Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Review: Obagi Nu-derm

Before we start, a disclaimer: 

1. These products are not available in the UK, because they do not comply with EU standards
2. They will not be for everyone - they have strong chemical components
3. What's written here is purely my opinion and is based on my personal experience. In short, I am not a doctor, have no medical expertise and do not claim to be an expert on the ingredients in these products

Okay, with that out of the way: I've held off this review for quite some time, because I wanted to thoroughly test out these products (see disclaimer above). But, I've been using the system, on and off (see below), for around six months, so I feel that's enough of a test run to comment on results.

There's a very detailed overview of the whole system on the Obagi website, but in short, the system claims to improve sun damaged skin by 'penetrating the skin's surface'. I have some melasma spots on my face, most likely due to a lack of proper protection when I was young and thought I'd be young forever - I was to busy having fun to both with dull old things like SPF for the face. And, while minor, it was increasingly clear that Vitamin E wasn't going to cut it. 

It was actually my sister that suggested I check out Obagi - it's very popular in the US, and although technically you need a prescription to get it, your reliable friend and mine the internet enables you to bypass this technicality pretty quickly. And yes, I realise some people will raise an eyebrow at that. If you do, probably don't read on. 

So, after a quick read, I ordered a whole system (in for a penny, in for a pound). What's less clear, although essential, is a separate purchase of tretinoin cream to make sure the system really does its thing. It's worth noting that the tretinoin is particularly potent and comes in three strengths: 0.1% (the strongest), 0.05% and 0.025%. My sister was using the 0.1% and found that a bit strong, so I opted for the 0.05%, which worked well for me. I'd always err on the side of caution - or, if you're in the US, get a doctor's advice. Alternatively, you can call the stores in the US and they may be able to guide you over the phone. 

It's fairly straight forward. The products are even numbered to help you out - and they tell you whether to be used in the morning, the evening or both. Be warned, it's a pretty in-depth system, although it you're a dedicated skin care routine kind of a gal, then you'll be fine. In the mornings, you cleanse, tone, then use 'Clear', then 'Exfoderm', then moisturise ('Hydrate') and then use the SPF 50. And you'll need this 50 - the system definitely makes your skin more sensitive.

In the evenings, it's pretty much the same, but you replace 'Exfoderm' with 'Blender'. You mix this blender with the tretinoin. It's difficult to find exact guidance on amounts to mix - probably because you should be advised by your doctor - but I have been mixing a small pea-sized amount with a slightly larger pea-sized amount of the blender. In short, it bleaches the skin. 

Now, I warn you, the immediate results are not pretty. Basically, after a couple of days, your skin will feel really dry, tight and - even worse - it starts to peel off like a snake shedding skin. Definitely do not start this just before an important occasion. Make-up can only minimise the damage. 

If this happens, as it did with me, step it back a bit. Ease off the tretinoin and maybe only do the whole system every other day. It's all about getting your skin used to the products. I just had to be sensible. Also, in the early days, I was quite concerned about the amount to use. It's actually not as difficult as it first appears; the lines on the packaging help (if you squeeze a line across the Obagi brand name, an inch covers the 'O-B-A'. Simples. 

Also, I've gotten to know how much to use just by trying different amounts. 

So, the verdict.

This is, hands down, the best skin care regime I've ever used. First, the melasma spots have gone. But, second, my skin is glowing. That's right - glowing. Let me assure you, no one ever said I was glowing during four pregnancies. And I'm not given to exaggerations on these sorts of things. The truth is, I was pretty skeptical, but thought it was worth a try - although it's not cheap, it's not that much more than I've wasted over the years on products that didn't work. 

The peeling is fairly short lived, and my skin is genuinely much better when that all stops. I've read that it lasts for some people for considerably longer - for me, it was around a week.

You're not supposed to do this programme continuously. I think around three months if you do it religiously. I tend to use it 2 to 3 times a week at the moment - and when we were in France, I took a complete break. I know lots of people will be against it - partly because the EU won't accept it (fair enough) and partly because of the ingredients (also fair enough). But if nothing else has been working, and you want to give something else a whirl, I can't recommend this enough. Let me know if you try it!

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