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Obagi Nu Derm Reviews – Should you use this 6 Step System?

Is the Obagi nu derm system really as good as everybody says?

If you didn’t already know, the Obagi nu derm system is a high quality medical grade skin care system designed to completely transform your skin – but does it live up to the height?

In this Obagu nu derm review I will walk you through each step to help determine IF you should use this system and how to tailor it specifically to your skin.

Let’s jump in: ​


The Obagi 6 Step Nu Derm System – How & Why it Works

​Does the Obagi nu derm system actually work?

The answer is a resounding YES.


Well for many reasons, but one of the more important reasons is because it is a medical grade skin care system.

That means it was designed by medical professions (Dermatologists) and it also means that it contains prescription strength and pharmaceutical quality ingredients.

Obagi nu derm 6 step system review

​This means you can’t get Obagi products at a convenience store or just anywhere. 

In order to get these products it needs to be supplied from someone who has a medical license like a plastic surgeon or a cosmetic dermatologist.

What you need to realize is that over the counter products (even if they contain the same type of ingredients) can’t contain the same amount or percentage that Obagi products do.

Take for instance Retinol.

Over the counter retinol (or retin-a) products, by law, can only contain a certain amount of retinol – which makes the product less effective.

Compare this to Obagi products which can contain pharmaceutical concentrations of the same ingredient.

What does this mean?

It means that your skin care products are high quality and WILL work better. ​

​The Obagi nu derm system was designed as a 6 step system to combat the aging process and to seriously revamp and renew your existing skin. 

It contains a​ combination of products meant to be layered on one another for maximum benefit. 

But just because it is a 6 step system doesn’t mean you necessarily need to use the ENTIRE system to get optimal results. 

It also doesn’t mean you can’t mix and match the best Obagi products with other high quality skin care products!

Let’s talk about each of the Obagi nu derm steps to help you determine which ones would be most beneficial for YOUR skin. 

​But first, some pros and cons about the Obagi nu derm 6 step system (what I like and don’t like about it): 


  • Contains very high quality ingredients at pharmaceutical strengths
  • Can be purchased as individual products to mix and match products for your skin
  • 2 separate systems designed to treat dry skin and oily skin
  • Has been tested on thousands of patients and has been shown to work
  • Has clinical studies to prove the effectiveness of the ingredients


  • Not everyone needs ALL 6 steps
  • Must be purchased from a medical professional which can increase price
  • Does not come with a Vitamin C serum or a Retinol containing product (which are essential to a complete skin care set)

The Obagi nu derm system isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely one of the better skin care lines available – and with the right knowledge you can create your own personal product line that will give you amazing results. 

Let’s go over the entire system product by product so you understand what each one does and how it works…​

​Step #1: Nu Derm Foaming Gel

The 6 step system starts with this foaming gel. 

The whole goal of the foaming gel is to act as a gentle cleanser for the skin.

A cleanser is a necessity for any skin care regimen because it is required to help exfoliate the skin and prepare the skin for the next steps. 

Exfoliation is necessary because as we age (especially women) the natural aging process of the skin makes it so that your skin cells do not slough off as easily as before.

This leads to “stacking” of dead skin cells in the stratus corneum (the superficial part of the epidermis) which makes your skin look dull.

Exfoliation helps bring brightness to the skin as you remove dead skin cells and also remove the barrier of skin cells to help your skin naturally absorb the next steps.

Remember that women over age 30 start to experience a reduction in their ability to exfoliate! ​

Overview of Nu Derm Foaming Gel

Why it works:

  • Contains aloe vera, amino acids, apricot kernel oil and panthenol (Vitamin B3) to help nourish the skin
  • Panthenol has been shown to increase skin integrity and reduce water loss throughout the day
  • Helps slough off dead skin cells to naturally exfoliate the higher epidermal layers
  • Improves absorption of the next steps by preparing the skin and opening pores
  • Can also be used to safely remove makeup
  • Can be used on sensitive skin

How to use it:

  • Use in the morning and night -> apply a small amount of the gel to your face
  • The foaming gel should be used for people who tend to have oily skin or who are more prone to developing acne (acneic skin). 
  • The gentle cleanser should be used for people with dry to normal skin or for those with very sensitive skin (those who react to skin care products). 
  • Both products are used for the same purpose: to cleanse the skin – but you should use the product designed for your complexion and oil product using the guide below. 

Obagi nu derm foaming gel

Use the foaming gel if you have oily skin or skin prone to developing acne. 

See other reviewsObagi nu derm gentle cleanser

Use the gentle cleanser if you have normal to dry skin. 

See other reviews

Step #2: Nu Derm Toner

The second step in this 6 step system is the Toner. 

Regardless of your skin type (dry or oily skin) ​you should be using SOME sort of product acting as a toner. 

What does the toner do for you?

It helps to restore normal pH levels to your skin and prepares your skin for the next step in the 6 step regimen.

It does this by opening your pores and restoring the acid mantle to your skin.

This mantle acts as a permeable barrier so that only certain nutrients can get in and so that moisture cannot escape. ​

It also helps remove dead skin cells so it acts as an exfoliator (though less than other steps). ​

Your toner should always be used after your cleanser!

Overview of Nu Derm Toner

Why it works:

  • Contains Witch hazel (astrigent), sage leaf extract, flower extracts, panthenol (Vitamin B3), aloe vera and hyaluronic acid
  • These ingredients help promote moisture (one of the downsides to harsh toners is that they promote dryness and can create flaking) while still restoring normal pH balance to the epidermal layers of the skin
  • Witch hazel acts as an anti-inflammatory agent which protects against cellular damage
  • Ingredients help to open your pores up and increase absorption of nutrients in the other products to follow

How to use it:

  • Your toner should ALWAYS be used after your cleanse (to restore pH balance)
  • If you choose to use the cleanser twice per day then you should use the toner twice per day (immediately after cleansing)
  • Sensitive patients should only cleanse and tone once per day (usually in the evening)
  • Toner should be used regardless of skin type (oily skin, normal skin, combination skin, hyperpigmented skin and mature skin)

Obagi nu derm tonerSee other reviews

Step #3: Nu Derm Clear Fx

​The third step in this 6 step system is the Nu Derm clear Fx. 

The nu derm clear fx has some very special benefits that are worth mentioning here. 

First it contains a special ingredient (arbutin) which acts as a skin lightening agent. 

This is really important because it can help reduce the appearance of freckles, skin changes from sun damage (sun spots), age spots and skin hyperpigmentation syndromes like melasma. 

It helps to naturally restore an even skin tone to your entire face and neck area, which makes your skin look blended, younger and smooth. 

​Another important aspect worth mentioning is that this formula can be used on the chest (for sun spots) or even on the back of your hands (for age spots). 

Arbutin is a more gentle version to the more harsh hydroquinone (which is a prescription strength skin bleaching agent). 

Arbutin helps to naturally reduce pigmentation in the melanin in the basal layers of your skin. 

 ​The obagi nu derm contains 7% arbutin. 

But note, if you have serious skin hyperpigmentation issues then you may need to use hydroquinone for best results (though this is usually not necessary). ​

Overview of Nu Derm Clear Fx

Why it works:

  • Contains Arbutin (natural skin lightening agent), Vitamin C (read more about the amazing benefits of Vitamin C here), Antioxidants (to fight free radicals and prevent skin damage long term) and Vitamin E (promoting proper skin barrier function)
  • Arbutin prevents melanin production and therefore reduces pigment in the skin, Vitamin C helps to reduce hyperpigmentation and inflammation while vitamin E nourishes the skin. 
  • Special consideration should be given to this formula especially if you have mature skin (those who are more prone to developing sun spots, aging spots and other hyperpigmentation issues)

How to use it:

  • Should be used in the am and pm and should be used AFTER cleansing and toning -> using a toner will help increase absorption of Vitamin C + Vitamin E + the antioxidants in this formulation. 
  • Can be used if you have dry skin, oily skin, acneic skin, mature skin or sensitive skin
  • *Note: Does contain sulfities so if you have a sulfite allergy you should NOT use this product. 

Obagi nu derm clearSee other reviews

Step #4: Nu Derm Exfoderm Forte

The exfoderm system is a combination of a moisturizing lotion which simultaneously acts as an exfoliator. 

​There are actually 2 different products, so don’t let that confuse you. 

The exfoderm forte is desginged specifically for those with oily skin – which means that this moisturizer is much lighter.

The exfoderm is designed for those with dry to normal skin – you should use this product basically if you have any skin type that is NOT oily.

This particular product is designed to help shed excess dead skin cells and promote regeneration of newer skin cells in the basal membrane of the epidermis.

The natural exfoliating process promotes brighter and healthier skin.

This is obviously important because as you age your ability to exfoliate diminishes greatly – which means you have more dead skin cells that just don’t want to be exfoliated.

But because there are already other steps designed to exfoliate your skin cells in the system, this particular step may be not necessary unless you have mature skin (meaning you have early signs of aging or your are post menopausal). 

Overview of Nu Derm Exfoderm & Exfoderm Forte

Why it works:

  • Contains alpha hydroxy acids (to promote skin regeneration and turnover), glycolic acid (to promote exfoliation), lactic acids (removes dead skin cells) and caprylic triglycerides (to gently moisturize). 
  • The combination of lactic and glycolic acid makes this moisturizer act more like a cleanser than a true moisturizer, but this extra step may be very beneficial for older more mature skin. 

How to use it:

  • Should be used in the AM (not the PM) and after cleansing, toning and the application of the Clear FX. 
  • This product adds another layer of complexity to the Obagi system but may not be necessary for every person
  • This product comes in two forms: Exfoderm Forte and Exfoderm -> the exfoderm forte is designed for people who have oily skin, whereas the exfoderm should be used for those with normal to dry skin types

Obagi nu derm exfoderm forte

Use exfoderm forte if you have oily or acneic skin at baseline. 

See other reviewsobagi nu derm exfoderm

Use this exfoderm if you have normal to dry skin at baseline. 

See other reviews

Step #5: Nu Derm Blend Fx

Step 5 of the Obagi nu derm system is the Nu Derm Blend Fx and it might be one of my more favorite products in this line up. 


Because it’s a skin lightening agent but it’s designed to be blended ​together with Obagi retinol products for a huge boost to skin quality and texture. 

The only downside to this system is that it does NOT come with the retinol product (which means you need to purchase it separately).

The blender is literally meant to be blended with the retinol product.

obagi retinol review side by side

That means you take a small amount of the Blend fx in your hand, and mix it with another small amount of the Obagi retinol product and rub them together.

You then place THAT mixture on your face in the evening. ​

​The two vitamins and nutrients (Arbutin plus retinol) have synergistic properties that helps smooth out your skin, even skin tones, reduce fine lines and wrinkles and help naturally brighten your skin. 

I have gone over an in depth review of Obagi retinol products that you can read more about here (remember this is intended to be used WITH the blend fx). ​

As you may have noticed both the Obagi clear fx and the obagi blend fx have similar ingredients.

This means not EVERYONE will need BOTH of these products (in fact I will go over who should use both and who shouldn’t below): ​

Overview of Nu Derm Blend Fx

Why it works:

  • Ingredients include: Arbutin (designed to naturally help brighten your skin), Lactic acid (to help exfoliate and improve skin texture and pore size), Vitamin C & Vitamin E (to help act as anti-oxidants and further improve skin texture)
  • This combination helps to naturally brighten your skin while helping to exfoliate the epidermal layer of the skin and provide defense against oxidation and sun damage. 
  • Intended to be “blended” and mixed together with Obagi retinol which will dramatically reduce the signs of aging and improve your skin (Obagi Retinol products do NOT come in the nu derm system and must be purchased separately)

How to use it:

  • The blender should be used in the PM only – this will enhance results and improve absorption (Retinol products should be used in the pm)
  • Combine a small amount of blender with Obagi retinol and mix both creams in your hand before applying to your face and neck -> you can also apply the mixture to the back of your hands and upper chest area (anywhere with age spots). 
  • *Note: Not everyone will need BOTH the clear fx and the blend fx as they both have Arbutin (skin brightening agent). You may benefit from using both of these if you have severe hyperpigmentation issues or difficult to treat melasma, age spots or sun damage. 

Obagi nu derm blend fxSee other reviews

Step #6​: Nu Derm Hydrate

The final step in the 6 step process is the moisturizing step. 

Unlike the previous moisturizer (which acts more as an exfolitator) this moisturizuer does exactly what it is supposed to do: help maintain normal skin barrier and hydrate the skin. ​

​One of the main benefits to using Obagi hydrate is that it contains a special ingredient known as hydromanil. 

Hydromanil has been clinically shown to maintain hydration in the skin by creating a barrier which prevents moisture from escaping.

What’s more impressive is that this hydration lasts for up to 8 hours (which is a long time as far as moisturizers go). ​

Hydromanil in obagi hydrate

Hydromanil also helps to create a “plumpness” to the skin which is why the Obagi line is so effective for anti-aging. ​

Overview of Nu Derm Hydrate

Why it works:

  • Contains ingredients including: Hydromanil (designed to reduce water loss through the skin), Shea, Avocado and Mango butter (designed to both cleanse and moisturize the skin)

How to use it:

  • Designed to be used in the AM and the PM -> should be the last “layer” of your system
  • Can be used for oily skin, dry skin, combination skin and acneic skin
  • If you have oily skin then only use once per day (or reduce the total amount you use)

Obagi nu derm hydrateSee other reviews

Do you need the complete set for optimal results?

Now that we’ve gone over each step of this 6 step system the next question we need to answer is this:

Do you actually need to you ALL of the 6 steps?

In my opinion you don’t necessarily have to unless your PRIMARY goal is to reduce the aging process and make your skin look 5-10 years younger OR if you suffer from hyperpigmentation syndromes. 

If this is your mail goal then YES, you should use this entire system.


Because it was designed with this purpose in mind.

But what if you are in your 20’s or 30’s and you just want better looking skin?

What then?

For those women who are younger and aren’t AS concerned about the aging process then you can mix and match products to make the perfect set for you.

I recommend (and personally use) a system that looks something like this:

This combination helps you cut out several steps in the system that are designed to further enhance and lighten the skin. 

Who should use the Obagi Nu Derm system

If you aren’t sure if you should use this system (either the entire system or piece together your own regimen) then use these guidelines to help. 

If you suffer from ANY of the following issues then a trial of the Obagi nu derm system would be a good idea: ​

  • You have tried other facial products (usually cheaper products) that didn’t work or help your skin in any noticeable way. 
  • You suffer from mild to moderate acne and traditional over the counter facial products aren’t working. 
  • You’ve noticed the beginning stages of aging (wrinkles around the eyes or around your lips) and you want to get a HEAD start at reversing those signs. 
  • You have MATURE skin and you are serious about taking care of your skin from here on out. 
  • You are in your 40’s to 50’s and you want to look 5-10 years younger (I can’t think of any better product system than this one for anti aging purposes).
  • You suffer from uneven skin tones or hyperpigmentation syndromes like melasma. 

​Obagi Nu Derm Before & After Pictures

Does the Obagi nu derm system actually work?

