About Curology

By HighYa Staff
Updated on: Jan 24, 2019

Curology offers tailor-made skincare products that promise to treat both acne and aging. Using prescription-only ingredients, Curology will blend a personalized formula for you based off of your medical history, photos, and skin goals.

Each personalized formula will contain three active ingredients chosen for your skin from the following treatments:

  • Acne: Curology says that drugstore products may get rid of 30 percent of your acne. However, they claim that “prescription treatments like ours can eliminate 90 percent.” This formula includes azelaic acid, clindamycin, niacinamide, tretinoin, and zinc pyrithione.

  • Clogged pores: To help relieve plugs and clogged pores, Curology blends a mix of tretinoin, a topical prescription acne treatment similar to Retin-A, azelaic acid, clindamycin, niacinamide, and zinc pyrithione

  • Dark spots: Curlology claims that, when used with sun protection, their formula containing azelaic acid, niacinamide, and tretinoin can help to fade the dark spots caused by sun exposure and acne.

  • Firmness: According to their website, an independent clinical study (meaning that it was performed by a third party), showed a 38 percent increase in firmness within eight weeks of using their custom formula that includes tretinoin and vitamin C.

  • Texture: Curology claims that their formula, which includes tretinoin, can help to regenerate skin cells, improve glow, and smooth your skin’s surface.

  • Wrinkles: Similar to their formula addressing firmness, the active ingredients in Curology’s wrinkle formula are tretinoin and vitamin C.

A custom blend of prescription-strength active ingredients sounds promising. However, how can Curology offer regulated ingredients through a website?

How Does Curology Work?

Instead of an in-office visit to describe your skin concerns, the first step to using Curology is taking a questionnaire. Because it’s in lieu of meeting with a dermatologist face-to-face, signing up isn’t a short process. We’ve broken it down into the sections below:

1. Sharing Your Skin Goals

Screenshot of curology.comImage via Curology

First, to learn about your skin goals, the questionnaire asks that you choose which aspects of your complexion you’d like to treat. You can pick as many as you’d like. However, since the formulas are blended with three active ingredients, I limited my selection to three: clogged pores, firmness, and skin texture.

Screenshot of curology.comImage via Curology

Next, you’re asked to select your skin type. While this might seem fairly straightforward, it’s slightly disconcerting that there are no descriptions to help guide your selection—similar to the previous step. As someone who has neither oily or dry skin, it’s also frustrating to see that there is no option for “normal,” which is different from “combination” as the latter suggests an oily t-zone and dry cheeks.

Screenshot of curology.comImage via Curology

After selecting your skin type, Curology gives you the opportunity to specify which areas of skin are of concern, including your face, neck, shoulders/ back/ chest, or other. You can select as many areas as applicable.

How many pimples did you get in the last week? That’s one of the last questions in the skin-goals section of Curology’s questionnaire. Finally, they ask how often you wear sunscreen or other forms of SPF. What level of SPF or how often it’s applied isn’t specified—important information we’re pretty sure an in-person derm would want to double check.

2. Have Your Medical History Handy

To gain a better understanding of your health, Curology asks the following questions:

  • Are you using a product containing a non-prescription retinoid, such as retinol or retinyl palmitate?

  • Which product are you using, is it working, and does it irritate your skin?

  • Have you ever used any prescription topicals (creams, gels, etc.) for acne or skin aging? If the answer is yes, you’re allowed to select from a long list of possible products.

  • Are you currently using the product? If the answer is yes, you’ll select the specific brand and concentration of the product. For example, since I had said yes to tretinoin, a topical treatment similar to Retin-A, I was shown a list of the nine different creams and gels in that category, and asked to select what I use.

  • Next, you’re asked to describe how your skin feels when using the previously specified products. Please note that, if you have not previously used any prescription topicals for your skin, you’ll likely be able to skip this section.

After gaining a thorough understanding of your skin history, Curology gets down to some more general medical queries. These will include your gender, then, if you’re female, a bunch of additional questions relating to hormonal birth control.

Because prescription acne products shouldn’t be used while pregnant, Curology requires female customers to agree that they are not pregnant or nursing—and they’ll notify their dermatology provider if they become so in the future.

