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.

Dermatologist Zein E. Obagi is behind this line, which claims to be your skin's key to transformation. 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.

One more point: Obagi is also "known" for his Blue Peel. This is a standard trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel that has been performed by dermatologists and plastic surgeons for years; Obagi simply instructs the practitioner to mix the TCA with a blue-tinted base. TCA is used for peeling the face, neck, hands, and other exposed areas of the body. It causes fewer pigmentation problems than other doctor-only peels such as phenol, and is considered excellent for "spot" peeling specific areas. It also can be used for medium or light peeling, depending on the concentration and method of application. AHA and BHA peels are considered light peels, and are often done in a series of six. TCA peels are best for fine lines and can be somewhat more effective on deeper wrinkling, but they are performed only once every couple of years. Many of the dermatologists we spoke to believe that a TCA peel is a viable option for many skin types, despite consumers' fascination with AHA peels.

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

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+ Rating Product Brand Category Price Size
Good Nu-Derm Hydrate Facial Moisturizer Obagi Moisturizer without Sunscreen  $48.00 1.70 fl. oz.
Average ELASTIderm Eye Complete Complex Serum Obagi Serums  $109.00 0.47 fl. oz.
Best Obagi Tretinoin Cream 0.025%, 0.05% and 0.1% Obagi Specialty Skin Care Products  $72.00 20.00 grams
Average Nu-Derm Healthy Skin Protection SPF 35 Obagi SPF 30-49 Sunscreen  $50.00 3.00 fl. oz.
Best Nu-Derm Physical UV Block SPF 32 Obagi Moisturizer with Sunscreen  $48.00 2.00 fl. oz.
Good CLENZIderm M.D. Daily Care Cream Cleanser (Discontinued) Obagi Cleansers/Soaps  $30.60 6.50 fl. oz.
Average CLENZIderm M.D. Therapeutic Moisturizer Obagi Moisturizer without Sunscreen  $38.00 1.70 fl. oz.
Average Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion Obagi Moisturizer with Sunscreen  $50.00 3.00 fl. oz.
Average Professional-C Serum 5%, for Eyes Obagi Eye Moisturizers  $44.93 0.50 fl. oz.
Good Rosaclear Skin Balancing Sun Protection SPF 30 Obagi SPF 30-49 Sunscreen  $54.00 3.00 fl. oz.
Good CLENZIderm M.D. Therapeutic Lotion Obagi Benzoyl Peroxide  $78.00 1.60 fl. oz.
Average Nu-Derm Clear Obagi Lighteners With Hydroquinone  $104.03 2.00 fl. oz.
Average Professional-C Serum 20% Obagi Serums  $112.00 1.00 fl. oz.
Average Elastilash Eyelash Solution (Discontinued) Obagi Lash Growth/ Lash Conditioners  $60.00 1.00 tube
Average Professional-C Serum 10% Obagi Serums  $75.00 1.00 fl. oz.
Poor CLENZIderm M.D. Daily Care Foaming Cleanser Obagi Cleansers/Soaps  $38.00 4.00 fl. oz.
Good Rosaclear Metronidazole Topical Gel Obagi Specialty Skin Care Products  $58.00 1.60 fl. oz.
Average Nu-Derm Action Obagi Moisturizer without Sunscreen  $47.00 2.00 fl. oz.
Average Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte Obagi AHAs  $72.00 2.00 fl. oz.
Average Elastiderm Decolletage Chest and Neck Wrinkle Reducing Lotion Obagi Moisturizer without Sunscreen  $120.00 1.60 fl. oz.
Poor Nu-Derm Sunfader SPF 15 Obagi Lighteners With Hydroquinone  $74.00 2.00 fl. oz.
Good Nu-Derm Gentle Cleanser Obagi Cleansers/Soaps  $41.00 6.70 fl. oz.
Good C-Cleansing Gel Obagi Cleansers/Soaps  $41.00 6.00 fl. oz.
Poor Rosaclear Hydrating Complexion Corrector Obagi Tinted Moisturizer without Sunscreen  $63.00 3.00 fl. oz.
Good Nu-Derm Blender Obagi Lighteners With Hydroquinone  $99.65 2.00 fl. oz.
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