Obagi is a skin-care system that is prescription strength and can only be dispensed by licensed physicians. The Obagi skin-care system can reverse years of sun and age damage to your skin. Since some of the Obagi products are in prescription strength formula there can be side effects, especially from the hydroquinone it contains.
Some of the Obagi products contain prescription-strength hydroquinone. According to Obagi's own website, "The topical prescription treatment includes 4 percent hydroquinone." Hydroquinone can be highly effective in evening out skin tone and in lightening dark spots on the skin.
FDA Proposed Ban
In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a ban of hydroquinone at strengths higher than 2 percent without a prescription in the United States. According to the FDA, "Based on the evidence of carcinogenicity in animals, FDA cannot rule out the potential carcinogenic risk from topically applied hydroquinone in humans. In addition, hydroquinone has been shown to cause disfiguring effects (ochronosis) after use of concentrations as low as 1 to 2-percent." The FDA should settle the possible ban on hydroquinone proposed in 2006, by the end of 2009 according to an article in Reuters.
The Obagi products that contain 4 percent hydroquinone can cause the side effect of ochrinosis. Ochrinosis is a condition in which the skin thickens and turns darker. In people with black skin it can cause yellow bumps or gray spots on the skin. The Obaji products that contain hydroquinone are subject to the proposed FDA ban that should be decided by the end of 2009.
According to the FDA, "Based on the evidence of carcinogenicity in animals, FDA cannot rule out the potential carcinogenic risk from topically applied hydroquinone in humans."
Obagi products contain tretinoin (more commonly known as Retin A), which can cause allergic skin rashes in some people. It can also cause sun sensitivity where you burn more easily when in the sun.
Red and Peeling Skin
Other side effects to expect while using the Obagi products are itching, red and peeling skin. This is part of the skin-resurfacing process, which is normal and should stop within one to six weeks.