Before ending this section of the questionnaire, you are given the opportunity to tell your dermatology provider any additional information, such as your skincare routine, or make special requests for your medication.

What’s Included in Your Curology Membership?

Joining Curology’s subscription program includes the following benefits:

  • Prescription-strength skincare, which Curology claims is custom-formulated to address your specific needs.

  • Real dermatology care through what Curology calls your dermatology provider. You’re given the name of your dermatology provider and some information about their background and experience during the signup process. For example, I was assigned Rachel Rivard, a Family Nurse Practitioner with four years of primary care experience.

Note that our dermatology provider, Rachel Rivard, did not have previous dermatology experience before joining the Curology team. While still a licensed medical professional, her bio explains that she received extensive training with Curology's board-certified dermatologists.

This is technically in line with Curology’s About section, in which they claim to pair you with a “licensed dermatology provider for personalized acne and anti-aging treatment,” we feel that some customers could be misled by that wording into believing that they’ll receive attention from a licensed dermatologist.

Will it affect the quality of dermatology care that you receive through Curology? Likely not, as long as you remember that Curology is a service focused on skincare, not to identify potential abnormal moles or explore other unrelated conditions.

Instead, plan on reaching out to your dermatology provider only with questions and concerns that relate to your Curology products, such as if your skin feels too dry. This allows your dermatology provider to give you a less irritating formula and continue customizing your skincare.

Curology Membership Pricing

Curology members are charged varying rates depending on which plan they choose. The company provides what’s known as a superbottle. It contains the ingredients Curology mixes for your specific skin.

You can try a 30-day free trial for the cost of shipping – $4.95 – and any applicable sales tax. A 30-day supply will cost you $19.95 and a 60-day supply is $39.90. The two-month plan has free shipping, while the monthly plan will charge shipping and handling.

If you want to subscribe to the full Curology routine (superbottle, cleanser, and moisturizer), you’ll pay $59.90 per 60-day supply plus any taxes when applicable.

What if you run out of your Curology formula before 30 or 60 days? The company states that you are always free to request an earlier shipment.

That means that the total cost of a Curology membership is around $240 - $480 per year. When compared with seeing an in-person dermatologist, which can be hundreds or thousands, that’s a great deal.

Your Curology membership also includes the above-mentioned access to your dermatology provider. They state that most new members contact their dermatology providers every 30 - 90 days as treatment begins to adjust your formula.

However, there are no extra fees for more frequent contact. Once your formula is working well for you, Curology does require that you check in a minimum of once a year – a requirement when using any prescription-strength medication.

Curology’s Refund Policy

There is no minimum commitment when signing up for Curology, meaning that you can cancel at any time.

If you’re not satisfied with your Curology formula, the company promises to refund 100 percent of your charge within the first 30 days if you aren’t satisfied. To request a refund, email customer service at support@curology.com for further instructions.

Curology does not accept health insurance to cover the cost of your membership. However, if you have a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account, your consultation may qualify as a deductible expense—check with your provider to be sure.

Curology Reviews: What Are Customers Saying About It?

Curology, previously known as PocketDerm, has a devoted following of customers who have shared their positive skin changes.

Positive skin changesImage via Reddit

The Reddit user whose image is shared above stated that her acne has visibly reduced in three months. She also shared her personalized formula on the forum:

“At first, it was 4% Niacinamide 1% Clindamycin 4% Azelaic Acid. It changed to .018% Tretinoin 1 % Clindamycin 8% Azelaic Acid at the start of September.”

The PocketDerm referral thread is out of date, as the company has changed their name and promotional offers. However, it’s also full of Curology members sharing their positive experiences, many of whom say that their formula resulted in completely clear skin, including this review:

“Pocketderm has literally saved my face from painful hormonal cysts. Right now I just have some scarring/PIH/PIE to work on. Overall, very satisfied with pocketderm and Dr. Satur is both responsive warm to all my questions.

“My Rx is spironolactone (75 mg daily at night) with 4% niacinamide / 1% clindamycin / 4% azelaic acid.

