Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum Review

written by: Tom Qiao
last update: January 12, 2023

Today, I'm going to discuss the new Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum.

This product combines Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid to help brighten your dark spots.

So does this product live up to its claims? Let’s find out. ⭐


Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum

Founded by Dr. Howard Murad in 1989, Murad is known for its bestselling 2% hydroquinone product, the Rapid Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Serum. This product uses the highest level of hydroquinone available over-the-counter (i.e. without a prescription) to help brighten dark spots.


However, there is some concern regarding the safety of hydroquinone. ⚠️

In 2006, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) proposed to ban 2% hydroquinone products over: i) animal studies that showed "some evidence" of carcinogenicity (i.e. cancer), and ii) rare reports of a skin darkening condition called exogenous ochronosis (source: The Federal Register, 2006)

While the FDA has not finalized its proposed decision on hydroquinone, many consumers have already switched to non-hydroquinone alternatives like vitamin C, niacinamide, and beta arbutin.

To keep up with the changing times, Murad has released its own hydroquinone-free skin brightener, the Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum with Gold-Stabilized Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid.

This new product is designed to brighten dull skin and rejuvenate aging skin by combining the antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties of pure vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) with the exfoliation and cell turnover properties of glycolic acid.

Moreover, Murad claims it's the "first-to-market" with a Gold-Stabilized Vitamin C product line (including the Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum and Vita-C Eyes Dark Circle Corrector). However, other brands offer gold-based products as well like the Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold collection.

Gold, in this context, doesn't mean gold in the traditional sense, but microscopic gold nanoparticles that are used to increase the absorption of a product's active ingredients by target skin cells (source: Role of Nanotechnology in Cosmeceuticals: A Review of Recent Advances, 2018).

Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum Ad
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Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum Review 3

Research into gold nanoparticles (also called colloidal gold) is still relatively new but there is some early evidence to support its use in skincare formulations:

Overall, gold nanoparticles are a new and potentially promising addition to vitamin C serums.

Plus, when else do you get to put gold on your face?

The Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum also uses a dual-chamber dispenser system that protects the vitamin C in an airless inner chamber while other ingredients are held in the outer chamber.

Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum Ad 2
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Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum Review 4

In terms of user feedback, most customers had generally good impressions of this product:

  • Many said it absorbed very quickly and remained lightweight throughout the day
  • Some said it helped clear up acne scars and brighten uneven skin tone
  • Some said it made their skin look healthier and more radiant after 3-4 weeks
  • Others also said it made their skin feel softer and smoother with regular use

On the other hand, the more critical feedback included:

  • It did not improve skin tone or skin texture as advertised
  • One person noted the packaging was wasteful (but saw good results from the product)
  • In a few cases, there were complaints about skin reactions (given the very long ingredient list, I'm actually surprised there weren't as many complaints as this is a common problem)
  • The concentrations of L-ascorbic acid and glycolic acid are not disclosed

My Verdict: The Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum is a promising hydroquinone-free successor to Murad's bestselling Rapid Age Spot & Pigment Lightening Serum. It features L-ascorbic acid and glycolic acid for powerful skin brightening results while gold nanoparticles help stabilize and enhance the overall formula (so skip the 24K gold and get this instead! ⭐)

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Article written by Tom Qiao
Tom is the founder and editor of where he applies his decades of personal experience with skincare problems like acne and acne scarring to provide readers with practical advice and product recommendations.

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