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How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

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Everything you need to know about Curology’s Custom Formulas

How it works, how to use it, and how your ingredients help improve skin concerns like acne.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
Image of Curology Custom Formula with lid uncapped
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C
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.

Do you need an acne treatment? Something to lighten dark spots? Worried about wrinkles? All of the above? Welcome to the club!  

Enter your Custom Formula by Curology. It’s made for your specific skin concerns and can treat acne, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin texture, signs of aging, and more! 

Curology Custom Formula Product Benefits Infographic

Skeptical? We hear you. Curology was founded by the ultimate skincare skeptics: dermatologists. That’s why we make prescription-strength topical medications with ingredients backed by facts. Here’s what you need to know before you get started. 

A Custom Formula made for your skin concerns

Here’s the thing about Curology’s Custom Formula: it’s actually your Custom Formula. We couldn’t make it without you! 

We make you a multitasking, prescription topical medication personalized for your skin type and skin goals—whether you want to treat acne, rosacea, or anti-aging concerns. One of our in-house medical providers prescribes your Custom Formula with a blend of active ingredients chosen for your unique skin.

Image of Woman Holding Curology Custom Skincare Formula

What the Custom Formula treats

Your Custom Formula can treat a variety of common skin concerns, including: 

  • Blackheads and whiteheads

  • Clogged pores

  • Fungal acne

  • Hormonal acne

  • Cystic acne

  • Hyperpigmentation

  • Uneven skin texture

  • Fine lines

  • Rosacea

Having a multitasking formula simplifies the process of achieving your best skin. We also offer a line of skincare essentials—moisturizer, acne body wash, micellar makeup remover, and more—to keep your routine streamlined and effective. All of our products are designed by dermatologists with acne-prone and sensitive skin in mind.

Why the Custom Formula works

Your Curology dermatology provider prescribes your Custom Formula, answers questions, and checks in on your skin’s progress. Our providers are real experts (not bots)! And they can tweak your Custom Formula as your skin’s needs evolve. 

Guy Holding His Curology Custom Formula For Acne Treatment

All of Curology’s Custom Formulas contain a mix of research-backed active ingredients. Depending on your skin’s needs, your formula will feature a combination of some of these ingredients: 

  • Tretinoin is a potent retinoid that’s considered the gold standard in acne treatment and also helps minimize certain signs of aging.¹

  • Azelaic acid is a naturally-occurring acid used to treat acne, clogged pores², dark spots,³ redness, and inflammation.⁴

  • Niacinamide is an antioxidant that helps improve signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. It’s often used to treat dark spots and redness.⁵ 

  • Clindamycin is an antibiotic that, when used in combination with other ingredients, effectively treats breakouts.⁶ 

  • Metronidazole is an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent that’s often used to treat rosacea⁷ and periorificial dermatitis.⁸ 

  • Zinc pyrithione is derived from the mineral zinc and is used to treat fungal acne⁹ as well as ordinary acne.¹⁰ 

  • Tranexamic acid has anti-inflammatory properties and helps regulate melanin production. It can be used to treat melasma¹¹, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and redness.¹²

  • Ivermectin is an anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic medication used to treat rosacea.¹³

Each Custom Formula starts with a moisturizing base with a light, creamy consistency. They’re formulated with aloe and vitamin E and designed with sensitive, acne-prone skin in mind. Like all our products, they’re formulated to be non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic, not to mention free of fragrances, dyes, and parabens. Plus, we’re happy to report that all of our products are vegan, cruelty-free, and never tested on animals—we’re even Leaping Bunny certified. 🐇

How to use Curology Custom Formula

How to use your Custom Formula

Your Custom Formula is easy to use—simply apply it nightly as part of a 3-step routine.


Do I wash off my custom Curology formula?

Nope! We get asked this all the time. Your Custom Formula is meant to be left on overnight like a moisturizer.

Can I use my Curology Custom Formula when I’m sunburned? 

It’s best to give sunburned skin a break from strong active ingredients (like the ones in your Curology Formula). You can start up again once your skin returns to normal.

Does Curology's Custom Formula work for anti aging?

Yes, it can! Depending on your consultation and skincare goals, your licensed dermatology provider may prescribe Future-Proof Rx, which includes ingredients (like azelaic acid, tretinoin, or niacinamide) to treat dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and skin texture. Talk to your Curology provider for more information!

