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Home > Principles of the Obagi Nu-Derm System

Principles of the Obagi Nu-Derm System

Synergy of Nu-Derm Increases Efficacy

Nu-Derm is a Skin Health Restoration system for helping restore skin to a healthy state, free of disease and deterioration.  Skin Health Restoration is achieved through the use of topical agents that work synergistically to help regulate skin cell functions and improve circulation.  This enables the skin to constantly renew itself, repair damage, and act as an effective barrier.

The Nu-Derm System is also intended to bring the skin to an active and tolerant state so that it responds better to a rejuvenation or surgical procedure, heals faster, and is less likely to exhibit an undesirable post-procedure response.

Control Functions of Major Cells and Angiogenesis

Skin Health Restoration helps control all three key cell types:  keratinocytes, melanocytes, and fibroblasts, as well as stimulation of angiogenesis for improved circulation.  Use of a single or even some combined agents may control one cell type but fail to control the other two and would be incapable of affecting angiogenesis.  Furthermore, the usual empirical, trial-and-error approach of "this or that" agent is both time-consuming and frustrating.

System Products Work in Harmony

Obagi Nu-Derm system offers a flexible, easy-to-use regimen that can work for all skin types and a wide range of clinical conditions.  Each ingredient in the system was selected for its individual as well as its synergistic activity.  As a result, the key cell types are regulated and angiogenesis is stimulated.  The issues of product penetration, potency, skin type, and tolerability levels, which must work in harmony for efficacy, are coordinated in the Nu-Derm system.

Features of the Nu-Derm System

  • The effects of hydroquinone, exfoliating acids, and tretinoin are used individually or combined for maximum benefits

  • Regimen questions - What, When, Where, How much, How often - addressed

  • Potency can be customized to patient's needs and lifestyle

  • Clearly defined protocols give the physician control of outcomes

  • Can be used on all skin types and a wide range of clinical conditions

  • Can be used on facial and non-facial skin

The Four Steps to Health Skin

The Nu-Derm regimen has four (4) basic steps:  Prepare, Correct, Stimulate, and Protect.  Control, an optional step to reduce or stop anticipated reactions, is to be used only as needed.


The Prepare Step cleans and tones the skin, removing impurities, dead skin cells, and bacteria; and prepares it for the steps that follow.  This step is accomplished without skin irritation.  At the completion of this step, the skin is returned to its normal pH level.


The Correct Step works on the epidermis.  It makes the stratum corneum soft and compact and increases the rate of mitosis to improve the turnover of healthy, new keratinocytes.  Melanocytes are also regulated to produce melanin more evenly and efficiently.

Bleaching is part of the Correct Step and is accomplished through the use of hydroquinone.

Benefits of Correction

Corrected skin has a thicker epidermis that is soft, properly hydrated, evenly colored, less sensitive to external factors, and usually free of medical problems.  One (1) cycle of correction usually restores sufficient skin tolerance and hydration.  These features are important for obtaining an even, faster-healing Blue Peel, TCA peel, or laser resurfacing procedures.

Correction is usually maximal after three (3) skin cycles and can be maintained indefinitely with a maintenance program.

Preparations of Correction

The preparations used for correction include phytic acid, AHAs, hydroquinone, and possibly, topical antibiotic solutions.  The concentration, frequency of application, and correct use of these preparations are critical to obtaining the needed correction.


The Stimulate Step focuses on the dermis.  A stimulated dermis produces more fine collagen, better elastin, a richer extra-cellular matrix (glycosaminoglycans), and increased angiogenesis.

Preparations of Stimulation

The preparations used for stimulation include tretinoin, and the Obagi Nu-Derm system which is always accompanied by Blending.  Blending is accomplished by using hydroquinone in combination with tretinoin and a low concentration AHA.

Skin becomes more evenly colored and pigmentation problems, that have failed to respond to other treatments, often improve rapidly.

Benefits of Stimulation

Clinically, the skin becomes firmer, tighter, and younger-looking.

Stimulation is especially beneficial for patients with:

  • thin skin, since stimulation leads to thicker and firmer skin

  • thick, rough textured skin, since the process leads to smoother and softer skin

  • large pores, since the process tends to tighten, shrink and improve the appearance of large pores

  • burn scars and skin grafts, which can become softer and more evenly pigmented

  • acne scars, which can become softer, properly hydrated and respond better to peels and laser resurfacing

Benefits of stimulation to the dermis can start to be appreciated after three (3) skin cycles and become evident within one (1) year.  Stimulation is especially important after age 30 when skin functions start to deteriorate.  If correction and stimulation are properly started at an early age (25 years old is recommended), many skin deterioration effects can be avoided.


The Protect Step prevents UVA and UVB rays from damaging the epidermis and dermis.  Excessive sun exposure without protection increases the chances of skin cancer and produces photodamage that necessitates aggressive treatment with creams and procedures.

Sun protection needs to be practiced diligently on a daily basis for skin health to be maintained.

The preparations used for protection include sunscreen, protective clothing, and an effective maintenance program.

Additionally, an eye cream should be used daily to protect the delicate skin around the eyes.


The Control Step offers the patient the ability to control the anticipated reactions seen initially with treatment.  It involves the use of preparations to diminish discomfort from excessive dryness, itching, redness, or burning that may occur as tolerance is being built-up.  Patients may especially desire to control such reactions when they have an important upcoming professional or social event.

Upon completion of one (1) skin cycle, the skin usually begins to tolerate the treatment and the need for the Control Step diminishes.  This stage is usually accompanied by increased patient motivation and compliance.

The preparations used for the Control Step include a moisturizer and a soothing cream.