What to do if you’re still breaking out

Troubleshooting your skincare routine

5 minute read

A woman's hand rests on her face, as if she's just smacked herself out of frustration.
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.

Table of Contents

    So, you feel like you’ve tried everything, but acne is still cramping your style like an unwelcome guest crashing on your couch. First of all, let us reassure you: it’s not your fault! Acne is a complicated beast of a skin condition to grapple with, and it can be caused by many different factors that can be difficult to discern. Everyone’s skin is unique, too, so what works for some people’s skin might not be working for yours. That’s okay. That’s why we’re here to help.

    Why isn’t it working?!

    The most common reason why acne treatment plans seem to be ineffective is because people don’t stick with them, or don’t follow the instructions correctly! This tidbit came from a 2016 study from Wake Forest University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology. Two important things to take away from this study:

    (1) Don’t give up. Use your custom Curology formula consistently, every night or as directed by your Curology medical provider.Your skin responds gradually over time to treatments — in many cases, it can take months to see results — so you may just have to be patient and keep up the good work. And when your skin has cleared up, you should continue treating your skin with care to prevent new breakouts in the future.

    A flatlay of fruits, vegetables, and a few Curology bottles.

    (2) There’s more to skin than meets the eye.If you’ve been treating your acne diligently with your custom Curology and you’re still breaking out, there are likely some acne-causing factors going on behind the scenes that you haven’t yet taken steps to change — such as diet, for example. Check out our Diet Guide to learn more about foods that might cause acne! Your current acne treatment may appear to be ineffective, but stubborn breakouts can require a more comprehensive approach — a full court press, if you will!

    Check out our guides and our blog post on causes of acne to learn more.

    Persistence = perseverance 💪

    Unfortunately, there isn’t really such a thing as instant gratification when it comes to improving your complexion. That doesn’t necessarily mean the product or medication you’re using “doesn’t work.” Follow the directions for use and keep using it, and give your skin a chance to move through its processes and adjust to the treatment. It can take up to 3 to 6 months of using the treatment as directed to see the full result.

    Two hands, palm-up, are hovering in a bathroom sink. One hand has a large dollop of cream while the other hand is held under running water.

    How to use your custom Curology formula

    To get the best results, apply your custom Curology cream nightly in these simple steps.

    Step 1. Wash your face with water and a gentle cleanser. Gently pat your skin dry with a clean towel, and allow your skin to dry for 5–10 minutes (important!).

    Step 2. Pump formula onto your fingertip.

    Step 3. Apply onto acne-prone areas of your face and neck and smooth it onto your skin in a thin, even layer of cream.

    Step 4. Get a good night’s sleep and let your custom formula do all the rest!

    Animation of a woman applying Curology cream and shrugging.

    Optional: if your skin is sensitive or dry, apply a light layer of moisturizer before or after your Curology cream. We recommend our lightweight moisturizer, designed to work brilliantly with your Curology cream, which you can get when you subscribe to the Curology set.

    Two men are laying down, their bodies pointing in opposite directions. Curology bottles rest on their chest.

    Troubleshooting your skincare routine

    There are a few possible reasons why your efforts to get rid of acne with your custom Curology formula might not seem to be working:

    1. You’re using too much and/or too often.

    2. You’re using too little and/or not often enough.

    3. You’re using it as a spot treatment instead of applying it everywhere that’s acne-prone, which is key to preventing acne.

    4. You might need your Curology provider to adjust the ingredients in your custom formula to find the right combination for your unique skin.

    If, after all of the above, your skin is still not responding, check in with your Curology provider! For most Curology members, applying their custom cream as part of their nighttime routine is all it takes. In some (sk)individual cases, however, it takes more ammo to defeat acne — such as oral antibiotics, or birth control (for women). And for the most stubborn or scarring acne breakout, you may want to talk to your local medical provider about isotretinoin (commonly known by its former brand name, Accutane). This medication can clear severe or treatment-resistant acne when other treatments fail.

    A desk calendar with pills being placed onto certain dates.

    Keeping your skin healthy and happy can be a delicate balance, so naturally, it takes a balanced approach to get the results you want. When it comes to treating your skin with, say, your custom Curology formula, that means treating it consistently, mindfully, and moderately. Too much exfoliation or using too much of powerful active ingredients can overwhelm your skin, leaving it irritated and vulnerable to acne breakouts. On the other hand, you don’t want your skin treatment to be ineffective because you haven’t been using it enough. That’s why we call it a routine! Skincare has got to be a part of your everyday routine in order to get results.

    The ups and downs on your Curology journey

    Skincare isn’t just another step to add to your daily routine: it’s also a journey. As long as you keep at it, you’re making progress! Even if your acne gets worse before it gets better, try to remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Every frustrating setback along the way is part of the journey and an opportunity to learn something new about your skin’s unique needs.

    Remember that throughout this journey, you Curology provider is right beside you — not only prescribing your custom formula, but also giving you the information you need to make the best decisions for your unique skin.

    A smiling woman pulling her own braid across her face.

    The most important thing is never to give up. We’re always here for you. ❤


    Popular Articles

    Is tretinoin the secret to glowing skin? How to deal with hyperpigmentationMelasma 101
    30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in S&H.

    Try Curology risk-free. Get your $ back if you don’t love it

    Your first month of custom skincare is free. After that, pick your plan. Pause or cancel anytime.

    Love your formula after 90 days, or get your money back
    Dermatologist-recommended ingredients
    Expert support from real medical providers
    Unlock Your Free Offer
    30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in shipping + handling
    set price
    The set  •  Your custom formula, plus the cleanser and moisturizer  •  Free shipping
    bottle price
    The custom formula  •  Just your custom prescription  •   $4.95 in shipping
    set price
    The set  •  Your custom formula, plus the cleanser and moisturizer  •  Free shipping
    bottle price
    The custom formula  •  Just your custom prescription  •   $4.95 in shipping
    Get StartedWhy CurologyGuidesOur StoryCommunity
    SupportBlogReviewsCareersContact Us
    Follow @curology
    Vegan and Cruelty Free Stamp, est. 2014
    Terms of ServicePrivacy Policy
    Do Not Sell My Information
    All Rights Reserved © 2021 Curology