The answer is definitely, as you can see from the images below. ​

Obagi nu derm system before and after picturesObagi nu derm system before and after with retinol

It’s worth pointing out that these before and after pictures were taken with the Nu derm system but in combination with Obagi retinol. 

Remember that the nu derm system doesn’t include the Retinol products as baseline, which means that you will have to add this to your regimen.

I have to say that the addition of this product is essential if you are serious about your results.

If you don’t want to purchase the entire system then you can go back up to the previous section and see my abbreviated version. ​

How to get Obagi Skin care products online safely

​One of the big issues with getting Obagi products is that there are (used to be) a lot of fake and counterfeit products on the internet. 

The cheaper prices lead people to purchase low quality knock offs that didn’t contain the REAL obagi ingredients.

This lead obviously to a lot of distrust from online purchasing which left people to get their products from medical professionals if they wanted to get the real deal.

All you need to do is make sure you see either “Professional Beauty” or “Luxury Beauty” underneath the price tag to know you are getting the real deal.

​Of course, all of the products listed in this guide ARE high quality AND the heal deal. 

Obagi Nu derm vs Obagi 360

​Obagi also has a starter pack known as the Obagi 360 system

obagi 360 3 step system

This system is like a watered down Obagi nu derm system which contains only 3 products:

  • Exfoliating cleanser
  • High quality retinol product
  • And Hydrating moisturizer

​The Obagi 360 system does NOT include the blender (to brighten the skin), Vitamin C serum or a Toner (which I consider to be an integral part of any complete skin care system). 

​Having said that the Obagi 360 system may be beneficial for certain people. 

Who should try the Obagi 360 system over the Obagi nu derm system?

If you have NEVER used Obagi products before and are a little bit nervous about spending a lot of money on high quality products then purchasing this mini system may be the best FIRST step for you.

That way you can dip your toes in the water to try out their products before purchasing the bigger more comprehensive package.

I have to say that your results will be limited if you use the Obagi 360 system but you should definitely still see some improvement.

​After you’ve tried the 360 system you can then move to the Nu derm system (based on your needs). 

Back to you

​The bottom line?

The Obagi nu derm system is a 6 step comprehensive system that is designed to completely change and revamp your skin.

Each step is designed with a specific purpose ranging from exfoliating dead epidermal skin cells, maintaining the acid mantle, whitening and brightening your skin to reducing the aging process by 5-10 years.

Having said that the complete Obagi nu derm system isn’t necessarily for every person.

People who do the best on the entire system include those who are serious about anti-aging therapies and those with hyperpigmentation syndromes.

If you don’t fall into those categories then you can mix and match the Obagi system to compliment your skin perfectly!

Now it’s your turn:

Have you used the Obagi nu derm system before?

Did it work for you?

Why or why not?

Leave your comments below!​

Obagi Retinol Review – How & Why you should use it

Retinol is an amazing skin product that has been proven in studies to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. 

Everybody knows that which is why retinol products are becoming more and more common.

But what you might not realize is that in order to get the benefits of retinol you must be using a high enough concentration in a high quality product!

That’s where Obagi retinol steps in.

In this Obagi retinol review I will walk you through why you should seriously consider adding this product (or another retinol containing product) to your daily regimen…

Benefits of using Retinol

In terms of creams and lotions that actually work, retinol competes with Vitamin c for the best facial product of all time.


Because unlike other facial products, retinol has been battled tested through clinical research studies over many years.

obagi retinol ingredientsobagi retinol 1.0 creamObagi retinol 0.5

It’s one of, if not the most, well studied product and it has been clinically proven in several studies to reduce the signs of aging.

It turns out that in order to get the benefits of using Retinol the product must be formulated correctly. 

For instance: 

It has been shown that retinoic acid causes considerably more side effects than retinol

Even though these are both Vitamin A products, their absorption and side effects differ greatly. 

That’s one of the reasons why Obagi is ahead of the curve… 

Their formulations are trusted by Dermatologists and Plastic surgeons because their products are well researched and have been shown to work. 

​So how does Retinol work on the skin?

It works through several mechanisms, but one of the most powerful is felt to be how it increases skin turnover time.

You see:

Your skin is constantly producing more skin in the epidermal layer. This is one of the reasons why exofliating your skin is so important

Vitamin c increases collagen in the dermis

New skin grows underneath old skin which pushes the dead skin to the surface.

This dead skin ​can sometimes stay on longer than normal and creates several negative side effects like increasing your risk for developing clogged pores and making your skin look dull or uneven. 

This process is constantly happening and your skin turns over every 50-60 days or so.

Retinol speeds up this process and reduces it to around 21-28 days if used at high enough dosages!

That means it makes your epidermal layer thinner which increases the absorption of other facial products and improves your skin texture (making you look younger). ​

​But beyond its effects on aging it also helps benefit your skin in several other ways. 

Most women (including me) use retinol because they want their skin to look younger and that’s perfectly fine. 

  • Bottom line: Retinol helps benefit the skin by reducing the aging process, protecting against photodamage/sun damage and by increasing blood flow to the deeper layers of the skin. Retinol should be part of your skin care regimen if you are serious about looking younger. 

Prescription Tretinion vs OTC Obagi Retinol​

What’s the difference between tretinoin and retinol?

You probably know that you can get a prescription for tretinoin in various dosages from your Doctor (usually a plastic surgeon or dermatologist), but how is this different from retinol?

It turns out that due to various laws only certain concentrations of retinol are allowed in over the counter products.

What this means is that prescription medications contain higher quantities of retin-a or tretinoin (retinol).

Retin a vs obagi retinol

This is important because all of the studies I’ve listed above were conducted using this HIGH concentration of retinol.

What does this mean for you?

It means that over the counter products can claim to have “retinol” in them, but they don’t have to list the concentration in their formulation!

As a result many cheaper products put just a tiny amount of retinol in a product and slap on an anti-aging label and sell it as a product that’s supposed to be as good as Obagi or iS clinical products. 

This couldn’t be farther from the truth and is why you have to make sure you purchase from a high quality brand. 

One of the benefits of using Obagi products is that they are formulated at the concentrations required for optimal results. 

For instance the concentration of the Obagi 1.0 is 0.1% (which is a prescription strength dose). 

The Obagi retinol 0.5 is 0.05% concentration (again another prescription dose). 

Obagi can do this because it requires a medical license to purchase their products which means you get pharmaceutical strength dosages if you use obagi products, including Obagi retinol. 

This also means that the Obagi retinol may have some side effects that you need to watch out for because it’s quite potent (more on that below). ​

Another advantage of getting Obagi retinol over prescription tretinoin is that they put less inactive ingredients ​in their formulation which makes the product BETTER for your skin

So just because you can get tretinoin at the same concentration from a pharmacy doesn’t necessarily mean you will want to.

Consider these factors before getting prescription tretinoin from your pharmacy: ​


  • Works well and contains high quality active ingredient (tretinion)
  • Confidence in knowing you are getting the right concentration from the pharmacy
  • Can be compounded with other medications like hydroquinone to help with hyperpigmentation or melasma


  • No control over fillers or inactive ingredients
  • Requires Doctor visit and prescription which increases cost
  • May be too strong for some people
  • Inability to change dosing easily

How to use Obagi Retinol Correctly

So we know that Retinol definitely works, but what about Obagi retinol products?

Luckily Obagi products have been tested in satisfaction trials and the results are impressive.

In a 3 week trial people using the Retinol 1.0% Obagi product people noticed the following: ​

  • Very little issues with erythema (which means redness) or dryness of the skin versus the baseline (where they started from)
  • No flaking of the skin at any point during the study

This basically means that Obagi products are well tolerated – and this is important because as we mentioned previously retinol products can be powerful and one of the concerns is redness, flaking or dryness that can occur at higher doses. 

In addition to these benefits people using Obagi retinol for 3 weeks also noticed: ​

  • 90% saw an improvement in facial appearance
  • 88% said that their skin was more resilient
  • 88% would purchase the product again
  • 88% would recommend the product to a friend

obagi retinol benefits

​Obviously these results are not perfect, but when it comes to your skin there is no perfect product that works for EVERYONE out there. ]

But Obagi retinol has about a 9 in 10 chance of working for you (which is pretty darn good all things considered). ​

In order to get these kind of benefits the product must be used correctly, however, which is what I will outline below: 

Obagi Retinol 0.5 & 1.0 Review

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Very high quality product that comes in different concentrations


Higher price but comparable when compared to prescription tretinoin

Why I Love it

Works very well with about a 90% success rate among all people

Who should use it: 
  • ​Anyone looking to have younger looking skin (this is one of the best anti-aging skin care products)
  • People with mild to moderate acne
  • People looking to improve their skin texture
  • People (especially women) with early signs of wrinkles around the eyes or around the corners of the mouth
  • People with oily skin looking to reduce sebum production
  • People also undergoing laser therapies, microdermabrasion, microneedling or microdermabrasion
  • Retinol 0.5% or 1.0% (depending on which concentration and strength you choose)
  • Green tea extract (camellia sinensis)
  • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
How to use it: 
  • Once a day apply a pearl sized amount to your fingers then spread evening throughout your entire face and neck (avoid your eyes)
  • Make sure to apply product in the evening
  • If you experience dryness, redness or flaking then use every other day until your skin acclimates
Recommended product: 

obagi retinol review side by side

Obagi 0.5% (start here if you’ve never used Retinol products before)

See more reviews here

Obagi 1.0% (start here if you have used retinol products in the past and/or you don’t have sensitive skin)

See more reviews here

Side effects of using Retinol

Now that you know why you should be using it, we should spend some time talking about any potential issues that might arise when using retinol (this applies to Obagi retinol but also applies to retinol products in general).

First you need to realize that retinol is a Vitamin A derivative and is a powerful vitamin for your skin.

Because it’s powerful, and if not used correctly, some patients may experience some minor side effects – these side effects can be treated easily, which we will explain below, but let’s talk about what to look out for: ​

  • Redness (one of the most common symptoms and an indication that you might be using too high a dose)
  • Flaking of the skin or peeling (another common symptom indicating your dose may be too strong)
  • Slight break outs (happens only upon starting retinol in some people)
  • Rash (very rare, usually related to inactive ingredients and not retinol itself)

What’s important is that these side effects do not necessarily indicate that you need to stop using retinol. 

Instead they are usually caused by using a concentration that is too strong for your skin, or it simply means that you need to start out lower and increase your concentration slowly over time.

Luckily these symptoms (if you do experience them) will go away over a few weeks if you back down on the concentration or use the your retinol less frequently. 

​If you do experience these symptoms the best thing you can do is one of the following: 

  • Purchase a lower concentration retinol (don’t worry, you will be able to use the stronger concentration later so you won’t waste your original purchase)
  • Apply your retinol every other day, instead of daily (you may need to use every third day, etc.)
  • Don’t change your retinol product and instead allow up to 2-3 weeks for your body to acclimate to the concentration – and just deal with some minor flaking or redness

​By using these strategies you will be able to handle pretty much any of the side effects associated with retinol. 

But remember:

Most people don’t even have these side effects if they use a high quality product! ​

Retinol 0.5 vs 1.0

​This Obagi retinol comes in two different concentrations and it’s important to understand them so you know which one you should start with. 

​The ONLY difference between these two products is the concentration of the retinol it contains. 

Your goal should be to get up to the 1.0% dose if possible (most of you will be able to get there).

But in some cases you may have to start out on the 0.5% dose first. ​

​Who should start with Obagi Retinol 0.5%

  • Those with VERY sensitive skin (Fitzpatrick type I and II)
  • Those who have never used Retinol containing products in the past
  • Those who have used retinol or tretinoin in the past but who reacted with redness or dry skin

Who should start with Obagi Retinol 1.0%​

  • Those people who have used retinol or tretinion in the past without any issues
  • Those with more resilient skin and those who don’t react to ingredients in skin care products
  • Those with extreme photodamage or advanced signs of aging (wrinkles or thickened leathery skin)
  • Those with a history of using tanning beds frequently in the past
  • Those people who have used Obagi retinol products in the past (or other retinol products from high quality brands like iS clinical)

If you stick to these guidelines then you shouldn’t have any issues regarding reacting to the retinol. 

Also, remember that Obagi products are formulated with other active ingredients like Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) designed to help your skin tolerate the retinol and increase absorption. ​

Complete Obagi Retinol Ingredient list​

If you have any concern that you might react to the ingredients found in this product then please see the ingredient list below: 

  • Shea butter
  • Jojoba
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Vitamin A (retinol)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Dimethicone
  • Vitamin E

Obagi retinol has been shown to help people with the following skin types: 

  • Sensitive skin (those who react to skin care products)
  • Oil prone skin (those with naturally oily skin) 
  • Acneic skin (those prone to developing acne or those with active acne breakouts) 
  • Mature skin (those over 50+, usually after menopause)
  • Combination skin types (those with a combination of skin types) 
  • Dry skin
  • Normal skin
  • Hyperpigmented skin (those with uneven skin tone or those with hyperpigmentation syndromes like melasma)

Over to you

Obagi retinol can seriously make a difference in your skin care regimen. 

If you haven’t tried high quality retinol containing products then you should consider a trial run of obagi retinol.

The benefits of using retinol range from a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles to an reduction sun damage from years spent in the sun. 

Regardless of your age or skin type retinol containing products CAN work for you. 

Now it’s your turn:

Have you used Obagi retinol in the past?

Did it work for you? Why or why not?

Leave your comment below! 

Obagi C Serum Review – The Best Vitamin C Serum on the Market?

Are you thinking about buying Obagi C serum?

​Vitamin C serum in general has the ability to provide so many benefits to your skin and might just be one of the single best serums out there. 


Because Vitamin C serum helps slow down and reverse the aging process, helps improve the texture of your skin, even skin tones and much more…

It also turns out that Obagi has one of the best Vitamin C serums on the market. ​


Obagi Professional C Serum – Does it work?

One of the big problems with cosmetic products is that you never know if you are getting high quality ingredients or if the product will work.

With Obagi products, you really don’t have to worry about that.


Because Obagi is a brand trusted by plastic surgeons and dermatologists and their products are formulated by Doctors.

And that’s actually important, especially in the case of Vitamin C serum.

It turns out that Vitamin C serum might be one of the best nutrients you can put on your skin, BUT (and this is a big but) in order to get the benefits of Vitamin C serum it must be formulated correctly.

That means your Vitamin c serum needs to have the following: ​

  • The Vitamin C must be in the L-Asorbic acid form
  • The pH of the serum must be 3.5
  • Vitamin C must be protected and shielded from light and oxidation
  • The Vitamin C must be in a high enough concentration (at least 10%, but preferably 20%)
  • It can be formulated in a carrier that contains other vitamins to help increase absorption into the skin

This explains why some Vitamin C serums are more expensive than others. 

It takes a LOT of time and energy to formulate the product in the right way so that it actually works.

Cheaper Vitamin C serum products skip out on necessary steps to make their product cheaper, but as a consequence they simply don’t work as well.

So does Obagi fit the bill and meet all of these requirements?

Yep, it sure does. ​

You can see some consumer studies below showing the benefits of Obagi C serum (in this case the 20% concentration): 

One of the big problems with using Vitamin C serum is knowing if it’s actually being absorbed through the skin. 

