health, right?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.