ZO Skin Health vs. Obagi; what's the difference?

Vanessa Gibbs

Choosing skincare products is never easy. You need to think about your skin type, the concerns you want to tackle, the ingredients that work for you and if a product will fit into your routine. And the first thing you need to do is find a skincare brand you can trust. 

Here at Face Dr, our team of experts have worked in the skincare industry for decades. We’ve helped thousands of clients find the right products for them, and get the glowing skin we all dream about. 

When it comes to brands, there are a select few we recommend time and time again. We look for science-backed bands that are rooted in research, brands that use medical-grade ingredients and those we’ve seen real results from. Two of those brands are ZO Skin Health and Obagi. 

What’s the difference and which is our favourite? Read on to find out more. 

Want to get an expert recommended brand for you straight away? Book one of our free online skincare consultations


Here’s what we’ll cover about both of these brands: 

  • What skincare problems they tackle
  • What skin types they’re for 
  • What kind of products they have
  • Where you can buy them 
  • The price 

Want to get our advice on other brands? We’ve covered ZO versus Medik8 and SkinCeuticals.  

What is ZO Skin Health?


ZO Skin Health skincare products

ZO Skin Health was founded by leading dermatologist Dr Zein Obagi. The brand uses the latest scientific research and high-grade ingredients to transform and take care of your skin. It includes everything from everyday essentials—like cleansers and SPF—to treatments for concerns like ageing, hyperpigmentation and rosacea. 

ZO has a simple “Get Skin Ready” philosophy that includes cleansing, exfoliating and toning. It also has its Fundamental Five products: a cleanser, an exfoliant, a toner, a barrier repair product and an SPF. 

What is Obagi?


Obagi is also rooted in science, with over 30 years of clinically proven results. But nowadays, the brand actually has nothing to do with ZO’s founder Dr Zein Obagi. While he did found Obagi, he sold his share of the company back in 1997. He found that the company was moving away from what he believed in when it came to skincare and what he wanted his business to achieve. But his name has stuck with the brand.  

Now the brand, run by different people, has products for a range of concerns like acne, sun damage and uneven skin tone. Obagi also has ready-built ranges of products to tackle different concerns, like the Obagi Nu-Derm Fx system for hyperpigmentation or the Obagi 360 system for ageing skin.

What skincare problems do they tackle? 

We’ve already touched on this a bit, but here’s the full break down of which skincare concerns each brand tackles: 

ZO Skin Health has products for: 

  • Anti-ageing
  • Brightening
  • Acne
  • Redness
  • Dehydrated skin
  • Sensitive skin
  • Everyday essentials like cleaners and sunscreens

Obagi has products for: 

  • Sun damage
  • Uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation 
  • Signs of ageing
  • Acne and blemishes
  • Oily skin and greasy skin
  • Dry skin 
  • Sensitive skin 

We usually recommend ZO products for almost every one of these skincare concerns. However, when it comes to hyperpigmentation that isn’t responding to other treatments, we may recommend an Obagi product with hydroquinone, a much stronger ingredient that can tackle those stubborn dark spots. 

What skin types are they for? 

You’re in luck! All skin types are catered for with these brands. 

ZO Skin Health has products for all skin types, including oily, combination, dry and sensitive. 

Obagi has products for all skin types, including oily, combination, dry and sensitive. 

What kind of products do they have? 

ZO Skin Health has products for all steps of your skincare routine. From cleansing and toning, to moisturising and treating with serums, exfoliants and masks. The brand even has body products and products specifically designed for the delicate eye area. Plus, the brand has some of the most protective sunscreens on the market. 

Customer favourites include: 

  • Daily Power Defense — an all-in-one serum that smooths lines, brightens the complexion and protects the skin from damage. 

  • Hydrating Cleanser — remove dirt, oil and make-up with this gentle everyday cleanser that hydrates and soothes the skin

  • Complexion Renewal Pads — these easy-to-use pre-soaked pads minimise surface oil while gently exfoliating and unclogging the pores.

  • Exfoliating Polish — exfoliate away dead skin cells with magnesium crystals for smoother, brighter skin.

Obagi also has a range of products for your routine. You can pick up daily essentials like cleansers, moisturisers and sunscreens. There are also targeted treatments like serums, toners, exfoliants and eye creams. 

Customer favourites include: 

  • Obagi Nu-Derm 3 Clear — this hydroquinone cream tackles all kinds of discolouration and dark spots for a clearer, more even complexion. 
  • Obagi Nu-Derm 5 Blender — this lightening and brightening cream uses hydroquinone to target stubborn dark spots and hyperpigmentation. 
  • Obagi Nu-Derm 6 Sunfader — an SPF 15 sunscreen that will protect your skin from the sun while reversing previous sun damage and sun spots. 

