For the past four months, I’ve been testing out the Obagi Nu Derm skincare system. I wanted to thoroughly test all the products so I could write a useful post for anyone looking for a system that fights discoloration, acne, and helps with anti-aging. For anyone in the Seattle area, I visited Anderson Sobel Cosmetic Surgery throughout this experience. Dr. Sobel and his team are amazing – they are super welcoming and knowledgeable. Special thanks to Ashley for always answering all of my questions even between appointments via emaill! Other than offering skincare and services like chemical peels, Dr. Sobel offers a suite of surgical services as well.
Obagi Nu Derm System
The Obagi Nu Derm system comes in a normal/dry or normal/combination formula. It does require a prescription so you’ll want to visit a doctor for a consultation. The multi-step system helps reduce dark spots for brighter, younger looking skin. It’s great for people who have age spots from sun exposure, hyperpigmentation from acne, or have texture and other undesired skin conditions from aging. Each system has a cleanser, toner, prescription strength hydroquinone, exfoliating lotion, blender to use with Tretinoin, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Although you need a prescription for the Tretinoin, you can buy the rest of the products on Amazon.
As you can tell, the AM/PM labels easily show you when to use each. I’ve found the products to really last a long time as you only need a pea sized amount of most. I love the large bag as it holds all the products conveniently for travel and at home.
I personally had very minor reactions when I first started using the Tretinoin. It did cause my skin to flake and become dry around the nose and chin area however I remedied that by slowing my usage. If you have sensitive skin or aren’t sure how you’ll react to the system, I would recommend gradually incorporating the products into your routine. I scaled back to using the products every other day for about two weeks before daily use. Your doctor can always prescribe a low dosage of Tretinoin if you have concerns. With the moisturizer, nourishing masks, and gentle exfoliating the dryness wasn’t too problematic. If I use too much Tretinoin, it does tend to make my face makeup cling to the dry parts. It’s unsightly, but doesn’t last too long.
The other minor side effect I experienced was sensitivity to sunlight. It’s not that you can’t be in the sun when you use the system, however you should be mindful of extended exposure and not using protective measures. For a long day out in the sun, it’s smart to wear a hat instead of relying just on sunscreen. I learned quickly after the first few weeks that I should just be extra careful if I was spending the whole day out in the sun. I didn’t get a full on sunburn but I felt that pre-sunburn feeling sooner than when I wasn’t using the Obagi system.
As I tested the products over a course of four months, I snapped a few pictures to share. Per usual, I’m going to keep it honest and share my real opinions. None of these photos have been retouched or even brightened. You can probably tell they weren’t taken on my DSLR camera so excuse the quality, however I thought this is the best way to show you the progress that my skin made. I rarely post my bare face on my blog but hey, this is real life. I don’t have perfect skin and I’m sure many of you can relate to that!
The top left photo is from April when I began using the Obagi system. Not a lot of active breakouts, but you can tell where I had hyperpigmentation from past blemishes. That time of the month had just finished so I had some hormonal breakouts on my chin. The top right is from the end of May, right before I got a chemical peel. You can see the hyperpigmentation has greatly improved. The pore size on my nose improved as well.
The bottom left photo is from July. I wanted to include this to show you that your skin isn’t always going to show improvement until it’s perfect. I still had blemishes and dealt with dark spots as you can tell. The difference is that the Obagi system helped speed along the process of lightening those dark spots. Unfortunately it’s not very clear but you can kind of see the flakiness that I referred to. Since my chin is a problem area, it got the most dry because I would use more Tretinoin there.
For the “after” photo, I took this yesterday! August 27th for reference. Just a tiny bit of texture and my nose pores aren’t invisible, but they’re much smaller and tighter. The dark spots have lightened so much and I feel that my skin has really brightened to look and feel healthy. I hope these photos throughout the process are helpful!
A note on the medication shown above: Tretinoin is a form of Vitamin A that can treat acne but also targets aging and prevents hyperpigmentation. Dr. Sobel chose a 0.025% Tretinoin cream for my skin as it is sensitive and my dark spots were not deep. Your doctor can prescribe you a stronger dose depending on your needs.
I personally did not find that this system was able to make a significant difference in my breakouts. For the most part, I continued to experience regular breakouts although mine are typically hormone-related so I wouldn’t expect these products to prevent it too much. I did notice my pore size, particularly on my nose, to shrink significantly. When I did have an active breakout, I would use a concentrated amount of Tretinoin with the blender on the spot and it seemed to heal much faster than without.
Latisse & Chemical Peel
Dr. Sobel’s team gave me a sample of Latisse to test out for a few months. For anyone who wants longer lashes without having to maintain eyelash extensions, this is a simple solution however you need to be very patient. You just have to apply a thin layer on the lashline every evening. I did not have dramatic results since I only got to test it for a few months, however my lashes became stronger and noticeably longer when I put on mascara. Hopefully that makes sense. I couldn’t really tell a difference with just my bare lashes however with a coat of mascara, I could notice the difference. The process is rather slow and takes a good amount of time before you see results but I can tell it’s well worth it! Just look at Ashley’s lashes if you visit Dr. Sobel’s office!
I also received a chemical peel during the four month process. The peel I got is called a Modified Jessner peel which is a combination of Salicylic, Lactic, and Citric Acid. Jessner peels can treat the appearance of melasma, sun damage and acne scars. The peel can be applied in layers so you can really customize the strength of the peel. Given that I have sensitive skin, I opted for only one pass over my entire face however I think I could have gone for two. The peel makes your skin feel very warm and slightly tingly however it’s short lived. The process is really quick and there’s hardly any down time. I was just a bit red for probably 20 minutes afterwards. I highly recommend this type of treatment if you want to supplement the Obagi products and give your skin a refresh.
Hope this post was helpful! If you have any questions about my personal experience, please let me know. If you’re in the Seattle area, Dr. Sobel’s team can help as well.
Disclosure: I was provided complimentary product and services by Anderson Sobel Cosmetic Surgery. All opinions are 100% my own.