Obagi skincare | Everything you need to know

Hannah Wilson


You’re probably here because you have come across the Obagi range and Dr Zein Obagi while researching skincare products, and you’re increasingly curious about the effectiveness of these popular skin saviours. Perhaps you have used Obagi products in the past and you’re looking for an authorised stockist. Or you want to know if Obagi skincare is medical grade. Or why you need a prescription for some products. Or… if the range is actually any good?!

Whatever questions you have, you’re in the right place.

This is our comprehensive guide to all things Obagi; the brand’s history, the different ranges (Obagi Medical and Obagi Clinical), the product range, the skin problems it treats, and the benefits. We’ll even cover the downsides, because despite Obagi being one of our most recommended brands at Face Dr, we like to keep things unbiased and share the full story about brands regardless of whether we currently stock them or not. So, without further ado, here is our ultimate guide to Obagi.

Want to skip straight to your free consultation? We are an authorised stockist of Obagi Medical, so a Face Dr Skin Expert can help you determine the best products for you - just tap the button below:

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Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

  • What is the Obagi range?
  • Why does Face Dr recommend Obagi?
  • Who is Dr Zein Obagi?
  • History of Obagi: How did it all start?
  • What is the difference between Obagi Medical and Obagi Clinical?
  • Is Obagi skincare medical grade?
  • How do I know if the products work?
  • Why is Obagi prescription-only?
  • What problems does Obagi treat?
  • Who would benefit most from the Obagi range?
  • Who would NOT benefit from using the Obagi range
  • What Obagi products can my Skin Expert offer?
  • What are the best-selling products?
  • How much are Obagi products?
  • I’ve found Obagi Medical products online. Why don’t I need a prescription to buy?
  • How do I find a stockist, and how do prescriptions work?
  • Summary: Should I try Obagi?

What is the Obagi range?


Obagi Medical banner image

Obagi is a skincare brand providing award-winning products on both a prescriptive and non-prescriptive basis. Their range comprises many products designed for different skin types and concerns, but most are formulated to reduce the early signs of skin ageing, like fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, hyperpigmentation and more. The range also has great products for addressing troublesome acne.

Why does Face Dr recommend Obagi?


Why we recommend obagi medical
We like to recommend the Obagi range because of its science-backed formulations and the success many of our clients have seen from using the products. They implement a ‘system-based structure’, meaning all products in the range use formulations that complement each other and work synergistically to tackle skin concerns.

“Just 3 weeks of using the Obagi system and already my skin tone has improved significantly.” - Helen W, Face Dr Client

Who is Dr Zein Obagi?


Dr Zein Obagi

As you can probably guess, Dr Zein Obagi, MD, is the brains behind the Obagi range, and a researcher, author, educator and world-renowned dermatologist. He is the founder of ZO Skin Health, Obagi Clinical and Obagi Medical, developing game-changing dermatologic formulations for over 35 years.

Dr Zein Obagi followed a simple philosophy; we should not merely treat skin diseases and damage, but instead, proactively work towards healthy skin that can tackle future issues on its own.

Seen as a thought leader in skin rejuvenation, Dr Zein Obagi is among the best-known experts on skin of colour, as well as chemical peels. Although he sold a controlling share of Obagi Medical and Obagi Clinical and created another brand, ZO Skin Health, his knowledge and expertise continues on in the Obagi products we’re discussing here.

History of Obagi: How did it all start?

The brands ZO Skin Health and Obagi were founded to provide effective products designed to brighten, even skin tone, revitalise and protect. With over 30 years of in-clinic experience, Obagi Medical was founded in 1988 and provides products that minimise premature skin ageing, acne, hyperpigmentation and sun damage. Due to the ingredients used in this range, some products are only available from registered stockists - like us!

What is the difference between Obagi Medical and Obagi Clinical?

We know these similar names can be a little confusing. Both ranges are born from the same skincare principles, but…

Obagi Medical offers products formulated to reduce dark spots, fade hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and ultimately protect and enhance the texture and tone of skin. Certain Obagi Medical products are only available through authorised stockists and require a consultation and prescription from a professional, so you cannot purchase these over the counter or online.