You might not think about it, but your skin acts as a barrier to creams, lotions, water, etc. 

So, in order to get the Vitamin C INTO your skin, it must be formulated correctly. 

Obagi went head to head with another brand Skinceuticals to see which product was absorbed based on testing of the concentration of Vitamin C in the epiderms.

The results showed that Obagi had superior concentration reaching a total concentration of 333 ug vs the 238 ug of Skinceuticals. ​

This means that you can use LESS of the obagi Vitamin C serum and still get lasting results (making your Vitamin C serum last longer!). ​

Obagi professional c serum absorption

In addition Obagi also went head to head with skinceuticals to see how much was absorbed into the skin 19 hours after application. 

The results showed that Obagi had about 5x the absorption of Skinceuticals 19 hours after application: ​

Obagi professional c absorption vs other c serums

This is a big deal because your body can’t create Vitamin C naturally which means it’s dependent upon serums or food to increase levels. 

Sustained levels of Vitamin c throughout the day mean your skin will look better long term. ​

 ​But those aren’t all the benefits of Vitamin C serum: 

6 Reasons to Add Vitamin C Serum to your Regimen

Beyond what we’ve discussed, Vitamin C serum also has several other VERY attractive benefits. ​

Real benefits of using Vitamin C Serums:

  • Prevents photo damage
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Increased collagen and elastin production
  • Evens skin tone and complexion
  • Reduces break outs and can treat acne
  • Acts as an anti-aging therapy

One of the most important benefits of using Vitamin C serum is the benefit it has on photodamage

Why is this important?

Because the amount of photodamage accumulated throughout your life helps, in part, to determine how OLD you look!

You can see from studies that sun damage (even just 3%) can make you look 3 years older than your stated age.

This also means that if you reverse the photodamage of your skin by using Vitamin C serum you can make yourself look younger than your stated age: ​

Vitamin C reduces sun damage and makes you look younger

What’s even better is that Vitamin C serum also helps promote collagen and elastin formation in the dermis of your skin. 

These both work in part to keep your skin looking plump and reduce fine lines and wrinkles in your skin – AKA keep you looking younger. ​

My personal favorite benefit, and the main reason I use Vitamin C serum daily, is that it makes my skin look soft and evens out the skin tone.

​You can find all of the benefits of Vitamin C serum in this post. 

One of the benefits of using Obagi Vitamin C serum is that you know you are getting a high quality Vitamin C serum that has been shown to penetrate deep enough into the skin to help with these benefits.

Remember that not all Vitamin C serums will help you in this way! They MUST be formulated correctly (read the guidelines above again). ​

How to use Obagi Vitamin C Serum

In order to get the benefits listed above you must use your Vitamin C correctly. 

One thing you need to watch out for with Vitamin C serum is that it is oxidized and becomes inactive if left in the light (meaning it is photosensitive).

Because of this you have to take care when applying your Vitamin C.

What this means for you is that you want to store your Vitamin C serum in a place where light doesn’t touch it (think in a drawer).

You also want to make sure whoever formulated your Vitamin C serum put it in a dark container that doesn’t allow light to get through (Obagi takes care of this for you).

It’s also important to apply your Vitamin C at NIGHT!

Applying it at night allows for superior absorption and will actually act as a minor sunscreen during the daytime hours.

Applying it in the morning may cause some oxidation throughout the day and slightly inactive the product – so I always recommend using it at night. ​

Obagi Professional-C Serum Review

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Contains high concentrations of L-ascorbic acid but no other ingredients


High price, but high quality

Why I Love it

Definitely works but may be better for women older than 40 or women with oily skin

Who should use it: 
  • ​Woman between the ages of 30-60
  • Women and men with oily skin
  • Women with photo damage or extreme sun damage (those that are trying to look younger)
  • People who have done well on other obagi products in the past
  • L-Ascorbic acid 20% (active ingredient)
  • prpylene glyccol (inactive)
  • Zinc chloride (inactive)
  • Calcium hydroxide (inactive)
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • Apply 5-7 drops directly to your face after cleansing
  • Spread evening throughout your face and to your neck line
  • Use in the evening
  • Make sure product is protected form the sun while storing
  • If you have sensitive skin start with 10% or 15% and work yourself up to the 20% concentration
  • Contains 20% Vitamin C which promotes collagen production and stimulates growth in the skin to even skin tones
Recommended product: 

Obagi professional vitamin c serumSee more reviews here

To get the best results I recommend that you use Vitamin C serum as part of a solid skin care regimen. 

You can mix and match products (that’s what I do), but I still recommend that you use a basic skin care regimen as outlined below:


Because you really want to make sure you have more than just Vitamin C, you also need a retinol product and other products to bring balance back to the skin. ​

Optimal skin care and anti-aging regimen:

  • Cleanser – To help with exfoliation
  • Toner – To bring back pH balance to the acid mantle that is taken away during cleansing
  • Moisturizer and/or Retinol product – To provide a barrier and maintain moisture and hydration in the skin
  • Vitamin C serum – Final layer that improves skin quality, texture and balances out your skin care regimen

This is the exact formula that I’ve been using for my skin and it works amazing. 

Just realize that vitamin C serum is just 1 part of the 4 step process, and each step must be a high quality ingredient. ​

How to get Obagi Products Online

Traditionally Obagi products were only available to physicians like Dermatologists and Plastic surgeons. 

Unfortunately this created a scenario where people thought they were getting Obagi products but they were really getting fraudulent products that did NOT have the stated ingredients.

This also mean that previously you had to go to your Doctors office (medical spa or dermatologist office) to buy the Obagi products. 

So in addition to buying the product you were often hit with the consulting price of the Doctor!​

Fortunately this has changed.

The way to tell if the product you are about to purchase is high quality and authentic is with the branding below the price tag.

High quality and real products will be labeled as either “Professional Beauty” or as “Luxury Beauty”.

amazon professional beauty productsLuxury beauty on amazon

Concentration: 10% vs 15% vs 20%​

The next big question you need to ask yourself is this:

What percentage of Vitamin C serum should I start with?

Obagi professional c serum 10 percentObagi professional c 15 percentObagi professional c serum 20 percent

Because ​Obagi understands how Vitamin C works on the skin they have created several concentrations to help your body adjust. 

The 20% concentration is the highest absolute concentration of Ascorbic acid that can be effectively absorbed into the skin, but there’s one problem:

That concentration can sometimes be too much for certain people.

It may result in some redness or flaking of the skin unless you are already used to higher concentrations of Vitamin C or if you have tough skin.

So should you start with a lower concentration?

My rule of thumb is to start with the 10% concentration of Vitamin C IF you are a very sensitive person or have a VERY light skin tone (think very fair, red hair, etc.).

If you have normal skin tone, normal oil production, etc. then 1 bottle of the 15% is a great place to start because it will allow your body to adjust and you will still get results.

If you have tough skin and tend to tolerate pretty much anything touching your skin then you should be safe to start with the 20% concentration right off the bat.

​If you purchase the 20% and it turns out to be too strong for you, you can also go to an every other day application schedule which will not be as harsh on your skin and will prevent you from having to purchase a lower quality strength. 

When I first started out using Vitamin c serum I jumped to the 20% concentration and tolerate it just fine (some red spots came up for about 5 days but went away over time). ​

Side Effects of using Obagi Professional C

​Next up on the list is side effects. 

Shouldn’t Vitamin C cause some serious side effects if it’s so beneficial?

Actually it turns out that Vitamin C serum is tolerated quite well.

Rarely do some people experience some negative side effects, but this is usually because they are using a cheap product or because they have sensitive skin and started out at the 20% concentration.

So with that in mind let’s talk about side effects of Obagi C ​serum: 

  • Redness or rash around the nose area (occurs with a high concentration and generally goes away if you reduce concentration or application frequency)
  • Dryness of the skin (occurs when starting out with a high concentration and fades over a couple of weeks, if this occurs then go to an every other day application cycle)
  • Yellow tint to your skin (goes away over time)

And that’s pretty much it!

Wrapping it up

​Obagi professional C serum is one of the best Vitamin C serums on the market. 

In head to head comparison trials Obagi comes out on top in terms of depth of absorption and in terms of absorption concentration – especially against skinceutical products.

Because the benefits of Vitamin C are amazing, I encourage pretty much any woman to try Vitamin C serum (from a high quality brand).

Have you used Obagi products in the past?

Did they work for you? Why or why not?

Leave your comment below!​

Proactiv Plus Review + Better Alternatives for Beautiful Skin

Are you hoping that proactiv plus will actually help you treat your acne?

If so there are a few things you need to understand about proactiv before you actually purchase the product. 

Things like:

Does it actually work? should you be doing more with your acne? do other products work better?

In this proactiv plus review we are going to go over ALL of this and more (including products I think work way better than proactiv plus, and that’s from a person who has used proactiv for 10 years): 


Does Proactiv Actually Work?

​If you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re wondering if proctiv plus is going to finally be THE facial product that will clear up your skin. 

​In fact you’ve probably been burned by other facial products in the past that may have slightly worked but still left you with acne that you need to get rid of. 

​If that’s the case then I think you will find this review incredibly helpful!


Because we are not only going to take a look at proctiv, but we are going to evaluate WHY you might have acne and what other steps you can do to treat it – things you probably haven’t looked into before.

So let’s start with the obvious question:

Does proactiv plus really work?

​The answer is that it CAN work, but it may not work for everyone. 

In terms of its raw potential I will say that it has more potential to help you than other facial creams and products.

Like you are probably figuring out, each person needs a different skin regimen that is personalized to that persons skin type, skin type and oil production. 

The reaso​n proactiv products tend to work so well is because they contain a powerful anti bacterial therapy known as benzoyl peroxide. 

This is THE active ingredient in proactiv plus products and is one of the main reasons that it works so well for so many people.

But just because it works, doesn’t necessarily mean it should be used in every person…​

My 10 year Experience Experience with Proactiv

I have personally struggled with acne in the past (both as a teenager and into my adult years).

Thankfully through hours of research and experimentation I have figured out how to deal with my acne and I will share some of the advanced things that I learned below.

But what’s important for this discussion is how proactiv fits in.

I am a personal user of proactiv products and even used their products for 10 years.

For my skin type (which is oily) and skin tone (very fair) it actually worked quite well.

But that’s not the main problem…

The problem with proactiv is that it is a product that should NOT be used long term.

And this is unfortunate because that’s exactly how proactiv products are branded:

As long term solutions to acne.

​Despite this, there is good data to indicate that long term anti biotics should not be used to treat mild to moderate acne. 


Because antibiotics (like benzoyl peroxide) kill ALL of the bacteria on your skin.

And persistent and long term use of proactic will result in permanent damage to your skin microbiome.

skin microbiome and acne

You are lead to believe that acne is caused by bad bacteria and that the treatment is to kill this bacteria. 

But what you probably didn’t realize is that people who have acne and those who don’t have acne still have the same bacteria on their skin.

The difference is the relative concentrations and other issues going on in their body (hormone imbalances, inflammation, etc.).

Proactiv takes a very general approach:

To kill all bacteria on your skin. 

And the issue with this approach is that it works temporarily but it isn’t a long term solution. 

This is why people who stop taking proactiv later in life end up with WORSE acne. 

This has to do with the severe damage that occurs to your skin as a result of the powerful antibiotics inside proactiv plus. 

Understanding Acne & How Proactiv Works​

​Just because proactiv kills off bacteria on your skin doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. 

Proactiv actually works quite well for those people who are dealing with inflammation and have an overgrowth of BAD bacteria on their skin.

It also helps certain people who have high oil production (because benzoyl peroxide and witch hazel can help reduce this oil).

But what you need to understand is that acne is an INTERNAL problem.

Acne is a manifestation of other issues going wrong INSIDE your body.

And no amount of lotions, or creams will permanently remove or reverse your acne if it’s caused by something on the inside of your body.

This is why proactiv plus will work for some people and NOT for others.


Because it depends on the CAUSE of your acne.

People that do really well on proactiv are those who actually do have some degree of skin issues.

Those with an overgrowth of bad bacteria and those with heavy oil production.

If your acne is caused by hormone problems, too much testosterone, not enough thyroid hormone or gut issues – then proactiv is NOT the best product for you.

​One of the main beauties of the proactiv plus system is the 3 step system they created. 

proactiv plus 3 step system

The system consists of the following:

  • Cleanser to help exofliate the epidermal layers of the skin
  • Toner to help bring back the pH of the skin that was stripped off during the exfoliation phase
  • Moisturizer to help bring back natural moisture to the skin and create a barrier to protect the skin

​The active ingredient during the exfoliative phase is benzoyl peroxide at 2.5% strength (which we have discussed previously). 

Now, you can use pretty much anything during the first phase – you don’t HAVE to use benzoyl peroxide.

active ingredients in proactiv plus

So other products like glycolic acid, alpha hydroxy acids, lactic acid, etc. can all be used with some success during this phase.

The other inactive ingredients are meant to help with absorption of the benzoyl peroxide and to provide a barrier (dimethicone) to the skin. 

The ​second stage (the toner) also has the active ingredient of benzoyl peroxide at the 2.5% strength. 

The toner is meant to add back pH to the skin to normalize it after the exfoliating phase strips off the acid mantle

The final stage is the moisturizer which contains 0.5% salicylic acid. 

Salicylic acid, in this setting, is simply used as an adjunct therapy to the benzoyl peroxide. 

Studies have shown that salicylic acid is helpful for the treatment of mild acne and can reduce the number of lesions if used by itself. 

The beauty of the 3 step system​ is that this combination of therapies can be used with OTHER and more effective products. 

What you will find is that other products and brands have created better active ingredients (those that are less harmful to the skin if used long term) to treat inflammatory skin conditions like acne.

I do believe that proactiv brought this concept into the main stream, and it works really well due to the layering of products on top of one another, but it doesn’t mean you HAVE to use their products to get the same benefit.

Who should use Proactiv Plus

Just because I’ve been critical of proactiv plus doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily a bad product. 

Quite the opposite: 

I think proactiv plus is a great product for CERTAIN people and only if used correctly – meaning for less than 90 days.

So who should actually use proactiv plus?

​It’s best if you use proactiv plus if you fit any of the following criteria

  • You have inflammatory acne (moderate to heavy) and have failed traditional and weaker facial products like salicylic acid or glycolic acid
  • You NEED to get your acne under control for some special event (wedding, pictures, work interview, etc.)
  • You are using supplements or other medications to treat your acne but you want to boost your results while you wait for other therapies to kick in
  • Those with mild to moderate acne during their teenage years (it will most likely go away over time so long term use of proactiv probably won’t be necessary) 

Who should NOT use proactiv plus: 

  • Those with mild to moderate regular acne
  • Those with Adult onset acne
  • Those with mild or slight acne scars (you can use combination therapy with microneedling to get better results)
  • Those with heavy or cystic acne (you may need more intensive therapy than just proactiv)
  • Those who have acne as a result of hormonal imbalances like hypothyroidism, PCOS or high testosterone (You will need to address these imbalances to treat your acne)
  • Those with gut imbalances SIBO or SIFO (Again treating this problem is more important)
  • Those with food intolerances or allergies causing their acne (Don’t damage your skin with antimicrobials if you can simply change your diet)

​If you determine you fit the criteria above then you can give proactiv plus a shot…

Also remember that proactiv has a big budget and uses celebrities to endorse their products.

