Obagi Nu-Derm System Review – All You Need to Know

It was a little over a year ago that I started using the Obagi Nu-Derm System. Below I will talk about my personal experience with this and what effect it had on my skin.

I would describe my skin as normal to combination. Luckily I do not suffer from acne, spots or any major skin conditions. However I do have hyperpigmentation, especially around my mouth area. Also, my skin does go through phases where it loses its glow and can become dull and lacklustre.

In the summer months, my skin can get a little oily. Being in my mid thirties, I was starting to notice the lines on my face were becoming more prominent. Therefore I was looking for a treatment that would deal with these conditions. I wanted something that would make my complexion brighter, control the oil, reduce the fine lines and make my skin smoother. Not asking for a lot hey!

After looking through endless products and skin care treatments, I came across the Obagi Nu-Derm System.

Obagi Nu-Derm – What is it?

The Obagi Nu-Derm System is a 7 piece skin care kit that is designed to treat uneven skin tone, reduce the appearance of fine lines and bring about a healthy glow to your skin. The 7 creams are as follows:

  • A foaming gel (cleanser). Use both morning and evening
  • A toner. Use both morning and evening
  • Clear corrector cream. Use both morning and evening
  • Exfoliation enhancer. Use only in the morning
  • Blender cream that has to be mixed with Tretinoin cream. Use only in evening
  • Sunfader (sun protection; sf30, 35 or 50). Use only in the morning

The kit comes in two versions. Normal to oily, and dry skin. You can buy the cleanser, toner or sun cream on its own. However, if you want to purchase the complete set then you would have to get this from a certified doctor or dermatologist. The reason is that some of the other products contain hydroquinone, and you cannot buy these without a prescription.

The application of the creams must be in a specific order and at specific times of the day. Morning, night or both. I will talk more about this below.


I booked a consultation with a skin care specialist. After going through a set of questions and carrying out an assessment they were happy for me to make the purchase.

I was given a large box containing all the creams. The doctor explained that I should stop using my regular products and once I read the pamphlet I should start on my routine.  He explained that in the first two to three weeks my skin would go through a ‘peeling effect’. This is where old dead skin cells are pushed up to the surface and peel off so that ‘new skin’ can appear. He also explained that as my skin would be peeling off, the newer skin would be more prone to sun damage. Therefore, I should try to keep sun exposure to as little as possible and must at all times apply the sunscreen whenever I go out.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realised I needed to commit and be patient if I wanted to see improvements. However, the fact that I already made the payment, I was going to stick to it and see what happens.

My Daily Regime

I would start my day by using the foaming gel cleanser. This cleanses and soothes the skin. It “helps to leave skin smooth, comfortable and soft”. Personally I really liked this cleanser. It was very gentle and made my skin feel really clean. Looking online, you can buy only the cleanser if you wanted to without purchasing the complete set.

The second stage was the toner. This part is designed to help restore the skin’s natural ph and prep the skin for the products you are going to apply. It has a very gentle cooling effect. Make sure to use a cotton ball and gently dab on your skin.

Then comes the clear corrector cream. This is meant to help with age spots, sun damage and freckles. It has skin brightening qualities as well and helps to give your skin that healthy glow.

Stage 4 is where you apply the exfoliation enhancer cream. As the name suggests, it is meant to help exfoliate the skin by getting rid of dead skin cells and help rejuvenate new ones. Finally step 5 is the sunfader (sunscreen).

The night regime would include only steps, 1, 2, 3, and an additional part where you mix the blender cream with tretinoin and apply this to your face. Make sure to use only a very small amount of tretinion, otherwise you will get an unpleasant burning sensation.

My Experience

The first week my skin looked really bad. It was red, blotchy and painful. It looked as if my face had been inside an oven. I was really conscious about how I looked. But then again I was told the first 2 to 3 weeks it would be like this and the skin would peel. It would feel itchy and dry but would improve as time went on. However in my case the peeling actually lasted longer – about 6 weeks.  At times I would have a burning sensation all over my face, it was really uncomfortable.

Eventually the itching and burning stopped. However, my skin just kept ‘flaking away’. Sometimes without even me noticing I would have thin flakes of skin on my face – It was embarrassing! I still had to stick to the regime of applying the creams both day and night, every day.

It wasn’t until about 2 and a half months later that the flaking stopped. But now my skin looked really good. I mean the best it had ever looked. I had a healthy glow and shine. The laughter lines were less prominent. The tone was uniform throughout and blemishes and dark spots were all gone. I was really impressed. However, I had to be very careful. The ‘new skin’ is more prone to sun damage. Therefore, I had to make sure I applied a thick layer of sunscreen every day. Sometimes a few times a day.

It was this that eventually led me to discontinue using the Obagi Nu-Derm System. The regiment of having to apply 5 to 6 creams every day, twice a day didn’t suit my lifestyle. The initial complete set of products cost me £595. I would now have to make another purchase if I wanted to maintain the results. Also, there were days I forgot to apply sunscreen. This later on resulted in my skin appearing more dull and darker in parts than it would otherwise have been. Over the course of a few weeks I waited until the creams ran out and I didn’t repurchase.

Final Thought

Looking back now, I don’t think my skin was as bad as I thought. I didn’t have to buy this. The Obagi Nu-Derm System I feel is more suited for older or damaged skin. If your under 40 and don’t have major skin conditions, then I wouldn’t really recommend this.

I did see positive results. However, the daily regiment is very demanding, especially if you live a very busy life. It’s certainly not cheap if you want to maintain the results. More importantly, the ‘new skin’ is more prone to sun damage and if you don’t constantly apply sunscreen then it can make your skin worse.

In the beginning, the skin peeling and stinging sensation was very painful. I’ve read testimonies where people weren’t able to get over this part and didn’t complete the full course. In contrast, others loved the products and it did wonders to their skin.

In the end I guess it’s up to you to decide. This was only my experience.

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