Professional-C Serum 15%
Professional-C Serum 15% contains 15% vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid. The main ingredient (propylene glycol) is a penetration enhancer which means that the vitamin C is going to get further into your skin than it would if this were strictly a water base. However, this much and this type of vitamin C can be irritating, especially when combined with alcohol and fragrance, as is the case here. With any “active” ingredient, be it vitamin C, retinol, or glycolic acid, you don’t want to tip the scales in favor of irritation over benefits.
There are better ways for skin to enjoy the benefits of vitamin C than this, and in fact this serum ends up being a one-note product. Just like our bodies need more than one nutrient to remain healthy and vital, our skin needs a range of beneficial ingredients. One key ingredient, even when used in a seemingly impressive amount, just doesn’t cut it.
Note: This serum is dispensed via a dropper applicator. Although not the ideal method to dispense a serum that contains light- and air-sensitive ingredients, sometimes this type of packaging is necessary due to formulary requirements. When that’s the case, the goal is to keep the bottle opening as small as possible, the bottle should be opaque or specially coated to protect the contents from light, and you should use the serum up within three months of opening.
Obagi Professional-C Serum 15% is formulated with 15% L-ascorbic acid, the only form of vitamin C suitable for topical application. L-ascorbic acid reaches the deepest layers to the skin to provide superior antioxidant protection, defend against damaging UVA and UVB sun rays, contribute to collagen synthesis and help prevent premature signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
Strengths:Selection of good water-soluble cleansers; some effective skin-lightening and tretinoin products.
Weaknesses: Expensive; some products available only via prescription, which can be inconvenient; disappointing anti-acne products; moisturizers should contain more state-of-the-art ingredients.
Obagi is a skincare line which got its start back in 1988, spearheaded by Beverly Hills-based dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi, who has since left the brand. Choosing to focus on the skin issues that plague many aging adults (chiefly, skin discolorations from sun damage and other sources and wrinkles), Obagi offers a mixed bag of cosmetic and prescription products sold only through authorized physicians, plastic surgeons, and accredited medical spas. That exclusivity may increase this line's cache with consumers, but let me assure you that most of what's offered isn't all that exceptionaland what's available by prescription can be prescribed in other forms by any dermatologist, so you don't need to seek one that retails Obagi's products. The highlights of this line are actually the prescription products. Several options with 4% hydroquinone are available as well as two products with tretinoin. There is a significant amount of research demonstrating that 4% hydroquinone, especially when combined with tretinoin, has a high success rate for persons dealing with stubborn skin discolorations or the skin condition melasma (Sources: Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2007, pages 3639; Cutis, January 2005, pages 5762, and March 2006, pages 177184).
The skin-care products Obagi sells to support the prescription-only options are either standard or below-average formulas that are easily replaced by less expensive options from other lines. Beware: This is a line whose proponents are adamant about the products being used as a system, so expect pressure to purchase an entire routine rather than cherry-pick what you really need. Savvy shoppers will find some viable options from Obagi, including a very gentle, fragrance-free sunscreen for someone with sensitive skin.
For more information about Obagi, call (800) 636-7546 or visit www.obagi.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.