Last week I had a client ask me this question. Does Curology work? She’s been battling acne. And until we started working together, acne had been winning.
Psst – Curology is a personalised skincare prescription you can order by mail. It contains a few prescription only/over the counter actives depending on your customised formula.
I know if you’re reading with me now – you’re likely feeling completely desperate about your skin.
Paralysed with what to do that won’t just make everything worse.
My friend – I’ve got your back. Please know you’re no longer alone in this.
And today I’m here to talk you through does Curology actually work?
Because when someone walks in and offers you a miracle cream.
One which promises in 2-6 weeks you’ll see acne reducing.
It’s all you can do to stop from slathering your face in it.
p.s. do not try this at home 😉
By the end of this blog you’re going to be walking away knowing;
- Does Curology work?
- Does Curology work for hormonal acne?
- Will Curology work for you?
- The Curology side effects you must be aware of
- What Curology don’t tell you
Let’s get to this…
What Is Curology?
Visit Curology’s website and you enter a new-age dermatology office. One where an algorithm is overseen by nurses and practitioners.
You tell the algorithm all about your skin and your acne.
What your skin type is.
Whether you have acne on your face or chin or back or chest.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding – which is a super important question – some anti-acne actives should not be used when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
You even tell the ‘algo’ what birth control you’re using and if it’s making your acne better or worse.
Then in less than 5 minutes, you have a personalised prescription.
A serum targeted to your acne/breakouts/whiteheads/blackheads. That’s the white bottle in the screenshot you see above.
It comes sandwiched between a 3-step system.
You get the off the shelf – cleanser, moisturiser and pimple patches.
But the ‘magic’ comes in your serum.
Keep reading on as I’m explaining exactly what this ‘magic’ is.
Does Curology Work?
Curology relies on an arsenal of key anti-acne actives.
Imagine Curology like a salad bar.
There are lots of salad ingredients you could be eating up, but only very specific ones are best designed to tickle your tastebuds.
You have favourites.
Curology is the same. And the algorithm is choosing your skin’s favourite.
At the anti-acne Curology salad bar, there’s the option of;
- Tretinoin – a strong and in most countries prescription-only retinoid
- Niacinamide – I could sing its praises all day every day – it’s a B vitamin which can help regulate sebum production plus reduce redness and inflammation – you don’t need a prescription for this
- Azelaic acid – it can help talk down redness and inflammation, plus help reduce the number of acne bacteria living on your skin – you don’t need a prescription for this but you can get it on prescription – some examples of azelaic acid prescription creams include Skinoren and Finacea
- Zinc Pyrithione – helps reduce sebum – aka the environment acne bacteria love to grow in – you don’t need a prescription for this
- Clindamycin – It’s an antibiotic aka can help kill off acne bacteria – you need a prescription to get this
- Metronidazole – an antibiotic – you need a prescription for this too
- Tranexamic acid – helps take down the dark marks acne leaves behind aka post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation – you don’t need a prescription for this
Does Curology actually work?
This list of anti-acne actives does have proven efficacy.
There’s proof for example that tretinoin works to help get rid of acne.
This is published study data not just hearsay.
Tretinoin for example has been proven to help fight acne since the 60s.
But there are extras you should know.
Does Curology Work for Hormonal Acne?
Until COVID-19 brought with it an epidemic of MaskNe, there really was only one stark reason for acne.
Because almost all acne is caused by a change to your hormone balance. A see-saw ride most people don’t know how to get off of.
Now keep this in mind as I explain to you how Curology works.
There are 3 key changes which are happening to your skin with new acne breakouts;
- Abnormal desquamation aka your skin isn’t exfoliating properly and that means clogged, gunked up pores
- Unbalanced sebum levels/poor quality sebum
- Your skin’s microbiome aka bacteria balance is deviating from healthy – acne bacteria are thriving in your pores
And this trio of factors is like a wake-up alarm to your immune system.
It’s screaming and your immune function is reacting.
You see red, hot, raised, painful, swollen acne.
Does Curology Actually Work?
For Curology to work it has to reverse any or all 3 of the acne steps above.
And the Curology actives can.
Tretinoin for example can kill off sebocytes – the cells which make sebum.
Tretinoin can also help normalise your skin’s exfoliating rate aka speed it up. That means pores get unclogged.
Clindamycin – the antibiotic active Curology use can kill off acne bacteria. Although be aware, it also kills off good skin bacteria too.
So I wince when I say this – technically yes – Curology can work for hormonal acne.
Curology vs. Hormonal Acne
I’m wincing right now because even though Curology can help you get rid of acne. Curology isn’t helping fix the underlying root cause of your acne. This is always what I aim to help all of my Acne Warriors identify.
Imagine a few years ago we planted a tree together in your garden. Now, all of a sudden our beautiful tree is starting to grow white snowman-shaped fungus.
This actually happened in my garden as a kid.
My face is telling you everything you need to know;
The secret reason why this is happening (pretend you don’t know this ;)) is because your tree’s roots are now feeding on contaminated water.
And because of it, your tree’s biology’s getting upset.
And in its confusion, it’s making snowman-shaped fungus.
A gardener comes to fix it.
He sprays your tree wet with anti-fungicide.
The snowman melts away.
But the cause of your snowman still exists.
So the anti-fungus treatment wears off.
The snowmen come back.
Or worse – you spray the tree so many times that the snowmen don’t come back but the contaminated water your tree’s drinking starts to kill it off.
Does Curology Really Work?
The actives Curology use to personalise your skincare can and do work, however, in my opinion, it’s irresponsible for them to be used alone.
Because if you don’t fix the cause of your acne – acne will keep on coming back.
(psst – diet is a major factor for this – get my free starting list for an effective acne diet here)
Or worse – you develop other health issues because you’re not listening to what your skin’s screaming.
You’re letting your tree drink from contaminated water and instead of removing that contaminated water, you’re spraying it with stuff to get rid of its symptoms. #CoverUp
Curology Side Effects You Must Be Aware Of
And in the process of doing this, side effects happen.
For example, a well-known side effect of tretinoin is dry, flaky, itchy, red, painful skin.
When Brooke Shunatona from Cosmopolitan gave Curology a go she saw this from day 4 of treatment.
And because tretinoin can actually kill off your skin’s sebum-producing cells. This change can be permanent. You can be left with a dry skin type – which I know sounds so much better than having acne. But trust me, I have clients who are right now in this situation and who feel even more devastated by this permanent side effect.
Extreme dry skin is not what you want.
Clear, comfortable, healthy, happy skin is.
That’s what I’m here to help you get.
So please know that Curology can work, some of the Curology actives can be extremely helpful but I would never, ever recommend it to be your only battle plan against acne.
Does Curology work for everyone?
It’s also not guaranteed that Curology will work for you. Your underlying root cause could be so powerful that creams just cannot un-do the skin changes it’s activating.
Which brings me to the most important part of this blog.
What Curology Don’t Tell You
It’s a secret they don’t share.
One which keeps you hooked 😉
Curology despite the name is alone not a known cure for acne.
It’s highly likely you’ll have to keep on using it to keep on getting rid of acne.
You may be able to go down to a maintenance treatment.
You might even be able to stop for a while.
However, if your root cause is not confronted, it’s highly likely your skin will always be acne-prone.
If you want to confront the root cause of your acne and finally start healing your skin – I’m here to help. And I’m not scary I promise.
Now, will you come tell me in the comments below which anti-acne actives on the Curology list you’ve tried before? And please, please do use that big green sharing button below to forward this blog on to a friend in need. Together we’ve got this, together we can make a difference 🙂
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.