Generally you should be weary of any product line that uses this kind of marketing tactic because these brands can spend more money on marketing their products than on developing them!​

Proactiv Plus Review & Instructions

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Decent quality, but not the highest quality products (still uses cheaper inactive ingredients)


Reasonable price for the quality

Why I Like it

Works well for SOME people but should not be used long term

  • Active ingredients include benzoyl peroxide at 2.5%
  • Salicylic acid is in the moisturizer at 0.5%
  • Also contains dimethicone which is a silicon based inactive ingredient
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • I recommend starting with once a day application (preferably after your shower)
  • Apply facial cleanser, followed by the toner, followed by the moisturizer
  • Allow skin to dry between EACH application (do not apply moisturizer until the toner has completely dried off)
  • Do not use for longer than 90 days in a row
  • Benzoyl peroxide is a powerful topical antibiotic that will kill both bad and good bacteria
  • Salicylic acid has also been shown to reduce acne in mild to moderate cases
  • The 3 step system helps exfoliate dead skin cells, balance pH levels in the acid mantle and bring back moisture and protection to the skin surface
Recommended product: 

proactiv plus 3 step systemRead more reviews here

Pros and Cons of using Proactiv Plus: 


  • Works well for mild to moderate acne
  • Can be layered with other serums and high quality products
  • Will work to get rid of acne if your acne is due to inflammation or bad bacteria overgrowth


  • Should NOT be used long term
  • Contains benzoyl peroxide which will kill both good and bad skin bacteria
  • May cause worse acne if you stop using proactiv
  • Better options exist for most forms of acne and are less harsh on your skin

Better Products for your Skin

Now that we’ve discussed proactiv plus and WHO should use it, it’s also worth mentioning other BETTER products.

In addition it’s important to realize that in order to adequately treat your acne you need a comprehensive approach.

Below I go over what I think is the best approach to managing your acne (and it is the same plan that I used to take care of mine): ​

  • 3 Step system that doesn’t completely eliminate skin flora
  • Vitamin C serum to help repair and nourish existing skin
  • Addition of special therapies like microneedling, dermaplaning, chemical peels or dermarolling all of which can be combined with creams/serums
  • Oral supplements to balance hormones, nourish the skin and reduce inflammation
  • Treatment of existing SIBO or other inflammatory gut conditions to reduce inflammation
  • Evaluation of hormone systems like your thyroid, estrogen levels and androgen levels
  • Lifestyle changes to improve diet, add exercise and reduce stress

As you can see we take advantage of the 3 step system that proactiv plus uses but we change up the actual products and instead add several other therapies. 

The other therapies are designed to tackle acne from ALL areas and this is what really gets great results.

I should also point out that if you decide to use proactiv plus (if you fall into the categories listed above) please also make sure you add other things to your regimen like the supplements AND lifestyle changes below. 

Before we jump into those areas, I w​ant to go over what I think is a better all around product and that is the Obagi 360 system. 

This is a 3 step system (much like proactiv) but from a brand that dermatologists and plastic surgeons use.

Obagi is a seriously high end brand with high end ingredients that actually work.

Why do I like the Obagi 360 system?

First off the system uses products that have been tested and scientifically proven to help reduce acne AND help nourish the skin in the process.

​In addition Obagi products are endorsed by physicians because they actually work. 

In studies, as little as 12 weeks of therapy reduced photodamage, break outs and pore visibility compared to other leading brands: ​

obagi 360 results

In addition, other studies show that patients experienced the following benefits while using Obagi 360: 

  • 84% said that their skin looked and felt smoother
  • 78% said that their face felt rejuvenated
  • 81% said their face appeared firmer
  • 78% said that their skin clarity (reduction in acne, etc.) looked better

While no product is perfect, the reason I like the Obagi system is because it’s designed to be used LONG term and it’s not harmful to do it (unlike proactiv). 

The ingredients ​like retinol help reduce photo damage and reverse the aging process, so your skin will look better in addition to treating your acne. 

patient satisfaction of obagi 360

You can also see before and after pictures of the Obagi system in action below: 

obagi 360 8 weeks before and after

One thing I would draw your attention to is the quality and texture of this persons skin in her after picture. 

The softness and glow to the skin is from the retinol containing products which act to reduce the signs of aging especially from photodamage. ​

Bottom line?

The obagi system is superior to the proactiv plus 3 step system because it uses less harsh ingredients, it can be continued long term and because it will also help treat scarring and the aging process. ​

Obagi 360 Review + How to use it

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Contains Vitamin A (Retinol) to help reduce aging and directly treat acne


High price but very high quality ingredients – your face is worth the splurge

Why I Love it

This product was critical in treating my acne

Who should use it:
  • Anyone who has failed cheap over the counter acne cleansers and face wash
  • Those with mild to moderate to heavy acne
  • Those transitioning OFF of proactiv or other more harmful acne face wash systems
  • Those who want a face cleansing system that will also result in healthy skin, complexion
  • Those who want a facial product that will also help reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Retinol 0.5%
  • Avobenzene
  • Oxybenzone 5%
How to use it:
Why it works
  • Cleanser: Use twice daily (morning and night)
  • Retinol: Use in the PM only
  • Moisturizer and sunscreen: Use in the morning to provide protection from the sun all day
  • Retinol (Vitamin A) helps directly treat acne while also increasing skin turnover time and acting as an exfoliative therapy. Oxybenzone helps act as a sunscreen protecting the skin and Avobenzene helps nourish the skin naturally. 
Recommended product: 

obagi 360 3 step systemRead more reviews here

Using Supplements in Conjunction with Skin Care Products

​Whether you choose to use my recommended product or use Proactiv plus you should ALSO consider using supplements and these other tips. 


Because as I’ve mentioned before treating acne takes a comprehensive approach – one that takes into account what is going on INSIDE your body.

The next thing you should consider is the use of supplements. 

Certain supplements can help treat acne by reducing inflammation, providing your skin with basic nutrients to heal faster and reduce the impact that hormones have on the skin.

Below I will go over what supplements I use and why they work (scientifically). ​

Consider using supplements in ADDITION to facial creams, lotions and serums:

  • Zinc bound to picolinic acid: Zinc helps increase wound healing (which means if you pick your face it will help heal faster!), zinc also helps reduce the impact that high testosterone has on your skin by reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Most people are deficient in zinc due to a poor diet which makes zinc a serious consideration for most people. Make sure to take 60mg per day of a high quality zinc supplement. 
  • Biotin + Silica: Biotin and Silica are required for optimal hair growth and are basic nutrients that your skin needs to function. This is why these supplements are inside almost every hair, skin and nails supplement! I recommend using this if you have active acne because it can indirectly improve the texture of your skin – plus the bonus if that it will help your hair grow. 
  • Fish oil: Fish oil works well for acne because it is a powerful anti inflammatory supplement. As you probably know acne is an inflammatory condition, so anything you can do to cool down inflammation in your skin will help. Also, omega 3 fatty acids can help nourish your skin naturally by increasing natural moisture and making your skin look softer. Take up to 2-3 grams per DAY to get the most benefit. 

If you are serious about treating your acne I recommend using ALL of these supplements in addition to either proactiv plus or the Obagi 360 system. 

Other tips for healthy skin:

In addition to using a skin care regimen you also want to take basic steps to improve your skin by working on lifestyle factors. 

Believe it or not these factors are probably MORE important than what you put on your skin.


Because these factors indirectly influence your hormones which can directly contribute to acne. 

Take for instance your cycle:

Heavy stress before your menstrual cycle can cause issues which may result in a delayed cycle and therefore more estrogen resulting in more acne. 

#1. Drink plenty of water

You should be drinking up to 1 gallon of water per day!

Water is AMAZING for your skin. 

Water helps naturally moisturize your skin while helping your body detox out any harmful endocrine disruptors you may come into contact with throughout the day. 

Make sure to drink enough so that your pee is clear!

#2. Eat healthy and organic food

Lots of people will tell you that your diet does NOT influence your acne and this couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

You have to consider that general and non organic products contain growth hormones and other artificial hormones that DO have impact in your body. 

These chemicals are known as endocrine disruptors and they can impact the hormone receptors in your body.

Make sure to avoid those chemicals by eating CLEAN, that means organic and natural whole foods.

#3. Exercise regularly (you want to sweat)

Exercise helps your skin because it acts as a natural way to detox. 


Through your sweat. 

Your body can eliminate toxins through your skin (via sweating or through acne!) or through your pee and stools. 

Make sure to eliminate any excess crap by sweating it out instead of having your body form pustules and pimples (acne). 

#4. Reduce your stress and get enough sleep!​

Lack of sleep actually has been scientifically linked to acne and here’s how: 

acne and SIBO

Lack of sleep causes increased cravings for processed and refined foods. 

These foods directly damage your intestinal lining causing something called increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut).

Because of this permeability toxins and other products are absorbed and either directly damage your skin cells or must be released through the skin as acne. ​

  • Bottom line: Make healthy changes to your diet, exercise schedule, sleep schedule and do things to help reduce stress. These changes WILL help your skin look clear and amazing. 

Other therapies to complement your Acne regimen

Next up on the list of things you should also add to your skin regimen is certain therapies that have been clinically proven to also help reduce acne and acne scarring. 

#1. Microneedling

First up on the list is microneedling. 

Microneedling is done by taking a pen with 10+ small hypodermic needles which pierce the skin thousands of time to the level of the dermal epidermal junction. 

 This process directly results in a decrease in sebum production and has been proven to reduce acne scarring and pock marks

dermaroller plus vitamin C for acne scarring

Microneedling is also a powerful anti aging therapy and should seriously be considered if you have acne.

You can find more about the benefits of microneedling here. ​

#2. Chemical peels

Chemical peels can also be used in conjunction with supplements, lifestyle changes AND with a 3 step therapy. 

Chemical peels help exfoliate excess epidermal dead skin cells which reduces the chance of your pores being clogged. 

It also helps reduce acne scars (but not as much as microneedling).

The good news about chemical peels is that you can do lighter and more gentle peels at home and they are effective.

In order to get the deeper chemical peels you may need to see a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist, however. ​

#3. Dermarolling

Dermarolling is like the microneedling procedure in terms of how it works, but it’s not quite as effective. 

Instead of using a mechanical pen to poke the skin thousands of times, this procedure uses a ball that has lots of little needles which poke into the skin as it “rolls” across your face. 

The benefit of using a dermaroller is that you can use it at home, the downside is that it’s not quite as powerful as microneedling in terms of reducing acne scarring. 

Wrapping it up

​Bottom line?

Proactiv plus is a good product, but it’s not THE best product.

Long term use of proactiv can result in damage to your skin microbiome and make coming off of proactiv very difficult.

Because of this I generally recommend a more balanced product like the Obagi 360 3 step system which is superior.

If you decide you want to use the proactiv system just make sure you don’t use it for longer than 90 days at a time.

Also, if you are treating acne, make sure to add other therapies including lifestyle changes, supplements and medical therapies for the best results!

Now it’s your turn:

Do you have acne? Have you tried proactiv plus?

Did it work for you? Why or why not?

Leave your comments below!​

What to do if your Microblading Didn’t Take

Did you just get microblading done to your brows?

Are you worried that your pigment might be coming out, or that your brows don’t look like they did right after you had the procedure?

This post will go over the main reasons why microblading might not take and the entire healing process!

So you know what’s normal and what isn’t:​

Reasons Why Microblading Doesn’t “Take”

​There are many reasons why the skin may not accept the pigment or dye after your microblading procedure. 

Recall that the microblading procedure is done by making small cuts into the dermal epidermal junction in the skin and placing pigment into the “well” that is created from these cuts.

The body then heals up over the pigment and the pigment remains in the dermal epidermal junction for up to 15 months.

This is what is supposed to happen in a PERFECT world and assuming everything goes the right way.

But what happens if ​your pigment is coming out during this healing process, what then? 

Let’s go over all of the potential reasons this may be happening…

​#1. What your experiencing is a normal part of the healing process

Remember that some loss of pigment is a normal part of the healing process

​The best case scenario you can hope for is about 85% pigment retention before your touch up (about 6 weeks after the initial procedure). 

That means you might be freaking out from the normal healing process.

Let me give you an example.

You can see an example and picture from the healing process on day 7 vs day 12 below: ​

Microblading healing day 7Microblading healing day 12

On day 7 you might be freaking out thinking that all of the pigment is coming out, when in reality this is completely normal. 

Initially your brows are very dark, then they become patchy, then they lighten up.

This cycle can cause an emotional roller coaster – but remember, you have to trust the process!

By day 12 you can see that the majority of the pigment was retained in this client despite what it looked like on day 7. ​

You can see the entire process in pictures below as well.​

Microblading healing days 1 through 14

#2. ​Your artist didn’t go deep enough

If it’s been more than 2 weeks and your pigment is gone, then it is most likely NOT normal and related to some other cause. 

In this case it may be that your artist did not go deep enough.

In order to get lasting results your artist must go into the dermal epidermal junction. 

If the cuts only go into the superficial epidermal layer then your body will basically push out the pigment or dye and it will NOT take. 

You know if your artist went the right depth because you will hear a characteristic “tearing” sound in the skin. 

There will also be SOME pain (but not a lot). 

If this happens to you, you will know it because the pigment will come out as your scabs start to come off and all of the pigment will be gone within 2 weeks.

If this happens to you unfortunately you will need to get the entire procedure done again. ​

#3. You might have had an infection

Other factors can interfere with the normal healing process and one of those things is an infection. 

An infection of the skin will push out the pigment and may result in scarring or other problems. 

If you suspect that you have an infection please talk to your artist ASAP!

Most of the time you can prevent small infections from becoming big infections and interfering with the healing process. ​

Another potential issue which is separate from an infection is a sensitivity to the dye or pigment. 

Sensitivities or allergies can act the same way as an infection where your body may reject the pigment and push it out. 

Make sure your artist is using a high quality pigment and discusses any allergies you may have BEFORE the procedure! Especially allergies to nickel. 

#4. Your artist used the wrong color of dye for your skin tone

It may also be possible that your artist didn’t use the right pigment color for your skin tone. 

Using the wrong color can change what the final product looks like and may turn some colors gray. 

If this happens the pigment may have taken, but it may look lighter than normal and you may feel like it didn’t “take”. 

This ultimately comes down to picking the right artist for you and having a thoughtful discussion with your artist about colors, pigments and dyes prior to the procedure. 

#5. You didn’t follow the aftercare instructions!

This is probably the single most important thing on this post! 

You HAVE to follow the microblading aftercare instructions EXACTLY.

Talk to your artist about dry healing vs wet healing to determine which will be best for your skin type and make sure you follow their instructions!

Even something as simple as getting wet, putting on the wrong ointment, using a bleaching substance or going out into the sun can seriously impact your results.

I personally use the dry healing process because I think the results are more crisp than other healing types.

