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All Obagi Products & Purchasing Guide for 2018: Pro’s & Con’s & More

Have you heard about the Obagi skin care line?

Do you want to know more about the products?

This guide will teach you basic information about all Obagi products including who should use which products, which products to avoid and which products are considered the best.

Let’s dive in: 


Quick NavigationThe Best Obagi ProductsPROSCONS#1. Obagi Retinol#2. Obagi Nu Derm System (6 Product Line)#3. Obagi Hydroquinone#4. Obagi 360 System (3 Product Line)#5. Obagi Eye Cream (ELASTIderm Eye Products)#6. Obagi Vitamin C Serums#7. Obagi CLENZIderm SystemObagi Buying Guide – Where can you get these Products?

Obagi: Medical Grade Skin Care

If you’ve spent any time researching high quality skin care then I’m sure you’ve at least heard of the Obagi skin care line

If not let me fill you in on the basics:

Obagi is a medical grade skin care line that was developed by a physician (Dr. Obagi to be exact) and it was designed to include high quality ingredients designed for medical spa’s and cosmetic physicians. 

Because it is a medical grade skin line, and it was intended to be prescribed by Doctors, some of their products actually contain pharmaceutical grade ingredients.

This only includes a small part of all Obagi products, as you might imagine, so not all are this way. 

But the fact that some products require a Doctors prescription is a testament to the efficacy and strength of some products. 

Really the only two ingredients that require a prescription include Tretinoin and Hydroquinone

Tretinoin being a Vitamin A derivative and Hydroquinone being a powerful skin lightener. 

Obagi also has other product lines available which include a “watered-down” version of some of these prescription products with more natural products designed to do the same thing. 

The idea with these products is to allow everyone to be able to use Obagi products and not just those who visit their Doctor! 

Obagi has been around since 1988 and is mostly found in Medical Spa’s, Plastic Surgeon offices and Cosmetic Dermatology offices

There are ways to get legitimate Obagi products through the internet (which we will discuss below) but up until recently it was hard to get them outside of these sources. 

With that background under your belt let’s talk about the specific of each product. 

The Best Obagi Products

Before we jump in let’s talk about the Pros and Cons of Obagi products in general. 

While Obagi does have some great products they certainly don’t have the “best in class” products in every single category. 

When it comes to cosmetic products there are pretty much basic categories and all major companies have their version in each category.

These categories include:

  • Vitamin C Serum
  • Skin Lightener
  • Acne Product line
  • Anti-Aging Product Line
  • Anti-Wrinkle Products
  • Other basics such as moisturizers and sun block

Almost every brand has some product that fits into these categories. 

The difference among the brands is the ingredients that they use (natural vs synthetic), the quality of the ingredients, the source of the ingredients and so on. 

You can expect that because of these variations certain brands are better at some things and worse at others. 

Obagi is no different!

It’s great in some ways and not so good in others. 

For instance:

If you were interested in anti-aging, reducing wrinkles and lightening your skin – then Obagi is the brand for you!

If you are interested in clearing up your skin from acne – then you may find better success with other products. 

Make sense? 

With that in mind we can break down some basic PRO’s and CON’s of using Obagi products: 


  • Very high quality ingredients
  • Well researched and scientifically verified ingredients
  • Great for anti-aging
  • Great for reducing wrinkles
  • Great for all skin types
  • Great for ages 20 and up


  • Expensive compared to other brands
  • Better products for those interested in acne
  • Non-organic based products
  • Products contain some synthetic ingredients
  • Powerful concentrations which may cause irritation in some sensitive people


Now that you have an idea of what Obagi is good for, let’s discuss the individual product lines.

#1. Obagi Retinol

Obagi retinol 1.0 cream

Retinol, along with Vitamin C serum, may be one of the best ingredients that you can put on your skin. 

Retinol is basically a derivative of Vitamin A that is designed to be used on your skin. 

Many clinical studies have shown that the application of Retinol (and tretinoin) reduce wrinkles, reduce fine lines and make the face look younger. 

Much of this effect seems to be mediated by the effect that Vitamin A has on skin cell turnover. 

