You all know that I’m a total nerdy skincare junkie. If it’s hyped as being a wonder product, I have to try it! So the Obagi skincare range was high on my ‘to do’ skincare list.
To make sure I was giving it a fair test, I decided to use only Obagi products in my skincare routine and not contaminate the results with other products. So I bought everything all at once (with my own money, no PR gifts donated here!) and for me this included:
- Obagi Gentle Cleanser (for dry skin) $49.95,
- Obagi Toner $49.95,
- Obagi Exfoderm (chemical exfoliant) $79.95,
- Obagi Professional C Serum 20% $99,
- Obagi Hydrate (day moisturiser) $55,
- Obagi Elastiderm Eye Treatment Gel $99,
- Obagi Hydrate Luxe (night moisturiser) $79.95.
The only non Obagi products I have continued with are my prescription Tretinoin (Retin A), my Mecca SPF 50 sunscreen and my Micella water to remove makeup.
The range includes a number of other products including a foaming cleanser for oily skin and a hydroquinone based product to reduce melasma and skin discolouration. I have combination to dry skin and not major discolouration so I skipped those two products. There’s also a sunscreen (they didn’t have any in stock) and a whole range of other skin care goodies for acne, for oily skin and so on.
The range is marketed as a cosmeceutical so it’s sold only through dermatologists and cosmetic medical surgeries. With that said, you can also buy the product online although you do need a consult for the hydroquinone product and for Tretinoin if that’s in your regime too.
My thoughts after two use so far? Love, love, loving some of it! A bit “meh” about some too and disappointed with some of it too. To be honest, I didn’t want to love any of it. I wanted to come back and say that it’s all marketing hype and that it’s no better than any other skin care range but… it’s not. For the most part, it’s pretty good but there are some items in the range that I definitely won’t replace once they’re used up.
I don’t have particularly sensitive skin. I tolerate Tretinoin 0.05% really well and AHAs and BHAs to 10% so my face puts up with a lot! This Obagi range is really gentle and soothing though and I can see why sensitive skinned folks would love it so much.
I also don’t have pimples, acne or major discolouration. In fact, for a woman in her 50’s, my skin is pretty good. I take great care of it, often to the point of obsession, so it’s clear, and generally healthy and fresh looking. So for folks with problematic skin, I don’t know how it would work but for me, so far it’s been amazing.
Since I started using the products, my skin has definitely become even clearer, isn’t quite as flaky and dry and is lovely and soft and fresh looking. Loving these results!
Let’s go through them one at a time.
Obagi Gentle Cleanser
This is primarily for combination to dry skin and for those with sensitive skin too. It’s a gel consistency with a yellow tint to it. You apply a pea sized amount to your wet face and massage it in, then rinse off. I use it with my Clarisonic at night too. It’s very gentle and it doesn’t leave my skin feeling dry and tight.
I have a double cleanse regime at night to remove makeup. I use Micella water to remove the makeup and then follow up with a skin cleanser. I therefore didn’t use the Obagi Gentle Cleanser to remove my makeup so I can’t comment on how well it would work for that.
I tested the pH of this cleanser and it came out with a pH of 5. Our skin’s natural acid mantle is around 5 to 5.5 so I was quite pleased with the pH of this cleanser given it’s close match to my skin’s needs. That means it’s not stripping off my natural acid mantle and destroying my skin’s ability to ward off the nasty bugs that cause pimples and breakouts.
On the down side, this product does contain fragrance and also contains a yellow dye, both of which could be irritants, particularly for those with sensitive skin. Sometimes a fragrance help mask less than pleasant ingredient smells of course but it’s there, and so is the dye, so that’s a “no no” in my book.
Would I buy this cleanser again? You bet! Despite the fragrance and dye, it’s still a lovely gentle cleanser.
The toner’s purpose is to remove any remaining traces of cleanser and to return the skin to a normal pH level. This toner’s pH level was 4 so slightly under the normal pH range for skin but not too far off to be a problem.
This toner is not alcohol based (thank heavens!) and instead is witch hazel based. Thats a plant that’s been used for hundreds of years to tone the skin, to remove bacteria and to dry up pimples and oily skin. That’s all good and I love that the toner has glycerine in it too for a slight hydration effect. But… (there’s always a “but” isn’t there?!) it does contain fragrance and a blue colour, both of which could be potential irritants.
Would I buy it again? Probably not. I find it to be a little stripping, maybe even harsh. I’m used to a wonderfully gentle toner from Paula’s Choice (the Resist Advance Replenishing Toner) which is hydrating, the perfect pH and really gentle, so I’m not a lover of the more harsh Obagi toner.
The purpose of Exfoderm is to chemical exfoliate the skin. Most skincare chemical exfoliants contain Alphahydroxyacids (AHAs) and Betahydroxyacids (BHAs) that gently peel away the dead top keratinised layers of the skin. This reveals much younger, fresher and softer skin so they’re a mainstay in anti ageing skincare ranges.
Exfoderm contains phytic acid which is derived from nuts and seeds and is a saturated cyclic acid and an anti oxidant. It’s known as a pretty good skin care acid and has reliable results. What’s annoying about this product though is that it’s impossible to know what percentage of acid the product contains. It is third on the list of ingredients on the labelling so there must be a decent amount but it would be nice to know the exact content level so it could be compared to other products that do reveal their acid content percentage.
It has a fairly runny consistency and it melts into the skin very quickly. I used it immediately after cleansing and toning and only in the morning.
Now the key issue here is pH levels. This is an acid so it needs to be on the acid side of the acid/alkalinity pH scale in order to do it’s work but it can’t be too acid or it will be highly damaging to the skin. With AHAs and BHAs and facial skin peeling acids, we need to find a happy balance that peels the dead skin layers off but does so without damaging the underlying skin.
