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.
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.
Another study by the National University of Singapore tested sheet masks with combinations of vitamin C, vitamin A, collagen, and gold nanoparticles; they found that sheet masks with both vitamin C AND gold nanoparticles actually resulted in less absorption than vitamin C alone, which may have been due to the low concentration of gold in their formulation (source: Novel Vitamin and Gold-Loaded Nanofiber Facial Mask for Topical Delivery, 2010)
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.
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! ⭐)
Tom is the founder and editor of TheDermDetective.com 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.