“Background: I was a student experiencing THE WORST cystic breakouts of my life along my jaw. literally wanted to cry whenever I looked in the mirror. I tried to see a dermatologist, but my primary care physician would not refer me to one without seeing her first.. Her first available appointment was 2 months away and the cysts were starting to spread along from my jaw to the sides of my face. I figured it was hormonal cuz I never had this type of acne before and I was getting desperate. I could NOT wait 2 months so I looked to Pocketderm.

“Yes, I was wary about Pocketderm actually working, but I was more desperate to get my clear skin back. After I got my order, it took about 2-3 months before the cysts all disappeared and I just have some marks left that I need to fade (using MUA lactic acid and fade peels).

“Currently I still use Pocketderm as a preventative measure. I still get random tiny pimples once every couple weeks (but no more cysts) and the pimples just shrink overnight. I'm very satisfied with the results and customer service. Plus it's great that you can order more without charge.”

I found this particular review interesting as her prescription shows that Curology isn’t just prescribing one-size-fits-all topical treatments for members, but are actually evaluating your skincare needs and blending custom treatments as claimed.

Additionally, I couldn’t help but feel excited to read that their prescriptions included oral treatments, including spironolactone, as that was the only medication which worked to treat my own acne after years of trying different prescriptions, including Accutane.

» Related: Can Coconut Oil Help Offset Acne and Cystic Acne? Experts Offer Advice

Will Curology Work for You?

Considering the heaps of positive reviews that we were able to find for Curology’s telemedicine approach to tailor-made skin care, we feel confident suggesting that those who are struggling might find relief with their products. Further, we were unable to locate any negative reviews of Curology’s claims to provide attentive care.

What about Curology’s anti-aging treatments? While the above reviews focused more on clogged pores, we double checked Curology’s ingredients and found evidence supporting that their anti-aging formulas are equally effective. For example, vitamin C and niacinamide are antioxidants known to fade hyperpigmentation, and tretinoin (the active ingredient in Retin-A) is known to boost cell turnover.

Considering the out-of-pocket cost of seeing a dermatologist, Curology’s low-fee membership plan is definitely appealing to those who have basic medical coverage, or aren’t covered at all. However, even when you have insurance, seeing a dermatologist can sometimes take months—whereas Curology promises that their dermatology providers will get back to you within 24-48 hours.

While telemedicine and online consultations might appear fly-by-night, it appears that Curology really does strive to offer everything that they claim: custom skincare treatments that are conveniently delivered to your door. Just remember that there are certain medications, such as Accutane, that they are unable to prescribe due to the severity of side effects.

The bottom line? If you struggle with mild to moderate acne or anti-aging concerns, the low cost of membership and satisfaction guarantee means that there’s minimal risk to trying out Curology’s custom skincare formulas.

» See Also: Best Foods for Healthy, Clear, Glowing Skin Recommended by Experts

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Read 229 Curology Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 4.2
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 177 4 star: 7 3 star: 2 2 star: 9 1 star:  34
Bottom Line: 81% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 229
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  • Changed my complexion's life!

    • Alpine, TX,
    • Apr 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My skin stressed me out for YEARS. It got bad in high school and never really fluctuating back to good. I always told myself "Tomorrow I won't pick at my skin," "I'll be better next month," "next year is my year!" But I didn't have the tools. It was a vicious cycle of being stressed out/hormones causing breakouts and the breakouts causing stress and emotional distress.

    Once I was out of high school, I thought it would improve, and it did...some weeks more than others. But, "improve" is generous. It was just better than before, not anywhere near good, lol.

    So, one day I gave in and said "no more, I am sick and tired of this bull." Took the Curology test, spoke to the provider, and waited. I took pictures almost weekly if not daily. It took a bit to see results, but they came. The relief was unbelievable. Improved my life and self-confidence exponentially.

    Not to say that I never have breakouts now, I do, but skin changes all the time and you adjust. I still have to watch my diet (stay away from sugar) change my pillow sheet often (obvi) and generally stay healthy for it to show in my face. But Curology is part of the routine now and I'm so thankful.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • The only thing that’s worked for me!