But this means that my clients can’t get their brows wet for at least 2 weeks.

That means no swimming or exercising!

Make sure to avoid facial creams and other products like the plague while you are healing.

You can also learn more about proper aftercare instructions in this post. ​

#6. ​You were picking your scabs or interfering with the healing process

​If you have a tendency to pick at your skin then this one is extremely important. 

If you are using the dry healing process then it’s absolutely critical that you do NOT pick your scabs.

Picking off your scabs will prematurely pull the pigment out of the well that we created and will make it look like the procedure didn’t take. 

If you have a tendency to pick at your scabs or at your skin then please let your artist know.

It’s also a good idea to use the wet healing process if you fall into this category because scabbing is minimal. ​

#7. You have oily skin

​The final reason your microblading may not take as to do with the amount of oil production in your skin. 

​Some people naturally produce more oils than others, but what’s important here is that the oil may push out your pigment making your retention less than desirable. 

​If you have really oily skin make sure to discuss that with your artist so you can determine if it’s worth undergoing the procedure. 

In most cases you can deal with the excess oil production and it won’t interfere with your results. 

Back to you! 

​I hope you found this guide helpful!

Remember that some degree of pigment loss is normal (but it should not exceed 30%).

Just make sure to follow the aftercare instructions exactly and keep in contact with your artist if you think something is wrong.

It’s not worth it to sit around waiting when something can be done! ​

Leave any questions or comments about the healing process below. ​

7 Surprising Microneedling Benefits for Your Skin (#6 is my Favorite)

Microneedling may be one of the quickest and easiest ways to get more youthful looking skin. 

Not only does it make your skin look rejuvinated but it can also treat acne, help reduce scarring and even reduce oil production and black heads!

If you get microneedling done there are some things you need to know before the procedure because they can seriously impact your results. 

Learn more in this guide: 

microneedling benefits guide<img class=”tve_image” alt=”microneedling benefits guide” style=”width: 389px” src=”//” width=”389″ height=”778″ data-attachment-id=”1485″>

What is Microneedling?

​Microneedling is a procedure designed specifically to invoke the healing response in your skin by causing microtrauma in a targeted way. 

Using a pen with a small head that contains 10+ needles, it vibrates at high power, and at a certain depth, to pierce the superficial layer of your skin thousands of times over a few seconds.

(This video shows the vibrating pen in action, note that while it does sting it doesn’t cause intense pain and this is me getting it done WITHOUT numbing cream.)

These small and controlled piercings go into your epidermis and even the upper layers of the dermis to stimulate the healing response in your skin which results in increased collagen formation and elastin formation.

But what does that mean for you?

It means your skin becomes more plump, more textured and smoother in the process.

But beyond these basic benefits, microneedling also offers several other VERY beneficial side effects that you can take advantage of.

These range from healing acne, reducing scar formation and even helping you look 5+ years younger!​

We will talk more about before and after pictures below, but first let’s talk about the other potential benefits of microneedling: ​

#1. Improves the quality and texture of your skin (immediately) 

​The microneedling procedure takes about 1 hour long and in order to get the best results should leave the skin with some pin point bleeding (yes some blood is a GOOD thing). 

Even with the pinpoint bleeding and the slight redness that occurs for up to about 1-1.5 days afterwards, you will notice an IMMEDIATE improvement in the texture and quality of your skin.

How does this happen?

The pinprick needles actually stimulate remodeling of existing collagen and promote formation of new collagen and revascularization (blood vessels) in the skin.

Vitamin c increases collagen in the dermis<img class=”tve_image” alt=”Vitamin c increases collagen in the dermis” style=”width: 600px” src=”//” width=”600″ height=”452″ data-attachment-id=”1116″>

Collagen and elastin are the two components of your skin that give your skin the normal “plump” look every woman wants.

And starting at around age 30 this collagen starts to degrade naturally (other things can even make the degradation happen more quickly as well), which is when women start to notice slight changes and sagging in their skin.

The good news is that this healing process starts almost IMMEDIATELY after the procedure.

Which is why you notice a soft texture to your skin immediately afterwards.

Even the day after the procedure it just looks like you have a light sunburn from the redness, but you can definitely go to work or out on a date the following day if necessary. ​

#2. Reduces pock marks and scarring

Another huge benefit is that skin needling (or microneedling, they are both words for the same procedure) helps reduce acne scars which are notoriously difficult to treat​. 

So how does microneedling help with scarring?

When you have any sort of scarring on your face (or anywhere on your body) your body naturally undergoes a process known as fibrosis. 

This is good when healing, because it makes everything stick together, but beneath the skin the glue is so strong that it can literally pull the skin down and create pock marks or scarring on the surface of the skin.

using microneedling for acne pock marks<img class=”tve_image” alt=”using microneedling for acne pock marks” style=”width: 547px” src=”//” width=”547″ height=”332″ data-attachment-id=”1506″>

(You can see an example of the pock mark scarring I am talking about and see the before and after pictures throughout 5 visits over 5 months – it works well with heavy scarring and light scarring)

The microneedling procedure helps to “break up” all of the glue and fibrosis underneath the skin which allows the skin to “let go” of the tenting and release the surface of the skin.

Naturally this results in a more smooth surface to your skin.

The best part?

Studies have shown that you can see results almost IMMEDIATELY after doing microneedling and in as little as two procedures.

Microneedling tends to work best on scars that are small, result in tenting of the skin or pocking of the skin. 

It doesn’t work as well for large lacerations (like the kind of scars that require stitches). ​

This procedure is also great if you have a slightly uneven texture from years of acne, but not overt scarring (like the pock marks mentioned above). ​

dermaroller plus vitamin C for acne scarring<img class=”tve_image” alt=”dermaroller plus vitamin C for acne scarring” style=”width: 525px” src=”//” width=”525″ height=”607″ data-attachment-id=”1507″>

(This is an image of the “rough” surface of the skin that can occur with mild but persistent acne over time. The skin just looks rough and not as refined as it once did, but over the course of 5 treatments you can clearly see that the skin starts to look young, smooth and refreshed again.)

#3. Reduces black heads

This is another pretty cool side effect of microneedling and is especially helpful for women who suffer from LOTS of black heads (especially those who have PCOS, or hormonal acne). 

 The controlled trauma and thousands of needle pokes actually liberate and knock out black heads during the entire procedure. 

Immediately after you will notice a reduction in the total volume of black heads on your face (especially in your nose, but be careful because the nose is sensitive!).

You will also notice that your pores are smaller in size for about 3-4 weeks after the procedure due to the healing effects and revascularization that occurs.

​The reduction in black heads doesn’t last forever though! It usually only lasts around 3-4 weeks which is right in time for when you would need to do the procedure again. 

You can further reduce black head and pore size by using the right kind of aftercare and Vitamin C serum. ​

#4. Treats acne and cystic acne

Not only does microneedling ​help treat acne scars, but it can also help treat and stop acne. 

How exactly it helps acne is not well understood but it seems to be due to the fact that microneedling results in a reduction in sebum production and makes the skin less oily.

Reducing oil production on the skin and reducing black heads likely plays a role as well…​

Either way, studies have shown that microneedling does indeed help treat acne. 

This is mostly helpful because it means you can still get the treatment done if you are having active breakouts.

This is important because some procedures (like dermaplaning) shouldn’t be done if you have active pimples. ​

In my experience microneedling shouldn’t be the ONLY treatment you use for acne but it’s something you should definitely explore because not only will it help stop acne but it will also treat any texture changes or small scars in your skin. 

#5. Exfoliates the skin 

​Pretty much any treatment that mechanically disrupts the epidermis will result in some exofliatiation. 

Exfoliation refers to removing the upper surface of the epidermis, usually the stratum corneum (which is the upper most skin layer).

This is important because your dead skin cells live on this layer and removing this layer of the epidermis makes your skin look fresh and smooth almost instantly.

This procedure isn’t as good as dermaplaning for exfoliation, but it still works!​

#6. Makes you look younger by reducing fine lines and wrinkles

This might be the single best and more important benefit of microneedling…

That it can actually help you LOOK younger and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

​How does microneedling make you look younger?

It has been shown that the small pin holes created by the thousands of needles​ break into the upper levels of the dermis and cause the release of growth factors to “repair” and “heal” from the microdamage that has been caused. 

Basically your body is overreacting to the small trauma thinking that there is a BIGGER trauma and this healing process results in the release of growth factors that increase collagen and elastin levels.

​In addition to the stimulation of collagen the microtrauma also results in the formulation of tons of little blood vessels which supply blood, oxygen and nutrients straight into the dermis. 

The combination of these changes results in a reduction in wrinkles, healing of photodamage and tightening of existing skin – all of which makes you LOOK younger.

vitamin c serum and aging process<img class=”tve_image” alt=”vitamin c serum and aging process” style=”width: 648px” src=”//” width=”648″ height=”407″ data-attachment-id=”816″>

If you remember from my Vitamin C serum guide you will know that ​90% of the reason we look older is because of sun damage (AKA photodamage) which is actually reversible with the right treatments. 

#7. Reduces hyperpigmentation and evens skin the skin tone​

Finally, microneedling also helps with your skin tone and can reduce hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation refers to the slight changes in your skin that can occur from inflammation, pimples, black heads, white heads, etc.

Basically any sort of skin problem results in changes in color to the underlying skin which doesn’t match the surrounding skin.

This leaves the skin looking blotchy and uneven.

So how does microneedling help?​

It is speculated that the microneedling increases expression of matrix mealloproteinases which reduces hyperpigmentation.

It’s also felt that the microneedling procedure reduces the growth of keratinocytes, but scientists don’t know for sure! ​

In addition microneedling can (and should) be combined with Vitamin C serum to help the healing process and Vitamin C serum has been shown to balance melanin levels as well.

So really the combination of microneedling and Vitamin C serum is what you should be aiming for.

It’s also worth mentioning that microneedling is actually preferred over laser treatments of hyperpimentation in women with darker colored skin (Fitzpatrick IV and V skin types).

The reason is because some women react with WORSENING pigmentation if using lasers and microneedling doesn’t have that problem. ​

Microneedling Before and After

I’ve included a picture of my before and after picture after just 1 round of microneedling. 

You can see from the picture that I was struggling with some pregnancy acne (hormones imbalances!).

The picture immediately after shows the pinpoint bleeding and this is a good thing and what it is supposed to look like.

You want to make sure you are getting some pinpoint bleeding, but the blood shouldn’t be dripping off of your face. ​

Side view microneedling before and after<img class=”tve_image” alt=”Microneedling before and after mesa arizona” style=”width: 500px” src=”//” width=”500″ height=”311″ data-attachment-id=”1275″>

Finally, the last pictures shows the results 48 hours after. 

You can see that some of the acne has cleared up, my pores are much smaller, my blackheads are reduced by about 50% (especially on my nose) and my skin looks softer and more smooth.

I plan to get more treatments (at least 1 per month) and I will continue to update this with my pictures as we go. ​

Numbing cream vs no numbing cream

Remember if you decide to get microneedling done that the procedure can be painful…

Afterall you are getting about a thousand tiny little poke holes into your epidermis.

Because of this it’s generally recommended that you use some sort of topical numbing cream.

I use BLT (benzocaine, lidocaine and tetracaine) combination.

If you let topical numbing cream sit on the face for about 20 minutes before the procedure then the pain is VERY minimal.

You will still likely feel some of it ​but it should be around a 2-3 out of 10 on a pain scale. 

If you are pregnant you can’t use the BLT numbing cream but you can still have the procedure done (as long as you can tolerate the pain!). ​

Boost your Microneedling Results with These Tips

If you want to get results you need to make sure that you are following a couple of rules.

FIRST you want to make sure that your practitioner is going deep enough.

Some of the cheaper dermapens only go to about 0.25 to 0.5mm.

In most cases this is not enough to stimulate the collagen production we want or result in pin point bleeding.

In most cases you will need at least a depth of 1.0mm and even up to 2.0 or 2.5 in some areas.

A good gauge to make sure you are going deep enough is if you have pinpoint bleeding after the procedure.

If you are bleeding slightly then you are on the right track.

In addition to the depth you can also boost your results by using Vitamin C serum and considering tretinoin PRIOR to your procedure: 

#1. Make sure to use a Vitamin C serum AFTER your procedure

Vitamin C serum is another big deal when it comes to microneedling. 

Most of the studies listed above used a combination of 20% vitamin C serum (in the L-ascorbic acid form) along with microneedling.

Adding Vitamin C serum to microneedling results in even more collagen formation, even better skin tones and a reduction in your healing time.

I use and recommend this product to all of the people who get microneedling done (and it’s the same one that I use). ​

iS Clinical Pro Heal Serum

Overall rating

Overall Quality

VERY high quality with a pure form of Vitamin C combined with antioxidants


Price is high, but well worth it

Personal Rating

Can be “layered” with other products for more benefit (I use this product daily)

Who should use it: 
  • People with photo damaged skin or with sun spots
  • People with aging skin (pretty much anyone over age 30)
  • People with very sensitive skin
  • People who are layering multiple products
  • L-Ascorbic Acid
  • Retinol
  • Bioflavinoids
  • Olive leaf extract
  • Tocopherol 
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • Apply 2-4 drops directly to your face after cleansing
  • Spread evening throughout your face and to your neck line
  • Avoid placing product in the eyes or in any orifice
  • Use in the morning if using active serum in the evening
  • Contains anti oxidants like Vitamin C, olive leaf extract and bioflavinoids
  • Contains vitamin A which has been proven to reduce fine lines and aging
  • Contains vitamin E which prevents photo damage
Recommended product: 

is clinical pro heal after dermaplaning<img class=”tve_image” alt=”is clinical vitamin c serum pro heal” style=”width: 294px” src=”//” width=”294″ height=”305″ data-attachment-id=”1494″>See more reviews here

#2. Consider using Tretinoin BEFORE your procedure (or other retinol containing products)

Another consideration, although this is more advanced, is to use tretinoin or retinol products prior to your procedure.

Tretinoin helps to reduce the epidermal layer by increasing the turnover time of your skin.

This effectively makes your skin more thin, which means that pretty much any therapy you do (microneedling included) will have a boosted effect.

using microneedling for acne pock marks<img class=”tve_image” alt=”tretinoin to use before microneedling” style=”width: 731px” src=”//” width=”731″ height=”251″ data-attachment-id=”1500″>

If I know someone has heavy scarring (like from acne) I will often recommend that they use tretinoin for 3-4 weeks BEFORE their microneedling procedure to get more benefit.

Be careful though:

If you use tretinoin then you need to let your artist know because your skin will be thinner and he/she may need to adjust the depth of the microneedle pen. ​

Wrapping it up

Bottom line?

Microneedling is probably one of my favorite procedures because it’s quick and provides serious and long lasting results. 

It’s no go-to therapy for women who want to look younger, for younger women with acne, or with women who have hormonal problems (like hypothyroidism and PCOS). 

Just remember to use Vitamin C serum with your aftercare for even better results!

Now it’s your turn:

Have you had microneedling done?

Did it work for you?

Why or why not?

Leave your comments below!

