Curology products and your routine: the ultimate guide

Everything you need to know about starting your Curology skincare routine

5 minute read

Acne Prone Woman holding Curology Moisturizer and Custom Formula Skincare
We’re here to tell you what we know, but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider about your specific health concerns.
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Curology was founded in 2014 by Dr. David Lortscher, a board-certified dermatologist. At his practice in New Mexico, David saw patients struggle to find simple acne treatments. By teaming up with his mom, Nancy Satur (a fellow dermatologist), and his brother, Glenn (a computer wiz), they created Curology’s custom approach to skincare.

How does Curology work? 

We pair you with an in-house medical provider who’s trained in dermatology and licensed to practice medicine in your state. They take a look at your skin and your medical history. If Curology is right for you, your provider will prescribe a Custom Formula with a mix of active ingredients for your specific skin concerns. 

And that’s not all—we also offer a line of dermatologist-designed skincare products. So you can get a complete skincare routine sent straight to your door. The best part? You can try it all for free.

Curology at a glance

  • Take some selfies and a skin quiz.

  • Get matched with a dermatology provider.

  • Your provider prescribes your Custom Formula.

  • We ship your personalized skincare box directly to you.

  • The first month is free—just pay shipping and handling.

Curology custom formula în package

Your Curology Custom Formula

Your Curology journey starts with your Custom Formula. Accept no imitations: Curology is the leader of made-for-you prescription skincare you can get online. Your Custom Formula features a mix of active ingredients chosen for your skin concerns. Your Curology provider works with you to build your custom treatment plan. 

Your Custom Formula may include: 

Because your Custom Formula is tailored to your skin’s needs, we’re able to effectively treat a variety of common skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging. We also make the core essential products for your skincare routine, like cleanser and moisturizer.

We also make a formula for dark spots. This is a custom, prescription treatment for when melanin production kicks into high gear, leading to conditions like melasma.

A dark spot–focused Custom Formula may include:

Curology cleanser bottle open above green tile floors

The cleanser

We wanted a gentle facial cleanser for all skin types, so our dermatologists made one. The cleanser by Curology is formulated with glycerin and a special combination of plant sugars. These ingredients help create a unique barrier effect that locks moisture into the skin. Anti-inflammatory oat extract leaves your face feeling clean, calm, and fresh. 

The cleanser is part of the Curology set and a perfect companion to your Custom Formula and a moisturizer of your choice. 

Curology bottle above green tiled floors

The moisturizer

Our in-house dermatologists designed the moisturizer to be the ideal for all skin types. Our gel formula with hyaluronic acid feels soft on the skin while maintaining hydration. The cloud-like texture won’t leave your skin feeling greasy—but it will bring out your inner glow. 

The rich moisturizer

Need a moisturizer that goes the extra mile? Enter the rich moisturizer. Our dermatologists formulated this creamy moisturizer to work extra hard. Featuring a variety of hydrating and soothing ingredients—like hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and squalane—it first adds moisture to the skin, and then it seals that moisture in. It helps your skin stay soft and protected. If your skin concerns include dryness or signs of aging, then the rich moisturizer is perfect for you. 

Curology Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 Square

The Sunscreen

Finally, a sunscreen designed to defend your skin from sun damage without causing breakouts. The sunscreen by Curology is a broad-spectrum SPF 30 designed by dermatologists for acne-prone skin—and great for all skin types. It's a no-clog, grease-free mineral formula with zinc oxide (9.4%) that absorbs quickly and gives skin a fresh finish so you can face the day confidently. 

Image of Curology Micellar Water Makeup Remover

The micellar makeup remover

Waterproof makeup, meet your match. Our micellar makeup remover cares for your skin while you wipe away the day. It’s a cleansing water with a silky, light gel texture for all skin types that gently removes makeup, cleans skin, and lightly moisturizes. For a double-cleanse experience, pair it with your Curology cleanser. 

