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For the myriad of skin issues one can face between adolescence and adulthood, there are just as many treatments that have developed over the past few decades. While the drug store aisles offer various types of cleansers, moisturizers, and spot treatments, sometimes the answer to your skin woes may be found in one place (or set, in this case).

Murad’s Acne Control 30-Day Trial Kit and Proactiv’s Solution 3-Piece System are multi-product skincare systems created to address acne in varying types of severity. What’s more is that you don’t even have to make a trip to the drug store for these—they can be delivered right to your door by subscription if you so choose.

Given that all acne treatment systems aren’t created equal, though, let’s breakdown the deets for both sets.

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Proactiv vs Murad

Comparison

Firstly, we’d like to note that Murad’s kit is best for those with oily or combination skin, and Proactiv’s original set is suitable for all skin types. Moreover, their means of treating acne and maintaining clear skin are also quite different.

The classic Proactiv system includes three products: a cleanser, toner, and treatment cream. The MVP ingredient of this trio can be found in the treatment cream and cleanser: Benzoyl Peroxide, an antiseptic that serves to reduce the number of harmful, acne-causing bacteria on the skin’s surface. However, we’d be remiss to not give a nod to the toner’s combo of glycolic acid, witch hazel leaf extract, and aloe. This mighty solution aids with exfoliation while remaining gentle and hydrating. Together, this acne fighting trifecta aims to tame your blemishes without drying the skin out.

Although Murad gives a full list of ingredients to each of the four items in their kit, they don’t highlight any star players (editorially speaking). So, we went through the ingredient list for each to see if we could identify any familiar faces. It seems that the main ingredient for the Clarifying Cleanser, InvisiScar Resurfacing Treatment, and Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment is Salicylic Acid, a widely used exfoliant that also helps to diminish redness and swelling. As for the Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45++++, it contains four active chemical sunscreen ingredients as well as a host of your favorite skincare superstars from Hyaluronic Acid to Trehalose. (Also, in our search, we were delighted to discover that all four items are formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, gluten, animal-derived ingredients, or mineral oil.) This foursome will not only help to clear your acne, but also heal any post-acne dark marks and scarring.

Proactiv’s system has earned it a 4-star rating on their website, with 169 reviews. Murad’s kit has a 4.6-star rating, but with considerably fewer reviews at just 28. As far as cost goes, Proactiv costs $30.60 for a month’s worth (and $95.20 for a 90-day supply) and Murad’s kit is $36 for its 30-day supply.

Further, we’d like to point out that the sizes of each bottle are something to take note of. That is, Proactiv’s cleanser and toner come in 2oz bottles, and the repair treatment (which is to be used more sparingly) is 1oz. Murad’s cleanser is also 2oz, but the SPF bottle is .8oz, while the spot treatment is .25oz and the resurfacing treatment is .17oz. If you’re looking for this kit, but larger sizes, unfortunately Murad doesn’t yet seem to have one. Evidently, this trial kit is designed for customers to see if all the products work for them as a system, then they can buy each bottle individually. For future reference, the cleanser is $34 for a 6.75oz bottle; the Acne Control Oil and Pore Control Mattifier Broad Spectrum SPF 45++++ is $48 for a 1.7oz bottle; the Rapid Relief Acne Spot Treatment is $25 for a .5oz bottle; and the InvisiScar Treatment comes in two sizes: .5oz for $36 and 1oz for $53. If buying each bottle individually isn’t an option for you, Murad offers another kit that’s like the acne control trial kit—the 30-day InvisiScar Kit—which has larger sized bottles and is only $35.

Conclusion

Proactiv’s site doesn’t appear to publicly state that they are cruelty-free, vegan, or sustainable. This may be surprising to some, as they were founded almost three decades ago. In that time, they’ve gained numerous competitors that have been able to achieve all three—or at least one of the three—while delivering successful results. Tsk tsk.

Conversely, 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.

Admittedly, this comparison feels like a bit of a tossup as the pros and cons are about equal. Perhaps it’s worth reiterating that Murad’s kit is best for only oily and combination skin, so that presumably rules out folks with dry and normal skin types. On the other hand, Proactiv’s set doesn’t come with SPF like Murad’s, which is essential for those who use benzoyl peroxide solutions, day, or night. But Proactiv does offer a 90-day supply, which is great for those who need it more long-term. And in terms of business ethics, it appears that Murad takes the cake.

For some, though, it may simply come down to ingredients. Maybe benzoyl peroxide doesn’t jive with your skin, or salicylic acid isn’t strong enough for your dermatological issues. Either way, both brands have been held to high regard long enough to assume that your time, patience, and money will likely be well-spent.

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