Obagi Clinical offers similar products, but with more focus on promoting a healthy, youthful-looking complexion and preventing the early signs of skin ageing. The Obagi Clinical range is available through several stockists in stores and online without a prescription.

At Face Dr, we only offer Obagi Medical as it contains higher concentrations of active ingredients, making it the more effective range. You can gain access to the Obagi Medical range on our website after an online consultation with a Skin Expert, or if you would like to purchase Obagi Clinical products, you can do so on their website.

Is Obagi skincare medical grade?


Is Obagi medical grade

Yes. Both Obagi Medical and Obagi Clinical are considered medical grade, and contain science-backed, clinical-quality, rigorously-tested skincare formulations that are thought of as some of the best around. The Obagi Medical range contains higher concentrations of more active ingredients to increase their efficacy, which is why some of these products need a prescription from an approved stockist and skincare professional, like our Skin Experts.

With a deeper knowledge of skin biology and its cellular building blocks, the research and development team at Obagi chooses from thousands of premium ingredients to offer the most effective combination for certain skin issues. Then, they identify the best quality of that ingredient, and include it in the formulation in its most bioavailable form. They continue to optimise ingredient concentrations and pH to ensure products are as effective as can be.

How do I know if the products work?


skincare products

Aside from our clients seeing success when treating skin issues with Obagi products, ‘Integrity, Safety and Efficacy’ remain the 3 pillars of Obagi’s development process, and they uphold very high product testing standards by performing:

  • Efficacy studies to determine the effectiveness of their products
  • Pre-clinical evaluations
  • Research on consumer preferences
  • Usage studies
  • Tests for allergies and irritation

Why is Obagi prescription-only?

Obagi Clinical is available for purchase as normal, but certain Obagi Medical products are prescription-only due to ingredients like tretinoin which can irritate some skin types - our article on tretinoin has more information.

Don’t worry though, you don’t need to go to your GP for a prescription. Face Dr is an authorised stockist of Obagi Medical products, so our Skin Experts can help both new and existing clients to order the products that work for them after a brief online consultation.

Book your free video skincare consultation now

What problems does Obagi skincare treat?


Top skincare tips for if you have oily skin

Whatever your skin issue, Obagi likely has a product (or several) in their range that can help. The range includes formulations to tackle:

For most of the above skin issues, Face Dr typically recommends ZO Skin Health products, Obagi products, or sometimes AllSkin Med, depending on what our Skin Experts determine is best for a client’s particular skin concern. If we believe a combination of products will work in synchronicity, we will recommend them together.

For stubborn hyperpigmentation and dark spots that need something stronger, Obagi is our go-to as some of their products contain an effective skin-lightening ingredient called hydroquinone. You can read our article on hydroquinone here.

Who would benefit most from the Obagi range?


Obagi skincare

As you’ve probably guessed, Obagi is an all-round great range for many skin concerns, but those with hyperpigmentation and dark spots will see most benefits. For example, if you need an exfoliating product to improve hyperpigmentation you may find something like the Obagi Nu-derm® Exfoderm® Forte is for you. Check out our article ‘How to treat hyperpigmentation with your skincare routine’ for more ideas on this topic.

Those looking for products to prevent premature skin ageing will also love what Obagi has to offer. If you’re interested in skincare with age defying properties, their formulations focus on essential skin proteins that diminish with age and have been found to be highly effective.

Who would NOT benefit from using the Obagi range?

There aren’t many skin concerns Obagi can’t help tackle, but the range isn’t for everyone. Your Skin Expert can advise on the best products for you, but even with a personalised recommendation you should monitor results to see if you notice any real positive changes.

Also, you may want to avoid using the products if:
  • You have had a reaction to a certain product or ingredient in the past
  • You have extremely sensitive skin (some products may not be suitable, speak to your Skin Expert)
  • You suffer from a condition such as dermatitis or eczema which could be irritated when using certain ingredients, like tretinoin
  • You are pregnant (most products are safe to use when pregnant, but you should always speak to your Skin Expert first)

If in any doubt, book a consultation to discuss any reservations or questions you have so we can help advise you.

