Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 review: A decent brightening essence, only available in Japan

Have you started using Vitamin C serum? Don’t wait too long as Vitamin C serum is one of the most beneficial skincare products I’ve used to target aging and dull skin. Today, I’ll be sharing a review on Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 or C10 plus V.E in short. 

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 Japan
Obagi Vitamin C Serum (C10 plus V.E)

It’s a pretty decent product that’s only available in Japan. So if you are planning a trip to the land of the rising sun, you will want to check out this review.


Obagi US vs Japan Line

Most of us know of Obagi as a medical line that targets aging, pigmentation and dull skin. In Singapore, you can only get Obagi from professional clinics because Obagi products contain prescription-strength formulations. Even then, the products you can find here are the “US version“.

I’m not sure why Obagi has an exclusive line just for the Japan market.

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 Japan
Product label in Japanese

Some said it’s to comply with Japan’s regulation and that Obagi Japan line works better. That I’m not sure. I can only say that I was really pleased to see it available in drug stores. How often do you get to shop for prescription skincare products off a chemist and taking as long as you like to read and examine the products?

I absolutely enjoy such shopping experience as compared to standing at a clinic’s counter and glancing at the products off a locked glass shelf.


About Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 (Japan Line)

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 plus V.E contains 10% active vitamin C. I was happy to see that it contains ascorbic acid, a more powerful form of active. But what does “plus V.E” mean?

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 Japan
Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10

Yes, you’ve guess it right. Obagi C10 also contains Vitamin E, which if you haven’t known, is a great anti-oxidant and skin-conditioning active. No wonder, I thought my skin felt supple and moisturized when I was anticipating some stinging or dryness, typically associated with Vitamin C serum.


Vitamin C Serum and its benefits 

Why would someone use a Vitamin C Serum? They want to use it to:

  1. Brighten their skin
  2. Reduce pigmentation
  3. Increase firmness of skin
  4. Minimize pores

If you like to learn more about Vitamin C and its benefits, check out the link below which also points to my SUPER Holygrail Vitamin C Serum of the moment.

Now that you know a little more about Vitamin C serum, let’s get the review going and see how Obagi C10 fares.


What’s Good about Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10?

1. Quality Packaging

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 comes in a dark glass bottle, which is great in ensuring that the unstable Ascorbic acid does not oxidize prematurely. I stored it in the fridge for 18 months, and the serum color didn’t get any darker.

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 Japan
Pale yellow serum

Discard vitamin c serum that has oxidized or turned dark (orange, dark yellow). They are no longer effective, and may even cause harm to your skin.

The dropper picks up a consistent amount of serum every time I use it. What’s more, there was absolutely no drippage.

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 Japan
Reliable dropper – no drippage at all

2. Moisturizing & Easy to Apply

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 felt oily to the touch. It was thicker and easier to pick up and apply than the water-based Glo-Therapeutics Cyto-luxe Vitamin C+.  My skin felt sufficiently moisturized, and I can even do without a moisturizer if I’m lazy.

3. Safe for Pimple-Prone Skin unless…

Although  Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 plus V.E has an oily finish, it is safe to use for my pimple-prone skin. No breakout whatsoever after using it for so long. Oh wait….I almost forgot about this…

On countable occasions (maybe twice), I’d developed little bumps when I went jogging after applying Obagi C10. If you are not an avid athlete, Obagi 10 should be safe on most occasions (95%).

4. Not Harsh

There was no stinging, nor irritation or dryness. The addition of Vitamin E really helps to condition the skin well.

5. Lovely Fragrance

The fruity fragrance of grapefruit and other natural extracts from Obagi C10 was so refreshing and pronounced, it made it a delight using this every morning.


What’s not so Great about Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10? 

1. It’s Not Cheap!

Priced at Y4320 (incl tax), a “regular size” bottle of Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 contains only 12ml of product. This is less than the 30ml typically associated with a regular size of vitamin c serum (see live price on Ebay).

Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 Japan
12ml only

I’d thought my Glo-therapeutics Cyto-luxe Vitamin C+ at $180 was expensive. Let’s do some maths to see which is more expensive. To do that, I have to compare apple to apple, meaning I have to compare Obagi Vitamin C 20% serum (C20) with Glo-Therapeutics Cyto-luxe.

