Product Review: Obagi Nu-Derm System

Written by Consumerism, Product Tests

obagi-nu-derm-skin-careWe have an auntie in the family who is a true style icon, legendary for her ability to pair high-quality accessories with bargain clothing. She’ll wear a Chanel belt with crappy K-Mart pants and come out looking fabulous. I love this approach (and not just because I am secretly a miser). After all, a person can work the same accessories for years while fancy pants will come and go.

So, my miserly friends, if you have limited funds to spend on looking fabulous, for God’s sake put the money into things you can wear over and over. Buy your t-shirts at Goodwill and save your money for the best jeans, accessories, haircuts and skin products you can afford — quality skin products like those from… you guessed it: Obagi.

The Obagi Nu-Derm System is an appropriately pricey combination of creams and cleanser that claims to make your skin act “younger and healthier.” This stuff is about as A-list as you can get and doesn’t come cheap, though it’s thankfully not quite as dear as La Mer. It’s also only available by prescription, so if you are the type of person who likes having a professional to oversee your skin regimen, this product is for you.

There are six components to the Obagi Nu-Derm System; the most medically active ingredients being phytic acid and hydroquinone. These two elements block melanin production and bleach the epidermis, addressing classic signs of aging like pigment deposit and sun damage. It’s like taking an dirty old car and scrubbing away years of dirt and grime, then buffing it like hell until it really starts to shine.

So, you ask, what’s not to love? Well, as it so happens, hydroquinone is actually banned in the European Union, Japan, Australia and South Africa; rodent studies have indicated it may be carcinogenic. Hydroquinone can also (rarely) cause ochronosis or areas of hypo-pigmentation, especially in darker-skinned individuals. The FDA is expected to make a final ruling on US sales of hydroquinone-containing products by the end of this year, but in the meantime I’d say individuals who chose to use these products should limit their exposure. Apparently results should appear in 6-8 weeks; after three months dermatologists are advising patients to reduce down to a maintenance dose of 2-3 times weekly.

Bottom line: be careful. You don’t want to go all Sammy Sosa with this stuff.

That said, I’ve been using the Nu-Derm System for about three months, and have been quite happy with the results. I had a little bit of lasting melasma from my pregnancies, so ordered a travel kit as a “starter package” for $189 from lovelyskin.com (without a prescription, by the way — FDA eat your heart out). The system seemed awfully complicated at first, but the packaging includes clever numbering and “AM/PM” designations to help you get started. After some mild itching and redness for the first week I found the system quite easy to use, and the sunscreen is divine.

As I mentioned above, you can order the Nu-Derm system without a prescription from Lovely Skin but my recommendation (and the FDA’s) would be work with a dermatologist or other health-care professional. Though I have noticed a more uniform appearance in my skin and have received several skin-related compliments (well, um… thanks mom), considering the questionable risks I don’t think I’ll be using the Nu-Derm system long-term.

Guess I better start saving up for some La Mer.