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Is Obagi the right skin care range for Alicia Keys?

Is a Solution for:
Age Spots
January 20, 2009 Reviewed by Marta 14 Comments
When I read in Vanity Fair that Obagi is Alicia Keys' skincare brand of choice, I was more than a little surprised. Obagi's anti-aging phisophy is pretty simple: peel, peel and then peel again. Ms Keys seems too young to be paint-stripping, so I thought I should take another look at Obagi in case I had missed something.

I started, entirely randomly, with Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte by Obagi ($58). This is basically glycolic acid and parabens in a plastic bottle. Alright, that's a bit of an oversimplification. There is kalaya oil, which is actually emu oil. This fat from a large flightless bird is very easily absorbed into the skin because it is close to human fat. Saponins are also useful because they encourage lymphatic drainage. I am less keen ontriethanolamine (TEA), which serves as a pH balancer in cosmetics. It is an irritant at moderate doses and a two-year study on mice associated it with skin cancer.

I really hope Alicia isn't using Nu-Derm Clear ($81). The main ingredient is hydroquinone, which comes at a hefty 4% concentration. It has vitamins E and A, saponins and lactic acid. Most of the rest of the ingredients are best avoided. Studies have shown high doses of hydroquinone to frequently cause ochronosis (a bluish black pigmentation of skin tissue), particularly in dark skinned people. It is also linked with cancer and is banned in several countries.

My third Obagi Nu-Derm pick was the toner. To be fair, this is pretty inoccuous. Although I think that this is little more than your mother's toner with its base of witch hazel and aloe.

Ingredients in Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte by Obagi

Purified Water, Glycolic Acid, Emulsifying Wax, Triethanolamine, Glycerin, Lactic Acid, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Kalaya Oil, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Dimethicone, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Saponins.

Ingredients in Nu-Derm Clear

4% Hydroquinone, Purified water, Cetyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Stearyl Alcohol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Asorbic Acid, Sodium Metabisulfite, Lactic Acid, Saponins, Disodium EDTA, Methylparaben, BHT, Propylparaben and Butylparaben

Ingredients in Nu-Derm Toner

Purified water, aloe barbadensis gel, witch hazel distillate, potassium alum, sodium PCA panthenol. DMDM hydantion, polysorbate 80, allantoin, sage extract, calendula officinalis extract, saponis, fragrance, FD&C blue #1
  • December 11, 2012

    by Daniel

    I am a new Obagi user infact I am now using the ZO MD line . Dr obagi has nothing to do with the company obagi skin care anymore .
    If someone has scarring from Acne and pits in the skin and dark marks no normal skincare is ever ever going to get rid of them . The only way to remove all of this is to gradually peel away micron by micron the top layer of the skin . No vitamins or peptides or lotions or potions will do a thing if they don't contain a powerful exfoliant . If you have a hole in your skin/ scar applying a nice relaxing serum to it will make if soft and that's it . You apply a substance that will gradually peel away the scar or mark and eventually the top layers will shed away and under the scar new healthy layers are formed until these new clear layers reach the surface and there you are the scar is gone :)
    This means an aggressive use of Retinoids etc as in Obagi's skin care and Zo MD. I am so impressed by the products I feel stupid I've used so many other ranges in the past . The reason why Dr obagi made the Zo products because he wanted people to have products to use even after they had finished his aggressive 3 month routines . The Retamax is just a mind blowing Retinoid , the Brightenex has made my over all skin tone just wonderful .
    For people who have Acne or scarring or pits and holes and uneven skin I'd say bin what ever you are using and be prepared to be red and peel because it is the only way to get clear skin . If you don't want to use his range then you will have to go down the route of Laser/ fraxel , skin peels . These themselves cost a fortune and you can peel like mad

  • December 10, 2012

    by Valerie Goldberg

    Nu-Derm is suppose to be use for 18 weeks and then you are to give your skin a break for about 3 months. Nu-Derm is not to be used continuously. You need to give your skin some time to recover.

  • December 10, 2012

    by july montero

    For my personal opinion this blog tells the true obigi is just peel peel and peel and went you stop to use it freckles come back and you have uneven skin tone , and highpigmentation in places that you have healthy skin also sensitive skin that you can not even used any mosterizer sun block ,not even make up.

