Murad glycolic acid peel

Overall Score: 77/100

Tested April 2017

The Murad Rapid Resurfacing Peel Pads contain 10% glycolic acid to enhance skin radiance and tone, while improving skin smoothness. These single use sachets can be used two to three times a week and are a leave on product.

Available from:

Price when tested: £35.00

GHI Expert Verdict

After the two week testing period, testers reported they saw the most improvement in the cheek area. A majority of testers thought the product made their skin look more radiant and even in texture. These single use sachets were reported to be easy to apply to the skin and were not thought to be irritating during use. The only negative feedback concerned the product’s fragrance, which was found to be slightly overpowering.

Overall Score: 77/100


  • Ease of use: 4/5
  • Design: 4.5/5
  • Performance: 3.5/5


  • Testers thought the sachets were easy to use and convenient for travel
  • Testers thought their skin looked more radiant only after several uses


  • Testers were not pleased with the smell

All product information provided by the manufacturer is correct at time of publication.

Get the glow: why an at-home chemical peel is the remedy for dull, lifeless winter skin

The lack of vitamin D from sunshine, skin-drying central heating and the increased alcohol intake that party season brings can leave our skin looking grey and lifeless.

But before you attempt to counter your winter skin by slathering your face in hyaluronic acid serum or an expensive face oil, you might want to consider first using a chemical peel.

The word peel sounds scary – and possibly conjures images of Samantha’s red raw face in Sex and the City season five – but, in reality, a gentle peel is an important step of any good skincare regime because it sloughs off the dead cells on the surface of your skin, so that your skincare can penetrate deeper and work harder for you.

Professional grade peels are available in most salons, but there are also a whole host of amazing at-home products on the market now that, while gentler in dosage, will still achieve the desired stimulating and exfoliating effects (without any puce-faced perils).

Most at-home peels contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) such as glycolic or lactic acids or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) such as salicylic acid, which help to smooth the skin, unclog blocked pores and encourage cell turnover for an instantly smoother skin. They make fine lines and wrinkles appear less visible and also help to help fade pigmentation while brightening the skin.

In order to get some advice on when, which and how often we should be using an at-home peel, we spoke to Dr Howard Murad, M.D., Founder of Murad Skincare, who is renowned for his peels and was, in fact, the first person to use glycolic acid in skincare over 20 years ago.

As a board-certified dermatologist, trained pharmacist and Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, Dr. Murad has personally treated over 50,000 patients. In 1989, he founded Murad to share his ground-breaking skincare formulas and last month he added a second peel to his range, the Replenishing Multi Acid Peel. Unlike his Intensive-C Radiance Peel, which you are meant to use once or twice a week, this gentler liquid formulation can be used daily.

Replenishing Multi Acid Peel, £48, Murad

Read on for what to look for when buying an at-home peel

How often should you use an at-home peel?

We typically recommend using an at-home peel such, as the Intensive-C Radiance Peel, one-two times a week for best results, but with the new Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel, it’s gentle enough to be used every night. The product is bi-phase, it has the acids to resurface the skin in phase one, and soothing lipids and adaptogenic herbs to replenish the skin in phase two, delivering a gentle exfoliation and accelerating skin recovery

Are they for everyone?

Yes, everyone can use a peel, even if you have sensitive skin, as it’s a gentle exfoliation that allows the hydrating and soothing ingredients to be absorbed into the skin.

Which acids suit which skin types?

Glycolic Acid for Ageing Skin: The process of using glycolic acid to increase cell turnover reduces the appearance of wrinkles and contributes to fading age spots. The more hydrated your skin is, the less depth there will be to your lines and wrinkles. When glycolic acid is used in an anti-ageing product, it works to accelerate the movement of fuller, hydrated skin cells to the surface, replacing the drier skin. When used in combination with a skin brightening ingredient such as vitamin C, glycolic acid increases the speed at which the treated, lightened skin makes its way to the surface

Salicylic Acid for Blemish-Prone Skin: Blemishes may be most visible on the surface of the skin, but they actually form beneath the skin inside hair follicles. In order to treat and reduce breakouts and blemishes, you need to use blemish treatment products that will penetrate the skin. Clearing away the dead and dry skin on the surface allows salicylic acid to operate more effectively in clearing clogged pores, keeping oil at bay and preventing blemishes

For All Skin Types: Even if your skin concern isn’t breakouts or ageing, all skin types can benefit from a skin care regime that regularly includes using glycolic acid and other AHAs (like lactic acid) and BHAs (like salicylic acid) to remove the dull surface skin cells to reveal your most radiant skin

What else should I look for in an at-home peel product?

