Why Curology exists — and what’s next

Get to know Curology founder Dr. David Lortscher, dermatologist-turned-entrepreneur

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Curology Team
Sep 10, 2018 · 4 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.

Our story begins in 2013 — or what Dr. David Lortscher called “the stone age of skincare.” At the time, David was a dermatologist practicing in New Mexico, frustrated by a broken system that left most people fending for themselves in a bleak landscape of fluorescent-lit drugstore aisles.

“We have all these people living with acne, not realizing how easy it is to fix,” David says. “Prescription ingredients are proven to effectively eliminate 90% of acne, whereas drugstore products eliminate only about a third.”

David Lortscher in front of plants

The problem is twofold: there’s a shortage of dermatologists in the U.S. (there are around 10,000 practicing dermatologists, compared to an estimated 50 million acne sufferers!), and the anti-aging and acne treatments that are proven to work generally come with a hefty price tag (and rarely covered by health insurance).

“A lot of my patients were driving over 2 hours to see me,” David says. “There were countless times when patients called my office from the pharmacy saying their prescription was going to cost more than $200, so they left the pharmacy without it.” One of David’s patients, who’d struggled with acne from her teenage years into her early twenties, said she’d always thought dermatologists were “for rich people.”

David knew it didn’t have to be this way. Telemedicine was already in full swing at that point — he’d been volunteering with AccessDerm, a telemedicine nonprofit run by the American Academy of Dermatology. It was a great idea in theory, but access to that system was limited to primary care physicians. Then the light bulb went on for him. Why not use the Internet to treat patients remotely, and pass the savings onto them?

In 2014, David teamed up with his tech-savvy brother, CTO Glenn Lortscher, and their mother Nancy, who is also a dermatologist (check out Nancy and David in this Forbes video interview). Together, they created Curology: the first-ever online dermatology practice.

Family sitting on couch smiling (Nancy, David, and Glenn)

Left to right: David, Nancy, and Glenn Lortscher

“I had acne growing up and experienced just how hard it can be to suffer from ‘bad skin,’ and how big a difference it makes once you’ve found your way to having clear skin again,” David says. “Being able to give people a solution to acne they previously couldn’t access or afford is really rewarding.”

In just 4 years, Curology has grown immensely, treating tens of thousands of people across 36 states, with offices in San Francisco and San Diego, and an ever-expanding team of medical providers who keep cranking out the cream. Consultations are free and as simple as snapping a few selfies. Each Curology member gets their own custom formula, which can be adjusted to work for their unique skin type. And it’s not only about treating acne: the ingredients in each custom formula can also be anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and help reduce hyperpigmentation.

“I loved meeting patients and caring for them one-on-one as a practicing dermatologist, but starting Curology has allowed me to give quality care to even more people,” David says. “It’s my personal shot at being a good dermatologist for as many people as possible so they can be on their way to clear skin.”

The story of Curology doesn’t stop at the superbottle. In fall 2018, we’re launching 2 new skincare products, developed in-house by our dermatologists to be safe for acne-prone and sensitive skin. Just like the original Curology cream, all our products are non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, paraben-free, dye-free, and hypoallergenic—so they’ll work for as many people as possible, without risk of irritation or pore-clogging.

Beyond offering dermatologist-approved skincare products you won’t find in drugstores or department stores, we’re also here to debunk myths, teach you how your skin works, and help you decide which products to use in your skincare routine — and which ones to avoid! We’ve got a treasure trove of info in our Guides and the Curology blog. If there’s something missing that you’d like us to cover, you can email hello@curology.com.

As David likes to say, skincare isn’t one-size-fits-all. But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated — and you definitely don’t have to go it alone. That’s what we’re here for.



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