    • Tampa, FL,
    • Apr 16, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’ve struggled with cystic acne for years. I tried everything, from home remedies to proactive. Nothing ever helped until I have Curology a try! Immediately I saw the difference. The thing I love most about Curology is that they make their medicine specifically for you! It’s not a "one size fits all." Everyone's skin is different, and Curology does a great job at showing that.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • Completely changed my skin, wallet, and life

    • Pittsburgh, PA,
    • Apr 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I got an IUD placed in November of 2016, and shortly after I began experiencing the worst hormonal breakouts of my life. Large, cystic acne formed on my chin. I spent $1000+ at a well-known makeup company in less than four months on skincare. After nothing worked, I went to a dermatologist and was prescribed EpiDuo, which made my skin dry, red, and irritated. The dermatologist told me that if it didn’t work, I’d have to consider getting my IUD removed because it may be the only thing that would work. It wasn’t until then that I realized my IUD could be causing my breakouts, and it was at that point I became paranoid that it was affecting me in other ways too. I had read online it could make me lose hair quickly - which I mistakenly thought I was. Needless to say, I was feeling overwhelmed.

    During my time researching skincare, I found myself in makeup groups around the internet. Someone posted about Curology, and the $5 sample size. At this point, I had spent nearly $1500 on other skincare, so I figured $5 couldn’t hurt.

    And that’s basically the end of my story. I received my first bottle of Curology in October of 2017 and I haven’t had a single hormonal breakout since. It has completely changed my life - it not only made me spend less money on skincare, but has given me more confidence in my naked skin than I have ever had. I’ve recommended it to so many of my friends who have similar experiences. Just honestly the most worthwhile skincare purchase of my life.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • The only thing that has worked for me

    • Grand Junction, CO,
    • Apr 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have been struggling with adult acne for the past 3 years. I didn't have acne in my 20s but since turning 30 I have had struggled with cystic acne and hormonal breakouts. After trying many things that made no difference, Curology finally worked for me! I started to notice a big difference within 1-2 weeks of starting application. I can't believe how much better my skin is now, completely clear. I would HIGHLY recommend this product.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • AMAZING

    • Groveland, FL,
    • Apr 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Curology has been so helpful and so easy. It only takes a few minutes to get your very first bottle. I love how attentive they are with all there paying customers. I would 100% recommend to anyone wanting to try their product out.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Great product, would recommend to everyone!

    • Orlando, FL,
    • Apr 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I never really had bad skin until last summer. My mom says it’s adult acne. I hated my skin. I scar really easily so I hade dozens of little zits spreading every day on my cheeks and they were so red and inflamed. Drug store products were cutting it anymore. And so I remember watching this YouTube video recommending this product and the first bottle is practically free so there wasn’t any harm in trying it out. It was so crazy to me that all I had to do was take pictures of my face and doctor could point out and give me a bottle of medicine to heal my skin. It was almost too easy.

    While I waited for my bottle, they sent me all of these skin articles going over the correct makeup and diet that are safe for your skin. And that night I threw away half of my skin care products. I felt so secure along this journey. If I ever had any issues, I just texted my dermatologist and she would reach out and give me some tips. Curology is amazing. My face has never been so clear. I have only had one tiny zit in the past 6 months. ONE ZIT.

    Everyone should use Curology. It’ll change your life. My skin is glowing and I’m so confident now.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    AMAZING!

    • Ellensburg, WA,
    • Apr 13, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was skeptical at first, but desperate to get my acne under control, so I bit the bullet and tried Curology. I saw results after just 2 weeks! I have pretty sensitive skin so I love the gentle cleanser and moisturizer! My acne has not returned and my confidence has skyrocketed! Curology, I love you!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • Life changing

    • Miami, FL,
    • Apr 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    As a teen, I had a couple of pimples here and there, nothing major and certainly not enough to consider myself having acne. As I got into my 20s though, my skin started getting pretty bad. Mainly on my cheeks and neck. I couldn’t understand how as an adult my acne was the worst it had ever been, I thought that was just for kids right? WRONG, very, very wrong.