Under normal circumstances it takes around 50-60 days for your skin to “turn over” and replace itself. 

When using Vitamin A (like retinol) this process is heavily accelerated and may go down to 21-28 days!

Basically your skin is turning over twice as fast and this effect seems to make the skin look and feel younger. 

In a nut shell that’s how it works, so how does Obagi retinol fit in here?

It turns out that not all Retinol products are created equal. 

In order to get the results that I just spoke about you need to make sure that you are using a product which has a HIGH enough concentration of Retinol in it. 

Unfortunately the guidelines for skin care are such that producers do NOT have to tell you how much of an ingredient is in their product. 

This means that hundreds of products may claim to contain retinol, but very few have enough of it in their formula to actually make a difference. 

Obagi is one of the few brands that actually does have enough which is why it can be very effective

One potential downside to using high quality ingredients (especially in this case) is that retinol containing products may actually cause irritation, erythema and dermatitis

This is a testament to the fact that they work, but it’s worth noting.

Sometimes when using Retinol products you may need to “ease” into the dosing and application to prevent the redness that may come. 

If this does happen it’s a sign that you are getting enough product and that it will work. 

But for sensitive people it may be a good idea to start out on a low dose (something like 0.5%). 

If you know you’ve used it before and haven’t had any problems then you should be fine using the 1.0%. 

What it does: 
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles (clinically proven)
  • Reduces photodamage from excessive sun exposure
  • Provides an anti-aging effect to the skin
  • Improves skin integrity
  • May help reduce and treat acne
Who is it designed for?
  • People interested in reducing wrinkles and the signs of aging
  • People who want to keep their skin looking young and healthy
  • Those people who have extreme damage to their skin from years of sun exposure
  • Those with acne
Does it work? 

Obagi Retinol is a high quality product and it tends to work for most people. 

One study (industry funded) showed that up to 90% of people who used Obagi retinol had some noticeable improvement in their skin and said they would continue to use the product. 

My experience suggests that it’s probably closer to 70-80%, but this is still a very high number! 

Where to get it: 

Learn more about using Obagi Retinol 0.5% hereLearn more about using Obagi Retinol 1.0% here

#2. Obagi Nu Derm System (6 Product Line)

Obagi nu derm 6 step system review

The Obagi Nu derm system is a 6 step (well actually 7 but the last product is optional) complete system designed for patients to help reduce the aging process. 

The product set includes a cleanser, a toner, a deep moisturizer, a skin lightener, a light weight lotion and exfoliator and sun block to top it off. 

The product set is designed to be prescribed by physicians and does include some products which require a physicians prescription. 

Recently some of the ingredients (in the hydroquinone product) have been changed to allow people to use them over the counter. 

The Obagi Clear was changed to include Arbutin vs Hydroquinone. 

Arbutin is a more natural skin lightener compared to hydroquinone which is a prescription strength skin lightener. 

The Obagi Nu derm system works great but the best part about the system is that it can be mixed and matched with other products. 

This means you don’t have to use all 6 steps in the system!

For instance:

If you already have a cleanser and a toner then you can bypass those parts of the product line and just get the skin lightener and exfoliator.

The power in this system is the fact that it covers all aspects of skin care. 

The biggest downside is that it requires a lot of up keep which means that you will be applying a lot of different creams, lotions and cleansers throughout the day. 

It absolutely works, though, if you can stick with it. 

You can read more about the individual products in this system and how to use them appropriately here

What it does: 
  • Helps correct hyperpigmentation
  • Reduces the aging process
  • Reduces the appearance of age spots and melasma
  • Improve the quality and texture of your skin
Who is it designed for?
  • Primarily designed for those with normal to dry skin
  • Seems to work well for aged skin (over 40 years old) – younger people may be able to get by with fewer products
Does it work? 

The Obagi Nu-Derm product line is an effective 6 step skin care system but the problem is the cost. 

This product is obviously designed for all products to be used with one another, but it is still possible to cherry pick certain products and mix and match their skin care line with other products from other brands. 

