ZO SkinHealth, ZO Medical Vs NEOVA Skin Care

Obagi Then + Now

If a certain breed of aestheticians were polled, Obagi would be voted the overall winner again and again – even after all this time.

When Obagi launched in 1988, it was with the mission to provide prescription-strength skincare for doctors to dispense to patients in their offices – a novelty marketing vocabulary in those days. The original Obagi systems and peels came fully-equipped with physician education-centric symposia and system protocol day lectures.

By driving Zein Obagi’s “philosophic message” that skin health restoration cannot be accomplished by products alone and that physicians need to know how to use them through step-by-step treatment education, the company made physicians Obagi-dependent.

Amazingly, almost twenty- five years later, the philosophy remains at the core of what makes Dr. Obagi so effective at creating and profiting from loyal customers. These rules of business are the greatest differentiators of Obagi’s capabilities.

It’s not surprising that with the OMP philosophy and business model deeply embedded in him (whether they were really his notions or not), Zein Obagi has replicated them in the ZO brand, with one exception: the key, brand-centric ingredient. With OMP it was/is Hydroquinone; with ZO it’s Retinol.

This, explained away by Dr. Obagi as

“OMP’s products were good products for their time, but today I believe that they are outdated. I conceived and brought to market the original Obagi Nu-Derm System more than 25 years ago based on then-current skin health principles (Correction, Stimulation, and Bleaching and Blending). However, these principles that served physicians and patients very well for many years, are no longer sufficient or suitable for everyone. We have discovered in the last ten years the negative effects of inflammation and glycation, the need to enhance skin strength and increase skin ability to resist the negative effects of many external and internal factors, and the need to enhance our skin’s ability to repair damaged skin DNA.”

The new ZO theoretically widens the benefit scope by treating and preventing skin problems with agents and ingredients that achieve the same results with “well-defined and easy to follow protocols” as well as more flexibility/compatibility than the Obagi HQ of the past.

Retinol As A Key Ingredient

It isn’t sexy. It definitely isn’t new. In fact, it was discovered 81 years ago, making it the dowager compared with all the new super-ingredients. But, it is one of the gold standards for skin restoration.

The best antidote for photoaging is sunscreen and the next best are DNA repairers and vitamin A. Both trigger changes in the skin to return skin back to a healthier place but with very different modes of action.

The key differentiator  of the two is: DNA repair enzymes target the site of the damage, not just the symptoms or visual evidences that damage is present.

In a 2015 published study, it was have shown that the addition of DNA repair enzymes (photolyase and endonuclease) to traditional sunscreens reduce ultraviolet radiation (UVR)-induced molecular damage by 61% as compared to 35% of traditional sunscreen. And field cancerizations dropped 29% from baseline in the sunscreen-plus-enzymes group, compared with a 10% decrease with sunscreen alone.

“Our findings indicate that sunscreens plus DNA repair enzymes are superior to traditional sunscreens alone in reducing field cancerization and UVR-associated molecular signatures (CPDs) in AK patients, potentially preventing malignant transformation into invasive squamous cell carcinoma in a more efficient manner.”

If UV-induced DNA damage is not repaired or the damaged cells are not eliminated by apoptosis, cell transformation, uncontrolled proliferation and eventually skin tumors form. In this context, apoptosis provides an efficient safeguard mechanism against cancer. In another study2 it was found that apoptosis increased markedly after repeated sunscreen UVR irradiation. However, when the skin was pre-treated with Sunscreen + photolyase, the apoptotic process, which is the result of direct DNA photodamage, was reduced by 82%.



Independent Studies Report

An independent study published in the world’s most prestigious publication for dermatology, Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, has shown that the combination of NEOVA DNA TOTAL REPAIR AND DNA DAMAGE CONTROL EVERYDAY SPF 44 outperformed competitive combinations in all key performance indicators and is the most effective way to prevent skin aging and skin cancer.

The competitive products studied:

  • Obagi Professional C and Obagi Sunshield SPF 50
  • SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic and SkinCeuticals UV Defense SPF 50
  • Biopelle Urbane Renewal and Neutrogena SPF 50
  • Celfix DNA Youth Recovery and Neutrogena SPF 50
  • SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex and Neutrogena SPF 50


Key performance indicators measured [obtained from test subjects’ biopsies]:

  • ANTIOXIDANT ACTIVITY was determined by the level of protein carbonylation (PC). The higher thevalue, the more damaged the proteins are due to oxidation, free radicals, and UV damage
  • DNA DAMAGE was assessed by the level of CPD (cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers, products of UV damage, which alter the structure of DNA and, if unrepaired, are mutagenic leading to skin cancers) and,
  • 8-OHdG (one of the major markers of DNA oxidation; concentrations of it within a cell are a measurement of oxidative stress).


Authored by Enzo Emanuele, MD PhD (Robbio, Italy), James M. Spencer, MD, (New York) and Martin Braun, MD (Vancouver, Canada),the study, An Experimental Double-Blind Irradiation Study of a Novel Topical Product (TPF 50) Compared to Other Topical Products With DNA Repair Enzymes, Antioxidants, and Growth Factors With Sunscreens: Implications for Preventing Skin Aging and Cancer, was conducted as validating support for the launch of Elizabeth Arden Rx TPF 50, the brand set to enter the physician market in April 2014.


Key Messaging: NEOVA vs Competitive Test Products

In every endpoint measurement, Neova outperformed the Obagi, SkinCeuticals, Biopelle, Celfix and SkinMedica combinations.

Given that the Sunscreen products tested in combination with all competitive materials were 50 SPF and Neova is SPF 44, the superiority of NEOVA DNA TOTAL REPAIR is unequivocally proven.

The addition of DNA repair enzymes and antioxidant complex to DNA DAMAGE CONTROL sun products has been overlooked in the study but is clearly a contributing, winning factor over the competition.

DNA TOTAL REPAIR contains the 3 DNA enzymes studied. The big difference is that, as a treatment product, DNA TOTAL REPAIR is used 2x a day, giving a daily, double dose of the repairing ingredients, Research shows that outcomes are optimized when skin care treatment mirrors the body’s natural prevent and repair cycles.

The critical link is the body’s circadian rhythms – the 24-hour cycle that’s run by the body’s biological clock. Circadian rhythms are the cyclical hormonal and physiological processes that rally the body in the morning to tackle the day’s demands and slow it down at night, allowing the body to rest and repair. When the circadian rhythm is disrupted, skin is unable to fend off damage or repair it as effectively, causing a breakdown of cellular functions.

An October 2013 study published by Cell Press showed that during daylight hours, skin’s stem cells switch on certain genes to defend themselves from UV light and other environmental stressors, such as pollution.

At night, the skin’s stem cells don’t need to go into defense mode. Instead, they can focus on reparation, producing healthy cells to replace and/or repair the damaged cells.

With their high level of antioxidants, DNA TOTAL REPAIR and DNA DAMAGE CONTROL products work continuously against free-radical damage. The skin’s natural antioxidant protection is generally highest between the hours of 7 and 11 a.m. Conversely, skin reaches its peak reparative levels between the hours of 10 p.m. and midnight.

DNA TOTAL REPAIR works all hours of need with round-the-clock defense and repair optimization.

Higher SPF numbers only mean more sun-exposure time. They indicate the level of UVB (burning rays) absorption, but these numbers don’t increase exponentially. The difference in UVB protection between SPF 50 and SPF 30 is marginal. Far from offering nearly double the blockage, SPF 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays and SPF 30, deflecting 96.7 percent.

Just as importantly, SPF does not measure UVA rays, which are more closely linked to deeper skin damage.

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