    I would ask everyone with nice skin, "What do you do?" "What do you use?" They’d all say: "I just wash my face." Wonderful, I was my face like three times a day already...I even had some people tell me I just needed to wash my face more.

    Clearly, washing more wasn’t the solution. I started spending hours online looking for a miracle cure/treatment. I tried everything I could find: natural products, chemicals, drug store brands, expensive beauty brands. I tried it all. Nothing worked. In fact, my skin just kept getting worse.

    I would throw on makeup to feel better but that would just make my skin worse, and I couldn’t figure out how to properly cover my acne. It was the absolute pits.

    My best friend was dealing with really painful cystic acne on her cheeks too. She has told me that sometimes the acne was so bad, it would hurt to lay her cheeks down on her pillow...

    She found out about Curology and gave it a try, her skin was slightly better after the first month, but I still wasn’t convinced. She kept telling me to just give it a try, but I was just so skeptical at that point. Well, by the third month her face was dramatically better, so I thought, I clearly have nothing to lose. I’m spending way more on all these products that aren’t working, I might as well give Curology a try!

    I started Curology on February 7th of 2018. It’s not April 9th of 2019 and I have never looked back. My skin has never ever looked this good! It’s clear, soft, vibrant! Not only do I love Curology because it freaking works, I love Curology because they genuinely care about your skin! They make you fill out a questionnaire that’s very detailed, you have to send in photos and talk to your assigned skin care provider.

    They’re always ready and available to answer any questions or concerns you may have. I also LOVE that they recommend face wash, moisturizer, toners, eye creams, etc. to your specific needs and skin! They aren’t selling a whole skin care system just to make money off of you.

    I use my Curology treatment every evening along with Neutrogena face wash and moisturizer, and a new eye treatment that I wanted to try based up some recommendation from Lindsey my provider.

    Don’t wait, just try it. The best decision you’ll make in regards to your skin care, I promise!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Curology transformed my face

    • Chicago, IL,
    • Apr 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have been searching for a solution to my acne for over a year. Every product I’ve attempted to treat my acne with was over-the-counter. I’ve never received any type of prescription medication, nor have I been to a dermatologist.

    I was hopeless. There were too many things I had tried to use to treat my acne, all which ended up leaving scars on my face. The pimples were vanishing but leaving nasty scars, with everything I used. I was hesitant in going to a dermatologist because of things I’d heard...

    “I wasted so much money.”

    “It’s not working.”

    “It made my acne worse.”

    I felt that I’d rather take my chances with the dermatologist than continue to have these disgusting pimples covering the lower sides of my face, pores surrounding. I was insecure.

    Thankfully, after coming across an Instagram ad that seemed comfortably familiar, my reliance on the dermatologist suddenly faded away. I checked out the website, and figured “why not waste $5? If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, it’s only five bucks.”

    So I ordered it. I uploaded pictures of my skin and answered questions about it. A few days later I was emailed a Curology plan from a real consultant. A consultant that not only customized a special nighttime cream to treat my skin, but recommend a new moisturizer that also changed a lot for my skin. On top of so much more included in your personalized plan.

    Today, all I can say is I haven’t wasted a dime. To me, Curology is suitably affordable. Less than $30 a month to feel and look beautiful? I’ll take it. It’s so important to feel comfortable in your own skin, LITERALLY. Without Curology, I’m not sure where I’d be right now. I’m so happy I decided to go with my gut and give Curology a shot. Good things come to those who wait! If you feel like you will never find the answer because you’ve been searching for so long, NOW is the time to get with Curology! I can PROMISE you that.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • BEST EVER

    • Provo, UT,
    • Apr 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Before using Curology, I recently had gotten the worst acne I’ve ever had. My face, my chest, my back all suffering from acne. It had gotten to a point where I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin. Once I started using Curology, it was only a WEEK before I noticed a dramatic difference. Now my face is clear and glowing and I love it!

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • The only thing that has worked for me!

    • Bakersfield, CA,
    • Apr 12, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I had eczema bumps and scarring on my face and Curology completely removes every single mark on my skin and has continued to do so! It works so amazingly! I have struggled for years to find a product that would hide the imperfections on my skin and this is that very product! Goes above and beyond.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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