This is generally how I recommend that you use the Nu Derm system

If you don’t want to deal with that, or if you have enough money, then you can simply purchase the 6 step system. 

If you want to mix and match then I recommend starting with the Blender and the Clear Fx products which tend to be the “best” compared to other products in the line. 

Where to get it:

Learn more about the Obagi Nu Derm 6 Step System here

#3. Obagi Hydroquinone

Obagi-c rx system image and product line

Hydroquinone is a prescription strength formulation designed to help lighten the skin. 

It’s useful to counter such pigmentation issues like age spots, sun damage, freckles and melasma. 

And it turns out that this is exactly what most women want as they age. 

Instead of focusing on wrinkles, people tend to be more concerned with the overall TEXTURE and LOOK of their skin. 

As we age the texture becomes rough and spots start to speckle the face, hands and neck area. 

In many cases women can look much younger by focusing less on the wrinkles and more on the quality and color of their skin. 

That’s exactly what hydroquinone does. 

Hydroquinone is not available over the counter, though, but because Obagi products include prescription strength products it can be purchased through the Obagi-C Rx system. 

The downside to this option is that you will need to get this set (if you want a hydroquinone product) from a cosmetic dermatologist or plastic surgeon. 

If you don’t need the hydroquinone then you can try the non prescription option which is the Obagi Clear Fx product. 

This product contains Arbutin which is a plant based hydroquinone product that is not quite as strong but still may be effective for many people. 

What it does: 
  • Helps fight and reverse changes to skin color and texture that occur with photo damage and the aging process
Who is it designed for?
  • This product is primarily designed for women ages 50+ but it can be used effectively for those who want to PREVENT the inevitable changes that occur over time. 
Does it work? 


Hydroquinone is a prescription strength medication and it absolutely does work. 

The key to success is using a high enough strength – in this case you will want 4%. 

Using hydroquinone should be used with physician guidance, however, as you may need to cycle on and off of this product. 

The reason for this is that occasionally, if used incorrectly, your hyperpigmentation can come back. 

Where to get it:

Learn more about using Obagi Hydroquinone here

#4. Obagi 360 System (3 Product Line)

Obagi 360 3 step product line system

The Obagi 360 system is a smaller system designed specifically for younger adults (aged 20-40 years old). 

It’s like the Nu Derm system but smaller and more manageable for people who don’t quite need all of the bells and whistles of the Nu derm system. 

The 360 system contains an exfoliating cleanser, a retinol (0.5%) and sun block.

While pretty much everyone needs a cleanser (regardless of age) and pretty much anyone can benefit from retinol (at any age) it seems like a decent 3 step system. 

Unfortunately it’s kind of pricey for what it includes, and the best product in this system is no doubt the Retinol product. 

The 360 system may be good for younger patients, but it might just be better to individually purchase the Retinol and use another Cleanser/Toner combination from a different product set. 

The idea is great, but the 3 step system probably would have been better as a cleanser, toner and retinol combination. 

What it does: 
  • Helps the skin age gracefully
  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as you age
  • Helps fight break outs and acne
  • Prevents sun damage and photo damage
Who is it designed for?
  • Younger people (primarily around ages 20-40)
Does it work? 

Some people have success with this system while many prefer to mix and match other products. 

This package deal may be good for those people who have normal skin (oily or dry skin will probably have a problem with this combination) and just want an easy solution to take care of their skin. 

But if you are more cosmetically minded and you want to take much better care of your skin then an easy 4 step system would be a cleanser, toner, vitamin C serum and Retinol combo. 

If you want to try this system out then you might consider just using the Retinol product first and mixing it with your current cleanser. 

Where to get it:

Learn more about the Obagi 360 System here

#5. Obagi Eye Cream (ELASTIderm Eye Products)

Obagi eye cream elastiderm product line

This Obagi eye cream is pretty straightforward:

It contains a combination of Malonic acid and B vitamins which help nourish and firm up the skin. 

The result is fewer wrinkles and firmer skin. 

Malonic acid has been shown to help promote the growth of fibroblasts in the skin. 

