On one hand this is a fairly ordinary moisturizer for dry to very dry or eczema-prone skin, but it also has a bit of flare since it contains 20% glycerin. Without this weighty amount of glycerin the review would have simply said that this is an overpriced, simplistic moisturizer easily replaced by any of several standard moisturizers at the drugstore. If Obagi had included anti-irritants, skin identical ingredients, or antioxidants (which are fundamental components for the skin's barrier repair and healing) it may have been worth the price tag, but as is, it is not an improvement for skin. However, the 20% glycerin content deserves further discussion. Glycerin is an interesting ingredient (glycerin, glycerine, and glycerol are terms used interchangeably in the cosmetics industry). Glycerin is a humectant and extremely hygroscopic, meaning it readily absorbs water from other sources. So, in part, glycerin works because of its ability to attract water from the environment and from the lower layers of skin (dermis) increasing the amount of water in the surface layers of skin. Another aspect of glycerin's benefit is that it is a skin-identical ingredient, meaning it is a substance found naturally in skin. In that respect it is one of the many substances in skin that help maintain the outer barrier and prevent dryness or scaling. Humectants such as glycerin have always raised the question as to whether or not they take too much water from skin. Pure glycerin (100% concentration) on skin is not helpful and can actually be drying, causing blisters if left on too long. So a major drawback of any humectant including glycerin is that they can increase water loss by attracting water from the lower layers of skin (dermis) into the surface layers of skin (epidermis) where the water can easily be lost to the environment. That doesn't help dry skin or any skin type for that matter. For this reason, glycerin and humectants in general are always combined with other ingredients to it will soften skin and becomes a fundamental cornerstone of most moisturizers. (Source: Skin Therapy Letter, February 2005, pages 1-8). Using glycerin is not unique to Obagi but at 20% it is unusual; however, is it an improvement over other products? The research shows a combination of ingredients including glycerin, dimethicone, petrolatum, antioxidants, fatty acids, lecithin, among many others, are excellent for helping skin heal, reduce associated dermatitis, and restore normal barrier function if used on an ongoing basis (Sources Clinical Experiments in Dermatology, January 2007, pages 88-90; American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2003, pages 771-788; Journal of Molecular Medicine, February 2008, pages 221-231; British Journal of Dermatology, July 2008, pages 23-34; and Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, January 2008, pages 39-45).
Non-comedogenic, glycerin-rich moisturizer. Calms, soothes, and protects skin to enhance patient comfort.
Active: Dimethicone (1%), Glycerin (20%), Other: Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Allantoin, Butylparaben, Cetyl Dimethicone, Corn Starch Modified, Cyclopentasiloxane, Dimethicone/Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Ethylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Lauryl PEG/PPG-18/18 Methicone, Methylparaben, Phenoxyethanol, Propylparaben, Triethanolamine, Water
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 exceptional—and 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 36–39; Cutis, January 2005, pages 57–62, and March 2006, pages 177–184).
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.
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