Ask Curology: How long does it take to see results?

The truth about how long it takes for acne to go away

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Mar 31, 2021 · 5 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Welcome to Ask Curology, penned by one of our in-house medical providers in response to your questions about all things skincare. This week: if your acne won’t go away, you might think it’s time to throw the towel in on your current skincare routine. Here’s what you need to know while waiting for your Curology to work.

• • •

Dear Curology,

I’ve been using Curology for 2 years and the results just aren’t there — and before you ask, I don’t think I’m still purging! My dermatology provider has helped me change my formula a couple of times, and I’m still at square one. My friends who use Curology all have stunning “after” photos and I feel like I’m just always gonna be at “before.”

Tell it to me straight: should I give up on my skincare routine and try something else?

Signed, Reluctant Quitter

Dear Reluctant,

Great question. I’ll tell it to you straight: never give up on taking care of your skin! Of course, when your patience and effort aren’t yielding the results you hoped for, it’s definitely time to troubleshoot your skincare routine — so let’s get started.

• • •

Befores, Afters, and Nows with Curology

You mention feeling like you’re never gonna reach your skincare “after,” and I hear you! It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others when we scroll through our Insta feeds and see flawless skin everywhere we look — but don’t give up hope.

I’ve said it before: skincare is a journey. Sure, there’s a “before” and an “after,” but there’s also a “now.” Your skin will stick with you for as long as you live, so patience and persistence can pay off!

It can be helpful to track your progress with selfies that you take just for you (no flattering angles required). All you need is a camera and some good light. Your Curology dashboard has a handy dandy photobooth you can use to keep track of your progress.

How long until I start seeing results from Curology?

Many Curology patients start seeing results within the first 4–8 weeks. So it can take at least 2 months to assess if acne medications like your Curology formula work for you. Don’t forget: many people will still experience an occasional pimple from time to time, even when they’re no longer consistently breaking out.

It may be time to get off Curology and consider other options when your breakouts don’t respond to the usual forms of treatment (e.g., topical medications and oral antibiotics). In this case, your provider may recommend isotretinoin (commonly known by its former brand name Accutane).

We don’t prescribe isotretinoin here at Curology, so you’ll need to make an appointment with an in-person dermatologist to find out if this medication is right for you!

Why is my acne not going away?

Your acne may stick around (or keep coming back) because different factors can contribute to a breakout — think stress, sleep, diet, hormonal fluctuations, etc. For example, you might be using the best skincare routine for you, but your acne may not go away completely because of lifestyle and genetics.

If you’re wondering when your acne will be completely gone, the answer is uncertain. Even if your acne clears up, you might still experience a breakout now and again — that’s because breakouts have many potential triggers. The best thing to do is stick with a skincare routine that works for you, and don’t sweat the occasional pimple!

It’s also important to know that how long it takes acne to go away can vary from person to person. Even after you’ve found a treatment that works, you may need to keep using it for maintenance. In most cases, we need to keep treating acne until the natural tendency to break out has passed.

How do you know when you’re past your body’s natural breakout timeframe? There isn’t an exact answer to this, and many people will experience an occasional pimple from time to time, even when they’re no longer consistently breaking out.

What to try when you feel like you’ve tried everything to get rid of your acne

Before you give up and surrender to the incurable skin blues, these 3 tips may help:

  1. Talk to a dermatology provider.

    Your provider can assess your treatment and see if it needs to be tweaked. If you’re a Curology member, you can consult with your provider at any time!

  2. Stick to a consistent skincare routine.

    Unfortunately, making frequent changes to your routine won’t bring any quick fixes. Keep your routine simple and stick with it for at least two months!

  3. Look for breakout triggers.

    First and foremost: use products that are free of potentially pore-clogging ingredients. After that, look to other outside factors that might cause breakouts — it might be as simple as swapping in a clean pillowcase or mask.

If you think your hormones or diet are playing a role, you may want to consult with a medical provider to see if you can make any changes that will help your skin and your overall health.

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Is Curology right for you?

The good news is that the treatments offered by Curology help the majority of acne patients. We strive for consistent improvement over time and help with any “bumps” in the road that may come up (excuse the pimple pun)!

That said, Curology and other prescription topical treatments help most acne, but not all. In these cases, your Curology provider may recommend seeing an in-person dermatologist to consider other options. We want you to be happy with your care, and that means being honest and transparent about all of the treatment options available.

So that’s what I know as your friendly local expert. Feel free to sound off in the comments if you have more questions, or reach out to your Curology provider. If you’re not already a Curology member, you can get your first month of custom prescription skincare for free (just pay $4.95 to cover shipping and handling). Until next time…!

All my best,

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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