Let’s face it. None of us wants to have problematic skin.

I thought about this yesterday when I was doing some browsing around on LinkedIn. I ran across the profile picture of this attractive young woman, probably 23 or 24 years old.

She obviously was struggling with some intense acne, mostly on her cheeks, but even two or three breakouts on her forehead. As someone who has had acne battles as a young girl, only to see it return right around the time I turned 30, my heart goes out to her struggle.

clenziderm acne therapeutic system

The system comes in a box with detailed instructions on how to use it.

We live in a time when our photos wind up everywhere online, so it’s natural that we want to look our best. I want to suggest something that I think can really make a difference.

Today, I want to talk about the Obagi CLENZIderm System. But first, let me give you a little background.

By now, the name Obagi is probably familiar to most adult women in America. Unlike a lot of other beauty product conglomerates, they stick to skincare solutions and have developed quite the reputation because of it.

I first used Obagi-C Rx a few years back when I was dealing with excessive freckling. For years, I’d been thinking that I would just grow out of it.

But after all that frustration, I went to my dermatologist and Obagi was what she recommended. It was an amazing experience, and I’ve been a big fan of the Obagi products ever since.

Review Summary
Cleared my breakout in 8 days. I could have given it a 100% based on effectiveness alone, but I docked its score somewhat due to pricing. First-time users should find a 15% off clippable coupon on Amazon.
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Obagi CLENZIderm System Review

What Do You Get?

The CLENZIderm M.D. System contains three products that you can use in a daily regimen. Here’s a list of what you get:

  • Foaming cleanser (size – 4 fl. oz.) contains 2% salicylic acid
  • Pore therapy (size -5 fl. oz.) also contains 2% salicylic acid
  • Therapeutic lotion (size – 1.6 fl. oz.) contains 5% benzoyl peroxide

Now, right off the bat, you’re probably thinking something like “wow, that sounds like pretty powerful stuff.”

And you’re right. It’s definitely more medical than cosmetic.

Most drugstores won’t even stock the system because it gets pretty close to the line where a lot of products are that require prescriptions. But, at this point, it does not require you to visit a physician to have it prescribed.

But for the moment, I want you to put that caution aside and read some more of this review. The products have been carefully tested, and if you use the system as it’s very clearly described, I think your world really will change.

the three products in the obagi clenziderm system

The goodies inside the CLENZIderm box

Obagi CLENZIderm Ingredients

Foaming Cleanser
Active: Salicylic Acid 2%.
Inactive: Butyl Avocadate, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellulose, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Disodium EDTA, Ethyoxdiglycol, Ext. Violet 2 (CI 60730), Fragrance, Menthol, Menthyl Lactate, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Water (Aqua)
Pore Therapy
Active: Salicylic Acid 2%.
Inactive: Benzalkonium Chloride, Benzyl Alcohol, Ethoxydiglycol, Ext. Violet 2 (CI 60730), Fragrance, Glycerin, Menthol, Menthoxypropanediol, Menthyl Lactate, SD Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denat.), Water (Aqua).
Therapeutic Lotion
Active: Benzoyl Peroxide 5%.
Inactive: Benzyl Benzoate, BHT, Dicaprylyl Ether, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate, Phenoxyethanol, Polysorbate 60, Propylene Glycol, Squalane, Water (Aqua).

How to Use the System

For me, I deviated just a little bit from the Obagi instructions during my break out. And I’ll tell you about that in a little bit.

But here is the official rundown.

1 – Using the Foaming Cleanser

Your once a day regimen starts with the foaming cleanser. You can apply this pretty rigorously, and you do not need a lot of it to cover your face. It clears your skin of the normal dirt buildup, and washes away that excess oil which leads to acne breakouts in the first place.

I’ve used a number of different cleansers over the years, and I like the way this one leaves my face feeling better than all the rest. It’s soothing to me, almost like a nice tingle after it’s done, which is a feeling you can get from a good facial, for example.

The salicylic acid penetrates below the surface, dislodging the stuff that has begun to clog inside. My skin definitely feels cleaner after I use it and, when I rub my fingers over my face, I can tell that all that junky oil has been removed.

2 – Using the Pore Therapy Treatment

After you’ve let your skin dry from using the cleanser, which should only take five or 10 minutes, you can go ahead and apply the pore therapy treatment. This also uses salicylic acid to begin the process of going deeper, clearing poor blockages and opening them up so that the third step (therapeutic lotion) can have full effect.

I like to apply this using my index fingers in a circular motion. I switch from clockwise to counterclockwise over about a 1 inch area at a time. I do it slowly, because I want to give the acid the maximum amount of opportunity to prepare the pores.

