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.

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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, so what works for some people’s skin might not be working for yours. And that’s okay—it's why we’re here to help.

Why your skincare routine may not be 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:

❶ 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.

❷ 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!

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.

How to use your Curology custom formula

To get the best results, apply your Curology custom 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.

Troubleshooting your skincare routine

There are a few possible reasons why your efforts to get rid of acne with your Curology custom 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.

After troubleshooting, if 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 cases, it takes more ammo to defeat acne — such as oral antibiotics, or birth control (for women). 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.

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

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 skincare 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! 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, your 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.

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

• • •

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.

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