The New Curology User’s Guide To Products & Routine

How to check your products and establish your routine

5 minute read

The New Curology User’s Guide To Products & Routine

Whether you’re a new Curology member (welcome!), you’ve recently changed the ingredients in your custom mix, or you’re just looking to try out a new product, you may be wondering: can I use (insert product name here) while using Curology?

We’re here to empower you to know what’s right for your skin. You know that old saying: give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for a lifetime? Our version of that is to teach you what ingredients to avoid so you can tell if any product is okay. Read on for a quick step-by-step how-to guide to checking any product for potentially pore-clogging or skin-irritating ingredients.

Definitely avoid in your first few weeks of using Curology

Your skin might usually tolerate these just fine, but using them in combination with your Curology cream can cause dryness and irritation.

  • Over-the-counter acne products
  • AHA (alpha-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid, lactic acid, etc.)
  • BHA (beta-hydroxy acid, such as salicylic acid)
  • Vitamin C
  • Retinol
  • Physical exfoliators (rotating devices such as Clarisonic)
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Scrubs

Can I continue using…

Witch hazel?

Fine to use — just make sure it’s alcohol-free!

If your skin is sensitive, witch hazel may be irritating — but for most people, it’s fine. Especially if you have oily skin, witch hazel can be a good addition to your routine. It’s been used since ancient times to soothe minor skin irritations, itching and dryness because of its anti-inflammatory properties, and it also has an astringent effect (meaning it dries out oily skin).

If you’re using not pure witch hazel but a product that contains it, make sure it won’t clog your pores by checking it on — our quick guide is below.

Tea tree oil?

Dilute it before you use it. Tea tree oil can be helpful in treating acne with its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, and astringent properties. But 100% tea tree oil solution is very irritating to the skin!

For a spot treatment, dilute 1 part tea tree oil with 3 parts oil of your choice, such as sunflower, castor, jojoba or hemp oil (just not coconut oil).

If you’re using not pure tea tree oil but a product that contains it, make sure that product won’t clog your pores by checking it on — our quick guide is below.


You don’t need toner, and definitely don’t use toners with alcohol in them. Here’s our guide to toners. In our guide, we do recommend some toners that are safe to use, so check it out!

Apple cider vinegar?

Avoid, or dilute it before you use it. Here’s a blog post explaining why! The long and short of it is that apple cider vinegar can burn sensitive skin, and remember: the burn does not mean it’s working. If you want to try it, the key is to dilute 1 part vinegar with 4 parts water, so it won’t be too strong and irritating.


Fine to use — as long as it doesn’t contain acids, such as AHAs or BHAs. Read our blog post for more info!


Fine to use — as long as it doesn’t contain acids or other irritating ingredients. Again, check the ingredients to make sure! Here’s our guide to masks.

The easy way to check any product’s ingredients

You can check the acne-causing potential of the products you use on Start by typing the product name into the search box — an analysis might already be on the site! But if it’s not there, here’s what you do.

Sound like a lot of work? You can always check our quick lists of recommended cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens as a starting point.

In what order should I do my routine?

We recommend following the product’s consistency, starting from thinnest to thickest.

For example:
Step 1. Cleanser
Step 2. (Optional) Light, liquid products such as serum or witch hazel
Step 3. Your custom Curology cream—nighttime only
Step 4. Moisturizer—and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Can you recommend a cleanser/moisturizer?

We recommend the Curology cleanser and moisturizer for every skin type! Both are formulated to be safe for all skin types: non-irritating, non-clogging, nothing extra.

For more cleanser or moisturizer recommendations, check out our handy-dandy Cleanser Guide and Moisturizer Guide.

Take it easy

If your skin isn’t experiencing any irritation on your custom Curology cream after a couple weeks, and you want to use any of the above ingredients or products, that’s okay — trust your skin! The important thing is to start low and go slow. Try using that product every other day or two max — the more you space it out, the less likely you are to irritate your skin. Use your best judgement based on how your skin feels and looks when you add the other product.


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