What Obagi products can my Skin Expert offer?


ZO Skin Health Daily Power Defense serum

Our Skin Experts can recommend Obagi products we stock; daily essentials such as cleansers, moisturisers and sunscreens, as well as more targeted treatments like serums, exfoliators and eye creams. If you’d like to take a look at what we stock before you book a consultation, you can find the full Obagi range here.

What are the best-selling products?

Although our Skin Experts always recommend products based on your specific needs (no product bias here!), they do have a few stand-out products they tend to recommend again and again due to their efficacy and popularity. Some customer favourites include:

Obagi Nu-Derm® Blender RX


Obagi Nu-Derm Blender RX

This prescription product contains 4% hydroquinone to help correct hyperpigmentation, dark spots, sun spots, age spots, melasma and other discolourations. The result is a healthier-looking, more even complexion.

Obagi Tretinoin 0.025% Cream


Obagi Medical Tretinoin Cream 0.025%

This prescription-only acne treatment, like all Obagi tretinoin formulations, is fragrance-free. Other percentage amounts are available, so your Skin Expert can recommend the correct strength for your skin.

Daily Hydro-Drops® Facial Serum


Obagi Medical Daily Hydro Drops Facial Serum

This serum is a dream for dehydrated skin, with radiance-boosting ingredients like Vitamin B3, Abyssinian Oil and Hibiscus Oil, as well as game-changing Isoplentix™ technology which protects and preserves ingredients to ensure the best results and remove the need for potentially irritating emulsifiers.

Professional-C® Serum 20%


Obagi Medical Professional-C Serum

This serum is formulated at pH levels that optimise stability, permeability and efficacy, meaning ingredients are instantly absorbed into skin for better results. It’s popular for dull, lacklustre or ageing skin, as it boosts the natural glow with vitamin C.

How much are Obagi products?

Obagi products can be purchased via authorised sellers, so prices can vary depending on the stockist. If you choose to purchase yours via our Face Dr website, our Obagi products range from around £23 to £159. If you have any questions about our products or prices, you can reach out to our team any time at hello@myfacedr.com.

I’ve found Obagi Medical products online. Why don’t I need a prescription to buy?

If you have come across prescription-only Obagi Medical products being sold online without the need to speak with a professional before purchase, unfortunately these will be counterfeits and missing the effective ingredients that real Obagi products have, meaning poor results.

How do I find a stockist, and how do prescriptions work?


Person on computer free video skincare consultation

Authorised Obagi stockists can be doctors, specialist spas and other approved skincare clinics - Face Dr, for example! We are committed to giving unbiased skincare advice for each individual client’s needs, so if we believe Obagi has a product for you we will offer a prescription to purchase this through our site.

If we believe there is a product out there more suited to your needs, we will advise on this instead. Whatever our recommendation, it’s up to you what you would like to purchase - you will never be pressured into buying from us.

While there are other Obagi stockists out there, our Doctor-led Skin Experts strive to deliver an informative, personalised experience at your free online consultation, and offer impartial advice on the best skincare products for your needs, regularly recommending a select few science-backed brands we feel are the best of the best. Obagi Medical is one of them.

Summary: Should I try Obagi?


Obagi Medical skincare

We hope this article has shed light on this incredibly effective range and answered your burning questions - all that’s left to know is… should you try Obagi?

If you are bothered by hyperpigmentation, dark spots, age spots or sun damage to your skin, then the hydroquinone found in certain Obagi Medical products could be the ingredient of your dreams to help even skin tone. If you suffer from acne, the range of tretinoin creams and gels could be useful for you. Ultimately, it’s for you and your Skin Expert to decide.

You can easily book a free consultation which is done through a secure video link, to learn more about the range and your options from wherever you are. If you choose to make a purchase based on our recommendations, we’ll unlock any prescription-only products for you and post them to you next working day, anywhere in the UK.

Ready to speak to a Skin Expert and find out if the Obagi range is for you?

Book your free video skincare consultation now

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