Curology acne body wash bottle

Acne body wash

Body breakouts? We’ve got your back: meet the Curology acne body wash. Our body wash’s key ingredient, salicylic acid, works by exfoliating the skin to clear away dead skin cells and excess oil. That means it can penetrate deep into your pores to help prevent and treat breakouts. The best part? Our 2% salicylic acid acne body wash is perfectly calibrated: it targets breakouts at the source while being gentle enough to use every day.

Spot patch with purple background

Emergency spot patch

Sudden spot? Curology’s emergency spot patch is a hydrocolloid bandage that absorbs pus and oil, acting fast to help minimize and cover breakouts. It’s thin enough to layer under makeup—you may forget you’re wearing it! While your Custom Formula is the bedrock of your long-term acne treatment plan, spot patches are ideal for when you need to shrink that zit—now. 

Curology lip balm collection

The lip balm

Curology’s lip balm locks in moisture and effortlessly nourishes dry, sensitive lips with a special blend of plant-based butters and oils—just what you need to help stop moisture loss and soothe dry, cracked lips. Our unique applicator allows you to apply our lip balm with one hand, protect your product, and reduce exposure to dirt and bacteria. No more digging through that exploded tube of chapstick in your backpack! Plus, it comes in four unique flavors—mint, vanilla, passion fruit, and unflavored original—so add the one that fits your mood to your skincare box. 

Routinely asked questions

What other products or ingredients should I avoid in my first few weeks of using Curology?

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

In what order should I use the products in my Curology routine?

We’re big fans of the classic 3-step skincare routine

  • Step 1: Cleanse with your Curology cleanser.

  • Step 2: Treat with your Custom Formula. 

  • Step 3: Moisturize with the Curology moisturizer of your choice. 

Even if your skincare routine has more than three steps, the “3-step routine” can help you remember how to order your skincare products. Always start with products that clean and prep your skin for your treatment and end with products that hydrate and reinforce your skin’s moisture barrier. 

If you have additional toners, serums, or face oils, we recommend applying your products in order of consistency, starting from thinnest to thickest.

Not sure how much of each of your skincare products to use? Check out our handy guide below.

Skincare Product Amounts

What should I avoid in my 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.

When should I use a spot patch?

When you’ve got a large, painful pimple that you want gone in a pinch, apply the emergency spot patch by Curology—a hydrocolloid bandage that absorbs pus and oil. Just remember to apply it before your Curology cream.

How to use our spot patch:

  • Step 1: Cleanse and dry the area

  • Step 2: Apply patch to the problem spot

  • Step 3: Wait 6-24 hours, then peel off

  • Step 4: Repeat as needed

Woman applying Curology Emergency Spot Patch To Pimple

What are some of the best products to use with Curology? 

Curology has the skincare essentials you need, but that doesn’t mean they’re right for everyone! Likewise, you might want to try a skincare product that we don’t currently offer. Our medical providers often recommend these products

Can I use a toner with my Curology routine?

Toner’s not necessary, and we generally suggest avoiding astringent toners with alcohol in them. Another option is to use a micellar water, like Curology’s micellar makeup remover. Micellar waters gently cleanse and remove makeup in one step. They also leave the skin feeling fresh and hydrated—what a plus! 

Can I use serums with my Curology formula?

You can use serums while you’re first starting with Curology as long as they don’t contain potentially irritating ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). Safely incorporate AHAs and BHAs in your skincare routine by giving your skin time to adjust.

Vitamin C serum can be a great addition to your morning skincare routine. We recommend you temporarily stop using this serum when starting Curology. That way, you’ll avoid potential dryness and irritation. You can gradually re-introduce a vitamin C serum into your routine in about 6-8 weeks, after your skin fully adjusts to your Custom Formula.  

Can I use face masks with my Custom Formula?

You can use a mask as long as it doesn’t contain strong exfoliants or other potentially irritating ingredients. Don’t feel like squinting at ingredient labels? Here’s where to find some masks we recommend: 

How do I check a product for potentially pore-clogging ingredients?

You can check the acne-causing potential of the products you use by making sure it doesn’t contain the potentially pore-clogging ingredients mentioned here. Sound like a lot of work? You can always check our quick lists of recommended cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens as a starting point.