We know that the decline in fibroblast activity may be involved with the decline in collagen which results in wrinkles and the changes in our skin we associate with aging. 

If we can improve fibroblast activity then maybe we can slow down the aging process. 

Make sense?

That is the idea behind Obagi eye cream. 

The B Vitamins are designed to help nourish the skin and we know that a deficiency in B vitamins often present with skin conditions such as erythema and rashes. 

What it does: 
  • Promotes skin “plumpness” by helping your skin reserve and hold water through special and clinically proven moisturizers
  • Promotes graceful aging through B vitamin complex
Who is it designed for?
  • Aging women who want to maintain a very youthful apperance
  • Those suffering from crows feet or wrinkles surrounding the eyes
  • Those seeking younger or firmer looking skin (young and “plump” skin)
  • Those who want smoother skin (especially around the eyes)
Does it work? 

Obagi ELASTiderm may work for many people but you have to consider your options and how much improvement you are looking for. 

Using facial creams and serums may only improve or reduce your wrinkles by up to 30% or so, compared to injectables and fillers which may reduce it up to 70-80%. 

Just make sure you have an idea of what your goals are before you purchase any product designed to help with your skin. 

Where to get it:

Learn more about Obagi Eye Cream here

#6. Obagi Vitamin C Serums

Obagi professional C 20 percent product

Along with Obagi Retinol, the Vitamin C serum may be one of Obagi’s best products. 

Vitamin C serum is another highly effective skin care product that should be a part of almost every skin care regimen. 

Vitamin C has been clinically proven to help reduce wrinkles, improve skin texture and naturally lighten and brighten the skin. 

The trick to getting all of these benefits has to do with how the Vitamin C serum is formulated. 

In order to get these benefits your vitamin C serum must meet the following criteria: Be in the ascorbic acid form, have a pH of around 3.5, have a concentration of up to 20% and be contained in container which blocks sunlight. 

As you might have guessed many products claim to be effective but they don’t meet the following criteria. 

This is one of the reasons for the price discrepancy among Vitamin C serums. 

If you decide to use Vitamin C serum (which is a great idea!) make sure you use the right kind. 

Obagi’s Professional C serums fit the bill and they are highly effective. 

Another benefit to using these serums is that they come in different concentrations, ranging from 10% to 20%. 

This is helpful because some people may need to titrate up their dose over time to prevent irritation of the skin. 

What it does: 
  • Reverses the natural signs of aging (equivalent to Retinol)
  • Improves collagen production
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation
  • Treats and prevents acne
  • Reduces inflammation and inflammatory conditions such as rosacea
Who is it designed for?
  • Those interested in reducing the signs of aging and taking great care of their skin
  • Those willing to invest in their skin for the future
Does it work? 

Yes, Obagi professional C serum will work just as well (if not better) than other industry leading vitamin C serums. 

This isn’t true of all Obagi products, but it is true of the professional C serum. 

When using Vitamin C serum make sure that you start out on a low strength (10% in this case) and then slowly increase each time you run out of the bottle with a goal to get to 20% vitamin C concentration. 

If you find that you react with redness, dry skin or irritation then reduce your application down to every other day or go back down in concentration. 

Where to get it:

Learn more about 10% Professional C Serum hereLearn more about 15% Professional C Serum hereLearn more about 20% Professional C Serum here

#7. Obagi CLENZIderm System

Obagi clenziderm 3 step system for fighting acne

The Obagi Clenziderm 3 step system is specifically designed to fight acne in young teens and 20-30 year old adults. 

You can essentially compare this 3 step system by Obagi to the 3 step system by Proactiv (except this system is much better in my opinion). 

The system contains a cleanser, an exfoliator and a moisturizer. 

The trick here is that instead of using heavy moisturizers (which can actually promote acne) it uses a lightweight lotion that contains Benzoyl Peroxide which helps fight bacteria on the skin

The initial cleanser, as well as the exfoliator, both contain salicylic acid which also helps fight acne. 

The 3 step system is definitely worth considering if you are a young adult or teen that is suffering from acne and looking for a high quality substitute to the potentially damaging systems such as Proactiv. 