The Best Eyelash Growth Serum: Get Goddess Like Lashes (2018 Edition)

Is it possible to actually grow your eyelashes quickly and safely?

The answer is absolutely. 

Modern science has brought up (accidentally) some amazing serums that actually boost eyelash hair growth…

BUT, and this is a big but, not all products are created equally.

That means in order to get the best results you need to make sure you are using high quality products with high quality ingredients.

In this post I will walk you through the best eye lash growth serums including how to properly use them to get goddess like lashes in as little as 6 weeks. ​

eyelash growth guide

Do Eyelash Growth Serums Actually Work?

Let’s answer this question so we can get it out of the way…

YES, eyelash serums can absolutely help you grow your lashes back.

​You have to realize that your poor eyelashes, while important to you, are not very important as far as your body is concerned. 

That means that your lashes are one of the FIRST things to go if you have any sort of medical condition or hormone imbalance (I’m talking to you thyroid – more on that below).

eyelash before and after growth serum

Not only are your lashes the first thing to go, they are also one of the last things to grow BACK. 


Because all of the nutrients required for eyelash growth are usually better spent making hormones so you can survive and keep on kicking.

This is good news for your heart and lungs, but bad news for your lashes.

But don’t worry:

By using certain ingredients and nutrients we can basically bypass this system and provide your eyelashes with the vital components they need to GROW and to look beautiful. 

​If your eyelashes are looking like this (sorry for the picture!): 

hormones can damage eyelashes

Then you know you are in serious need of some lash love

Prescription Serums vs OTC serums

​Before we talk about over the counter eyelash growth serums we really should at least mention one of (if not THE best) lash serums on the market: Latisse. 

Latisse eyelash medication

Latisse is actually a prescription medication that is used to treat glaucoma. 

Doctors accidentally realized that patients using this medication (normally for the EYEBALLS) actually dramatically increased eyelash hair growth.

This is because the medication is actually a prostaglandin which is involved in hair growth stimulation.

And since the makers of the original medication wanted to make some more money they patented the medication has a cash only prescription designed specifically for growing back your eyelashes and Latisse was born. ​

One of the big problems with latisse is that it requires a prescription from an MD, dermatologist or plastic surgeon.

So while the cost the this medication is only around $50 ($44.17 if you live in Arizona), the cost of actually getting the prescription will be a lot more considering you need an appointment and you will have to pay a co-pay etc.

Price of latisse

If you happen to have a personal Dermatologist or Plastic surgeon on speed dial then you can always grab a quick prescription and be on your way, but if you aren’t so lucky then you will want to consider using over the counter products. 


Because they can work JUST as well as Latisse and come with much less hassle. ​

Benefits of using prescription lash serums like Latisse:


  • FDA approved for eyelash growth
  • Works quickly (within 6 weeks)
  • Purchased from a pharmacy which means you are getting the SAME product each and every time


  • Must be prescribed by a Doctor
  • Hassle to get refills (have to pay for doctors visit each and every time)
  • Family practice doctors or general practitioners may not know how to dose/prescribe the medication appropriately which means you may need a specialist

Benefits of using over the counter lash serums:  ​


  • Works just as well as Latisse long term
  • Easier to purchase (can be purchased over the counter)
  • High quality brands like Vichy and Phyto-medic produce high quality lash growth products
  • Include more natural ingredients


  • May be slightly more expensive initially but ends up being about the same price as Latisse after Physicians cost are factored in
  • Risk of buying fraudulent or fake products if you don’t know where to shop or look (I will go over this below)

Because you can get the same benefits when using over the counter eyelash growth serums I almost always recommend that you start with these products FIRST. 

It’s important to realize that some people may NEED the prescription latisse depending on what caused their eyelashes to fall out to begin with.

If you have multiple medical conditions and/or multiple hormone imbalances (like hypothyroidism) then you might want to consider using Latisse initially. ​

High Quality Eyelash Growth Serums

As I already mentioned you if you decide to purchase over the counter products you need to make sure you are buying high quality products. 

Look for products that have the term “Luxury Beauty” and a “Professional Beauty” tag to certain products to indicate that they are legitimate. 

You can find this tag under real products right below the price tag in a black and teal headline which indicates that this it the legitimate product. 

​If you don’t see this tag then avoid purchasing from that seller because it means you may be getting a fake product. 

​All of the products I have listed below are products that I have personally tried (at one point or another) and can verify that they are indeed high quality products that WORK. 

As always, I include the product that I LOVE the most as #1 🙂 ​

#1. RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner

First up on the list is Revitalash advanced eyelash conditioner.

In my opinion this is probably the BEST of the over the counter products and should probably be the FIRST eyelash growth serum that you try.

Here’s why:

Revitalash contains a combination of ​nutrients and vitamins that have been shown to help nourish eyelashes and hair follicles. 

Among the list of ingredients is biotin, green tea extract and Ginseng.

​In clinical studies the use of biotin has been shown to increase hair growth even if taken ORALLY. 

And it’s important to remember that we are talking about SERUMS here that go directly on your lashes and get VERY high absorption rates. 

Compare that to oral supplements that have to be digested, absorbed and transported to your EYELASHES to have any sort of effect.

In addition to these ingredients Revitalash also includes Saw palmetto which helps block androgen receptors on your lashes which prevents lashes from falling out (especially if you have PCOS or high testosterone levels).

​Along with these nutrients come other powerful amino acids and fat complexes that actually help nourish and “condition” existing lashes. 

The combination of these ingredients results in nutreints to promote growth, nutrients to stop lash loss and nutrients to nourish existing lashes.

​If you look at studies you can see that prostaglandin derivatives increase lash length, thickness and darkness (all associated with the subjective sense of beauty). 

And revitalash contains ingredients that help act to boost these effects. ​

prostaglandin analogs increase eyelash growth and density

How quickly will it start working? 

​One of the benefits of using growth serums is that most will start to work almost immediately. 

I don’t mean that your eyelashes will magically start growing within one day, but I do mean that you will notice a difference in terms of the texture and QUALITY of your eyelashes.

This immediate change stems from special ingredients that act almost like shampoo and condition for your little lashes.

They nourish your lashes and condition them so they look shinier, healthier and more full almost immediately.

The actual growth of your eyelashes will occur within about 4-6 weeks and you will notice a change in the thickness, darkness and even the length of your lashes.

​In most cases the average INCREASE in lash thickness is as much as double what it was previously

​Is Revitalash well tolerated or will I react when I use it? 

​This particular product is considered to be hypoallergenic (meaning it doesn’t exacerbate or cause allergies), non-irritating and clinically tested on real life people. 

How to Use RevitaLash Conditioner

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Contains well studied ingredients


High price, but high quality

Why I Love it

Works well for women of ALL ages

Who should use it: 
  • Anyone who wants longer and more beautiful lashes
  • Women with big events (wedding, birthday, bridal showers, event pictures/videos, etc.)
  • People with hormone imbalances like hypothyroidism that may result in lash damage or lack of lash growth
  • Women of all ages
  • Biopetin complex (contains biotin + green tea extract)
  • Ginseng and Swetia Japonica (both plants high in anti-oxidants to reduce inflammation and protect against free radical damage)
  • Saw palmetto (helps reduce androgen activation locally to reduce lash loss)
  • Wheat protein (healthy amino acids that promote lash growth and help condition existing lashes)
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • After cleansing your entire face and after your face is dry, apply a thin (one pass) of the serum across the top of your upper eyelid/eyelashes – this will allow proper absorption of all ingredients
  • Active ingredients promote eyelash growth through stimulation of hair follicles while other nutrients (saw palmetto) prevent lash loss and finally amino acids and fat complexes nourish existing lash volume and look
Recommended product: 

revitalash growth serum reviewSee more reviews here

You can find the complete ingredient list in the image below. 

Just realize that the ACTIVE ingredients are different from the INACTIVE ingredients that help dissolve the active products. ​

Complete Revitalash ingredient list: 

revitalash ingredient list

#2. Vichy LiftActiv Serum 10

​Next on the list is a Vichy product. 

This eyelash serum is special because it does TWO different things (and means that it might be better for certain people over others)…


​Vichy liftactiv serum helps to promote eyelash hair growth by increasing the time that your eyelashes spend in the “growing phase”

The special products of ceramides and hyaluronic acid help make this a reality. ​

​This helps your lashes grow longer and stronger MORE of the time. 

You can see an image of the elongation of the growth phase below: ​

eyelash growth cycle


In addition to also helping with your eyelash growth this product also helps reduce fine lines and WRINKLES by acting as an anti aging product. 

So this product has a double whammy and is better suited for people who want beautiful lashes AND for women who also have some premature signs of aging. 

This combination means that this particular product is better for women over the age of 35 to 40 years old. 


Because after age 30-35 women start to lose elastin and collagen in their skin which results in wrinkles

So how does vichy help this?​

This product contains a special ingredient known as Rhamnose which is a special plant sugar which has been clinically proven to help with skin rejuvination (making your skin look younger).

This ingredient is combined with the age old and tested hyaluronic acid which also helps hydrate and promote plump skin – especially around your eyelids where skin tends to sag. ​

Who should use Vichy lift serum?

​Consider this product your number one choice if you want to grow your lashes and have early signs of aging or are over the age of 35. 

If younger, or also using another anti-aging serum (like Vitamin C serum) then you can use Revitalash instead. ​

Is it tolerated well?​

​Yes, Vichy liftactiv is suitable for sensitive skin and is considered hypoallergenic as well. 

How to Use Vichy LiftActiv Serum 10 for your Eyes and Lashes

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

High quality products combined with anti-aging ingredients


Moderately priced compared to other brands

Why I Love it

Better for woman over the age of 35 not using anti-aging serum

Who should use it: 
  • Anyone who wants longer and more luscious eyelashes
  • Women who ALSO have early signs of aging or wrinkles around the eye’s and eyelids (This product has the added benefit of having some anti-aging properties)
  • Women who want better and longer eyelashes who are ALSO over the age of 35-40 (better to start with this product first)
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • This product is best when used TWICE daily – place a single drop of serum on your finger tips and massage into the entire eye contour and eyelid area (AWAY from your eyeball)
  • Rhamnose and hyaluronic acid help promote eyelash growth while ceramides and fat complexes help immediately nourish existing eyelashes
Recommended product: 

vichy liftactiv serum 10 lash reviewSee more reviews here

Complete ingredient list: 

Vichy ingredient list

#3. LashFood Phyto-Medic Eyelash Enhancer

​Next on the list is Lashfood by phyto-medic. 

This is included in the list because it is not only a luxury product it is also VERY well tolerated.

This eyelash growth serum should be considered if you have SUPER sensitive skin or if you have multiple food allergies.

I’m talking to the fair skinned people out there who get red skin when leaves gently fall and braise their skin.

​In a consumer study (I know they are generally not very reliable) Lashfood showed the following results:

  • 85% of people who used lashfood noticed an improvement in lash fullness
  • 100% of people who used lashfood noticed an increase in lash length
  • 100% of people who used lashfood noticed an increase in lash density and thickness
  • 0% noticed irritation of any kind while using lashfood

A consumer study is when people are chosen by the company who produces the product and given the product (usually free) for a 6-12 week test. 

They then send them a questionnaire and ask them a list of questions and then use the results to “prove” that their product works.

Obviously this isn’t the best way to tell if something works, BUT it does provide some insight into IF a product is likely to work.

In this case we do know that the product will work but we are more concerned about how well it was tolerated. ​

​If you have a gluten intolerance, autoimmune disease or lots of food allergies then lashfood should be your go-to product for beautiful lashes. 

​What else makes lashfood special?

Lashfood contains more natural ingredients based on herbs, proteins and fats that are designed to nourish and strengthen your existing brows.

One of the reasons that people tend to tolerate lashfood so well is because they use more natural ingredients, but this also may be why it’s not QUITE as effective as other eyelash growth serums. ​

Another benefit is that lashfood can be used with EXISTING eyelash extensions to provide growth to your brows so you don’t have to keep up with the extensions. ​

LashFood Phyto-Medic Eyelash Enhancer

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Contains more natural ingredients like amino acids and soy


Good price for the product

Why I Love it

Works better for patients with super sensitive skin and food allergies

Who should use it: 
  • People who want to grow their lashes but have VERY sensitive skin
  • People who don’t tolerate gluten or dairy based foods or products
  • People looking for a more natural product
  • People with eyelash extensions who want a more natural look
  • Women of all ages
  • Phyto-medic proprietary blend of natural herbs designed to reduce inflammation and manage free radicals
  • Lavender water to help nourish and condition lashes
  • Soy Protein to help provide nutrients directly for lashes for growth
  • Arginine – an amino acid which helps prevent lash breakage
  • Adenosine – designed to help rejuvenate surrounding skin and hair follicles
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • Each night swipe the applicator brush along the upper eyelid and eyelash to let nutrients into eyelash follicles, make sure to apply to completely DRY skin
  • If you have eyelash extensions, simply apply at the base of the extensions
  • Lashfood contains more natural ingredients but the majority of the heavy lifting comes from their botanicals and herbs designed to nourish existing lashes and promote growth of new lashes. Other products provide conditioning and provide immediate changes to existing lashes. 
Recommended product: 

lashfood eyelash enhancer reviewSee more reviews here

You can find more information about the ingredient list of lashfood below: 

Lashfood ingredient list

Budget Serum Recommendation

If you are dying to grow your lashes out but can’t afford any of the other products then I have also included a cheaper priced product (the best of the lower range products) that you can use. 

Whenever possible it’s ALWAYS better to use high quality products from trusted brands because they include higher quality ingredients.

Having said that I realize that $50-100 per vial of serum isn’t always in the price range of everyone…

With that in mind the best in the lower price range is the rapidlash eyelash and eyebrow serum: 

How to use Rapidlash Eyelash and Eyebrow Serum

Overall rating: 

Cheaper products are tempting to purchase, but they almost always result in sup par results when compared to higher quality products. 

Generally the price of these products is less due to skipping steps in the concentration of the ingredients and using cheaper but more irritating inactive ingredients. 

You might notice that hardly anyone lists exactly HOW MUCH of an ingredient they use, and it’s because they don’t actually have to. 

This means you can purchase the same product with the same ingredient but it might only be 1/10th as much as other products leading to less results. 

If you are in a pinch you can consider this product. 

  • Polypeptides
  • Biotin (Pro vitamin B-7)
  • Panthenol (Vitamin B-5)
  • Amino acids
  • Soybean oil
  • Pumpkin seed extract

rapid lash eyelash enhancing serum reviewSee other reviews

Other Tips to Grow your Lashes

While using lash growth serums is a great idea (and one I recommend for lasting results) you also should consider making several other changes to help improve the quality and density of your eyelashes. 

These tips will also potentially help you have better and longer lasting hair! That means eyebrows and hair on your head 🙂

I’ve included a complete list of other reasons that might cause your lashes to fall out. 

If you want to regrow your lashes, then you will need to treat the underlying cause of what is making your lashes fall out.

In some cases this may be difficult, but it’s always worth exploring.

If you can’t get your lashes to grow back, then you might need to consider using lash extensions for a short period of time while you get checked out by a physician (preferably a dermatologist).

