Professional-C Serum 15%
1 fl. oz. for $90.50
Last Updated:03.16.2015
Jar Packaging:No
Tested on animals:Yes
Review Overview

Professional-C Serum 15% contains 15% vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid. The main ingredient (propylene glycol) is a penetration enhancer which means that the vitamin C is going to get further into your skin than it would if this were strictly a water base. However, this much and this type of vitamin C can be irritating, especially when combined with alcohol and fragrance, as is the case here. With any “active” ingredient, be it vitamin C, retinol, or glycolic acid, you don’t want to tip the scales in favor of irritation over benefits.

There are better ways for skin to enjoy the benefits of vitamin C than this, and in fact this serum ends up being a one-note product. Just like our bodies need more than one nutrient to remain healthy and vital, our skin needs a range of beneficial ingredients. One key ingredient, even when used in a seemingly impressive amount, just doesn’t cut it.

Note: This serum is dispensed via a dropper applicator. Although not the ideal method to dispense a serum that contains light- and air-sensitive ingredients, sometimes this type of packaging is necessary due to formulary requirements. When that’s the case, the goal is to keep the bottle opening as small as possible, the bottle should be opaque or specially coated to protect the contents from light, and you should use the serum up within three months of opening.


Obagi Professional-C Serum 15% is formulated with 15% L-ascorbic acid, the only form of vitamin C suitable for topical application. L-ascorbic acid reaches the deepest layers to the skin to provide superior antioxidant protection, defend against damaging UVA and UVB sun rays, contribute to collagen synthesis and help prevent premature signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.


Propylene Glycol, Water, L-Ascorbic Acid, Alcohol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Fragrance

Brand Overview

Obagi At-A-Glance

Strengths:Selection of good water-soluble cleansers; some effective skin-lightening and tretinoin products.

Weaknesses: Expensive; some products available only via prescription, which can be inconvenient; disappointing anti-acne products; moisturizers should contain more state-of-the-art ingredients.

Obagi is a skincare line which got its start back in 1988, spearheaded by Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi, who has since left the brand. Choosing to focus on the skin issues that plague many aging adults (chiefly, skin discolorations from sun damage and other sources and wrinkles), Obagi offers a mixed bag of cosmetic and prescription products sold only through authorized physicians, plastic surgeons, and accredited medical spas. That exclusivity may increase this line's cache with consumers, but let me assure you that most of what's offered isn't all that exceptional—and what's available by prescription can be prescribed in other forms by any dermatologist, so you don't need to seek one that retails Obagi's products. The highlights of this line are actually the prescription products. Several options with 4% hydroquinone are available as well as two products with tretinoin. There is a significant amount of research demonstrating that 4% hydroquinone, especially when combined with tretinoin, has a high success rate for persons dealing with stubborn skin discolorations or the skin condition melasma (Sources: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2007, pages 36–39; Cutis, January 2005, pages 57–62, and March 2006, pages 177–184).

The skin-care products Obagi sells to support the prescription-only options are either standard or below-average formulas that are easily replaced by less expensive options from other lines. Beware: This is a line whose proponents are adamant about the products being used as a system, so expect pressure to purchase an entire routine rather than cherry-pick what you really need. Savvy shoppers will find some viable options from Obagi, including a very gentle, fragrance-free sunscreen for someone with sensitive skin.

For more information about Obagi, call (800) 636-7546 or visit www.obagi.com.

About the Experts

The new Beautypedia Team proudly and unequivocally maintains the commitment to help you find the best products possible for your skin. We do this by relentlessly pursuing and relying on published scientific research so you will have unbiased information on what works and what doesn't-and the sneaky ways you could be making your skin worse, not better!

The Beautypedia Team reviews all products using the same research, criteria, and objectivity, whether the product being reviewed is from Paula's Choice or another brand.

Member Comments
Summary of Member Comments
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love this product

I really like this vitamin C product and have just started using it again after trying a different highly rated CE Feurlic product for a while. My maturing, very dry skin looks, feels and responds much more favorably with this Obagi product.

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I liked the results

My dermatologist recommended this product. I was very pleased with the results. Its just so expensive. I had no irritation only all the benefits. I've run out and since it is so expensive, I'm going to try PC next. I have recommended this product but as I've recently noticed its tested on animals. So, I hope Paula's Choice works for me since its a better price and no animal testing.

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