Can I use witch hazel with Curology products?

Witch hazel can be used with Curology, as long as the product is alcohol-free! However, if your skin is sensitive, witch hazel may be irritating . It’s often used to soothe minor skin irritations, itching, and dryness because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It also has an astringent effect (meaning it helps dry out oily skin).¹

If you’re not using pure witch hazel but a product that contains it, make sure it won’t clog your pores by checking it for any of the potentially pore-clogging ingredients.

Can I use tea tree oil with my skin routine?

Tea tree oil can help treat acne because of its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, and astringent properties.² But 100% tea tree oil solution is very irritating to the skin! Make sure to dilute tea tree oil before you use it!

For spot treatment, dilute one part tea tree oil with three parts carrier oil of your choice, such as sunflower, castor, jojoba, or hemp oil (not coconut oil!).

How much does Curology cost? 

The cost of your Curology subscription depends on the type of subscription and the number of products you decide to purchase. For a 60-day bottle of your Custom Formula, it’s $39.90 (with free shipping) every two months. 

Here’s the nitty-gritty on Curology’s pricing:

Your Custom Formula, shipped every other month 

  • Ships and bills every 2 months at $39.90 + tax

  • Free shipping! 

  • Add additional products (if you want, no pressure!)

Wondering about how those “additional products” stack up? We’ve got you: 

The cleanser and moisturizer set

  • 80 mL cleanser and 50 mL moisturizer 

  • + $10 per month ($20 per shipment)  

Acne body wash

  • 200 mL acne body wash 

  • + $6 per month ($12 per shipment)  

Emergency spot patch

  • 20 patches

  • + $2.48 per month ($4.95 per shipment)

The micellar makeup remover

  • 100 mL makeup remover

  • + $4 per month ($8 per shipment)

The lip balm

  • 4g /.14 oz container 

  • + $2.48 per month ($4.95 per shipment)

The Sunscreen

  • 40 mL / 1.4 fl oz

  • $14 per bottle

Curology skincare product lineup

How to start your Curology free trial

Curology takes the guesswork out of finding an effective acne routine. Simply take our skin quiz and upload a few selfies to start your consultation with a dermatology provider. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Subject to consultation. 30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in S&H.
curology bottle
curology bottle

If Curology is right for your unique skin, we’ll send you a 30-day supply of your Custom Formula with a mix of active ingredients chosen for your skin concerns. That’s the personalized cream with a mix of ingredients to treat acne, dark spots, skin texture, and more. You can also try any of our recommended skincare products at no extra cost—just pay $4.95 (plus tax) to cover shipping and handling. Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Trial is 30 days + $4.95 shipping and handling.

Sound good? Let’s go. Start your skincare journey with Curology today

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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30-day trial. $4.95 S&H. Subject to consultation.

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Your free trial includes your Custom Formula, plus an essential skincare routine to work alongside it. Try your products free. Then, edit your box to fit your needs and budget.

30-day trial. $4.95 S&H. Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.

Custom Formula

Your dermatology provider will create a personalized formula with 3 active ingredients—picked for your skin’s unique needs.

(billed every 2 months at $39.90).

Go back

Custom formula
Custom formula

Custom Formula

Treatment cream for your skin goals


Treatment cream for your skin goals


Learn more

Cleanser and moisturizer

Complete your routine with our lightly foaming, non-clogging cleanser—and one of our two dermatologist-designed moisturizers:

the moisturizer: for normal to oily skin
the rich moisturizer: for dry or aging skin

+$10/month (billed every 2 months at $20).

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Cleanser and moisturizer
Cleanser and moisturizer

Cleanser and moisturizer

Daily go-tos for clean, soft skin


Daily go-tos for clean, soft skin


Learn more

Custom Formula

Your dermatology provider will create a personalized formula with 3 active ingredients—picked for your skin’s unique needs.

(billed every 2 months at $39.90).

Go back

Custom formula
Custom formula

Custom Formula

Treatment cream for your skin goals


Treatment cream for your skin goals


Learn more

30-day trial. $4.95 S&H. Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
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