What causes your eyelashes to fall out:

  • Psoriasis, neurodermatitis, alopecia, lichen planus, lupus erythematous, acanthosis nigricians
  • Prescription medications
  • Cholesterol medciations, anti thyroid medications, beta blockers and anti seizure medications
  • Hormone imbalances: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, pituitary insufficiency, hypoparathyroidism
  • Trauma
  • Radiation, previous surgeries, PTSD, anxiety, stress
  • Chronic infections: herpes, fungal infections
  • Inflammation
  • Cancers
  • Heavy metal exposure
  • Trichotillomania

medical conditions that cause eyelashes to fall out

Even if you aren’t sure what is causing your lashes to fall out you can still use the follow tips and tricks to help grow them back! 

#1. Take the proper supplements

First on the list is high quality supplements. 

Certain nutrients like zinc, iron, choline, silica and biotin are REQUIRED for optimal hair growth. 

If you pay attention to the ingredients inside hair, skin and nails supplements you will find that these nutrients are ALWAYS inside (or should be at least). 

What you may not know is that in order to get the benefits of taking these supplements you need to make sure you are taking a high enough dose. 

That generally means NOT taking one supplement that has everything in it, and instead taking a couple of supplements with high concentrations of the supplements you need. 

Another very important factor to consider when evaluating your hair loss or eyelash loss is how much iron you have.

Low iron levels (even if you don’t have anemia) can cause hair loss all over your body.

And as a woman you are at increased risk for developing iron deficiency due to your monthly cycle!

This explains why so many woman who start taking a pre natal vitamin start to grow their hair back.

It’s not because there is something magical in the pill, it’s because it contains iron!

Here is my favorite hair, skin and nails supplement that I use almost daily. ​

#2. Use High Quality Liners & Makeup 

​This might go without saying, but it’s worth mentioning. 

Another huge reason for lash loss, hair loss, etc. is due to slight reactions to inactive ingredients in low quality make up products.

This reaction can result in inflammation JUST at the level of your skin and epidermis which results in low grade inflammation in your hair follicles. 

The result of this inflammation is early signs of aging, pale discoloration to your skin, loss of eyelashes/eyebrows/hair and even some other signs such as redness or irritation. ​

You can avoid these reactions by monitoring how you react to certain make up products and only using high quality products that have FEW inactive ingredients. 

If you are very sensitive then you may need to make sure you use pure organic products that would be considered edible. 

#3. Avoid picking or tweezing them! And pretty much avoid touching them at all if you can help it

Believe me when I say that one of the single best things you can do for your eyebrows or eyelashes is to LEAVE THEM ALONE!

Some people have a nervous habit of simply picking at their skin or hair, others have the need to be a perfectionist which leads to almost no brows.

Even if it means going without makeup for a while (few weeks) it’s worth it, just leave your eyelashes alone while they grow.

Don’t go near them and don’t tweeze your brows while they are growing either! ​

Mechanical trauma from tweezing or pulling can actually irritate the follicle and blunt hair growth.

Do. Not. Do. It. 

#4. ​Avoid using fake lashes while they grow

This is an extension of #3. 

While you are using lash serum it’s best if you avoid putting ANYTHING on your lashes.

​While certain lash serums CAN be used with lash extensions (I’m talking about lashfood) doesn’t mean that you should. 

Adding lash extensions to your face counts as a minor trauma as far as your poor little eyelashes are concerned.

In addition, as the lash extensions come out they may pull some of your native eyelashes out along with them – not good!

If you can help it, avoid using lash extensions while you are using lash growth serum. ​

#5. ​Eat foods high in choline

Choline is a critical part of the hair follicle matrix and adequate choline helps give your hair (and eyelashes) a glow or sheen. 

You can increase your consumption of choline rich foods to help boost your hair growth naturally. 

Focus on these food groups: 

  • Cage free eggs (you can eat up to 3 per day while growing your lashes and hair)
  • Liver (if you can tolerate it!)
  • Meat of pretty much any kind
  • Seafood
  • Peanuts (stick to organic)
  • Spinach and Beets

Remember to also take a choline supplement as well! 

#6. Make sure to detox your liver​

A huge cause of poor hair growth is due exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals

You’ve heard of detox but you probably don’t know WHY it’s so important. 

Well, your body comes into contact with these endocrine disruptors on a DAILY basis. 

Even touching receipts or eating out of plastic containers can result in contact with these chemicals. 

Under normal circumstances your body doesn’t have a problem getting rid of them, but sometimes they can build up and cause problems. 

To make sure that you get rid of these chemicals consider taking a milk thistle, MSM or curcumin to help boost your liver’s ability to detox naturally. 

Here is a supplement you can try that works well. ​

#7. Get your hormones checked​

Next up:

Your hormones.

Whether you realize it or not your hormones play a huge role in hair growth, the quality of your skin and how quickly you age.

Because of their important role it’s ALWAYS important to make sure that you have your hormones under control when dealing with your hair or skin.

One of the biggest culprits is hypothyroidism.

Your thyroid directly regulates how quickly your hair grows and if it falls out or not.

Low thyroid states (but also high thyroid states) can lead to hair breakage, your eyebrows to fall out (especially the outer third) and changes to how your hair looks (curly, wavy, etc.).

Make sure you find a thyroid literate doctor to help you out! ​

#8. ​Wait patiently 🙂 

Lastly, and one of the more important steps, is to remember to wait patiently!

Growing back your lashes takes TIME. 

Don’t give up, just remember to follow these recommendations, use your lash serum and you will have beautiful lashes within 4-6 weeks 🙂 

Bonus Tip

Here is another trick that you might find helpful.

You can actually use your eyelash serum on your brows to help boost your eyebrow growth.

I will write another post on how to grow back your eyebrows, but just realize that you can take a small amount of your growth serum and apply it directly to your eyebrows as well. ​

​Apply at the same time that you apply to your lashes and make sure your brows are dry before application. 

Wrapping it up​


Eyelash growth serums can and do actually work, it’s just a matter of finding the right type of serum for YOUR body and YOUR skin.

Spend some time looking at my recommendations and find out which one works best for you.

But remember:

Stick to the high quality brands and look for brands that have the “professional beauty” or “luxury beauty” designation.

Now it’s your turn:

Have you tried to grow back your lashes?

What has worked for you? What hasn’t?

Leave your comments below! ​

7 Benefits of Lipotropic B12 Injections – Weight Loss + Energy & More

Lipotropic B12 shots can help you lose weight, improve your metabolism, grow your hair back and improve your mood. 


To be honest, these aren’t even all of the potential benefits that you might experience while using B12 shots.

​In this post I will walk you through the reason that I use a B12 + MIC injection EACH and EVERY week, what kind of benefits you might experience while using them and how to properly use them. 

Let’s jump in: 

Why Consider Lipotropic B12 Injections

Lipotropic B12 injections might be one of of the best shots you’ll ever receive.


​Because certain vitamins and nutrients have been scientifically proven to help you in various ways (more on that below). 

Enter lipotropic B12 injections.

These shots are formulated to contain a combination of the following vitamins:

  • Methylcobalamin (Vitamin B12)
  • Methionine (Essential amino acid)
  • Inositol (Critical vitamin)
  • Choline 

​This combination of vitamins and nutrients has some very interesting properties that make them very attractive if you are trying to lose weight. 

This is one of the main reasons that these B12 shots are used in weight loss offices around the United States.

​But what might be more shocking to you is exactly HOW they work to help with weight loss and what other benefits you might get by using them. 

Let’s jump into the more obvious benefits, like weight loss, and move toward the less obvious benefits. ​

Lipotropic B12 benefits guide

#1. More Weight Loss

Lipotropic B12 injections help you lose weight but probably not how you think. 

We are conditioned to believe that there is some magical pill to help us lose weight, and that just isn’t the case. 


Because weight gain is through a combination of factors including diet, hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep and immune system imbalances

Knowing that gaining weight is ​more complex than simply eating more food, it’s easy to understand that losing weight may require more than just 1 therapy. 

​So how does B12 + MIC fit into the equation?

Well through several mechanisms:

First the B12 helps increase energy levels and boost your metabolism which both indirectly lead to weight loss.

Secondly the MIC portion (standing for methionine, inositol and choline) help to actually BURN more fat while exercising.

So the combination of the two can really improve your overall weight, but for best results they should ALWAYS be used as part of a complete treatment plan.

That means the combination of exercise, stress reduction, diet, and specialized hormones.

#2. Increased Metabolism

Another very important benefit of using B12 + MIC is that it directly impacts your metabolism. 


Because B12 and Inositol are involved in the mitochondrial production of energy.

This may not sound important until you realize that your metabolism DEPENDS upon your mitochondria.

Let me explain:

Your mitochondria produce most of the energy in your body. This energy is then released as heat through daily living such as breathing, eating, sleeping and moving.

The more energy you burn at rest the higher your metabolism will be and the more calories you will burn.

Vitamin B deficiencies are quite common and they can lead to a lower than normal metabolism resulting in weight gain over time. ​

So that means that if you have low vitamin B12 (there’s a high chance you do) taking B12 injections will BOOST your metabolism back to normal and help with weight loss.

Don’t forget that when it comes to weight loss one of the most important factors for determining if you will keep your weight off is your metabolism. ​

#3. Improved Liver Detoxification

This one may not sound very interesting until you realize that your liver is required to get rid of pretty much everything you come into contact with on a daily basis. 

And nowadays, that is quite a lot.

Even your own hormones must be metabolized through the liver for proper elimination!

Certain nutrient deficiencies, like choline, are required for optimal phase I and phase II elimination pathways in the liver.

These are the same pathways that help you metabolize certain medications, nutrients and hormones.

A reduction in the efficiency of these pathways means you will have a build up of endocrine disruptors and other chemicals that act on hormonal receptors in your body.

These endocrine disruptors can lead to hormone imbalances like hypothyroidism and weight gain, so it is critical that you take care of them ASAP. ​

​The C part of MIC stands for Choline which is involved in these pathways!

That means that taking choline can help boost your detox and help you get rid of these endocrine disruptors. ​

#4. Better sleep

Are you having difficulty with sleeping? 

You probably didn’t realize but lack of sleep is well known, and proven, to cause weight gain and blood sugar issues. 

You probably also didn’t know that Vitamin B12 actually improves your circadian rhythm and helps the depth and quality of your sleep.

​It’s worth pointing out that the study above showed that methylcobalamin and NOT cyanocobalamin helped improve the quality of sleep. 

This is important because cyanocobalamin is a cheap form of Vitamin B12 that is used in certain supplements and its the type of B12 that you DON’T want to use.

Stick to high quality vitamin B12 in the methylcobalamin form

#5. Better and Stronger Hair

Are you having issues with the texture or quality of your hair?

Have you noticed that your hair is not quite what it used to be?

Or even that your hair might be falling out more in the shower?

If you’ve noticed that ANY of the following situations may be true in your life you should consider using B12.


Because it turns out that studies have shown that in order to have optimal hair growth you NEED to have the following nutrients optimized:

  • Vitamin B12: Serum levels must be greater than 600
  • Ferritin: Serum levels be higher than 50
  • Hemoglobin: Serum levels must be higher than 13

It’s important that you evaluate your hair loss and get these nutrients checked if you are experiencing hair loss. 

​Because of this connection it’s not uncommon that women notice an improvement in both the texture and the quality of their hair after using B12 + MIC injections


Because they are probably deficient in B12 without even realizing it until they replete the B12 in their body. ​

#6. More Energy

You probably already know that Vitamin B12 is considered the energy Vitamin. 

That’s why it’s in almost every energy drink known to man. 

For the reasons we discussed previously (its involvement in the mitochondria) B12 can actually boost your energy

But what you may not know is that oral B12 supplements may not be properly absorbed into your body. 


Because absorption of B12 requires proper amounts of stomach acid and hormones to be functioning properly to be absorbed. 

Because of this many people are taking B12 but still remain deficient and no amount of oral B12 is enough to fix the problem because they don’t absorb it. 

That’s where B12 shots come in:

B12 shots are ALWAYS absorbed because they bypass the GI tract and go directly into your subcutaneous tissues and muscles. 

This is why so many people notice an increase in energy while using B12 shots! 

#7. ​Better Mood

Another huge benefit to using MIC + B12 shots is that they can improve your mood AND concentration. 

Nowadays so many people suffer from the symptoms of depression or just feeling “down” that it’s almost considered normal.

It is NOT normal to feel depressed and it is NOT normal to feel down.

These feelings are almost always an early indicator of something wrong inside of your body, usually nutrient deficiencies or hormone imbalances.

B12 shots have been shown to IMPROVE mood if used by themselves or in combination with other medications.

Back to you

​Bottom line?

B12 injections when combined with MIC have the potential to do so much more than help you lose weight.


In order to get these benefits you have to make sure you are using them correctly.

That means the right type of Vitamin B12 at the right dosage.

Make sure if you use B12 you get methylcobalamin and that you take ​at least 5,000mcg of B12 each week along with the MIC component. 

If you have any questions about how to use this combination please leave your comments below! ​

The Best Wrinkle Fillers For Women that Actually Work (2018 Edition)

It IS possible to turn back the clock and reverse the signs of aging. 

All it takes is the right knowledge and the right application of certain high quality products (and some other changes) to get it right.

In this guide I will walk you through the best wrinkle fillers of 2017 that actually work to reduce those fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin and “sun spots”.

Let’s dive in: ​


Quick NavigationOver the Counter Wrinkle Fillers vs Dermal FillersPROSCONSPROSCONSThe Best Wrinkle Fillers of 2017#1. iS Clinical Youth Complex with Innovase#2. Meaningful Beauty Ultra Lifting and Filling Treatment#3. Obagi Hydrate Luxe Moisture-Rich Cream#4. Obagi Professional-C SerumWrinkle Fillers to AVOIDRoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle FillerOther Strategies to Look YoungerBack to you

Are Wrinkle Fillers Too Good to be True?


It’s something every single one of us will have to deal with at some point in our lives.

But what if we could do something about it?

Wrinkles in the skin image

​What if you could SLOW down the aging process and turn back the clock 5, 10 or 15 years?

​Thanks to some amazing science and some very high quality products, that dream can now become a reality. 

So to answer the question:

Are wrinkle fillers too good to be true?

The answer is definitely a resounding NO.

Wrinkle fillers can actually work, but you have to use the right ones that are both high in quality and contain enough of the active ingredients to help your skin.

​To understand how these special creams and fillers can help with your wrinkles we need to understand WHY we have wrinkles in the first place. 

​And this is where things get interesting…

It’s estimated that 90% of the ​signs of aging and getting older can be attributed to one thing: 

Sun damage (otherwise known as photodamage).

​The dermatologists like to refer to it as photodamage so we will too. 

Photodamage results in several changes that make your skin look older:

  • Loss of subcutaneous tissues and fat which leads to “sagging”
  • Breakdown in collagen which leads to uneven texture resulting in wrinkles
  • Damage resulting in changes to melanin which causes dark spots or hyperpigmentation in certain areas
  • Disordered stratum corneum (top layer of the skin) which is normally well organzied, this changes the “texture” and “quality” of your skin

To illustrate this point I have included the various stages of aging as it relates to sun damage below: 

aging over time due to photo damage

You can clearly see the decline in the subcutaneous tissue, the addition of wrinkles, the change in tissue texture and the alteration in the skin tone as you progress from grade 1 through 8. 

