The science behind our skincare quiz: why it works

It’s all about the right questions, and we’ve got answers

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas
Jul 16, 2019 · 5 min read

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.

Trying to find a dermatologist? The Curology quiz is two parts science and one part internet-love-math. If you’re wondering when to see a dermatologist or how to see a dermatologist with no insurance, our custom skincare quiz could be your first step in getting personalized skincare without having to pay a fortune for exams (or put on pants).

The Curology personalized skincare quiz is both time-tested and flexible, but how does it work? And, more importantly, is it a solution for people who fear brick-and-mortar waiting rooms? We interviewed Jasmin Chang, NP-BC, one of Curology’s nurse practitioners, to get to the bottom of what makes Curology work. Here, in her words, is how our skincare quiz is helping a lot of people connect with dermatology providers, giving every patient the individual care they need without appointments or waiting rooms.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: The first question of the quiz asks people to report what they’d like to be treated for. How important is self-reporting skin concerns to a dermatologist’s care?

J: Super important to give us more direction when prescribing a formula. We want to treat what’s important to the patient as much as possible, and sometimes photos don’t tell the whole story.

For example, clogged pores can be a bit difficult to capture in photos sometimes. I want to clarify what your goals are so I can help get you there and make sure I prescribe the most effective ingredients for those concerns!

Q: How does Curology’s skincare quiz connect people to dermatology providers? What kind of information does the quiz ask for, and how do licensed dermatologists use that information?

J: The quiz gives the provider everything they need to know in order to prescribe the most appropriate formula for the patient. By gathering pertinent information about the patient’s skin (specific concerns, skin type, how often he/she experiences breakouts, etc.), as well as medical history that may affect the patient’s skin, the provider is able to take all of that into account, as well as the photos, to see which formula would be safe and most helpful for the patient at this moment in time. The provider will also educate the patient on how aspects of their medical history (e.g., her birth control) may be affecting their skin.

The quiz will also ask about medications that the patient may have taken in the past so that the provider knows what’s worked and what hasn’t. It will also ask for any requests or additional comments from the patients, as the provider will take the patient’s input and preferences into account when prescribing specific ingredients.

Q: The quiz asks a few other questions, up to five depending on individual concerns. Even if people don’t know the answers to all these questions, how does this information help Curology’s dermatology providers?

We want to target your concerns as much as possible, and as I mentioned, photos don’t always tell the whole story. Another example: Skin type can change daily, but if your skin has a certain pattern, I want to know what your skin is likely to tolerate in terms of ingredients. If your skin tends to be dry, using an effective but potentially drying/irritating ingredient like tretinoin likely isn’t the best first step, since it can cause irritation and setback — we’d have to stop, let your skin recover, and then start over. Dryness, flaking, stinging, burning — that doesn’t mean that the medication is working. That means your skin is struggling, and we want to avoid that. I want to ease your skin into prescription ingredients so that they can do their work without causing too much irritation.

We also want an idea of how you’re protecting your skin thus far. If you’re concerned about dark spots, are you already doing all you can by always using sunscreen? Or can we do more in that department? It also lets us know what ingredients could be used, since with certain ingredients (such as tretinoin), daily sunscreen is a must because it can increase the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

Q: Why is Curology only prescribed for the face/neck? Isn’t all acne the same, no matter where it shows up on your body?

In general, it’s not recommended to apply prescription acne medications to larger areas of the body; we start thinking about the possibility of absorption once we get to a large surface area like the back. But, if you’re breaking out on your chest/shoulders/back, I’m happy to help offer suggestions to tackle those breakouts too — Curology is for the face/neck, but there are other solutions for body acne. We’re here to do whatever we can to improve your overall skin in terms of acne and anti-aging, even if our products aren’t the answer.

Q: The second half of the quiz deals with medical history — why is it important to disclose this information to your dermatology provider?

J: Allergies, medications, and medical conditions can change our decision about what ingredients to use, since there can be medication interactions, and we’re especially looking out for contraindications to certain ingredients. We want to prescribe the most effective formula for you, but also the safest, and this means knowing your full medical history. Also, certain medications, like birth control, as well as medical conditions, can actually contribute to acne, so a full medical history is super important to give us the entire picture of what’s going on with your skin.

Q: Have you ever had a patient whose skincare quiz results didn’t line up with their selfies? What would you do in this case?

J: Yes, it happens! We’ll reach out to patients to clarify information so we know we’re prescribing the most helpful ingredients for them right off the bat. We’ll also let patients know why we’re going with these certain ingredients to start, and in most cases, we can always make adjustments in the future as the skin improves and changes. With photos and the skin quiz answers, we typically know what the best plan is, but we’re always happy to hear input from patients so they’re happy using their medication too!

Dermatology on a dime

If you want to ask a dermatologist — about better skin, our skin type quiz not only helps determine which of Curology’s ingredients are right for your skin, but is the first step in connecting you to a dermatology provider. In 15 questions or less, Curology can save you a ton of time — and money. Get your custom cream and your custom skincare advice from a licensed medical provider when you sign up for Curology today.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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