Remember that the normal acid mantle of the skin is around 5.4 so we need a product that’s below that in order to work well. Most experts recommend a pH level somewhere between 3-4 for home used products in order to get some effectiveness. The pH of this product is a whopping great 1-2, lets call it 1.5 and thats a major pro in it’s favour… with a proviso.
Because it has such a low pH level, I would definitely recommend that this be used with caution. If you have sensitive skin, talk to your dermatologist first. If you use other chemical exfoliants, I would suggest not using this one as well. Something at this level has the potential to cause irritation if used incorrectly so this is definitely buyer beware.
Having said that, for my skin, this has worked really well. My skin is used to high levels of acids though so it wasn’t a shock to the skin to use it. In fact, it seemed more gentler than some of my other acids but got really good results though.
Would I buy it again? Probably yes./ I love that it exfoliates so well but is so incredibly gentle at the same time. It’s definitely a winner in my books!
Obagi Professional C Serum 20%
Vitamin C (in the correct formula) is a powerhouse product for skin anti ageing regimes. It helps reduce skin discolouration from age spots, it’s a potent anti oxidant so it clears away free radicals that cause more skin damage and it boosts collagen formation for firmer skin. Who isn’t looking for firmer skin once we hit our 50’s?! On top of all that, it reduces inflammation from breakouts and improves your sunscreen’s capabilities too. It’s definitely a powerhouse skin product!
It does need to be in the right formulation though and it does need to be kept away from light. Some vitamins C (ascorbic acids) aren’t as useful as others and so ideally you need to look for a product that has L ascorbic acid as the main active ingredient. The problem with vitamin c though is that it looses it’s potency very quickly when exposed to air and generally over time. So you need to find a product that’s well within expiry date and that is in a coloured bottle that keeps light away from the product. Even better, keep your vitamins C serum in the fridge for added protection.
The Obagi system has three strengths, 10%, 15% and 20%. I chose the 20% because I’ve already been using high potency vitamin C for some time. The product comes in a blue dropper bottle (good for keeping light out of the product) and I keep mine stored in it’s original box for extra light protection.
I use around 5-6 drops each morning immediately after my Exfoderm but before my moisturiser. I add the drops to the palm of my hand, then pat it all over my face. Vitamin C works best when you use it in the morning (never put it on at the same time as Tretinoin) and then leave it for five minuets to really absorb into the skin.
Would I buy it again? Undecided to be honest. Its a nice enough product and it certainly does brighten my skin. But I still worry about the long term potency of ascorbic acid in solution. Prior to using this product I was using powdered L ascorbic acid that I added to my serum each morning. Powdered ascorbic acid stays fresh and potent far longer than when it’s suspended in a ready made solution and its a heck of a lot cheaper too!
Obagi Elastiderm Eye Treatment Gel Restorative Elasticity Complex
This gel is supposed to restore the elasticity around the eye area and therefore keep fine lines and wrinkles at bay. You’re supposed to pat it on under the eye area as well as on the lid.
The ingredient list is long and complex but I did notice that fragrance isn’t on the list (thankfully) but it does have an awful lot of viscous products to increase its ‘slip’ on the skin.
It comes in a pump bottle which is fabulous but the pump amount is utterly overdone and you literally only need a quarter of a pea size to cover the eye area throughly. It has a blue colour to it and a smooth consistency so it slides on well but… (yes, there’s more ‘buts”.)
It doesn’t sink well into the skin and instead seems to just sit there. It doesn’t play nicely with makeup and so instead of using it twice daily as instructed, I had to stop using it in the morning before I applied foundation. My foundation was just sticking to the gel instead of my skin and then balling and bunching up. That was a major no no for me. It also didn’t play well with under eye concealer for the same reason and to be honest, I didn’t see any increased result from this than I would any normal eye cream or face moisturiser.
Would I buy it again? Definitely not. For $99, it doesn’t seem to give me any demonstrative results worthy of the price tag and if I can’t use it while also using makeup then it doesn’t serve a a purpose each morning either. I will use the rest of this bottle up during my night time skin care routine but I won’t be replacing the bottle when it’s empty.
This is their daily moisturiser and it’s ok. It comes in a pump bottle so thats great for keeping the ingredients active and free of contamination. It has a lovely smooth consistency (it’s closer to a lotion than a thick cream) and it sinks into the skin beautifully. In fact, I don’t think I’ve found a moisturiser that sinks in as well as this one.
On the down side, while it’s nice, that’s it, it’s just nice. It’s not outstanding and it hasn’t blown my socks off. It’s not the most expensive moisturiser I’ve ever bought by any stretch of the imagination but I was hoping for a little more from a $55 cosmeceutical than “it’s ok”.
Would I buy it again? Undecided. I’m not loyal to it at this stage and I’ll probably see if there are other cosmeceuticals that deliver as good results.
Obagi Hydrate Luxe Moist Rich Cream
This product is marketed by Obagi as being their luxury, full power moisturiser for dry skin. It’s certainly a lovely thick consistency, very smooth when applied and it sinks into the skin like a dream. That’s a great bonus because so often rich, thick creams can just sit on top of my skin making it feel greasy.
What disappoints me about it is that it comes in a jar. That means every time I open it, I’m exposing those expensive ingredients to the air so they can degrade and I potentially contaminate it. Sure, I use a spatula to take what I need but for $79.95, I want a pump please.
Would I buy it again? Probably not. Maybe… undecided really. I love how it sinks into my skin so well but again, like the Hydrate, it’s nothing special. I was expecting more from such an exclusively marketed product.
I’d love to hear about your favourite skincare range. Please comment below and tell me abut your favourites.
Smiles and hugs,