Curology is not just another skin care brand. Rather, Curology is an online skin care platform that allows you to receive a virtual assessment and consultation with its providers, who then develop a personalized formula based on your unique needs. The Curology skin care products can then be ordered online from the comfort of your own home.
But does this new approach to skin care really work? In order to answer this question, we’ll have to review the Curology skin care products through a scientific lens. This means we’ll evaluate the research that supports (or doesn’t support) the ingredients that you’ll find in these products.
We’ll also answer some of the most common questions about this brand, such as “How much is Curology?” and “How to cancel Curology?”. Finally, we’ll share some Curology reviews to give you a better idea of what customers really think about these products.
What is Curology?
Dermatologist Dr. David Lortscher came up with the idea for Curology in 2013 after 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 more widely available and less expensive. He partnered with his mother and brother to launch Curology, an online platform that connects those with common skin issues — like acne, signs of aging, hyperpigmentation, etc. — with healthcare professionals who will create a custom formulation 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: you start by filling out the Curology quiz, which asks you questions about your skin concerns and skin type.
The Curology quiz also covers health and medical history, such as details about any prescription drugs being taken, over the counter skin care products, allergies, and whether female patients may be pregnant, breastfeeding, 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 team gets to work creating the custom formula.
The Curology experience doesn’t end with the delivery 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, the Curology skin care products can be tweaked as they enter maintenance mode.
What is The Curology Skin Care Routine?
The Curology skin care routine consists of three products: cleanser, custom formula, moisturizer.
The Curology cleanser is a gentle, lightly foaming, non-clogging facial cleanser that is formulated without any irritants or fragrance. It is said to help keep your skin clear, fresh, and clog-free.
Curology Custom Formula
The Curology custom formula is created by one of the brand’s dermatology providers based on your answers to the Curology quiz and the pictures you send. We’ll discuss the key ingredients that you may find in this formula in the next section.
There are actually two Curology moisturizers:
- “The Moisturizer” – provides cool, layerable moisture for normal to oily skin
- “The Rich Moisturizer” – provides deep hydration for dry or aging skin
Both Curology moisturizers contain glycerin and hyaluronic acid as key ingredients, but the rich moisturizer also contains shea butter, aloe, squalane, and allantoin as key ingredients.
What Are The Curology Ingredients?
Like we mentioned above, every customer receives the same Curology cleanser and one of the two Curology moisturizer formulations. However, the active ingredients in your prescription are determined by one of the brand’s dermatology providers on a person-by-person basis. The most commonly used Curology ingredients include:
Clindamycin is an antibiotic that helps treat acne due to its bacteriostatic effect (meaning it stops bacteria from reproducing). According to the American Academy of Dermatology, clindamycin is a first-line acne treatment for mild to moderate acne that’s typically combined with benzoyl peroxide and/or a topical retinoid.
Azelaic acid is an ingredient that helps with acne and rosacea. It normalizes the shedding of dead skin cells and opens the follicle, resulting in fewer comedones (pimples). Azelaic acid also has been shown to prevent the growth of acne bacteria. According to a publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, both in vitro and in vivo it has an antimicrobial effect on both aerobic and anaerobic (Propionibacterium acnes) microorganisms.
Also known as Retin-A, tretinoin is a prescription retinoid that may be used in your Curology formula because it can help improve both acne and multiple signs of skin aging. When tretinoin first came to market more than 50 years ago, it was prescribed to treat acne only, not for anti-aging purposes. This was because of its ability to unclog pores, preventing them from becoming clogged with oil, dirt, and debris, which also makes pores appear smaller.
According to a publication in the Journal of International Medical Research, soon after topical tretinoin was made available, elderly patients using it to treat acne noted a general improvement in the quality of their skin. It was discovered that by increasing cell turnover and increasing collagen production, tretinoin could also provide anti-aging benefits such as smoothing fine lines and wrinkles and reducing visible signs of hyperpigmentation.
Niacinamide is the amide form of vitamin B3 (niacin) that provides many benefits to the skin. For instance, a publication in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, states that niacinamide can repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling.
Zinc pyrithione may be included in your Curology formula if you’re struggling with breakouts because this ingredient is known to help control acne and decrease sebum secretion. Although it’s not fully understood how zinc helps with acne, it is thought that salts of this metal decrease inflammation caused by acne. Zinc is also an antibacterial and helps with oil control.
