My friend Melinda spent almost a full day in the local hospital’s emergency room (ER) because of a bad reaction to a toner. She has become very picky about what she uses and the Obagi Nu-Derm toner is her favorite.
Now, she has the skin tone of a proper Irish lass. It’s white as a sheet and has a tendency to show every blemish.
That’s a real problem when you have oily patches and an acne breakout flares up – it’s impossible for her to conceal.
That’s how she wound up in the ER. She was using a name brand toner pretty aggressively during one of her breakouts and swept a cotton pad soaked in toner over her eyelids by accident.
My Girl Switches to Obagi
Here’s what Melinda did.
First, she discovered that her skin responds well to witch hazel, and a good portion of toners use it. Witch hazel is an astringent that helps to tighten enlarged pores and reduce redness.
An astringent removes excess oil from the surface of the skin, too, so you want to find a facial toner that your skin tolerates. In her case, Obagi’s toner was the answer.
With her fair skin and frequent acne breakouts, it was gentle enough to use every day. And she’s finally got her acne under control.
Let’s Take a Closer Look
Obagi Medical is a big company with a huge range of creams, serums and cleansers. They specialize in all-natural formulations, so folks with very sensitive skin buy lots of Obagi product.
You can plug their skin toner into your existing beauty regimen or buy one of Obagi’s systems to get a complete, coordinated routine at an attractive discount. They are pre-customized to match your own skin type.
If you want to know more about the Obagi Nu-Derm Fx System, here is that review.
My Obagi Nu-Derm Toner Testing Process
As happy as I am that Melinda calls this her dream toner, I wanted to see for myself. The bargain shopper in me decided to buy the Nu-Derm Fx system (normal to dry set for me) so I could do a review of each beauty product included.
The toner comes in the bottle you see here. It’s 6.7 fl oz and would have been around $35 if I’d purchased it individually.
The timing was good because I’d just run out of my store-bought toner. Obagi, in their system for normal to dry skin types, starts your routing with their Gentle Cleanser and follows that with the toner on your dry face.
I decided to continue using the excellent Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Cleaners for a couple of weeks right before the Obagi toner. After that, I’d switch over to using Obagi’s Nu-Derm Gentle Cleanser (review here) prior to the toner for two weeks after that.
Now, I don’t have the cystic acne breakouts that Melinda struggles with. I have healthy skin, but I do get bouts with rosacea and was curious to see if the Nu-Derm products were any help.
Weeks 1 & 2 – Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Cleanser, Pat Skin Dry, Obagi Nu-Derm Toner
I decided to start using the toner twice a day so that each test was consistent. Luckily, I had no irritation from the beginning.
Paula’s Choice products generally have a stronger fragrance than others, so it somewhat overwhelmed the toner’s scent. Both were pleasant enough.
Obagi’s nondrying toner has a good consistency. I used two cotton balls each time and my face felt remarkably clean when it dried.
And this toner evaporates quickly which I really appreciate in my rushed morning routine. Not once did I feel any residue left behind, or that it tightened my pores too aggressively.
I was experiencing a normal rosacea breakout at the time and was really hopeful that using this new toner would help. Sadly, I don’t really think it did (but there’s good news coming up next).
After two weeks using it back to back with my original cleanser, I give it highmarks for the way my skin feels as it dries. It also smells good and I can see a bottle lasting a long time.
Weeks 3 & 4 – Obagi Nu-Derm Gentle Cleanser, Pat Skin Dry, Obagi Nu-Derm Toner
For the next phase, I swapped out my old cleanser and paired the toner with Obagi’s own Gentle Cleanser product. I’ve reviewed the Obagi cleaner here.
But this test has the perfect outcome. My rosacea went away within 5 days on this new routine! I give credit to the combo of using Obagi’s cleanser and toner together and here’s the even better news – no rosacea breakouts in the two months since the testing!
My Own Obagi Nu-Derm Toner Review
Ask any of your friends what their main skin problem is. We all have one issue that just drives us nuts, right?
Well, mine was rosacea. Melinda’s was cystic acne breakouts.
Both of us are thrilled with the fact that those skin problems have cleared up. I’m giving Obagi’s toner a full five stars and bringing their gentle cleanser along for at least some of the credit.
Details You’ll Want to Know
Other Reviews and Ratings Online
I like to check the aggregate rating at Amazon for anything I buy. With beauty products, a high score tells me that it’s versatile enough to work with any skin tone or skin type.