Your first weeks with Curology

Your Custom Formula is powerful stuff. It can take some time for your skin to fully adjust to your medication. Don’t worry—your provider is with you every step of the way!

Common, temporary side effects include dryness, flaking, redness, and a mild stinging sensation. If you experience anything more significant, contact your medical provider ASAP! 

Need to ease into it? Try applying your Custom Formula every other night for your first few weeks. And keep in touch with your provider, who can help you through the adjustment process and tweak your formula’s strength if needed. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

curology bottle
curology bottle

What not to mix with your Custom Formula

Keep the rest of your skincare routine simple when first getting started with your Curology formula. Here’s what to temporarily leave out:

If you want to continue using any of these ingredients or products, slowly re-introduce them into your routine to give your skin time to re-adjust. Consider stopping these products if you experience any reactions.

Woman Applying Curology Custom Formula to Cheek Acne

How long it takes for your Custom Formula to work

Real results don’t happen overnight. Many Curology patients start seeing results within the first 4–8 weeks. Some notice clearer skin in two weeks; for others, it takes much longer. 

Progress isn’t linear! It’s normal to achieve clear skin yet still experience occasional breakouts. No matter your routine, it’s helpful to take selfies to track your progress. Your Curology dashboard has a photobooth to help

We promise to always use science-based evidence to get as close to 100% effectiveness as possible. In a recent study, 93% of Curology patients reported our products are effective. So while Curology may not work for everyone, we’re confident that it’s worth a shot for you. 

Changing your Custom Formula’s ingredients

Think your Custom Formula needs an adjustment? We’re here for you! Simply message your provider about your updated skin concerns. We generally recommend giving your formula at least 6 weeks before switching it up. 

Try your Custom Formula for free

Want to get your own Custom Formula? We’ll send you your first month free (you’ll just pay $4.95 to cover shipping and handling). You can also add any of our recommended skincare products to your box at no extra cost. 

How to get the Custom Formula

Start your Curology free trial by taking a quick skin quiz and snapping a few selfies. One of our dermatology providers will review your info and, if Curology is right for you, prescribe your Custom Formula. 

Curology Skincare Products Custom Formula Cleanser Moisturizer

Managing your Curology membership

You can cancel your Curology subscription at any time. If you stick with us, the cost of your Curology subscription depends on the type of subscription and the number of products you decide to purchase. If you decide that you'll only need the Custom Formula, it’s $59.90 (with free shipping) for a 60-day bottle. 

Ready to take the guesswork out of skincare? Let’s go—start your Curology free trial nowCancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Trial is 30 days + $4.95 shipping and handling.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

curology bottle
curology bottle

P.S. We did the research so you don’t have to:

  1. Baldwin, H. E., et al. 40 years of topical tretinoin use in review. Journal of drugs in dermatology. (2013).

  2. Zaenglein, A. L., et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2016).

  3. Rendon, M., et al. Treatment of melasma. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2006).

  4. Maddin S. A comparison of topical azelaic acid 20% cream and topical metronidazole 0.75% cream in the treatment of patients with papulopustular rosacea. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (1999).

  5. Levin, J., & Momin, S. B. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients?. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology. (2010).

  6. Zaenglein, A. L., et al. Guidelines of care for the management of acne vulgaris. Ibid.

  7. Oge', L. K.,et al. Rosacea: Diagnosis and Treatment. American family physician. (2015). 

  8. Jonette E. Keri , MD, PhD. Perioral Dermatitis. Merck Manual. (2020)

  9. Cheryl Leong, et al. Effect of zinc pyrithione shampoo treatment on skin commensal Malassezia. Medical Mycology. (2021).

  10. Brandt S. The clinical effects of zinc as a topical or oral agent on the clinical response and pathophysiologic mechanisms of acne: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of drugs in dermatology. (2013).

  11. Desai, S., et al. Effect of a Tranexamic Acid, Kojic Acid, and Niacinamide Containing Serum on Facial Dyschromia: A Clinical Evaluation. Journal of drugs in dermatology. (2019).

  12. Jakhar, D., & Kaur, I. Topical 5% tranexamic acid for acne-related postinflammatory erythema. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2020).

  13. Ali, S. T., et al. The treatment of rosacea with topical ivermectin. Drugs of today. (2015).

• • •
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.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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