Tranexamic acid is a synthetic analog of the amino acid lysine that functions as a skin-conditioning agent and astringent. Additionally, tranexamic acid acts as a skin-lightening agent for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. It is believed to work by inhibiting plasmin, which means that it helps to break down proteins in the skin that contribute to melanin (skin pigment) production.
Metronidazole is an antibiotic that helps with both acne and rosacea. It is a well-tolerated, effective treatment that helps to decrease redness, swelling, and the number of pimples.
Where Are Curology Skin Care Products Sold?
Curology skin care products are only sold on the brand’s website for those who live in the United States. One thing to keep in mind is that due to telemedicine laws, Curology may not be available in every state.
How Much is Curology?
You can sign up for a one-month free trial (you just have to cover the $4.95 shipping and handling fee). After your free trial, you can choose between getting a small bottle of your custom mix for $24.90 (includes shipping and handling) or a larger two-month supply for $39.90. You can also choose to get the set, which contains the Curology cleanser, moisturizer, and a two-month supply of your custom mix for $59.90.
What is The Curology Return Policy?
The Curology return policy states, “Curology does not accept or process returns or exchanges. We do not accept any returned bottles, cleansers or moisturizers in exchange for a refund nor can they be exchanged for an alternate formula.”
How to Cancel Curology?
If you’ve tried this brand and weren’t happy with the results, you may be wondering how to cancel Curology. Fortunately, the brand makes it easy to cancel Curology. The brand’s website states, “You can cancel your account on your own at any time. To begin the cancellation process, click ‘I want to cancel’ at the bottom of your payment page. (You can access your payment page via the dropdown menu when logged in to your Curology account).”
Is Curology Cruelty Free?
Curology is cruelty free and the products are officially Leaping Bunny Certified. Leaping Bunny Certification means Curology skin care products are free of animal testing at every stage of product development.
Curology reviews are mostly very positive. The brand has received an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars after more than 3,000 reviews on Facebook, 4.6 out of 5 stars after more than 1,000 reviews on Reviews.io, and 4.1 out of 5 stars after more than 6,500 reviews on Influenster.
There are many raving Curology reviews from customers who noticed pretty big improvements in their skin after following the Curology skin care routine.
For example, one Curology review says, “Honestly I would highly recommend this line. Really has helped clear up my skin and I feel like the products chosen for me are keeping my skin hydrated but not oily (my skin type). The downfall is I feel like they don’t give you as much product for the price.”
Negative Curology reviews are mostly from customers who experienced adverse reactions after using these products.
For example, one review says, “I typically have very clear skin, though it can be dry. I got Curology to help with the dryness and it totally wrecked my skin. I’m not sure what ingredient it was that had an adverse effect but it’s terribly painful. It itches, burns, and stings all at the same time. If you have somewhat sensitive skin I recommend spot testing these products first!”
Other negative Curology reviews and customer complaints concern the company’s business model. For example, some customers dislike the fact that you have to get a subscription in order to use Curology products, and others note that they cannot use health insurance to pay for Curology products.
Does Curology Work?
After reading through the Curology reviews, it appears that Curology does work for many people. However, as with any skin care brand, there are pros and cons of these products, which we have summarized below.
- Curology ingredients are supported by research
- Many positive Curology reviews
- Curology is cruelty free
- The online assessment and ordering is convenient
- Easier access to prescription-only acne treatments
- You must get a subscription to order Curology products
- You cannot use health insurance to pay for Curology products
- Some Curology reviews mention adverse reactions, such as itching, burning, and dryness
- The online assessment will not be as thorough as seeing a dermatologist in person
What Are Some Alternatives to Curology?
While some customers may like the idea of having a skin care expert create a custom formula for them, others may prefer to choose products themselves so they can know exactly which ingredients they are getting. If that sounds like you, we have a couple alternatives for you to consider.
One brand we recommend is Formulyst because, unlike most skin care brands, Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones. If you’ve tried a topical retinoid in the past and couldn’t deal with the side effects, we recommend considering Formulyst’s Double Defence serum.
What’s unique about the Double Defence Serum is that it contains a form of retinol (hydroxypinacolone retinoate) that provides the same benefits of retinol, but without the irritation. The serum also contains many other beneficial ingredients, including caffeine, squalane, alpha-arbutin, an innovative vitamin C derivative, and more. Overall, the Double Defence Serum can help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and blemishes, leaving your skin visually smoother, firmer, and more even.
There’s no need to compromise when it comes to finding skincare that is effective and safe. Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare, perfectly balancing the power of plants with cutting edge science. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skin care products.