Obagi’s toner gets a 4.7 rating over more than 1,000 real-life customers. I can tell you that it’s at the top end of ratings for its category.
Similarly, all the other popular sites for beauty product reviews are giving it strong scores. It’s a good indication that this toner is ideal.
Buy Obagi Nu-Derm Toner at the Best Price
Obagi doesn’t do much discounting through its own website. For example, I bought the Nu Derm system at Amazon with a very generous $50 off coupon.
If I’d purchased direct, I’d have paid full price and shipping would have been about one week rather than the day or two with Amazon Prime.
Covered by Obagi’s Guarantee
If you choose to purchase through the official Obagi website, you can return any unopened product within a 30-day window. If you open it, however, you own it.
For that reason, I like to purchase most of my skin care products through Amazon.com. I find their customer service to be a lot more sympathetic if I’m unhappy with the results.
How to Use the Toner Effectively
Go back over the cleansed area in a circular motion without pressing down. It will remove unhealthy oils from oily skin and slough off the dead skin cells that remain.
Skin care is different for everyone, but I suggest staying clear of your eyelids. Yes, this formulation is all-natural but there’s always a chance it could irritate your eyes if it gets too close.
After applying the toner, I simply wait for it to dry – which happens quickly. As far as I can tell, it leaves no residue behind.
What are the Ingredients?
As you can see here, even natural ingredients can sound complex, so I’ve added common names in parentheses. Alum, which is famous for its antiseptic and astringent properties, is probably the active ingredient for both cleaning and tightening the pores.
There’s no alcohol in Obagi’s products so you won’t smell the obnoxious medical scent of most cheap toners. In fact, it left my skin feeling great. None of the tightness I have felt with other toners that used cheap ingredients to shrink the pores.
Aloe has a lovely soothing effect in any skincare product and, as mentioned before, the fragrance in this toner is soft and pleasant. It really seems like they get the whole pH balance thing right.
Here’s the full list including key ingredients:
Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (aloe vera), Hamamelis Virginiana (witch hazel) Water, Potassium Alum, Sodium PCA, Panthenol, DMDM Hydantion, Polysorbate 80, Allantoin, Glycerin, Salvia Officinalis (sage) Leaf Extract, Borago Officinalis Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Saponins, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Fragrance, FD&C Blue No. 1
Additional Safety Information
There are no alarm bells for me when using these Obagi products. Like any skin care products, watch how you respond in the early going and discontinue use if it causes and redness or other irritation.
Toner is an astringent, so I always start by using it once a day and, as I said earlier, I keep it away from my eyes. Obagi says, and so do other online reviews, that using it both morning and night is fine.
Remember the Obagi Nu-Derm Fx System
Of course, toner is just one part of a daily skin care routine. If you have clear favorites, or are a savvy bargain shopper, buying your skincare products individually might work for you.
On the other hand, at Amazon’s combination of price and coupons, the Nu-Derm Fx system was very attractive to me. It’s got everything you need to fight wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, dark spots and other types of skin discoloration (hyperpigmentation).
My girlfriend Melinda swears by it for her acne prone skin and we both love the SPF50 Sun Shield to prevent sun damage.
It’s also thoughtful that they’ve made two versions. One works best if your skin is typically on the dry side and the other is designed to keep oily skin on the right path.
The Normal to Oily System
As you’d expect, this system is designed to give special attention to oily patches. It’s become popular with ladies who didn’t get the acne breakout relief they hoped for with the Proactiv products.
It starts with a foaming gel to deep clean oily pores, followed by the toner, the Obagi skin brightener called Clear Fx. After that, there’s Exfoderm Forte for proper exfoliation, a spot corrector called Blend Fx, and Hydrate, which is a fabulous facial moisturizer that I use every night. You’ll also get a large tube of the SPF50 Sun Shield that I mentioned earlier.
The Normal to Dry System
As you’d expect, this system is designed to thoroughly moisturize dry skin. It’s the one I use and I don’t think I will ever switch!
It starts with the gentle cleanser, then toner, then Obagi’s Clear Fx to brighten dull skin up. After that, there’s Exfoderm for exfoliation, a discoloration corrector called Blend Fx, and facial moisturizer Hydrate. This version of the system also includes a large tube of the SPF50 Sun Shield.
Special note: None of the products I mention above use hydroquinone. It’s a controversial lab-created whitening agent that may come with elevated risks.
The lightening ingredient in these products is all-natural Arbutin.