This Serum Saved My Skin After Overdoing It On The Actives

One of the perks of my job is how many new beauty products I get to try. One of the hazards of my job is how many new beauty products I get to try — that simply don't work for my skin. I'm a recent victim of overdoing it on a product containing actives that left my skin red, inflamed and covered in tiny pimples that, try as I might, just wouldn't heal.
All signs pointed to a damaged skin barrier, which often manifests in flakiness, dryness, redness and tiny pimples. As Dr Zena Willsmore previously told Refinery29, you can compromise your skin barrier by overdoing exfoliating acids or actives, or even by washing your face too harshly.
"People end up using a vitamin C, a vitamin A, an azelaic acid and a glycolic acid all in the same sitting and then before you know it, you’ve got very sore skin indeed," said Dr Willsmore. "If you take off too many cells, if you dehydrate the skin and if you disrupt the skin's pH, all of these things disrupt its normal function and disrupt the normal invisible shedding of dead skin that we all do every day."
So when I heard about the new Murad Cellular Hydration Repair Trio (a serum, a moisturiser and an overnight sleeping mask) which have been specifically designed to repair a damaged skin barrier, I was intrigued. TikToker Alix Earle has recently claimed that it was "life-changing", but I'm always cautious of any hyperbolic claims as my easily sensitised skin doesn't respond easily to quick fixes.

What is the Murad Cellular Hydration Barrier Repair Serum?

The Cellular Hydration Barrier Repair Serum is the latest addition to Murad's skincare line, and took the team two years to formulate. The concentrated serum is specifically designed to support your skin barrier at the cellular level, and claims to strengthen it within 30 minutes. It contains biomimetic Hexapeptide-9 (a type of peptide that purports to replicate the peptides your skin naturally produces to heal itself) along with hyaluronic acid and bilberry seed oil, the latter of which is rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Murad Cellular Hydration Repair Serum Review

I used the serum daily, which was lightweight and easily absorbed into my skin. I followed it up with an unscented moisturiser (I'm currently using the Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream, $117) and a sunscreen during the day. I started noticing a difference overnight, and each subsequent day, my skin looked and felt less irritated. Within a week, my skin was almost back to normal.
The major con of this serum is that it smells like what I imagine the River Styx in Hades would smell like. The smell is strong — and I can't lie, it's also funky with a capital F. I checked in to see if I just had a bad product, but the team said they were aware of the "strong smell". Having said that, I can honestly get past the smell (which does dissipate fairly quickly, especially once you've applied moisturiser on top) if the results are this good.
Day 1: Angry and red with red spots
Day 2 - Still red but less spotty already
Day 7: far less red, spots are almost gone

The verdict

Two weeks in, I can safely say that the Murad Cellular Hydration Repair Serum has done wonders for my skin. It took a day for my skin to look and feel better, and about a week for the worst effects to disappear. All in all, it took about 10 days for my skin to go back to normal.
Is it expensive? Yes. But does it work? Also yes. In my view, the investment is justified, as few products have managed to heal my skin in such a short time, and a little goes a long way. If, like me, you have sensitive skin that is sore and in need of some TLC, I'd say this serum is well worth trying — and keeping in your skincare arsenal for barrier repair emergencies.
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