What it does: 
  • Improves exfoliation of the skin
  • Promotes healthy bacteria concentrations on the skin
  • Reduces inflammation
Who is it designed for?
  • Teenagers suffering from acne
  • Young adults suffering from acne
Does it work? 

Like any acne product it may not cure YOUR acne. 

This system is effective against acne which is the result of an imbalance of bacteria on the skin but will most likely not help with hormonal acne. 

Most people, around 70% of those people who try it, see improvement within several weeks when using this system. 

The key to success is to use it as indicated and to not miss a day in the regimen. 

Where to get it:

Learn more about the Obagi Clenziderm System here

Obagi Buying Guide – Where can you get these Products?

Normally Obagi products were only available through authorizer retailers who have contracted with Obagi. 

And because Obagi was not only difficult to get, but very effective, many knock-off and counterfeit products started to pop up on places like Amazon and Ebay. 

This made purchasing Obagi products online difficult to say the least. 

More recently, however, Amazon has partnered with certain brands (Obagi included) and now certain buyers on Amazon are considered authorized retailers which do indeed sell the legitimate products from Obagi. 

These people can be identified by looking for the “Professional Beauty” or the “Luxury Beauty” tag under the Price area. 

If you see that sign then you know the product is legitimate!

If you prefer, though, you can still go into your local Medical Spa, Cosmetic Dermatology office or Plastic Surgeon to get these products. 

Either way I hope you are able to find these awesome products and get the results you have been looking for! 

Wrapping it up

Are Obagi products the best around?

Not necessarily, but I would be lying if I said they didn’t have some great products. 

When it comes to your skin there is no substitute for simple tried and true trial and error. 

If you are serious about improving the quality of your skin then please make sure that you don’t take my word, but that you start practicing with various products. 

This will help you find exactly what YOU need. 

I know from my experience that I’ve found a regimen that works for me – but I’m always trying new things as well. 

But now I want to hear from you:

Have you used Obagi products before?

Did they work for you?

Why or why not?

Leave your comments below! 

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! 

Why The Obagi Blender is the Best Product in the Nu Derm System

The Obagi blender is probably the single best product in the entire Obagi 6 step nu derm system. 

The reason is because it can be combined or “blended” with another powerful skin care product known as retinol to effectively BOOST all of the positive effects of the blender. 

Learn why the blender is so helpful for your skin, and more importantly, how and where to get it! 


What makes the Obagi Blender so special?

The Obagi blender is probably one of, if not the best product, in the entire Obagi nu derm system.

But why is that?

Don’t worry, we are going to talk about using this product by itself (and why you might want to) later on in the post.

But first let’s establish some of the basics:

If you don’t already know about Obagi products (where have you been?) then you need to know a few things.

Obagi nu derm blend fx

Obagi is a skin care line that was created by dermatologists and is meant to be sold by health professionals like dermatologists and plastic surgeons.

This means that the Obagi skin care product line is filled with high quality ingredients AND that these products really work.

The Obagi blender is part of a 6 step series known as the Obagi Nu derm 6 step system.

I’ve written about this entire system and which of the 6 products you should incorporate into your daily regimen (and which ones you can skip) in this detailed post. ​

The Obagi blender is actually called Obagi Nu Derm Blend Fx, but has been nicknamed the “Obagi Blender”, so don’t let that little bit of information confuse you.

It’s also the 5th step in the 6 step series, but it can and should be used even if you don’t use that entire 6 step system!

​The reason that it’s nicknamed the blender is because it’s meant to be used and “blended” with another very helpful product called “retinol“. 

The combination of these two ingredients create amazing results for your skin that seriously help reverse the aging process and make your skin look 5-10 years younger.

But more on that later…​

Can you use Obagi blender alone?

While Obagi certainly wants you to buy their 6 step system, that doesn’t mean that you have to!

Luckily the Obagi blender can be purchased on its own which means you don’t have to buy all 6 products just to get the one you want. 

But the question remains: ​

Who should use the Obagi Blender?