3 – Using the Therapeutic Lotion

One of the things you have to remember with this therapeutic lotion is that it is comprised of 5% benzoyl peroxide, and that means it’s very strong. A little bit of it goes a long way, and a little bit of circular motion as I described above is plenty.

I do the clockwise and counterclockwise thing over a broader area, maybe 2 inches in diameter at a time and for about half of the time on each area –  maybe five or six seconds max.  I’ve never heard of anyone burning their skin with benzoyl peroxide, but I have had so much luck with this just using it lightly that I don’t see any point in trying to overdo it.

But here’s the really good news. Half of my breakout was gone by the end of the second day, and by day four, I had no visible pimples anywhere. I can still feel a few small bumps after that, but by the eighth day of use, my face was perfectly clear and felt so much better.

What Did It Do for My Acne?

I never thought that my acne would come back in my 30s, but I guess as you experience hormonal shifts in your childbearing years, skin changes and just about anything can happen. I was frustrated and when I bought the CLENZIderm system I wanted something super effective.

One thing I did do, which I alluded to above, is I used it twice a day for the first three days. I primarily did it because I had a high school reunion to attend, and was hoping that the results would be faster.

I can’t recommend that approach for anyone else. It worked for me, but this could definitely dry out your skin. And if your complexion is particularly sensitive, overdoing it could cause some damage that takes a while to repair. For that reason, you really want to stick with the instructions that come inside the box.

But here’s the really good news. Half of my breakout was gone by the end of the second day, and by day four, I had no visible pimples anywhere. I can still feel a few small bumps after that, but by the eighth day of use, my face was perfectly clear and felt so much better.

To be on the safe side, I kept using it for a couple of days after that. There’s still plenty of it left, and I kept it because you never know when acne might return.

Summary & Rating

But in summary, I’ve never used a more effective acne treatment solution. I remember all the tears when I was a teenager and every day was a struggle that I could never seem to win. I just wish this had been around back then, and I would’ve experienced so much less social anxiety. There’s no way to guarantee that this will work for everyone, but I’ve dealt with acne enough in my life to know that you get a certain desperation when it will not go away. If you’re feeling that, I recommend you give this a shot. I would’ve given it a perfect 100% score, but I realized that it’s a little bit on the pricey side compared to some of the other things you can find out there. In all fairness, that’s probably because it’s loaded with ingredients that are really good for ending your struggle with acne. All things considered, I’ll give it a 94%. Definitely has been the best experience I have had with any acne treatment so far.

Want to See If This Can Help?

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Other Obagi Solutions!

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Reviews Found Online

Worked When the Prescription Creams Didn’t!

Obagi is a LIFE SAVER. After having clear skin for years, I developed acne all over my cheeks, chest, and back as a result of taking medication. Not even prescription acne cream would heal it! I was about to give up on ever having beautiful skin again, but then I found Obagi. It might be a bit pricey, but it is well worth every penny. It keeps my acne under control when nothing else can. My skin is almost as clear as it ever was, if not more so at times.

My favorite part of the kit is foaming cleanser; it makes your pores feel like a peppermint. However, the therepeutic lotion is what really does the trick (but note that it can sometimes burn if you use too much, or if your skin is particularly sensitive).

One of the best discoveries I’ve ever made. Already on my second kit. It’s made such a difference.

Morgan McManus

Amazon review

Best Acne Treatment Ever

This is one of the only things that has worked to clear my acne. The first few days of using this product my skin got super dry and flakey but within the week my acne was noticeably clearer. It took about 3-4 weeks to completely clear up but I haven’t had such clear skin with any other regimen. I never go without these products. Tip: the drying lotion can be very stinging. I recommend waiting a good 10-30 mins after toner to reduce irritation. I recommend this to anyone struggling with acne.


Amazon review

Answering Some Other Questions

Can I Use Obagi CLENZIderm while pregnant?

Yes. Each of the non-prescription Obagi products is cleared for use by pregnant women.

Can I Use Obagi CLENZIderm while breastfeeding?

Yes. Obagi CLENZIderm is for use by women who are breastfeeding.

Does Obagi CLENZIderm require a prescription?

No. You can buy the kit in many places.

Will Obagi CLENZIderm work on cystic acne?

Absolutely.  Be patient, though, because completely eliminating cystic spots can take a month or more.

Where are the best prices for Obagi CLENZIderm?


I’ve never seen it on sale in retail stores, but there’s often an Obagi CLENZIderm coupon available for first-time buyers here at Amazon.