Have you ever wished that you could get an appointment with a top dermatologist and have them create a special product that would solve all of your skincare problems, without spending a fortune? Well, you can. That concept is the idea beyond Curology, a relatively new custom skincare company where users connect with a skincare specialist online, upload photos of their skin and are then sent a custom prescription strength product. Curology is disrupting how skincare works; what Madison Reed did for hair color, Curology is doing for acne sufferers. Here’s a closer look at Curology, what it sells and how it works, and as it worth a try?
What is Curology?
Dr. David Lortscher came up with the idea for Curology in 2013. According to Curology’s website, when Dr. Lortscher was a dermatologist practicing in New Mexico, he was struck by a young patient who had been suffering from acne for seven years, but had only just worked up the courage to see him. She confessed it took a long time to make an appointment with a dermatologist as she felt it was only for wealthy people.
Inspired by this patient’s personal story, Dr. Lortscher was determined to come up with a way to make a dermatologist’s visit and acne solutions more broadly available – and less expensive. He partnered with his mother and brother to launch Curology, a website that connects acne sufferers with health care professionals who will create a custom cream to tackle their skincare issues – at a fraction of the cost of a dermatologist’s visit.
How Does Curology Work?
Think of Curology as an online dermatologist. The process is simple and starts by filling out a comprehensive questionnaire on the Curology website that asks about skin concerns (acne, aging, dark spots, wrinkles) and skin type. The questionnaire also covers health and medical history, such as details about any prescription drugs being taken, over the counter skincare products, allergies and whether they may be pregnant, breast-feeding or trying to get pregnant. The quiz also asks about any retinol products being used, frequency of sunscreen use and how many breakouts per week.
After submitting the information, customers will be contacted by a healthcare professional from Curology’s medical team, which includes board certified dermatologists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Customers will go over their details and upload photos of their skin to be analyzed before the Curology team gets to work creating the custom cream, which will be mailed along with a cleanser and moisturizer. The Curology cream is packaged in a clean, clinical looking pump dispenser that lists the provider’s name along with the ingredients and percentages.
The Curology experience doesn’t end with the delivery of the cream though. Customers are able to connect with their healthcare provider to ask any questions or concerns (such as, why is my skin peeling?). As customers see improvement in their skin, formulas can be tweaked as they enter maintenance mode.
One thing to keep in mind is that due to “telemedicine” laws, Curology may not be available in every US state.
What Does Curology Sell?
The core Curology product is a custom, all-in-one prescription strength skincare cream that is designed to address a user’s skin concerns. The concept is that the cream does it all, and eliminates the need for multiple products, such as a serum and an acne medication. The kit also contains a moisturizer and cleanser. Although the moisturizer and cleanser are not custom, they are formulated to work with multiple skin types.
What Ingredients are in Curology Products?
Every Curology cream is custom blended depending on the customer’s skincare concerns but some of the most common ingredients include:
Clindamycin – an antibiotic used to stop the growth of bacteria that causes acne
Azelaic acid – an acid found in grains that has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps with acne and rosacea.
Tretinoin – a prescription form of vitamin A that helps with acne, fine lines hyperpigmentation.
Niacinamide – a form of vitamin B3 that helps improve skin tone and texture, fine lines and brighten skin.
Zinc Pyrithione – zinc has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and helps with oil control.
Tranexamic acid – a brightening powerhouse that helps with fade discoloration and dark spots.
Metronidazole – an anti-inflammatory that also helps with rosacea.
The Curology cleanser is formulated for acne prone skin and contains a blend of plant sugars and oat extract to soothe skin while coconut adds a boost of moisture. The face wash is gluten-free, paraben-free, oil-free and fragrance-free. The key ingredients in the Curology moisturizer are water, dimethicone and hyaluronic acid, a moisture magnet that holds up to 1,000 times it weight in water. Both products are non-comedogenic.
How Much Does Curology Cost?
Customers can sign up for a tree trial (and $4.95 shipping). Subsequent payments are $19.95 a month.
Is Curology tested on Animals?
Curology says its formulas are cruelty-free and are never tested on animals.