  • June 5, 2010

    by KIM

    OMG.......HOW INSENSITIVE. MILLLIONS SUFFER WILL ACNE. THOSE MILLIONS SUFFER REGARDLESS DUE TO DAY-TO-DAY STRESSES, ENVIROMENT, HORMONES, ETC. DESPITE HAVING MORE MONEY, THEY HAVE ADDED ISSUES WHICH CONTRIBUTES MORE TO THEIR SKIN ISSUES. WHICH ONLY MEANS ACNE IS LIKE ROACHES, IT WILL APPEAR IF IT WANTS TO REGARDLESS OF HOW CLEAN THE SUFFICE IS. HER HAVING ACNE OR AN AFFAIR IS NOT GOING TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE OR SITUATION SO LEAVE HER ALONE. HER PROFESSION IS TO ENTERTAIN AND NOT FOR YOU TO JUDGE HER FOR HUMAN NATURE.

  • November 23, 2009

    by Nancy

    I use Obagi but not the Nu-Derm. I use the Obagi-C Rx System that my facialist started me on. I found you can buy kits on TrueBeauty.com and if you join their club you always get 15 to 20% off. Hope this helps.

  • October 21, 2009

    by 2GM

    Debi,
    I have heard about the positive results of Obagi Nu-Derm from my friends and am aching to try it.
    Where can I find the kit to buy? Any suggestions? Ulta? Sally Beauty etc?

  • October 4, 2009

    by Debi

    I thought I would make one other clarification. I understand they also have a blue peel. That is NOT what I had done. I would never have something that strong/harse to my skin. I saw pictures of people with it and as much as I like Obagi, I would not ever use that from them or any other company.

  • October 4, 2009

    by Debi

    I started using Obagi 1/2008 along with the Clarisonic and I must say I saw such a difference in my skin, if anyone asks me the best skincare I personally would say hands down Obagi. I used the Obagi Nuderm along with the Tretinon and yes there was peeling (for me gentle peeling) as I would regulate it and pull back if I got too red or too much peel. But after using it about 3 months, I found people constantly complementing my skin. Freckles disappeared, age spots gone, and a very smooth even skin tone. I am using it again now and this time I plan on not stopping. Initially I thought you use it for for 4-6 months but have found out that many people use it as their skin care regimen year round. So for me Obagi is number 1 of any product I have used and I have used a lot.

  • January 21, 2009

    by Lori

    Ah. Benzoyl peroxide is "out" for acne now, isn't it? All those years of using Clearisil!!

  • January 21, 2009

    by marta

    Lori, Obagi has an acne product called ClenziDERM MD with 5% bezoyl peroxide. Not sure I'd use this after reading Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benzoyl_peroxide

  • January 21, 2009

    by Michelle Tang

    Oh my gosh,

    TIA actually posted something about Obagi. I found an old Obagi bottle I bought a long time ago when I was looking through my bathroom cabinets. I was introduced to this brand when I was about 16 years old to brighten/LIGHTEN my skin pigmentation and to get rid of my freckles. I was going to ask TIA to review the product I had to see if it was a scam because it didn't really seem to work on me. Then again, and to be fair, I don't think I used it long enough, or even consistently enough for it to work correctly. It was in a brownish glass bottle (like those old medicine bottles) with a dropper tube as the top. The consistency was quite oily.

  • January 20, 2009

    by rileygirl

    I know it is not popular on this blog, but I love Nu Derm. It has been the only thing that has gotten rid of my freckles and sun damage. It is harsh, though, and definitely best used under supervision.

  • January 20, 2009

    by Kira

    I have multiple filipino friends with darkish skin who swear by Obagi's Nu-Derm, and don't seem to have any problems, just great skin. Alicia K's skin color is not too dark either...As a matter of fact, I know that black women use it with success as well - they just have to be more careful and do it under Derm's supervision.
    On a personal note, I use the Clear you mentioned to fade hyperpigmentation on my arms, sometimes together with Ret-A, and it's slowly starting to show results, may be if I was to use the whole system correctly it would get even better...

  • January 20, 2009

    by Lori

    I think Alicia Keyes has problems with acne -- do they have products for that?

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