What’s even more interesting is that much of this damage can occur simply due to sun damage, not necessarily just from age.

In fact studies have shown that a higher percentage of sun damage will actually make you look older!​

sun damage and how aged a woman looks

This graph easily outlines what happens with chronic sun exposure. 

You can see that with just a small amount of sun exposure (in this case about 3-5%) a woman will look 3 years older. 

On the flip side, a reduction in sun exposure by 3-5% will make a woman look 3 years YOUNGER. 


Now we are talking and this gives us a way to reverse the clock.

If we focus on healing photo damage, reducing sun exposure and by “plumping” up the skin we can create a serum that actually reverses the aging process.

​And that’s exactly how these wrinkle fillers work. 

They actually reverse sun damage and provide the right nutrients to help regrow your collagen (more on that later).

​Is photo damage the only cause of aging? 

Not so fast.

There are also many other factors that attribute to that last 10%…​

​Other factors that lead to rapid aging and wrinkles:

  • Smoking
  • Genetics
  • Pollution
  • Vitamin and nutrient deficiencies
  • Illness
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Hormone imbalances (and menopause)
  • And even some medications

​I’ve included these here just to make sure you know about them. Because if you are still smoking, or not taking any hair skin or nails vitamins then you need to get on top of those ASAP. 

​The wrinkle fillers we are going to talk about definitely work, but they are better if they are used as part of a whole treatment plan that includes a healthy diet, serums, lots of water and some vitamins. 

Over the Counter Wrinkle Fillers vs Dermal Fillers

​We also need to spend a quick minute talking about dermal fillers and about over the counter wrinkle fillers. 

Over the counter wrinkle fillers work by changing the STRUCTURE of your skin.

They help your skin to naturally regrow and reverse the signs of aging by using special ingredients, vitamins and serums.

Dermal fillers, on the other hand, work by simply adding in a collagen like substance straight into certain areas of your face.

They are synthetically created and then injected under the skin to provide immediate results.


Which kind of treatment should you get?

I’m a fan of using the all natural approach because it’s more healthy, but I also understand the need for some people to use the fillers.

It’s also a good idea to consider using BOTH at the same time, because you will get the best bang for your buck and you will get immediate results.

OTC Wrinkle Fillers benefits:


  • Help treat the underlying CAUSE of wrinkles and aging
  • Are natural and contain natural ingredients
  • Can be used long term
  • Don’t require a procedure to use
  • Will also help nourish the skin and treat other problems like acne


  • Take weeks to take effect
  • May be expensive to get the right ingredients at the right dose
  • Must be used daily for best results
  • Some people may not tolerate ingredients (may get a rash, etc.)

Dermal fillers benefits: 


  • You get Immediate results
  • May potentially help you look younger than using serums alone
  • Can be combined with serums to achieve LONG TERM and lasting effects


  • Not necessarily natural approach
  • Will fade over time (usually 6 to 18 months)
  • Requires a small procedure that may be painful
  • The procedure is expensive
  • Results depend on the person doing the procedure

One is not necessarily better than the other. 

Because of that make sure you take a long look at the pros and cons and determine which will be best for YOUR body.

If you’ve decided to at least learn more about the serums (great choice!) then continue reading and we will go over which ones ACTUALLY work. ​

The Best Wrinkle Fillers of 2017

If you want to find a wrinkle filler that works you need to look for some special ingredients. 


Because only certain ingredients (and certain volumes) help to reverse the signs of aging and get rid of those wrinkles.

is clinical before and after youth complex

​One of the most beneficial anti-aging ingredients is high quality Vitamin C. 

Vitamin C in the L-ascorbic acid form at 20% concentration and at a pH of 3.5 has been clinically proven to reduce those wrinkles.

​In addition to Vitamin C high quality anti oxidants and anti inflammatory agents (like olive oil extract, Vitamin C + E) can help reduce DNA damage from the sun. 

Other products contain specialized galactomannans that have been shown to help your skin absorb and retain moisture to provide a “plump” look.

Right up there in terms of importance is Retinol. 

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A (which can be used along with Vitamin C) can has been shown to increase collagen production in the skin and even out skin tones

As you can see there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach to reducing your wrinkles. 

But rest assured that ALL of the products listed below contain the all important ingredients listed above in high enough dosages to help provide the anti-aging look you are searching for. 

​If you see Professional Beauty or Luxury Beauty you can rest assured that you are getting the REAL deal, not some knock off product. 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s jump into my favorite products: 

#1. iS Clinical Youth Complex with Innovase

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

High quality with studied ingredients and science to back it up


Price is higher than other brands

Personal Rating

I personally use this product but do switch between other products on occasion

Who should use it: 
  • Anyone over the age of 35 who is also noticing subtle changes to their skin like sagging, fine lines, wrinkles or a lack of moisture
  • The earlier you start using a product like this the better, so get started BEFORE the wrinkles start to appear!
  • White Willow Bark Extract (shown to reduce the signs of aging) also helps to exfoliate the epidermis and reduce pore size
  • Copper tripeptide Growth Factor (helps promote skin growth and can visibly help reduce wrinkles if used over time)
  • Hyaluronic acid (helps increase moisture)
  • Mixed fruit acid extracts to help reduce inflammation and oxidation
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • Must be applied to the face and neck each day, works best if combined with high quality Vitamin C serum + moisturizer
  • Natural anti inflammatory agents help to reduce inflammation while growth factors help regenerate skin and even out collagen – the end result is a reduction in wrinkles over time
Recommended product: 

If you are looking for a product to apply to your entire face and neck area then use this one: 

is clinical youth complex to reverse agingRead more reviews here

If you are looking for a product directly for the eyes and “crows feet” then use this product: 

Is clinical eye youth complexRead more reviews here

I’ve found that woman over the age of 40 tend to do better with this particular brand. 

If you are younger than 40, or have very oily skin, then the other preparations listed below will likely serve you better. 

Next up is a product from meaningful beauty and endorsed by Cindy Crawford. 

I generally tend to avoid products with celebrity endorsements, but if they work they work.

And this product tends to work well for a certain sub group of people.


Younger women under the age of 40 with oily skin. ​

Reviews for this product are very positive, but like all products you want to make sure you are getting the REAL DEAL! 

Most of the poor reviews you see out there come from people who received the fake product. 

​Another interesting fact is that in a 12-week consumer perception study (not the best study I know) the vast majority of people who used the Ultra lifting and filling treatment experienced several benefits including: 

  • 93% saw skin that looked significantly firmer, tighter and more lifted
  • 96% reported that their skin looked younger visually
  • 100% said their skin appeared more luminous and looked more “plump”

​While this isn’t necessarily hard data, it’s always helpful to know that products help the majority of people that use them. 

It’s also important to realize that simply by increasing moisture in your skin you can also reduce some fine lines and wrinkles. ​

#2. Meaningful Beauty Ultra Lifting and Filling Treatment

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

High quality with high quality ingredients


Great price and value for ingredients

Personal Rating

Not my favorite but has worked well for my friends

Who should use it: 
  • I find this product works best for women under 40 with oily skin who are noticing a small amount of winkles/changes to their skin who want to PREVENT further issues form arising
  • If you have heavy photodamage then you will need to use a stronger product or combine this with Vitamin C serum
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • Can be applied to the face, neck and chest
  • Should be used daily in the morning AFTER cleansing (apply to all areas in need)
  • Anti inflammatory agents help prevent future sun damage
  • Vitamin C helps even skin tone and promote collagen production
  • Glycerin helps to promote moisture while Hyaluronic acid helps reduce pore size
Recommended product: 

Meaningful beauty anti aging treatmentRead more reviews here

As you’ve probably noticed each product has a slightly different design and way to help reduce wrinkles. 

This next product isn’t different.

Instead of focusing on regrowth of collagen it promotes an increase in epidermal moisture resulting in more “plump” skin that “fills out” the existing wrinkles.

The benefit to using this kind of approach is that it works VERY quickly and results are seen within a few weeks. ​

I’ve included it here because the combination of this hydration product plus Professional-C (also by Obagi) is something I used for a long time and it works well. ​

#3. Obagi Hydrate Luxe Moisture-Rich Cream

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Very high quality (Obagi products are used in dermatology & plastic surgery offices)


The price is higher, but in this case you get what you pay for

Personal Rating

Can be used with other facial creams and products

Who should use it: 
  • People with photo damage, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation due to sun damage AND with loose or sagging skin
  • Best if used in combination with Vitamin C + other youth serums to help moisturize and hydrate skin
  • Hydromanil
  • Glycerin
  • Mango, Shea and Avocado
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • Apply a small dab to your face in the evening (use after toner and cleanser)
  • If using Vitamin C serum, place this moisturizer on your face before you apply serum
  • Hydromanil has been clinically shown to increase the moisture and “plump” up the skin
  • Contains galactomannans which improve moisture in the stratum corneum
  • Glycerin allows the epidermal skin cells to absorb and retain more water
  • Natural ingredients like Mango, Shea and Avocado help reduce inflammation and repair the skin with anti oxidants
Recommended product: 

Use this product if you want to improve the texture and quality of your entire face: 

Obagi hydrate luxe wrinkle fillerRead more reviews here

If you are interested in just the eye area or around your “frown” lines then this product is better: 

Obagi elastaderm eye wrinkle creamRead more reviews here

Last up on the high quality list is Obagi Professional-C Serum. 

Vitamin C pretty much HAS to be a part of your skin regimen in some form or another.


Because no other ingredient (well except for Retinol) has been studied as much as Vitamin C and has been proven time and time again to increase collagen, even out skin tones, reduce photo damage by acting as an anti-oxidant and ​improve the texture of your skin. 

This effect is so important I’ve written extensively about how to pick out the best vitamin C serum (including which products to purchase and which to avoid).

You can read the full guide here.

#4. Obagi Professional-C Serum

Overall rating: 

Overall Quality

Contains high concentrations of L-ascorbic acid but no other ingredients


High price, but high quality

Why I Love it

Definitely works but may be better for women older than 40 or women with oily skin

Who should use it: 
  • People with oily skin
  • People with photo damage or extreme sun damage
  • People who have done well on other obagi products in the past
  • Bullet Point 2
  • L-Ascorbic acid (active ingredient)
  • prpylene glyccol (inactive)
  • Zinc chloride (inactive)
  • Calcium hydroxide (inactive)
How to use it: 
Why it works
  • Apply 5-7 drops directly to your face after cleansing
  • Spread evening throughout your face and to your neck line
  • Use in the evening
  • Make sure product is protected form the sun
  • Contains 20% Vitamin C which promotes collagen production and stimulates growth in the skin to even skin tones
Recommended product: 

Obagi professional vitamin c serumSee more reviews here

Bottom line?

The approach you take and which serums you use is largely dependent upon YOUR skin and YOUR goals.

Because this process can be tricky and does require some element of trial and error, I’ve included my personal regimen below.

Just realize that this was the result of lots of trial and error on my part and it fits my needs perfectly (I’m trying to prevent damage from occurring!). ​

My recommended combination and what I use:

​I never said looking younger was cheap, but if you follow this guide you will at least look 10 years younger than all of the woman you know. 

If you have questions about my personal regimen please leave them below 🙂 

Wrinkle Fillers to AVOID

Not all wrinkle fillers are created equally.

When it comes to skin care products you generally get what you pay for.

I know it can be tempting to get a cheap ​

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Filler

Overall rating: 

Many of the cheaper products contain low concentrations of active ingredients and cheap fillers that may make your skin react. 

I’ve found it’s best to stick to high quality ingredients and brands that tell you EXACTLY what is in their products (and the amounts). 

​Avoid products that have lots of reviews from giving away the product for free. 

wrinkle fillers to avoidLearn more

Other Strategies to Look Younger

As I mentioned above, you also need to take other steps if you want your skin to look young and healthy. 

Believe me when I say that the woman who make your headstop are ALSO doing these things, and they shouldn’t come as a secret.

If you are interesting in looking and FEELING younger make sure you follow these steps as well: ​

7 anti aging tips

#1. Get enough sleep

​One of the best things you can do is get 8 hours of sleep. 

Lack of sleep leads to weight gain, more stress and even high blood sugar!

Let your brain and body relax EVERY night and make it a priority. Your skin will thank you.

#2. Drink enough water

Hydration is important for skin texture but also for cleansing your body.

One of the best ways to keep your skin nice and plump is with up to 1 gallon of water each and every day.

Couple this with exercise that builds up a good sweat and your skin will look refreshed every day. ​

#3. Be smart about sun exposure

We got just done mentioning that sun exposure is responsible for 90% of the aging process, so this one is really important.

But not ALL sun is bad sun.

It’s actually necessary to get some Vitamin D from the sun.

To get the sun you need spend time only in the sun during the hours of Noon to 2pm and only for 10-20 minutes at a time.

Other times of the day you should protect your skin because the suns rays contain more UVA rays which can cause the photodamage that leads to aging. ​

#4. Eat healthy (whole foods)

Eating whole foods will help increase nutrients in your body and maintain proper hormones.

Eating pizza, dairy, refined carbs and sugar can lead to acne, weight gain and other inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea.

If you want to pick a diet start with the paleo diet and figure out what works best for you from there!​

#5. Get your hormones checked and consider using hormones

Hormone imbalances like hypothyroidism, estrogen dominance and PCOS lead to big changes in your skin.

​These conditions lead to very difficult to treat hormonal acne that requires more than just topical ingredients. 

If you don’t have normal hormone balance in your body then your skin conditions won’t go away, and no amount of serums/creams/lotions will cover up the problem.

Also, one of the best things you can do to prevent the aging process is use normal and healthy amounts of bio identical hormones.

If you are a post menopausal woman you should consider discussing this with your Doctor, because the proper use of Estradiol and progesterone can literally stop the aging clock.

This is how women in their 60’s look like they are in their 40’s – bioidentical hormones is one of the best kept anti aging secrets. ​

#6. ​Take Vitamins

​I’m talking about more than just hair skin and nails. 

Vitamins like Zinc, Vitamin C and Selenium are all required for normal hair growth and for proper skin development.

Make sure your body has enough of these valuable nutrients. ​

#7. Get high quality skin care products! ​

A reminder:

Stick to high quality skin care products that you KNOW will work.

Any brand recommended on this blog will fit the bill and is safe to use. ​

Using low quality products and brands may lead to further damage down the line. ​

Back to you

The bottom line?

If you want to reduce those wrinkles and have younger looking skin you are going to need to work for it.

Make sure to find a product that contains Vitamin C, Retinol and other moisturizing components like peptides to help your skin.

These products have been clinically shown to reverse the signs of aging by increasing collagen product and by helping your skin retain moisture.

In addition make sure to only purchase high quality products from reputable sources.

Now it’s your turn:

What products are you using to fill in your wrinkles?

What products do you LOVE?

Did any of my recommendations make your list as well?

Leave your comments below!