I Tried Customized Skin Care to Clear My Complexion

customized skin care
Photo: bowie15/iStock

As a beauty writer, I’ve tried my fair share of skin care products. Not only has keeping up with the latest formulations and ingredients resulted in a medicine cabinet that’s bursting at the seams, but it’s also given my skin commitment issues. Even when I find products I love, I’ll rotate new ones into the mix just in case there is something out there that’s even better. This routine never created any problems—until recently. Over the past few months, pimples and clogged pores have become a weekly occurrence. Desperate, I decided to try something I had never done before: order a customized skin treatment.

Personalized products are nothing new to the beauty world, but to me, there was always something suspect about getting a prescribed solution based solely off of online surveys and makeup-free selfies. The margin for error seemed too wide, and come on, could a consultant really pinpoint the exact thing that’s making my complexion freak out?

After doing some research on different custom brands like Skin Inc, which specializes in serums, to My Blend that offers an entire regimen tailored to your individual needs, I settled on Curology. The brand’s core focus is clearing up your skin through a specially-blended nighttime treatment. I liked this for two major reasons: It addressed my biggest need—the breakouts that I mentioned before—and I only had to apply it before bed, so I didn’t have to give up my favorite daytime products.

customized skin care
Photo: c/o Curology

After logging onto their website, I answered a variety of questions about everything from where zits were forming to my prescriptions and daily habits. This is an important differentiator between skin care you buy at the store or that you get online: “Standard over-the-counter products are less perceptive to each skin’s unique needs and fail to effectively provide customized products to truly address different skin types,” explains David Lortscher, MD, board-certified dermatologist, CEO and founder of Curology. “The basic bucketing of different skin types into ‘oily’ vs. ‘dry’ vs. ‘normal’ fails to take into account the multifactorial nature of skin health that usually involves genetics, hormones, lifestyle, and more.” To put it simply, even if you’re on the dry side, there could be other factors affecting your complexion that a typical hydrating formula may not address.

After the survey, I finished by uploading pictures of my bare face. Not even a full twenty-four hours had passed before I got an alert that my Curology treatment plan had been completed. Aside from the list of ingredients, I received a detailed email from my assigned nurse practitioner about how the formula is designed to specifically help my complexion woes. A week later, my bottle arrived in the mail. I’m a sucker for packaging, so I loved how my name was printed on the back above the breakdown of my prescription, which was an acne-reducing blend of azelaic acid, clindamycin, and zinc pyrithione.

Azelaic acid has been shown to penetrate pores and kill the acne-causing bacteria while also reducing the swelling from pimples. Clindamycin and zinc pyrithione act as antibacterial agents that control the bacteria on skin, including P. acnes, to help keep breakouts at bay.

I began religiously applying the treatment every night before I went to bed, and after a week and a half, my complexion began clearing up. Plus, there were no new zits in sight. It seemed too good to be true, but my face continued to improve.

At this point, I’ve been using my custom bottle of Curology for over a month, and my skin looks better than ever. Who knew that personalized skin care was the solution? But remember, if you do decide to try a customized product, give it time to work. Derms recommend using a product for at least six weeks (I got lucky!) before throwing in the towel.

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