Obagi C Serum - The Dermatology Review

Obagi C Serum



What is Obagi C Serum?

Obagi C Serum is a high strength vitamin C serum that is designed to penetrate deep into skin to provide effective antioxidant protection from UV damage. This serum is also said to brighten hyperpigmentation while encouraging the growth of collagen and elastin fibers. Obagi C Serum is available in three different strengths of L-ascorbic acid: 10%, 15%, and 20%. In this review, we’ll discuss the key ingredients in this serum, how to use it, Obagi C Serum reviews from real customers, and more. 

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2020?

What Are The Key Obagi C Serum Ingredients?

If you look on the back of nearly any skin care product, you’ll see that the first ingredient on the label is typically water. That’s because most brands use water as the base of their formulations. What’s interesting about Obagi C Serum is that propylene glycol is the first ingredient and, therefore, is the highest concentration ingredient in this serum. Propylene glycol functions as a humectant, solvent, and delivery agent. Thus, using a high concentration of propylene glycol in the Obagi C Serum accomplishes two things: it attracts water to the skin to improve hydration and also helps to improve penetration of the key ingredients.

There are two forms of vitamin C in the Obagi C Serum: L-ascorbic acid and ascorbyl glucoside. L-ascorbic acid is the chemically active form of vitamin C. The problem with L-ascorbic acid is that it oxidizes easily when exposed to oxygen and/or light. Once L-ascorbic acid oxidizes, the product is essentially useless, which can unfortunately mean that quite a bit of product is wasted. This is why you’ll see vitamin C derivatives in skin care products, such as ascorbyl glucoside in the Obagi C Serum.

Ascorbyl glucoside has a structure in which the C2-hydroxyl group of L-ascorbic acid is masked with glucose. Ascorbyl glucoside has been found to have greater stability in the presence of air, heat, light, and pH changes than L-ascorbic acid. After being absorbed into the skin, ascorbyl glucoside is broken down into L-ascorbic acid. Therefore, ascorbyl glucoside has many of the same benefits as L-ascorbic acid.

So what are the benefits of L-ascorbic acid? Perhaps the most well-known benefit is its ability to protect the skin from free radicals due to its potent antioxidant activity. Specifically, L-ascorbic acid donates electrons to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROS) such as the superoxide ion and peroxide that are generated when the skin is exposed to UV light. This is important because the harmful effects of ROS occur as direct chemical alterations of the cellular DNA, the cell membrane, and cellular proteins, including collagen. Damaged collagen manifests as signs of premature skin aging, including wrinkles, lines, and sagging skin. Since L-ascorbic acid can protect collagen, the Obagi C Serum can be helpful for preventing signs of aging.

Another way that Obagi C Serum can help with signs of aging is due to the ability of L-ascorbic acid to encourage collagen synthesis. Specifically, L-ascorbic acid serves as a cofactor for the enzymes prolysyl and lysyl hydroxylase, the enzymes that are responsible for stabilizing and cross-linking the collagen molecules. According to the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, clinical studies have shown that the topical use of L-ascorbic acid increases collagen production in both young and aged human skin. Once again, by increasing the amount of collagen in the skin, signs of aging will be diminished and the skin will appear more firm.

In addition to its anti-aging properties, L-ascorbic acid has the ability to reduce the appearance of dark spots and improve uneven skin tone. This is accomplished through inhibition of melanin synthesis. Melanin is a pigment that gives our skin color, but too much of this pigment can lead to undesirable dark spots called hyperpigmentation. L-ascorbic acid decreases melanin formation by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that is required for melanin synthesis. This is why Obagi C Serum should help the skin to appear brighter with fewer dark spots and a more even skin tone.

One ingredient in the Obagi C Serum that we are concerned about is alcohol. The brand most likely included alcohol in this formula as a solvent and penetration enhancer to allow L-ascorbic acid to penetrate deeper into the skin. Increasing the penetration of L-ascorbic acid is a good thing, but we’d like to point out the topical application of alcohol can lead to skin dryness and irritation. Furthermore, alcohol can disrupt the lipids that make up the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of skin), according to a 2012 publication in the journal BBA Biomembranes.

How to use Obagi C Serum

Apply 5 to 7 drops of Obagi C Serum to the face, neck, and chest using fingertips. Apply to cleansed skin in the morning before sunscreen and makeup application. According to the brand, Obagi C Serum may cause a slight tingling in some people, which diminishes with continued use.

