Obagi Nu-Derm Review – Before and After

The Obagi Nu-Derm system for normal/oily skin consists of eight products:

  • Foaming Gel
  • Toner
  • Clear
  • Exfoderm Forte
  • Blender
  • Retin-A (not included) (used with Blender – prescription required)
  • Hydrate
  • Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50

After a consultation through Fresh Laser Skin Studio I went on the Obagi Nu-Derm system for normal to oily skin for about 4 months to help with fine lines on my forehead, hyperpigmentation (freckles) from sun damage and scarring and red spots from previous acne. I purchased the travel size which was enough for about 4 months. This system should be used under the direction of a specialist. While using this system I had followups with Fresh Laser about once a month to make sure things were working and the skin wasn’t being over-irritated and to ask any questions (of course, I was welcome to call and ask questions anytime).

In my opinion, this system shouldn’t be used long term as it is very exfoliating and can therefore cause thinning of the skin over time, but could maybe used once every year or two.

  • Step 1 – Foaming Gel: A pink gel cleanser that lathers up on application to remove makeup, impurities and oil and to prepare skin for the next step. To be used morning and night, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 2 – Toner: This removes remaining makeup and balances the pH of the skin. It has skin calming ingredients including aloe vera, witch hazel and sage. It includes fragrance and artificial color and is alcohol-free. To be used morning and night.
  • Step 3 – Clear: This is a prescription strength skin lightening product that contains 4% hydroquinone that is very effective in for skin discolorations and hyperpigmentaton. Hydroquinone should not be used for more than 4 or 5 months at a time. To be used morning and evening, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 4 – Exfoderme Forte: This is an exfoliating lotion using glycolic acid and lactic acid, two alpha hydroxy acids that brighten dull skin and help remove wrinkles by removing dead skin cells and other debris. To be used in the morning, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 5 – Blender and Retin-A: The Blender is formulated to be used with Retin-A. Taking a pea-sized amount of each, these are blended together and put on the skin at night, used to reduce hyperpigmentation and wrinkles and smooth the skin’s texture.
  • Step 6 – Hydrate: A moisturizer used morning and night. As the purpose of my Obagi Nu-Derm use was to exfoliate and peel and I didn’t want to inhibit that, I didn’t use this product. I was told that if the peeling skin from the other products was irritating or if I was going out and had skin “peelies” I didn’t visible, I was to use the Hydrate.
  • Step 7: Sun Shield Matte – To be used during the day as a sunscreen lotion. As I didn’t want extra moisture to inhibit the exfoliating and peeling, I didn’t use this, but opted for a powder sun protection from Colorescience.

This is a system that should be followed by a professional. These are strong, prescription strength products that promote exfoliation and peeling to reveal clearer new skin. Sun protection is a must with this system, as the AHAs and Retin-A make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

I was amazed by the results I got by using this system:

obagi system
Before and After Obagi Nu-Derm (courtesy of Fresh Laser Skin Studio)

You can see from the photos that the hyperpigmentation was reduced and the skin looks clearer and smoother. I don’t have a photo of my forehead, but I had many fine lines and after the 4 months, they were gone. I still have some deeper acne scars on the right side of my lower face that were reduced, but didn’t disappear. I still have a deeper fine line between the eyebrows that faded a bit, but didn’t disappear. The pores on and around my nose seemed smaller and less noticeable.

I think what really helped my skin from this line was the Clear, the Exfoderme and the Blender/Retin-A combination. I imagine one could find a different (better) cleanser and toner and get similar results.

While using this system I learned about my skin; oily skin needs help to exfoliate, I need ingredients in skincare to help do that (alpha hydroxy acids), Retin-A is proven to reduce wrinkles and acne and result in a smooth complexion. I also learned to listen to my skin; if it was being irritated or became red, I would reduce the Exfoderme or Retin-A to every three days or every other day, then work back up to once a day. I was previously using way too much product on my skin; I would use a dime-sized amount of a product when all I needed was a pea-sized amount, for example. My skin is oily and does not need a moisturizer, perhaps a light serum instead.

This system really worked to reduce fine lines, breakouts and the hyperpigmentation. My skin was clearer and smoother and looked better than it had in years. That said, it was pretty expensive and some of the ingredients are less than great. Some of the products contain silicones, parabens, color and fragrance. This is a very exfoliation-intensive program, but the products contain ingredients to lessen redness and and inflammation that might otherwise be caused by the products. As mentioned, this system works, just listen to your skin and use sunscreen.

After using this system I maintained my skin on the therapeutic line by Dr. Zein Obagi called ZO Medical.

*featured image from Obagi.com

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