  • Those with premature signs of aging (wrinkles around the eyes and around the lips)
  • Those in their 20’s and 30’s who want to PREVENT aging
  • Those with severe sun damage A.K.A photo damage
  • Those with sun spots or “age spots”
  • Those who have discoloration in their skin tone from acne, rashes or dermatitis
  • Those who want to clear their skin from acne AND improve the texture and quality of their skin
  • Those with mature skin who want to look younger

​If you fall into any of these categories then using the Obagi blender would stand to be helpful for you. 

The main reason to use the blender is if you really want to kick your skin care regimen to the next level.


Because it contains special ingredients that aren’t found in common skin care products like Arbutin (which is a natural skin lightener). ​

The best part about the blender is that it can easily be added to your current regimen.

If you choose this route make sure you use it only at night and make sure it is the LAST product you put on your skin (after you cleanse, tone and moisturize). ​

Obagi Blender vs Obagi Clear Fx

If you know about the Nu derm system then you might be aware that in the SAME system is another product called Obagi Clear Fx.

This product is like a miniature Obagi blender but doesn’t quite work as well.

So the question becomes:

Should I use the Blender or Obagi clear?

Obagi nu derm blend fxObagi nu derm clear

​Well, here is what I recommend:

In most cases just using the Obagi blender is sufficient UNLESS you have mature skin and you have significant sun damage, photo damage, aged skin or sun spots.

Remember that the blender is stronger than the clear fx, which is why the blender should only be used in the evening.

Obagi clear has similar ingredients but they aren’t in the same concentration and this product can be used in the morning and the night.

If you are 50+ years old and want to get serious about your skin, then using the clear and the blender may be your best option.

If you just want to improve your skin regimen and you are in your 20’s, 30’s or 40’s then the blender by itself is probably sufficient.

Obagi clear does contain the natural lightener Arbutin, but it also contains basic anti-oxidants and vitamins designed to cool off the skin in a more natural and softer way.

You can learn more about Obagi clear fx below if you fall into these categories (if not you can skip down to the obagi blender section): ​

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

​Obagi Blender Ingredients

What makes the blender so effective?

Much of this has to do with the ingredients in the product itself.

You can find a list of both the active and inactive ingredients below. ​

Main & Active ingredients: ​

ALL ingredients (including inactive ingredients): ​

obagi blender ingredient list

  • Water
  • Glycerin
  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Arbutin
  • TEA-salicylate
  • Tocopheryl acetate
  • Lactic acid
  • Phenyl trimethicore
  • PPG-2 myristyl ether propionate
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Stearyl alcohol
  • Tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E)
  • Ascorbic acid
  • Saponins
  • BHT
  • Disodium EDTA

The blender does NOT come with the Retinol and that is what it is designed to be used with (funny how that works). 

​You can get my recommended retinol product here

The benefits of using retinol WITH the blender include:

  • Boosted effect to anti-aging process
  • Boosted effect to skin lightening and balancing skin tone and color
  • Boosted effect to reduce acne and sebum production (oil)
  • Increased collagen and elastin production in the dermis

How to Get the Best Price for Obagi Blender

One of the problems with Obagi products in the past was that there were many counterfeit and fake products floating around on places like Ebay.

That isn’t the case anymore since amazon signed a contract to provide legitimate Obagi products.

The best way, and the cheapest way, to get Obagi products including the Obagi blender, is by purchasing it through amazon.

The only thing you have to make sure it includes is the ​”professional beauty” tag underneath the price. 

I only recommend high quality products, so if you ever see me recommend a product you can rest assured that it IS high quality and legitimate. ​

You can get the Obagi blender here. ​

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

Your turn:

​The obagi blender is my favorite product in the Obagi nu derm system. 

It helps naturally balance and brighten your skin, and this effect is multiplied if used with a retinol containing product. 

Retinol products have been clinically proven to reduce wrinkles and help reverse the aging process!

But now I want to hear from you…

Have you tried the obagi blender before?

If so, did it work for you? Why or why not?

Leave your comment below and I will respond! ​

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!​