Skin Care Blogs

How to Pick the Right Obagi Products for Your Skin Concern

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Have you been wanting to try Obagi’s impressive line of skin care products and systems but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place. This dermatologist-favorite brand truly has something for every complexion concern—from signs of aging to acne to uneven pigmentation—and for every skin type, too.

Obagi is also the first professional skin care brand to design its clinical research protocols to cover all six Fitzpatrick spectrum skin tones. (Harvard dermatologist Dr. Thomas B. Fitzpatrick developed this spectrum in 1975 to categorize skin into six different types based on its response to sun exposure, with deeply pigmented brown skin at one end and fair, freckled skin at the other end.) While some brands only test on a small range of skin tones, Obagi prioritizes inclusivity—which means you can trust that these products will work for your skin.

Here, the experts at Obagi Medical share their top advice on how to pick the right Obagi skin care products based on your needs.

If You’re Dealing With Fine Lines & Wrinkles

Lines and wrinkles often first appear around the eyes, seemingly out of nowhere one day, long before other wrinkles start to show. This can appear prematurely if one hasn’t been vigilant with the sun or if one has neglected to moisturize. As always, the sun is the main culprit, with the usual consequences such as collagen matrix degradation, elastin rigidity and decay, and glycosaminoglycans deterioration. A compromised barrier function creates water loss and weakens the defense against environmental attacks, ultimately resulting in lines and wrinkles.

Eye Cream

We address peri-orbital lines with our proprietary ELASTIderm technology, found in our line of eye products. Our ELASTIderm Eye Cream is clinically proven to dramatically reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles around the eye, thanks to its proprietary bi-mineral complex technology. At the end of an eight-week study on women who tried ELASTIderm Eye Cream, 97% of patients considered the roughness/crepey texture of the skin around their eyes to be barely or not noticeable and 88% of patients considered the laxity/looseness of the skin around their eyes to be barely or not noticeable.


We extend our care to the entire face with retinoids. For the face, our retinol, which comes in two strengths (Retinol 1.0 and Retinol 0.5), features entrapment technology, a unique means of encapsulation that dramatically reduces irritation potential and is clinically shown to deliver efficacy without the redness or flaking one would expect from such a high dose of retinoid. In fact, 90% of study participants saw an improvement in facial appearance (i.e. lines and wrinkles less visible, face appeared firmer, improvement in appearance of texture, etc.) by week three with Obagi Retinol 1.0. For retinol, it is always best to acclimate, especially if your skin is retinoid-naïve. We recommend slowly easing your way into retinol 0.5 before moving on to retinol 1.0.


Wear sunscreen every single day, if possible with a broad spectrum high SPF such as Obagi Sun Shield Matte SPF 50. Remember that you are most likely not applying enough sunscreen, so reapply often. Wear a hat and sunglasses (squinting will bring on those crow’s feet faster).

If You Struggle with Acne

Acne comes from a trifecta of events that precipitate the emergence of breakouts: P. acnes bacteria invasion, overactive sebum glands and plugged pores. Sometimes inflammation can add to the condition and make things worse. Flares typically begin at puberty and are triggered by hormonal fluctuations, but they also can happen in adulthood depending on genetics, lifestyle and stress.

Benzoyl Peroxide

We use the FDA’s approved gold standards for acne care—benzoyl peroxide (BPO) and salicylic acid—in our CLENZIderm line. However, we use specific versions of these compounds and put them into formulations that enable their efficacy while minimizing side effects. For example, our CLENZIderm Therapeutic Lotion uses a unique, solubilized BPO molecule that spends less time at the surface of the skin, thus reducing its irritation potential. Also, our proprietary formulation of 5% benzoyl peroxide gets delivered directly to the follicles to reach the source of acne. In fact, this highly effective yet tolerable system is backed by clinical studies that show it reduces breakouts in as little as one week with continued results through 12 weeks.

Salicylic Acid

The line also features a special toner named Pore Therapy, which works so well it is a cult item even among those who have no acne but want their pores to look smaller, achieving a more matte look. Pore Therapy is a 2% salicylic acid solution that unclogs pores and clears away dead skin cells. There is also a salicylic acid–containing foaming cleanser that complements the regimen and has the maximum chance for efficacy without the usual side effects. 81% of patients were satisfied or very satisfied with their acne improvement and 87% reported that the system was effective or very effective.

If You Have Dull, Dry or Dehydrated Skin

Dry skin typically is the result of lack of care, chronic abuse of the skin barrier and photodamage. Everyone needs a good moisturizer. However, many moisturizers on the market do not deliver real moisture but instead sit on the skin passively. This is good because it can help with transepidermal water loss, but a great moisturizer should deliver more.


Our Obagi Hydrate moisturizer has 2-in-1 moisturizing action that goes above and beyond and actually provides moisture all throughout the day thanks to our hydrating matrix technology derived from tara seed. Hydromanil, shea butter, mango butter, avocado and glycerin provide rapid and all-day moisturization. Hydrate integrates within the Nu-Derm system to reduce potential side effects such as dryness or flakiness, but it can also work by itself as an all-day moisturizer.

Night Cream

Our rich Obagi Hydrate Luxe works while you sleep for long-lasting moisturization and a rejuvenated-looking complexion. In addition, the formula also features two biomimetic peptides designed to deliver benefits to the skin while you are sleeping and/or feeling extra dry. Hydrate Luxe is designed to work with the skin’s circadian rhythms to deliver benefits when the skin is most receptive. It can also be used during the day, when there is a need to treat extra dry skin.

Vitamin C

L-asorbic acid (AKA vitamin C) is great for retaining moisture and brightening the skin. The Professional-C Portfolio offers a number of options to help skin appear more rejuvenated, including Obagi Professional-C Serum in 10%, 15% or 20% and Professional-C Peptide Complex. The Professional-C Serum 10% is a concentrated formula recommended specifically for dry, irritated or sensitive skin. In a clinical study, 91% of users reported that their skin appeared brighter and/or more hydrated.

If You Have Hyperpigmentation or Dark Spots

Hyperpigmentation can be brought about by genetics, hormonal changes (melasma), excessive sun/environmental exposure or a past inflammatory event. It manifests as age spots, melasma or mottled skin tone.

Brightening Treatment

The Obagi Nu-Derm FX system is clinically proven to brighten skin tone and reduce the look of mottled pigmentation when used with a retinoid. (We suggest using the system with our special retinol technology found in our Retinol 0.5 or 1.0 to get maximum efficacy.) Nu-Derm FX features arbutin, a clinically proven brightening agent, instead of prescription-strength hydroquinone, in both the Clear FX™ and Blend FX™ products. Both are skin-brightening creams formulated with 7% arbutin, antioxidants and lactic acid. Clear FX™ enhances the appearance of even skin tone, while Blend FX™ helps clarify and brighten the skin with a richer, thicker formula for nighttime use.

Vitamin C

Additionally, patients may consider adding an antioxidant for additional defense against oxidative stress during the day. Vitamin C with its antioxidant benefits is one of our most reliable compounds for preserving a radiant, bright look. But not all forms of vitamin Cs are created equal, and there are many derivatives on the market. We only use L-ascorbic acid because it is known to be the most bioavailable and thus most efficacious form. It is hard to stabilize but we have created a base that does just that! Obagi Pro-C Serum in 10%, 15% or 20% can be layered before Clear Fx™ for morning application.


Finally, be religious about sunscreen. Even the strongest topical treatment will deliver efficacy if you defeat its purpose with unprotected sun exposure. Always use a sunscreen with the American Academy of Dermatology’s recommended SPF of 30 or higher, such as Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35.

Dermstore Editors

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