Murad vs Proactiv – Review by EBONY STARKS, Virginia


Murad vs Proactiv

It’s strange how our healthcare system works. Most doctors would prescribe a battery of drugs without batting an eyelid, no matter how toxic they are, to counter some health problems without realizing how far-fetched the impact of these can be.

I am 21. And I feel none less than a guinea pig.

I have been put on 5 antibiotics, 2 different contraceptives, 6 different creams, 2 gels and 3 steroid creams to no effect.

My bête noire? Acne!

For the past 6 years, I have fought tooth and nail against the stubbornest case of acne that has left me an emotional mess with dented confidence and a damaged body.

• Dry skin
• Hypersensitivity to sun exposure
• Hair loss
• Parched lips
• Depression

There are very few side effects of the so-called famed acne medications that I have not experienced and I feel that I will continue to bear the brunt of these in the years to come.

Don’t get me wrong here. The dermatologist did give me a 40-page booklet asking me to go through it to understand what I’d be up against. But when you are 15 and desperate to clear the stubborn pimples off your face, reading a 40-page booklet with arcane medical terms is ruled out.

To cut the story short, a year back, I decided to stop all of the toxic medications that were making me feel and look like shit.

I stopped cold turkey. I got the usual bull from my derm. You can’t go the OTC route, that’s a lot of trial and error, Yada Yada! But I was fed up with the horrible side effects and couldn’t bear it for another day.

And I set out to find best acne treatments that were easier on the system and wouldn’t mess with the hormonal and endocrine systems of the body.

Right off the bat, I found 2 OTC acne products to be the most promising, Murad and Proactiv.

The reason I chose these over other equally popular brands like Dermalogica for example, is because there were hundreds of acne sufferers like me who had similar horror stories to tell about using toxic medications. The same age group and same side effects.

Many of these people had chosen one of these 2 products and found relief with it.

I tried Proactiv first. Here’s my experience with it.



I have seen the TV spots for Proactive since I was in my fourth grade. They do aggressively market their product line, don’t they? Katty Perry of all people!

So, after a whirlwind consultation with someone on their website, they asked me to go for their most advanced product line, the Proactive MD which essentially uses the same ingredients as their older products, but contains a few breakthrough ingredients that are as close to RX as it can get.

The lady seemed to harp on the term, ‘Adapalene’, which is basically a 3rd generation retinoid. I have had my share of retinoids for a while now. So, I was initially a tad skeptical. But was sold at the sales talk which spoke about the millions of satisfied users and the multi-pronged approach which was pioneered by Proactiv.

I was given the Deep Cleansing Face Wash, a Balancing Toner, a Daily Oil Control Moisturizer for everyday use with an SPF 30 and the 0.1% Adapalene Gel.

Deep Cleansing Face Wash – Mild face wash with exfoliating beads that caused some degree of redness on the skin. I felt it to be too abrasive for hypersensitive skin like mine.

Balancing Toner – This was the best of the lot. It didn’t irritate the skin one bit. Instead, the skin felt refreshed after using it.

Daily Oil Control Moisturizer – It was too heavy despite being an oil control solution. Left a thick greasy residue as well on the skin.

Adapalene Gel 0.1% – Coming to the star of the show, the topical retinoid cream, it didn’t work for me. Thankfully, good sense prevailed and I did a patch test before applying it on my face and the patch got severely dried and flaky. I dread to think of what would have happened had I applied it to my face without testing it out.

Overall, my experience with Proactiv was not great at all. It did nothing to help curb the breakouts. Instead, it did cause a fair amount of discomfort.

It was then that I tried Dr. Murad’s skin care range.



A lot of people tried to convince me against using Dr. Murad’s Acne Treatment. The most common argument was that it was all marketing humbug and not really a good acne product. But I personally feel that Proactiv is more aggressively marketed than Murad.

Also, the consultation on their website was a lot better than the hard sell that happened on the Proactiv website.

So, I was put on a 3-month plan and warned beforehand that the acne could worsen before it started to get better. That wasn’t a great motivator to be honest. But at least, they didn’t mince their words.

Clarifying Cleanser: The first product from Murad that I used was the Clarifying Cleanser for everyday use. This is a medicated formula that contains 1% Salicylic acid along with Green Tea Extracts. It has a very fresh herbal aroma that I attribute to the essential oils in it. It also has a very light texture and doesn’t make your skin dry. Instead, it gently flushes out the impurities on the skin. Excellent cleanser!

Acne Clearing Solution: After using the Cleanser, I was asked to use the Acne Clearing Solution. Once again, the primary ingredient in Salicylic acid along with Lavender and Tea Tree Oils. A very similar lightweight gel-styled solution that helps to reduce the redness and pain caused by acne. Also helps to prevent future breakouts. One thing that I have come to realize is that Dr. Murad’s skin care range relies heavily on Salicylic acid. So far, it has worked great.

Skin Perfecting Lotion: Last but not the least, I used their Skin Perfecting Lotion which is a fancier name for an emollient. The lotion is perfect for acne prone skin. It has a soothing effect and is non-greasy in texture. It contains a whole bunch of herbal ingredients along with Butylene Glycol, which I believe is the primary emollient.

Within just 3 weeks of using Dr. Murad’s acne treatment products, I noticed a great improvement in the painful blisters. The redness and itchiness had reduced considerably while there were no new breakouts.

Most importantly, my skin did not purge as a lot of people had warned me that it would. In fact, even the folks at Dr. Murad had warned me of worsening symptoms before it would improve. Thankfully, it seems to have agreed with my system.

That folks, is my story. I am on month 3 of Dr. Murad’s acne treatment right now and there have been no new breakouts. I am going to discontinue treatment for a while to see if I need to be continually on the products or I can take breaks from them.

Will update the details here soon!


EBONY STARKS, 21, Herndon, Virginia