How to use obagi clear as a skin lightener

How to Use Obagi Clear as a Skin Lightener & More

Are you interested in lightening your skin or reducing the appearance of age?

If so then the Obagi Clear product may be what you are looking for. 

Learn more about using Obagi clear including who should use it, how it works, why it works and the side effects associated with this facial cream:


What is Obagi Clear?

Obagi clear is the name of one of the products in the 6 step Obagi Nu Derm system. 

If you haven’t read about that system I would recommend you take a look at it here. 

The obagi nu derm system is a 6 step system designed to target all aspects of the aging process and really helps to promote healthy vibrant skin. 

Obagi clear is the third step in this system and its job is to help skin tone. 

It does this by helping to lighten the skin through some very special ingredients. 

But before we talk about the Obagi Clear we should take a few minutes to talk about what Obagi is in general. 

If you’ve ever been to a medical spa or dermatology office then no doubt you’ve heard or have seen Obagi products. 

Obagi is a set of cosmetic and dermatologic products created by medical professionals which contain scientifically backed ingredients that have been rigorously tested for efficacy. 

What does that mean for you?

Basically it means that Obagi products have the scientifically tested ingredients and they have been shown to be effective. 

Does that mean they will work for everyone?

Well, not necessarily – but it means that there is a HIGH chance that they will! 

So with that in mind let’s talk about the specific of Obagi clear. 

Arbutin vs Hydroquinone for Skin Lightening

As I mentioned previously the goal of using Obagi Clear is to help lighten the skin. 

But why is this even a concern?

It may surprise you to know that the #1 concern for aging women is NOT wrinkles

It’s actually the change in skin texture and the addition of age spots.

Now this makes sense if you think about it. 

There is a huge focus on the use of cosmetic dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle products such as Botox or Juvederm. 

Even if you didn’t want to use those you could still consider the use of laser therapy or over the counter hydration wrinkle filler serums that actually do improve wrinkles. 

So from that perspective it seems like the wrinkle issue has been covered really well. 

But what about skin texture and color?

That one is a little more obscure and even though many women want a change they may not even be sure how to get it. 

Traditionally lightining and brightening the skin was the job of high quality Vitamin C serum or other plant based products such as Kojic Acid – but these may not be effective for everyone. 

This is where Obagi clear steps in:

Obagi clear contains an ingredient known as Arbutin. 

Arbutin acts directly on the melanocytes in your skin and PREVENTS the formation of new melanin or new pigment by blocking the tyrosinase enzyme

If you don’t care about the science so much let me break it down:

Basically your body creates melanin which you can consider the pigment of your skin when it is exposed to certain conditions – sunlight, UV light, age, etc. 

Tyrosinase is a critical enzyme in this process and if you can block this enzyme then you can REDUCE the amount of pigment being created. 

Make sense?

So that’s exactly what Arbutin does. 

The awesome part about arbutin is that it is a naturally occuring plant based substance which comes from the bearberry plant. 

This is beneficial because most plant based products tend to be much less irritating! 

If you’ve spent any time researching your skin you are probably aware of another skin lightener known as Hydroquinone. 

You can think of hydroquinone as a much stronger version of arbutin but one that requires a prescription from your Doctor and one that may cause irritation in certain patients.

Hydroquinone is definitely worth knowing about, though, because it may be effective in many people. 

One of the potential downsides of using hydroquinone is that once you stop using it your pigmentation issues may return which means you need to cycle on and off this product. 

But does that mean you shouldn’t use it?

Not necessarily, like anything you want to make sure that you find what works best for YOUR body and it may take a little bit of trial and error. 

So going back to Arbutin for a minute, what conditions will it help and who should use it? 

I’ve provided a list of potential people and conditions that may benefit from the use of Arbutin found in Obagi clear: 

  • Those with sun spots or age spots
  • Those suffering from medical conditions such as Melasma
  • Patients with freckles that they would like to minimize
  • People with hyperpigmentation from healing acne or cystic acne
  • Ruddy texture often associated with age
  • And other skin conditions which cause pigmentation or color changes to the skin

Can Obagi Clear be Used Alone?

This is another frequent question that I hear. 

And it makes perfect sense. 

If Obagi Clear is part of a 6 step system then can it be used by itself?

And the answer is a resounding yes. 

Almost all of the Obagi products in the Nu Derm system can be used and mixed and matched with other products outside of Obagi and they still work quite well. 

In fact that is generally what I recommend to people who are just starting out. 


Because it would be silly to assume that only one company has the BEST product in every category!

That’s not true by a long shot. 

And this problem is further complicated by the fact that each person is unique and different. 

So the bottom line is you may want to try just 1 or 2 of the Obagi Nu derm system before you fully commit to it. 

Obagi Clear Ingredient List

Active ingredients (these are the ingredients that make Obagi clear work): 

Inactive ingredients (these ingredients help create the texture, smell and help stabilize the active ingredients): 

  • Water
  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Glycerin
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Saponins
  • Sodium metabisulfate
  • BHT
  • Disodium EDTA
  • Butylparaben
  • Methylparaben
  • Propylparaben

Obagi products do tend to be quite effective but it is worth noting that they do contain many chemical ingredients. 

If you are more naturally inclined and like to stick to organic or plant based facial products then this may not be the product for you!

This is also true if you have HIGHLY sensitive skin – you may want to skin to plant based serums and creams. 

Side Effects & What to Expect

In general Obagi clear is very well tolerated and has few side effects. 

Very rarely some people may actually notice an increase in pigmentation (this is a very rare side effect). 

Other individuals with very sensitive skin may break out with rashes or bumps on their face. 

These side effects are rare but do happen and they can be completely eliminated when you stop using the cream. 

Where to get Obagi Clear

Traditionally Obagi products were only available through a medical provider. 

As a company Obagi does their best to prevent counterfeit products and limits selling the product to certain third parties. 

In the past that meant that if you wanted to purchase Obagi you needed to go to your local Med Spa to get it. 

That isn’t the case anymore. 

Now there are verified and legitimate third party distributors on Amazon that sell the real product. 

You can identify these legitimate third parties by looking for the “professional beauty” tag underneath the price tag.

I’ve provided a direct link to make it easier for you or you can search for it by yourself if you prefer!

Overview of Obagi Clear Fx

Why I Like it:

  • Natural skin lightener which isn’t as strong as Hydroquinone
  • Can be combined with other products such as Vitamin C serum to promote healthy skin
  • Dislike: Some chemicals in the product which may not be suitable for highly sensitive skin. 

Why it works:

  • Contains Arbutin and Vitamin C which have a lot of scientific evidence to support their use in anti-aging
  • Also contains alpha hydroxy acids such as lactic acid to promote  
  • Vitamin E and Vitamin C promote healing of the skin by acting as anti-oxidants to prevent sun damage
  • Arbutin promotes melanin suppression by limiting tyrosinase activity

How to use it:

  • This cleanser can be used in both the AM and the PM after cleansing and toning -> it can also be combined with vitamin C serum
  • Can be used on all skin types
  • *Note: This product does contain sulfites so you should not use this product if you have a known sulfite allergy

Obagi nu derm clearSee other reviews

Final Thoughts

Does Obagi clear work?

The answer is yes and it’s most likely due to the combination of arbutin and Vitamin C which both promote the same thing – skin lightening. 

While it is a very effective serum to help with hyperpigmentation syndromes it is not the only product with arbutin in it

Make sure that you spend time evaluating your skin and finding the best product for your face! 

This may take some trial and error but you will get there over time. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Have you used Obagi clear before?

Did it work for you to lighten your skin?

Why or why not? 

Leave your comments 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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