Where is Obagi C Serum sold?

Genuine Obagi skin care products are available only through physicians, medical spas, and other skin care professionals. The brand’s website has a locator so that you can enter your zip code to find skin care professionals that sell Obagi skin care products near you. In addition, Sephora and Dermstore are authorized online sellers of Obagi skin care products.

What is the Obagi return policy?

Since Obagi does not sell their products directly to consumers, you must refer to the return policy of the seller where you purchased your Obagi skin care products.

Is Obagi cruelty free?

Unless mandated by the FDA for drug safety purposes, Obagi does not test its products on animals. Non-prescription Obagi products have not been tested on animals.

Obagi C Serum Reviews

Since there aren’t Obagi C Serum reviews on the brand’s website, we turned to Dermstore.com to evaluate customer reviews for this product. After more than 500 customer reviews, the Obagi C Serum has received 88% 5-star reviews. Most of the positive Obagi C Serum reviews are from customers who confirm that this serum really does help with hyperpigmentation. It is said to help fade dark spots and acne scars, as well as give the skin a glow. For example, one very positive review says, “Since using this product I have been getting compliments about how radiant my skin looks. I noticed that my skin tone has even out and my acne scars are beginning to disappear. I have stopped wearing foundation since using this.”

Even though there aren’t many negative Obagi C Serum reviews, it’s still a good idea to take a look at what these reviews say to see why customers did not like this serum. Most of the negative reviews we found were from customers who did not see the results they were hoping for even after months of using Obagi C Serum. For example, one review says, “This has been very disappointing. I did loads of research before purchasing this serum. I have a couple of sunspots, one that I’ve been trying to fade for quite some time. It’s under my eye…an especially horrible location as it makes me look tired! I had high hopes for this serum because of the great reviews. I’ve been using it as directed. I use SPF and avoid the sun. I’ve been using this serum every day for at least 8 weeks and yes, my skin feels nice, but this hasn’t brightened my skin tone or faded any spots. I am not sure what it’s done? A little goes a very long way and I still have quite a bit of product left. However, as this didn’t actually do anything visibly to my face, I won’t be repurchasing. It didn’t work for me.”

What Are Some Alternatives to Obagi C Serum?

Overall, we like that the brand uses a high concentration of vitamin C in the Obagi C Serum, but we’re concerned about the alcohol in this product. Yes, it’s true that alcohol should increase the penetration of vitamin C, but at what cost? A strong, intact stratum corneum is essential to maintaining healthy, youthful skin, which is why we don’t think it’s a good idea to use products that contain high concentrations of alcohol. That’s why we recommend considering Formulyst Active Serum, which contains a potent blend of vitamins B, C, and E, ferulic acid, and niacinamide. You’ve already read about the many benefits of vitamin C above, so let’s discuss the additional benefits you’ll gain from these other four ingredients.

Formulyst Active Serum contains provitamin B5, also known as panthenol, which functions as a highly effective humectant. The formula also contains niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that is known to repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling. Vitamin E is a potent lipid soluble antioxidant that helps combat free radicals and also strengthens the skin barrier. Vitamins C and E are network antioxidants, which means that when used together their antioxidant activity is even more powerful. Plus, ferulic acid enhances the efficacy and stability of vitamins C and E. As you can see, the Formulyst Active Serum is truly a multi-tasking serum that provides your skin with a powerful dose of antioxidants to help shield your skin from environmental assaults that age your skin.

1. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013 Apr-Jun; 4(2): 143–146.
2. BBA Biomembranes, May 2012, pages 1410-1419




The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Many of the Formulyst’s products harness the power of plant and citrus extracts as well as gold-standard workhorses such as retinol. Read More

Advanced Dermatology

The Advanced Dermatology skin care regimen addresses the most pressing aging concerns. It can be used by men and women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond. This award-winning system can help diminish wrinkle appearance, reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation, fade away redness, even out skin tone and improve the appearance of eye bags and dark circles. Some of the standout products in this line include the Super Youth Serum, Complete Age Defense and Anti-Wrinkle Firming Night Treatment. Read More

No comments yet

Your Review
User Rating: 0.0 (0 votes)

Recommended Articles