About Curology

By HighYa Research Team
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 skin care, 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 its 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

The Bottom Line: 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 in trying out Curology’s custom skincare formulas.

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


Read 309 Curology Customer Reviews and Complaints

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Average Consumer Rating: 4.3
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 241 4 star: 10 3 star: 4 2 star: 10 1 star:  44
Bottom Line: 82% would recommend it to a friend
Showing 1-11 of 309
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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    A miracle serum!

    • Dallas, TX,
    • Oct 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    Since I can remember I’ve been battling with acne. I’ve suffered from stubborn whiteheads and red patches on my cheeks. I never wanted to go out in public without makeup on. I tried every home remedy, prescription from the dermatologist, and "miracle" treatment out there and still never saw the results I wanted. I tried expensive pills, lotions, and serums. The last time I went to the dermatologist they said they couldn’t do anything else for me and wanted to put me on Accutane. That’s when I knew something had to change. After seeing ads for Curology on Facebook, I decided to give it a try in December of 2018, signing up for just the night time serum. In February, I started having drastically less breakouts and even starting wearing makeup less. Here I am in November 2019 and I cannot even tell you how happy I am with my skin. My friends notice. My family notices. I rarely break out anymore and if I do, it’s one pimple that lasts for a day, not the handful of stubborn whiteheads I used to get. Curology has seriously changed my life and my self-esteem! I can’t thank y’all enough!

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

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  • 2 out 5 people found this review helpful

    Charges you but doesn't confirm and it doesn't work

    • Holiday, FL,
    • Oct 11, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I was on this product for almost two years and my main concern was brown spots. This product never helped my brown spots and I did not see any difference with acne. Also, when I put my account on hold they failed to notify me later after hold time they sent another package to me charging me. They should notify the customer and confirm if I want to be off hold.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 5 out 7 people found this review helpful

    Charge you but no product

    • Franklin, OH,
    • Oct 5, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    We ordered this for my daughter and we received the first shipment. We are now being charged on the credit card, but not receiving any product. Their excuse in the email says they all of a sudden don’t have our full address and it was returned, but still stealing our money with no product. They have no contact number to call and are full of excuses by email, so now we have to claim theft on the company. Don’t waste your money or time on this product.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Oct 7, 2019

      Company Response from Curology Inc.

      Hi Debbie!

      I'm so sorry this was your experience with Curology. If it was returned back to our facility by USPS then our team will ship it out to you to make sure you get your package. We do charge as soon as the item ships.

      Please stay in contact with our support team so we can get this resolved and your product to you!

      Best,

      The Curology Team


  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Why I like Curology

    • Texas,
    • Oct 2, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    With Curology I can get prescription-strength tretinoin without having to visit a provider. I like the emollient properties added to the tretinoin. It has helped keep my skin moist and supple. I also think the price is less expensive than paying for an office call, buying the medication and purchasing a moisturizer and cleanser.

    I am glad that I found Curology and I can't think of any negatives associated with the program or products.

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    Highly recommend

    • Arizona,
    • Sep 30, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    This product is amazing and it has been working for me. I have tried mostly everything out there and nothing has helped me. Curology has done things that other products haven't, it controls my breakouts and it gives a nice feel and glow to my skin.

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

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  • 2 out 2 people found this review helpful

    Best I’ve ever tried

    • Texas,
    • Sep 26, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’ve tried Proactiv, Neutrogena, went to a dermatologist when I was younger, even changed my diet several times. Curology has helped a lot! I love it. I never thought my skin could look so clear.

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

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  • 9 out 11 people found this review helpful

    They trick you if you want to cancel

    • Kentucky,
    • Sep 25, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I used this for about 6 months. I never noticed a difference (good nor bad), so I canceled my subscription. Low and behold, 2 months later I get an email saying I had a shipment on its way! I check my account, and somehow it's changed back to a two-month subscription! This is absolutely criminal, and I'm not just going to sit back and let them take my $40 that I didn't consent to be taken for their awful formula. DO NOT try this unless you feel confident that you'll want it forever, apparently!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • My Curology experience

    • Orange County, NY,
    • Sep 24, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’ve only been using Curology for about 2 and 1/2 months.The products I use are the face wash, the moisturizer, and the customized Curology cream. I was originally on the fence about these products because I ordered them online but to my surprise they work wonders. I sometimes still forget to wash my face twice a day and my skin still looks fabulous. The Curology plan is super easy to maintain and is even more affordable. I use the moisturizer daily and I have not seen any dry patches on my face. All of the Curology products are practically odorless. My skin has not broken out and the texture has improved! I recommend 100 percent!

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

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  • 1 out 1 people found this review helpful

    This has helped so much

    • Southern California,
    • Sep 21, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I’ve had excellent results from my formula (for signs of aging and skin cancer prevention - a formula with tretinoin), and my provider is very responsive and communicates within a couple of business days. My only negative has nothing to do with the product, just that the company could do a better job of managing expectations, especially in regards to timeline and purging.

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

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  • 4 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Not impressed, no changes.

    • Colorado,
    • Sep 17, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    My skin has had zero irritation to the formula. However, my skin has also not made any changes since beginning treatment. I am not seeing ANY results after using the system (cleanser/moisturizer/treatment) for months now. My problem areas (chin, jawline, neck) still have continuous bumps and acne - most of which are still large, clustered, and under the skin. Furthermore, it now seems as though I have MORE acne breakouts on my cheeks than I did before beginning treatment: especially small, under the skin lumps and acne on cheek area (which was never a problem-area previously).

    The formula does not seem to be customized to my skin, and I find it unfortunate that there is no request for feedback after the trial period, aside from the generic "no worries that it’s not working, it’ll take 4-6 weeks to see changes, stay with it!" It’s now been 8+ weeks of regular use with no changes in sight.

    My skin is NOT SENSITIVE, my formula needs to be changed and be more potent. I’m dissatisfied with the amount of money spent and the minimal to zero results.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 2 out 4 people found this review helpful

    Love this!

    • Gilbert, AZ,
    • Sep 15, 2019
    • Verified Reviewer

    I love Curology! It had healed both mine and my brother’s faces, and I recommended it to my sister as well! My face has always been an in-and-out with bad acne or clear skin, but Curology has stabled that for me! I RARELY have any breakouts now, and when I do, it’s because I forgot to apply my cream a night ago XD. Super happy with Curology! It really works! Thanks, Curology!

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

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Showing 1-11 of 309

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