Obagi c serum review

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!​

Kat Rich

Hi! I'm Kat and I write these posts. I'm obsessed with eyebrows, hair and anything related to fitness. Right now I do microblading, 3d brows and semi-permanent eyebrows in Mesa, Arizona as a certified microblading artist. I'm a licensed cosmetologist and have been for over 10 years as well. I love experimenting with new products and love to share my experiences. Have questions? Leave them below!

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