Looking at the formula as a whole is key, don’t just focus on a percentage of a specific acid for example. Percentage is not as important as many people may have been led to believe, the reality is that it is the combination of ingredients that make the impact.

Studies have shown that lower levels of acids combined with anti-inflammatories and hydrators offer the best results and longer-term benefits. This is because high percentages can often cause inflammation, peeling and irritation, compromising the moisture barrier which can lead to excessive dryness, and even hyperpigmentation.

Modern formulas with better delivery systems provide the ultimate results, so look for other ingredients combined with acids such as encapsulated hyaluronic acid, antioxidants and soothing ingredients such as pomegranate, liquorice root and niacinamide that help to calm skin and strengthen the barrier for better results without the downtime.

Can I use them when it’s sunny outside?

Yes, you can use acids when it’s sunny outside, but we always recommend you use an SPF daily, and this is especially important after using acids or having a peel, as you’ve essentially got rid of the dead layer of skin sitting on the surface revealing the smoother, newer cells underneath so it’s important to protect them from UV damage.

Is there a time of day that’s best to use a peel?

We tend to advise using a peel at night as this is when the skin carries out its repair processes. However, depending on your lifestyle, your regime can of course be adapted

Dr Murad’s Replenishing Multi Acid Peel (£48) is available now. Shop it here

What are the Best Glycolic Acid Skin Care Treatments?

Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum is a “powerful serum helps to improve brightness, clarity and radiance.”

Truth be told, I was using just about everything to get rid of sunspots, and I was at my wit’s end. And then I came across Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum. This serum has a super-high concentration of glycolic acid, plus a fair concentration of vitamin C as both tetrahexyldecyl absorbate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, plus vitamin C-reinforcing vitamin E, and a solid dose of ultra-brightening licorice extract (Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate).

For those of you who know I’m an L-ascorbic acid nut, let me tell you, I still used vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid in the morning when I introduced this product into my nightly routine (in lieu of retinol for a few months). But it is worth it to use other vitamin C derivatives as well, particularly when you’re using 15-20% L-ascorbic acid and still getting sunspots (like I was).

Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is a form of vitamin C that is oil-soluble. This powerful antioxidant can penetrate both the epidermis (the uppermost layer of skin) and dermis (the deepest layer of skin), whereas L-ascorbic acid appears to only penetrate the uppermost layer of the skin. This means some people speculate tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate may have superior brightening and lightening action, because skin cells are formed by fibroblasts located deep within the skin layers. Still others aren’t sure.

Sodium ascorbyl phosphate is a water-soluble form of L-ascorbic acid. According to a 2001 study in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics, sodium ascorbyl phosphate has greater long-term stability than other vitamin C derivative,s like ascorbyl palmitate, when each is used in similar concentrations. Unlike ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate is stable in water-in-oil emulsions and oil-in-water emulsions. I like it because it doesn’t break down in light, heat, and air.

After several weeks of using Murad Advanced Active Radiance Serum nightly, my sunspots were definitely lighter, and that’s saying something. I highly recommend this product as a treatment for improving the appearance of sunspots, uneven skin tone, and dull skin.

Ingredients in Murad 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)

Best Concentrated Glycolic Acid Product: Glytone Rejuvenating Lotion 20

Glytone Rejuvenating Lotion 20 says it contains a “20% Free Acid value to ensure maximum rejuvenating benefits as it moisturizes your skin.” What this means to most of us is that 20% glycolic acid is strong for an over-the-counter product, meaning that your skin will get the appearance of fewer fine lines and wrinkles, increased smoothness, and improved evenness of skin tone with regular use over time. Glytone Rejuvenating Lotion 20 made my skin feel quite a bit smoother the first time I used it. The initial use didn’t make my skin look as radiant as reviews I’d read promised, but I saw more changes with subsequent use.

