Obagi C-Clarifying Serum: Yes, A "Brighter" Complexion Can Be Yours!Wednesday, July 16, 2008
That dark little bottle holds a couple of very key ingredients for a brighter, maybe slightly lighter complexion: Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid) and Hydroquinone. So, does it work? I tested it for about 8 weeks to get an answer. While I think my complexion is already about as light as it gets (I'm MAC N3, it doesn't get much paler than that unless you are transparent), using a product like this can help make your complexion more uniform. And, I do think that it helped create more even pigmentation on my face.
This is a light clear gel that I applied every night underneath my nightly moisturizer. I found that it absorbed pretty readily into my skin but did leave a slightly different feeling to my skin, which I really can't describe. Because of this I applied it at night rather than during the day underneath my makeup.
How exactly does this stuff work? The main active ingredient is Hydroquinone, an ingredient that is available over the counter and in higher concentrations after being compounded by a pharmacist. The most commonly available concentrations are under 2%, this product is 4%. Hydroquinone works by preventing RNA and DNA synthesis preferentially in melanocytes (more on that later), which prevents them from working and may even kill some of the cells. As well it inhibits key enzymes in the synthesis of melanin, preventing its creation. Notice that Hydroquinone does not breakdown melanin, bleach your skin or anything else. Rather, it helps to prevent the creation of pigment in your skin by affecting both melanocytes and the creation of melanin within the melanocytes.
So, this means that any results with a Hydroquinone product will take weeks, maybe even months. Most people should see results within 4-6 weeks, but it could possibly take months. As well, note that different areas of your skin may respond differently to the Hydroquinone, meaning that some areas respond more quickly than others. Among the slowest responding areas are hyperpigmented areas. So, as the contrast between the hyperpigmentation and the surrounding skin increases it can actually appear that the hyperpigmentation is worse for quite some time. Sticking with the product through this rough patch can be worth it in the long run.
Remember that part where I said that Hydroquinone preferentially works on the melanocytes? It does affect other cells, though to a much less extent. There is a reaction seen primarily in African Americans (Exogenous ochronosis) which is a "sooty darkening" of the skin. This can be hard to treat and you'll need to stop the product immediately. Though rare, this reaction is much more common in those that use high concentrations for years on end. Probably that sort of use should only be under the guidance of a Dermatologist.
A few other comments about the use of other products and with other ingredients commonly found in combination with Hydroquinone. Both cystamine and buthionine sulfoximine have been found to work synergistically with Hydroquinone (meaning that their effects multiply each other rather than being additive). Retinoids and steroids are also commonly formulated into Hydroquinone products also increase the efficacy. Note that while sun sensitivity does not seem to be increased while using this product it only makes sense to protect your skin from any UV induced pigmentation changes.
If you have large areas of hyperpigmentation or dramatic hyperpigmentation (meaning a big difference in color between that area and the surrounding skin) you should probably see a Dermatologist.
But, if you are interested in simply making the pigmentation of your skin a bit more uniform and you don't mind waiting a month or two for results, a Hydroquinone product might be the right choice for you! This is the highest percentage Hydroquinone I could find on the market without special compounding by a pharmacist. So, if you're going to try it....
Obagi C Rx C-Clarifying Serum at Skin Care RX