Murad vs Paula's Choice (The Definitive Guide)

By Calum Torrington

13 February 2023

Are you someone who’s trying to keep acne at bay, treat the dark spots they leave behind, and fend off the forces of aging? Yeah, us too.

It can take years to find the right products to do all the above, but thankfully some brands have all you need. That’s why today we’ll be comparing the efficacy of Murad’s Deep Relief Acne Treatment, Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum, and Retinol Youth Renewal Serum to Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant, C15 Super Booster, and Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment.

Read on to see which trio takes the cake.


Paula's Choice


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Murad vs Paula's Choice


Murad’s Deep Relief Acne Treatment is created with a plant-derived phytosteroid, amino acid technology, and maximum strength 2% salicylic acid to treat deep, painful acne and prevent future blemishes.

Next, the Vita-C serum is complemented by the addition of glycolic acid and phyto-luminescent extract, which gently exfoliate and offer sun protection (in addition to SPF, of course). Such ingredients also mean better efficacy and potency to reverse signs of aging and hyperpigmentation for more radiant skin.

Their Retinol Youth Renewal Serum is made with three retinol technologies, Swertia flower extract, and hyaluronic acid to visibly diminish the appearance of fine lines or wrinkles in just two weeks.

88 reviews later, Murad’s acne treatment has a 4.8-star rating; the Vita-C formula has 341 reviews and a 4.9-star rating; and the retinol has 766 reviews and a 4.8-star rating.

Paula's Choice

A product that’s reached cult status—the 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant—is Paula’s Choice’s #1 favorite item worldwide, and for good reason. This solution contains salicylic acid and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) to gently unclog pores and shed built-up layers of dead skin while also minimizing enlarged pores. It’s even won 14 beauty awards from publications like Harper’s Bazaar, allure, and Cosmopolitan.

Moreover, their C15 Super Booster Vitamin C serum is designed to brighten uneven skin and lessen the severity of fine lines and wrinkles with 15% pure Vitamin C.

Lastly, the 1% Retinol Treatment is a potent, controlled-release potion that hydrates the dermis and provides anti-aging benefits.

The exfoliant has 4,139 reviews and has earned 4.1 stars; the Vitamin C serum has 1,143 reviews and 3.6 stars; and the retinol has 691 reviews and 4.2 stars.


Now, let’s talk cost. For 1oz of Murad’s acne treatment, it’s $45 for 1oz; the Vita-C serum is $88 for 1oz, and the retinol is $92 for 1oz. Paula’s Choice’s exfoliant is $34 for 4oz; the Vitamin C is $55 for .67oz; and the retinol treatment is $62 for 1oz.

It appears Murad has much better ratings across the board compared to Paula’s Choice. However, Paula’s Choice is cheaper. So, before we urge you to splurge on Murad, let’s reflect on each brand’s business ethics.

Murad is PETA-approved as cruelty-free, but not all its products are vegan. As far as their commitment to sustainability, Ethical Elephant reported that a representative from Murad claims the company is “dedicated to ethically sourced, sustainable ingredients.”

(Note: This statement comes after questions were raised around whether the company used child labor to source mica, a mineral that adds a shimmery effect to cosmetics. Murad did not directly address where or how they obtain their mica, nor did they specify how they audit or trace it.)

Murad has also partnered with TerraCycle, which allows customers to ship back their empty bottles (free of charge) where they’ll then be made into flooring tiles, storage bins, outdoor furniture, and more.

According to their site, Paula’s choice has never tested on animals and never will. Even better, they’re part of the Leaping Bunny Program, which means they’re certified cruelty-free. They also support a plethora of charities that focus on animal welfare, such as Human Society, ASPCA, and NAVS.

Moreover, they are not a 100% vegan company, but most of their products are vegan. Sustainability-wise, their largest goal is to have net zero emissions by 2030. In the meantime, they, too, have parented with TerraCycle in addition to Tree-Nation and Cloverly in an effort to offset the carbon emissions from employee air travel and transport of products, respectively.

It's wonderful that both brands are cruelty-free, but Paula’s Choice seems to be slightly ahead when it comes to sustainability (and there aren’t any questions around whether they ethically source their ingredients). But, if Murad still delivers better results, we’re willing to spend a bit more to achieve just that!

Find the best Paula's Choice prices on Amazon

Find the best Murad prices on Amazon

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