Obagi nu derm reviews

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!​

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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