Where can I buy the products? 

Pink piggy bank on white background


Where can I buy ZO Skin Health products? 

Before you buy a ZO product, you’ll need to speak with an approved stockist. These include medispas, dermatologists, aesthetic practitioners and online skin clinics like us at Face Dr

You need to speak with an expert because the brand uses a high percentage of active ingredients. These ingredients are what make the products so effective, but they also mean it’s important to use the right ZO product for you, and use it in the right way. 

As the products are more prescriptive than the typical high street product, you can’t simply buy it off the shelves. But we’ve made getting your hands on these products easy. Just book a free online skincare consultation with one of our skin experts. We can analyse your skin, ask about your concerns and then recommend the best ZO products for the job, which we can send directly to your door if you decide to purchase. Want to find out more about pricing? Simply email us at hello@myfacedr.com for a price list. 

Where can I buy Obagi products? 

There are different kinds of Obagi products with different strengths of ingredients. So while you’ll be able to buy most of them online easily, others are prescription only — for example any products containing hydroquinone. So for these, you’ll need to speak with an approved professional before making a purchase. 

Approved stockists include physicians, medispas or approved skincare professionals. Here at Face Dr, we sometimes recommend Obagi products to our clients when that’s the best product for them. They can then make the purchase through us if they decide to go ahead. 

Face Dr top tip: You might have found ZO and Obagi products sold online without the need to speak with an expert first. Unfortunately, these products are fakes and simply don’t have the same ingredients—and therefore they won’t provide you the same results—as the real deal. 

What’s the price of ZO Skin Health products? 

ZO’s policy says that UK stockists can’t share pricing online as the brand is more prescriptive in nature. But we’ve made it easy to find out the price tag of products you’re interested in. Simply sign up for a Face Dr account, email us at hello@myfacedr.com for a price list or book a free online skincare consultation and we can talk you through everything. 

What’s the price of Obagi products? 

As Obagi products are sold through approved sellers, prices may vary. Some stockists do share their pricing, which usually ranged from £23 to £159. Want to find out more? Get in touch via email at hello@myfacedr.com or speak directly with one of our experts with an online skincare consultation. They can not only tell you if an Obagi product can help with your skincare concerns, they can give you all the information you need about pricing.


Should I choose ZO Skin Health or Obagi?


Face Dr skin expert giving online skincare consultation

That’s the big question. Both brands are backed by clinical trials and medical-grade ingredients. However, ZO is known for using the very latest skin research in its formulations.  

So while we approve of both brands — and our experts sometimes recommend Obagi products when they work for clients — most of the time, our recommendation is ZO Skin Health. You simply can’t go wrong with this brand. Not only does it have products to tackle a range of concerns, it uses the very best ingredients and skincare technology to deliver results. And we’ve seen those results first hand in thousands of clients. 

However, everyone’s skin is different, and we all have different preferences when it comes to pricing, textures, ingredients and the specific products we need. That’s why we recommend booking a free online skincare consultation

In a 30-minute call, one of our skin experts will be able to analyse your skin, ask about your concerns and then recommend the best brand for the job. Beyond an expert-recommended brand, we can recommend the exact products you should be using and help to build a routine for you to follow, too. There’s never any obligation to buy. But if you do, we can send your new products directly to your door. 

We discuss what the ZO Skin Health GSR Getting Skin Ready ethos is, and which products you need to get your skin ready for treatment.
Read more
Looking for a high-quality sunscreen with a bit of added colour? Our skin experts dive into the ZO Skin Health Smart-Tone Broad Spectrum SPF 50, so you can find out if this product is for you.
Read more
ZO Skin Health Oil Control Pads can help control oil, shine and breakouts. Our skin experts cover everything you need to know about this product and whether it's right for you.
Read more
Looking for a gentle cleanser that cleans and clears the skin? The ZO Skin Health Gentle Cleanser may be for you! Here, we dive into what this cleanser does and whether you should add it to your routine.
Read more
Want brighter skin and a more glowy complexion? You need to try ZO Skin Health's Brightalive Skin Brightener. Here, we cover exactly what this product does and whether it's right for you.
Read more
Looking for a high-grade sunscreen? The ZO Skin Health Daily Sheer Broad Spectrum SPF 50 could be for you. We dive into what this sunscreen does and whether you should add it to your routine.
Read more