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May 1, 2010 Reviewed by admin 7 Comments
Celebrity dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi founded the company in 1988 to market products he had developed in his Beverly Hills practice, of which his first creation was the Obagi Nu-Derm System. In 1997, he sold a controlling share to outside investors, and it began operations as the company Obagi Medical Products Inc. Dr. Obagi is still the second largest individual shareholder. The company develops skin health products they say are designed to improve penetration of prescription and cosmetic agents across the skin barrier, which include treating visible skin conditions such as photodamage, senile lentigines, acne vulgaris, sun damage and rosacea.

The Good:

Obagi has gotten some positive press from women’s magazines and websites like Elle and, which gave the brand kudos in the skin category as part of their 2010 Genius Awards and was featured as one of New York based dermatologist Dr. Arielle Kauvar’s favorite products to lighten skin. Their products also contain prescription strength formulas, and Obagi-C Rx System is the first and only prescription-strength Vitamin C and hydroquinone system.

The Bad:

Despite a strong following including singer Alicia Keys, Obagi’s products are questionable. Their toner is little more than witch hazel and aloe and Nu-Derm Exfoderm Forte includes triethanolamine (TEA) which is an irritant at moderate doses and a two-year study on mice associated it with skin cancer.

The Truth:

Obagi has never really been Marta’s cup of tea. She doesn’t like the anti-aging philosophy of peel, peel and then peel again and wondered why Alicia Keys used the line, especially when studies have shown that high doses of hydroquinone frequently cause ochronosis (a bluish black pigmentation of skin tissue), particularly in darker skinned people. It is also linked with cancer and is banned in several countries. Marta also thought the toner was not much more than witch hazel and aloe. Essentially, we here at TIA aren’t impressed with Obagi.

Featured Product:

Obagi Nu-Derm, Elastiderm, and Professional-C
  • February 21, 2019

    by Margie

    I have been using Obaji since 2010. I use it every day. I receive compliments on my skin all the time saying how beautiful my skin is and people cannot believe I am 68 years old. Because of this, I will probably always use Obaji for the rest of my life. It is the only product that has improved my skin. I use to have acne scars along my jawline and dark spots on my more. They are all gone! Obaji has made a believer in me.

  • June 2, 2018

    by Art

    I've used Obagi and found it to be a very good and effective group of products. The person who cuts my hair and who gets a close-up look at my face has remarked on the change. She said that my skin was "beautiful."

  • September 6, 2015

    by mattie

    I will start off with this statement: I have no association with Obagi Skincare or affiliates or stakeholders of the company. Personally, I do not use Obagi, nor did I ever really recommend it "back in the day" when I worked as an esthetician, specializing in medical esthetics.

    Obagi has been around, as the article stated, a very long time. Obagi has a huge cult behind it, consisting of beauty bloggers, beauty editors, guru's, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, and medical estheticans..because it's effective. I would advice Summar to research the ingredients (along with pH, concentrations, etc) that are in Obagi, along with the research that we have regarding these ingredients; truth is, they are effective.

    I give respect for what this website attempts to do, but I do advise in better fact checking and a little more focus on empiricalism. Truth is, "TIA" is comprised of self-proclaims beauty guru's- not cosmetic chemists, cellular/molecular biologists, biochemists, research or clinical dermatologists or plastic surgeons, or any other clinical or research disciplines that work within the field. The statement "Obagi has never really been Marta’s cup of tea. She doesn’t like the anti-aging philosophy of peel, peel and then peel again," to me, is without merit. It provides as much stance as saying that aren't Oprah doesn't believe Hemispherectomy are necessary.

  • December 6, 2012

    by Ann

    I do not know anything about the ingredients, or how they test their products. I do know that Obagi works. I have been using this product for 6 months now. I purchased the Obagi dry to oily set on Amazon. My skin problems were fine lines and acne. My acne is cleared now and my fine lines have been reduced. I do not work for Obagi, I am just a user who is happy with the product. I do think it is very expensive but it is the only product that has worked for me

  • April 28, 2011

    by mar

    The fact that Obagi still tests on animals is pathetic and enough of a reason to assure that I would never consider supporting the company, let alone the products.
    The great news is, there are SO many incredibly effective, all natural, CRUELTY-FREE anti-aging lines on the market today. And, we are so very lucky to have Marta keeping us so up to date, thank you again!

  • March 16, 2011

    by shel

    Some studies have shown that hydroquinone MAY cause cancer in lab rats that have been given massive doses. So far, hydroquinone has not been proven to cause cancer in humans. For many, the benefits (flawless, youthful skin) FAR outweigh any risks.

    Obagi products containing hydroquinone have never been directly linked to cancer or birth defects in humans.

    Please Note: I do not represent Obagi in any way other than being a very happy customer.

  • March 9, 2011

    by shel

    Firstly, ochronosis is relatively rare. It is seen primarily in people from Africa with very dark skin who have been using doses higher than 4%: usually 8% and higher. Alicia Keyes does not fit into this category. According to Obagi, their productsF have not been implicated in ANY case of ochronsis. That being said, there is no more effective treatment for melasma and age related pigmentation issues on the market. My plastic surgeon believes strongly in it, and I owe my smooth, even toned skin to NuDerm. And-- I rarely need to use moisturizer. I'll use it for life. Please consider researching Dr. Obagi's philosophy on skincare before dismissing this extraordinary product line that actually WORKS.

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