15ml of Obagi C20 costs JPY8640 while 30ml of Glo-Therapeutics costs $180. Comparing them on a per ml basis:

  • Obagi C20 = S$6.60/ml  VS
  • Glo-Therapeutics = $6.00/ml 

Seems like Obagi is slightly more pricey. Also, I have yet to try out Obagi C20 and can only assume right now that it works as well as Glo-therapeutics Cyto-luxe Vitamin C+.

2. No Visible Improvement

Unlike Glo-Therapeutics Cyto-luxe Vitamin C+, I did not wake up with a “Wow, my skin is so radiant. My nasolabial folds are less obvious. My pores are smaller.”

Honestly, I haven’t noticed a significant difference. To be fair to Obagi, I’d switched from a higher potency of 20% Vitamin C serum to Obagi’s 10% serum. Perhaps, my skin has gotten use to 20% potency. Which means that an Obagi C20 could make all the difference? 


How to Apply Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10?

Use 3-4 drops in the morning and evening after toner.

I’ve read that Vitamin C serum can last up to 72 hours in the skin. So I was surprised to see Obagi asking us to apply it in the evening too. If that is necessary, it would make Obagi even more expensive than it already is. 

As for me, I’ll ignore Obagi’s instruction and stick to using Vitamin C in the morning.


Recommendation: Who can benefit from Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10?

Start off with 10% potency if you are a first-time user of Vitamin C serum, or are relatively young. I only started using 20% in my late 30s. Remember, the higher the percentage, the greater the chance of irritation.

If you are in Japan, I think it’s worthwhile to bring back some “vitamin C” souvenir. Heh Heh….since Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 is exclusive in Japan, right?

I like Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 for its ease of use, fragrance and how hydrating it feels on my skin (especially now that my skin is drier than ever) and I’ve included Obagi C20 in my Japan Must-Buy list. Rating: 4/5

View latest price on: Ebay

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5 thoughts on “Obagi Vitamin C Serum 10 review: A decent brightening essence, only available in Japan”

  1. Hello Nicole,
    I’m from the USA and use American obagi products. I really like the feel of this serum (I used obagi vitamin c serum 20 pluse v.e) it feels more moisturizing I think like you said, it has the vitamin E. I can’t read the packaging and was wondering if you could tell me if there is 4% hydrochinin in this product. On one of the websites I went to it says both the 10 and 20 serums have this.
    Thank you for all the great information on your website.
    Thank you for your help peggy

    1. Hi Peggy, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the US version of this product. I’ve looked through the ingredient list from reliable website such as Amazon, Skinstore and Dermstore. So far, I’ve not noticed the mentioned product in the list. The ingredients based on these websites are:

      “Propylene Glycol, Water, L-Ascorbic Acid, Alcohol, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Ethoxydiglycol,Phenoxyethanol, Sorbitol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Zinc Chloride, Calcium Hydroxide, Fragrance.”

      But I’ll have to declare that I’m not an expert in chemical and ingredients. Just googling for info like you did. Hope this helps. Thanks for visiting. :)

  2. Hi! Nicole. Thanks for your post. I’ve also read your other reviews. I find your reviews unbias and very helpful with clear photos.

    I just started using Vitamin C 2 months ago. I’m happy with it because it does lighten up my under eye dark circles. I’m not sure about my face because I had laser shortly after I started using it. 

    You probably knew that Drunk Elephant’s C Firma and Skinceautical’s CE Ferulic are popular too. But they aren’t within my budget for the long run.

    I’ve found an affordable alternative, Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum. It contains two other crucial ingredients, Vitamin E and ferulic acid too.

    What’s the Vitamin C you’re using now?

    1. Thank you for your positive feedback, Belle. Yes, I try not to put myself in a position where I’ll be biased. :)

      I’ve just finished Timeless Vitamin C Serum and should be exploring another brand soon. I’m glad that yours helped with dark circles. Will take a look at it. Thanks for sharing. :)

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