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As someone with acne-prone skin in my mid-twenties, Curology’s personalized treatments have always piqued my interest. I regularly test new skincare products for my job, and while I’ve definitely found some favorites along the way, nothing has halted breakouts in the way I’ve dreamt. After much frustration and a lot of wasted time, I finally decided to put every product I’ve been using on pause and take the plunge on signing up for a trial with Curology. 

It’s safe to say online skincare services are having a moment; not everyone has the means or time to visit a dermatologist, therefore online dermatology resources like Curology are truly paving the way to accessible, effective prescription-strength skincare. 

While I’m still new to the service—I’ve consistently been using my trial kit for about three weeks now—I’ve already been fairly surprised by my results. I use the Acne Cleanser, Gel Moisturizer, Micellar Makeup Remover and Custom FormulaRx cream daily, and regularly track my progress. In my before-and-after photo, you can see the visible changes from day one of application alongside one I took today, just three weeks out. My cheeks, where acne tends to form the most, are much clearer while my overall skin tone is far more even.

Curology Review

Courtesy of Maya Gandara

But, more on that later. Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of how Curology works.

What is Curology?

Curology is an online skincare service that delivers a personalized prescription formula catered to solving your specific skin concerns straight to your door. First, you take an online assessment—fill out a form answering questions about your skin type, concerns, and medical history and upload a few photos of your skin. If Curology is right for you, one of Curology’s medical professionals (the service enlists the expertise of 100+ licensed dermatology providers) will prescribe you a personalized prescription-strength cream.

Each personalized prescription formula contains a combination of some of the below active ingredients, determined by your dermatology provider, based on your specific skin concerns:

  • Tretinoin (a topical retinoid available by prescription only)
  • Azelaic Acid (an ingredient that helps unclog pores and can fade dark spots)
  • Clindamycin (an acne-fighting topical antibiotic) 
  • Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3 that fights inflammation and improves dark spots)
  • Metronidazole (an antimicrobial helpful in rosacea treatment) 
  • Zinc Pyrithione (an antimicrobial) 
  • Tranexamic Acid (a synthetic amino acid that can improve dark spots and redness)

The service has helped millions of patients improve a wide range of skin issues, including acne, dark spots, hyperpigmentation, rosacea, fine lines and wrinkles, and uneven texture and tone. 

Curology Review

Image: Curology.

The Custom Formula

How Much is Curology?

Pricing entirely varies on what products you select. Each subscription begins with your personalized prescription formula, which will run you $29.95 per month (billed every 60 days at $59.90). 

If you’re looking to build out an entire skincare routine with Curology products, you can select add-on products for an extra charge, such as cleanser (Gentle Cleanser or Acne Cleanser), moisturizer (Gel Moisturizer or Cream Moisturizer), Acne Body Wash, Emergency Spot Patch, Micellar Makeup Remover, Everyday Sunscreen and Lip Balm. This can be updated for each shipment, should you choose to add on or remove products at any given time. 

If you run out of your Curology products early, you can request to move your next delivery up sooner and vice versa should you need more time to make your way through your current products and push out the next shipment.  

It’s worth noting that due to Curology’s unique model, they bill their customers directly and do not accept insurance. That said, you may be able to pay directly with your HSA or FSA card. If you have questions about whether or not Curology may be a covered expense by one of these plans, it’s best to contact your plan administrator.

Does Curology Work?

If you’ve never introduced Curology’s list of ingredients to your skin before, you may see your skin go through a “purge” prior to witnessing results. This means that you may experience a temporary acne flare due to your pores getting cleaned out. That said, some people may not experience this at all. It is also possible that you may notice some redness and irritation as your skin adjusts to your new topical prescription formula. Your Curology provider is there if you have any questions about this and can offer tips to help you adjust. 

Just make sure you’ve done your research prior to slathering on these ingredients—Curology offers a guide for the first few weeks to help you get acquainted. Should you experience purging, you can reach out to your provider for advice and an adjustment to your formula, if necessary. 

While ultimately results will vary from person to person, my personal experience has been highly positive since I began my Curology journey a few weeks ago. I was surprised to see my skin adjust quickly to the Custom FormulaRx I was prescribed through my trial box, which included tretinoin, clindamycin phosphate, and azelaic acid, all of which were entirely new ingredients to me. 

My provider started me out on lower strengths of tretinoin and azelaic acid, therefore my skin was able to adapt with minimal negative side-effects. While I did experience a few more breakouts than usual in the beginning, I saw my skin texture begin to even out and my complexion appear brighter overall pretty quickly. I also credit these benefits to my use of the cleanser, moisturizer, and Micellar Makeup Remover. 

Like most skincare products, it can take up to a few months for noticeable changes to manifest across my skin. According to Curlogy, many consistent-use patients will notice a difference within 6 to 8 weeks of application. Basically, you’re signing up for a committed relationship with these products—if you want lasting results, you’ve got to keep in mind that you may have a long timeline ahead of you. 

How to Cancel Curology

You can cancel your subscription at any time through the “Payment” page. That said, once a shipment has been processed it cannot be canceled after the fact; make sure to stop your service at least 2 business days ahead of your next billing cycle.

Is Curology Worth it? 

I put my typical skincare regimen on hold to solely test Curology products in the hopes of remedying my acne-prone skin. While I’m still very much in the thick of my Curology journey, I do plan on sticking with my prescribed formula and new routine for the next several months given the positive results I’ve already seen, the following of which include: makeup applying better and sitting on my skin for longer; less congestion around my pores; and a decrease in inflammation, redness and acne across my cheeks and chin (even during PMS).

Truth to be told, I’m already getting antsy for my next shipment—let’s just say I’m attached to some skincare products for the first time in a while.

If you’re interested in testing Curology’s offerings yourself, I’d recommend signing up for a trial to see if it’s right for you.