Have you ever wished that you could get an appointment with a top dermatologist and have them create a customized product that would solve all of your skin care problems, without spending a fortune? Well, it turns out that may be possible. That concept is the idea beyond Curology, a relatively new custom skin care company where users connect with a skin care specialist online, upload photos of their skin, and are then sent a custom prescription strength product.
But does this new approach to skin care really work? In order to answer this question, we’ll have to evaluate the ingredients in Curology products and take a look at whether or not research supports the use of these ingredients in skin care. We’ll also share some Curology reviews to get a better idea of what customers really think about these products.
The Story Behind 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, etc) and skin type.
The questionnaire also covers health and medical history, such as details about any prescription drugs being taken, over the counter skin care products, allergies, and whether they 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, formulas 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 their questionnaire 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 Ingredients Does Curology Use to Create Your Custom Formula?
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. However, the brand does provide a list of the most common ingredients they use, which 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 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 negative 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!”
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.
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 you with youthful-looking skin that’s 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 as well as the preservatives, emulsifiers and thickeners commonly found in skincare products.