Initially, there was a little tingling and warming when I applied it, but it went away after I washed the peel off. My skin was a little red for the rest of the night after I used it, but by the morning it was back to my normal coloring. Other than that, I had little irritation and my skin was noticeably smoother. I’ll admit, this isn’t a sunspot smasher like the Dr. Dennis Gross or Murad product, but it does get the job done against fine lines and wrinkles over time!

Ingredients in Glytone Rejuvenating Lotion 20

Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid, Ceteareth-6 Olivate, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycedrides, Isododecane, Dimethicone, Glycerin, Sodium Hydroxide, Silica, Polysorbate 20, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Polysilicone-11, Stearyl Alcohol, Citric Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Ceteareth-20, Hydrolyzed Corn Starch, Cellulose Gum, Propylene Glycol, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben.

Best Skin-Firming Glycolic Acid Treatment: Exuviance Glycolic Block

Like the Glytone product, Exuviance Glycolic Block appears to contain a high concentration of glycolic acid, which I similarly estimate to be in the 15-20% range. However, Exuviance Glycolic Block also contains a fairly high concentration of the amino acid arginine, which may help to speed the healing of skin cell damage and wounds (Wilderness and Environmental Damage, 2014; JPEN, 2014). It also contains butylene glycol and cetyl alcohol, to help speed the delivery of the ingredients into the skin. Overall, this is the best glycolic acid treatment for getting fast firming results for the skin.

Ingredients in Exuviance Glycolic Acid Block

Aqua (Water), Glycolic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Cetyl Alcohol, Ammonium Hydroxide, Arginine, Octyldodecyl Neopentanoate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, PEG-100 Stearate, Acetyl Hydroxyproline, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Dimethicone, Tocopheryl (Vitamin E) Acetate, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Extract, Sambucus Nigra Flower Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Sorbitan Stearate, PEG-40 Stearate, Propylene Glycol, Ethylhexyl Hydroxystearate, Xanthan Gum, PEG-75 Stearate, Disodium EDTA, Ceteth-20, Steareth-20, Polysorbate 20, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

Best (Mostly) Natural Glycolic Acid Treatment: Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum is a fantastic product from a brand that manages to be both fantastically on-trend and scientifically on-point with its ingredients and delivery systems.

This is a fantastic product I can only surmise from the ingredients list to be somewhere around 60-70% natural, for those of you who care about that sort of thing. (I, for one, do not think natural means better.) I have not talked to the company, so I cannot be sure exactly how many of the ingredients in Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum are natural. At any rate, it’s hard to find a product with natural extracts that contains 10% glycolic acid, and this serum has it.

Despite the fact that horse chestnut and bearberry will not lighten your sunspots as well as, say, 4% hydroquinone or 10% glycolic acid (the latter of which is in this product), I do like the ingredients amongst natural extracts. Horse chestnut seed extract has been shown to have a high scavenging ability and cell-protective effects. Additionally, it contains saponins that are potentially anti-inflammatory (International Journal of Cosmetic Science).

Horse chestnut extract can also reduce capillary fragility. By preventing the leakage of fluids, stops inflammation in the area (International Journal of Cosmetic Science). A review of five clinical studies show that its use as both a topical gel and an oral capsule have been proven safe and effective in subjects for the treatment of venous insufficiency, a condition where veins have difficulties transporting blood back to the heart (Advances in Therapy). This anti-inflammatory action could help to soothe the face, making it appear younger and more vibrant.

As for bearberry, a 2008 study found that bearberry lightened hyperpigmentation up to 70 percent, whereas the industry standard hydroquinone was effective in 78 percent of cases. However, due to incessant reports of irritation from hydroquinone use, as well as possible ochronosis development, bearberry holds a great deal of promise for those with sensitive or darker skin. In addition, bearberry has also been found to have antibacterial and antioxidant activity.

So while this isn’t my favorite glycolic acid treatment overall, it is one of the best glycolic acid treatments out there, because it does work.

Ingredients in Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

Water, Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Butylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Arctostaphylos Uva-Ursi Leaf Extract, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Fruit Extract, Buddleja Davidii Meristem Cell Culture, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (Yeast) Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Juice Extract, Opuntia Ficus-Indica (Cactus) Extract, Sclerocarya Birrea (Marula) Seed Oil, Allantoin, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Propanediol, Xanthan Gum, Galactoarabinan, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Disodium EDTA, Hexylene Glycol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjustor), Phenoxyethanol.