Does Curology Work?
Finding the right beauty products and skincare regimen always involves some trial and error, as one person’s miracle product may do nothing for someone else. It’s also helpful to look at product reviews and customer feedback.
Curology has received reviews and write ups in InStyle, in Into the Gloss, Glamour, Teen Vogue and VeryGoodLight.com The Glamour writer tried it out in 2018 and her custom cream contained a blend of tretinoin, azelaic acid and niacinamide. Her take on it? Her skin became dry so she switched to using it every other day but in the meantime, her medical provider checked in to see how I was liking the treatment. “If I needed more or less of a certain ingredient, she’d adjust the percentages for my next bottle—as easy as that,” explained the writer. Her conclusion was positive. “As for me, at about four months in, my skin has never looked or felt better. It’s soft, clear, and never irritated. And now I only have to apply one product at night, instead of my usual three or four, a regimen I was never able to maintain. I guess you could say I’m officially committed.”
The Into the Gloss writer explained that his skin issues were acne, clogged pores, dark spots, skin texture and oiliness, and his formula contained azelaic acid, clindamycin and niacinamide. Like many people starting a new acne regimen, in the initial phase of treatment his skin erupted. “The first few weeks were a mess,” he wrote. “I had more breakouts than I started with, and my skin looked dry and crèpe-y. I sent no less than three frantic emails to Joyce, who ensured me that the ‘increased exfoliation of skin cells inside of the pores…can lead to a temporary acne flare as pores become clogged by the exfoliating skin cells.’ Then, one morning three weeks in, I realized it was all gone.”
Curology’s Instagram page has 253,000 followers, the brand’s Facebook page has around 80,000 followers and the comments provide a wide range of feedback. Many fans upload dramatic looking before and after photos showing improved complexions. Positive feedback includes “I have been using Curology for a few months now, and ya’ll… My skin hasn’t been this clear since before puberty and I’m almost 30. You. Need. This and “This stuff has worked at keeping my acne under control and when I get a breakout (small now since I’ve been using Curogoly) it goes away fast when I use this stuff. My face feels so great too!!!.” Another user wrote, “Seriously just do it! I tried soooo many products before this and this is literally the only thing that has ever worked for me and has continued working for almost two years!
Scroll through the comments and you’ll also find not-so-glowing feedback, but it largely has to do with customer service and its subscription model. Many customers have taken to social media to complain they cannot get a hold of customer service to cancel their subscription.
What Are Some Alternatives to the Curology?
Curology may not be the right choice for everyone, in terms of how it works or how it reacts with your skin. If you’re looking for a well-rounded skincare line, there are a few other brands to consider.
Formulyst’s philosophy is long-term and effective skincare. The brand wants to help its customers achieve their best looking skin, rather than covering it up with makeup. The comprehensive line of products focuses on everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. If you want smoother looking skin, skip the harsh exfoliators which can do more harm than good. Formulyst Retexturing and Perfecting Serum is powered by gentle but effective alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which works to dissolve dead skin cells. Packed with plant based acids, it whisks away old skin cells, leaving behind fresher, smoother looking skin. The serum also works to on unevenness and blotchiness. Formulyst Clarifying AHA Cleanser is designed to give a skin a gentle but effective cleanse. The formula contains alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) derived from citrus and botanical extracts. These acids work by dissolving dead skin cells and drawing out impurities from the pores to reveal smooth, refreshed skin. Want to get rid of a blemish? Don’t pop it- dry it. Apply a dab of Formulyst’s Blemish Clearing Complex. It contains a whole cocktail of bacteria fighting, pimple drying products including zinc oxide, salicylic acid, and camphor. It also helps to unclog pores.
If you like the simplicity of a skincare kit, consider Advanced Dermatology. This no nonsense brand offers a pared down approach to skincare. The packaging is simple and streamlined, and the products bring skincare back to the basics. The kit contains just six essential items including a daily cleanser; serum; anti-wrinkle firming treatment; night cream; day cream and an eye cream. In other words, everything you need to achieve your best possible looking skin.