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Murad For Acne Care

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Murad Skincare is a company founded by Dr. Howard Murad, a pharmacist, board-certified dermatologist, and a professor of medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles. Murad produces treatments for acne1, aging skin, and cellulite for both teens as well as for adult women and men. Dr. Murad’s treatments focus on hydrating the skin to keep it healthy.

Murad Acne Treatment
Some of the Murad products contain alcohol and other ingredients that can irritate the skin.


  • Murad was founded by Dr. Howard Murad, a board-certified dermatologist who also teaches medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles.
  • Most Murad products are expensive. You usually can find a much less product that works just as well.
  • Some Murad products can be described as “would be great except —–.” Alcohol and herbal ingredients added to some of the products make them irritating for all skin types.
  • For a much less expensive approach to acne-prone skin care, look into Exposed Skin Care, which offers its products with a money-back guarantee.

The strengths of the Murad skin care line for acne treatment are its excellent cleansers and exfoliants made with glycolic acid. Many Murad products are fortified with additional antioxidants for added skin protection. The downside of the Murad skin care line is that some products that otherwise would be excellent for treating acne contain ingredients that can irritate the skin. Let’s take a look at the top sellers.

Murad Refreshing Cleanser (Retails for US $29.95 For 6.75 Fluid Ounces/203 ml)

Murad’s Refreshing Cleanser blends a standard skin cleanser, sodium laureth sulfate, with a variety of botanical ingredients that could be best described as, well, refreshing. The cleanser includes cucumber, kiwi, algae, and witch hazel extracts. It also has a small amount of glycolic acid, an alpha-hydroxy acid, but not really enough to break up stubborn blackheads or to stimulate growth of new skin. If you are sensitive to sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), this product may not be for you, but for most people it’s a pleasant, although expensive, skin cleanser suitable for everyday use.

Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser (Retails For US $35.00 For 6.75 Fluid Ounces/20d ml)

Murad’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser contains three different ingredients that can exfoliate and peel away dead skin around pores: glycolic acid (an AHA), salicylic acid (BHA), and jojoba wax beads. While the salicylic acid in this formula is enough to take the red out of pimples and sensitive skin, neither the AHA content nor the BHA content of the product really is enough to exfoliate your skin. The real exfoliating ingredient is the jojoba wax beads. This cleanser will, as advertised, help your skin look brighter, although it’s not potent enough to get rid of blemishes.

Murad Perfecting Night Cream (Retails For US $49.50 For 1.7 Ounce/48 grams)

Murad’s Perfecting Night Cream contains a number of plant oils that are idea for relieving irritating in the skin, such as evening primrose oil and grapeseed oil. It also includes green tea extract, which will reduce sebum production in pores2. The retinyl palmitate in the formula is a synthetic variation of vitamin A that will penetrate pores and help encourage release of tired skin cells, and the hyaluronic acid in the formula may help strengthen tiny blood vessels on rosacea-prone skin3. The product is often criticized for not containing more antioxidants—but you can easily enough find ascorbyl palmitate, tocopheryl acetate, and alpha-lipoic acid in a second skin care product.

Murad Oil Free Sunblock SPF 30 Age-Proof Suncare (Retails For US $39.00 For 1.7 Ounce/48 grams)

Murad’s Oil Free Sunblock is a good choice for oily skin. It contains avobenzone, which helps block UV-A rays4 that do the most damage to skin. It also contains other ingredients like octisalate that can reduce redness and irritation in a base that is mostly water plus some botanical ingredients without the titanium dioxide and zinc oxide that can give brown or black skin a purple cast. If you have sensitive skin, you might want to avoid this product, especially if you have a problem with citrus, lemon, or geranium extracts, but most people with oily skin will find it to be a very good choice. Just be aware that you can find better products for a lot less money in any drugstore.

Murad Intensive Resurfacing Peel (Retails For US $165.00 For 2.04 Fluid Ounces/61 ml)

Murad’s Intensive Resurfacing Peel is advertised as a less expensive at-home alternative to expensive skin peels at the spa or aesthetician’s office. The advertising for this product reads “The benefits of a peel are combined with gentle microdermabrasion – chemical and mechanical micro-exfoliants doubles the resurfacing for twice the benefits. Reveal radiant youthful looking skin that is hiding underneath dull, dead skin cells. Use in the weeks leading up to a special occasion to get that perfect complexion or use every week for serious anti-aging benefits.”

There really is enough glycolic acid and salicylic acid, between 3% and 4%, at the right pH, 2.8, to strip away dead skin around clogged pores5 and open blackheads and pimples. Whether this concentration should be described as “intensive” is another matter. Most aestheticians would use up to 40% glycolic acid during an office visit, although this concentration is definitely too strong for you to use on your own face. The microdermabrasion element of the product is bamboo fiber, which, as beauty expert Paula Begoun says in her review, “offers the same microdermabrasive strength as using a washcloth.” This product works, but it doesn’t work any better than products that cost less than 20% as much.

Murad T-Zone Pore Refining Gel (Retails For US $40.00 For 2 Fluid Ounces/60 ml)

The “T-zone” is the nose and lower forehead, the area of the face that produces the most oil. Murad’s T-Zone Pore Refining Gel would be nearly the perfect formula for treating whiteheads and blackheads in this area of the face except that it contains a large amount of rubbing alcohol—not enough to kill acne bacteria on contact, but enough to irritate all skin types. If you have extremely oily skin it might be a disaster, but when the skin is dried out with alcohol it often repairs itself by producing even more oil.

Murad Acne Body Wash (Retails For US $39.50 For 8 Fluid Ounces/240 ml)

Murad’s Acne Body Wash contains 1% salicylic acid, a proven skin treatment for opening blocked pores and rejuvenating the skin6, in the right amount and at the right pH. Unfortunately, you wash the salicylic acid off your skin before it has a chance to work. Also, this product contains menthol. It leaves your skin feeling cool, but that sensation is caused by the topmost layer of cells in your skin dying, creating skin debris that can clog your pores. Unfortunately, no one who has acne should use this product.

Discouraged by the possibilities for Murad acne care? Check out a more effective and much less expensive acne treatment system that comes with a money-back guarantee, Exposed Skin Care.


  1. Green L., Kircik L.H., Gwazdauskas J. Randomized, controlled, evaluator-blinded studies conducted to compare the efficacy and tolerability of 3 over-the-counter acne regimens in subjects with mild or moderate acne. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2013;12(2):180-185.
  2. Saric S., Notay M., Sivamani R.K. Green tea and other polyphenols: Effects on sebum production and acne vulgaris. Antioxidants. 2017;6(1):2.
  3. Schlesinger T.E., Powell C.R. Efficacy and tolerability of low molecular weight hyaluronic acid sodium salt 0.2% cream in rosacea. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology. 2013;12(6):664-667.
  4. Frequently asked questions about avobenzone. American Academy of Dermatology (Website). Accessed 2019.
  5. Kornhauser A., Coelho S.G., Hearing V.J. Applications of hydroxy acids: classification, mechanisms, and photoactivity. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2010;3:135-42.
  6. Arif T. Salicylic acid as a peeling agent: A comprehensive review. Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology. 2015;8:445-461.
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