$20 A Month Finally Cleared Up My Acne

The internet warned me that if acne doesn’t pay you a visit during your teen years, it’ll catch up with you eventually.

Like when it said it was time to retire whisker jeans, the internet was right. Again.

I had clear skin my whole life but in my mid-20s, I found myself suffering through a series of breakouts and buying my very first concealer to hide blemishes. #acnesucks

So during my multi-year search for a solution to reclaim my teenage skin, I stumbled upon Curology, an online company that prescribes customized acne meds based off photos of your skin. I was a bit skeptical at first because telemedicine–or virtual medical care–sounded a little too Brave New World for me.  But after much thought, I decided that $20 a month might actually be the answer to so many unsuccessful years of slathering salicylic acid on my face and sleeping on ultra-clean pillow cases.  

Seriously gals and guys, this changed my life.

How Curology Works

Curology specializes in acne and anti-aging treatments by using potent topical ingredients that can only be obtained with a prescription (like clindamycin and one of my all-time faves, tretinoin).  

After a five-minute sign-up process, I was told to take makeupless selfies and upload them to my profile.  Let me repeat that, they required me to confront bright bathroom lights without being able to hide behind Snapchat filters or concealer.  (Talk about vulnerable?) Within 24 hours, you’re matched with a board-certified dermatologist or nurse practitioner (NP).

My expert was Rachel, an NP from San Diego who explained that my Rx was already en route to my front door.  Each bottle of topical meds lasts about three months. For only $20 a month, you can have unlimited messages with your medical professional and unlimited prescription changes and deliveries, if needed.  Not a bad price tag for the cost of your week’s coffee!

The Purge Is Real

I’m pretty sure when Aristotle said, “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet,” he was referring to acne purging. I experienced a four-to-six-week phase during which my breakouts got worse.  I even messaged Rachel in a panic when I started to break out in areas where I never had before.  When little red bumps first appeared on my cheeks and chin, I found myself having an existentialist conversation with my skin in the mirror: Will I ever really be free?  She explained to me that the active medication was drawing out all the gunk that needed to find its way out.  

I knew this would be the hardest phase of my treatment, so I needed to embrace the idea of short-term sacrifice for long-term payoff (like getting Gisele’s abs). Sure enough, after this initial detox, my skin looked fantastic!

Back At It Again With The Product Recs

Not only was Rachel quick to respond with prescriptions changes, but she had a wealth of knowledge when it came to product recommendations, possibly my favorite part of the treatment experience.  

One day, she recommended Nobles Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc bar soap since my next prescription would no longer contain zinc.  Although I initially fought back, I used it reluctantly and noticed less redness, softer skin and smaller pores within days.  WTF? Suddenly I was buying Nobles soap in bulk and handing it out to my friends with eczema and psoriasis.  They’ve been thanking me ever since.

And that’s when it occurred to me: After success with this magical soap, could I ask her for more product recs?   If Rachel was into awesome and affordable OTC products, could she also revamp my skincare regimen?  When I asked her the next day, I was pleasantly surprised to hear her reply, “Yes, I love talking about product!”

The following Saturday, I went through my cabinet and searched through all 27 products in my skincare regimen, sending her the ten products I rotate through most.  Within a couple days, she had responses for EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.   She had done her own research on each product’s ingredients and laid out which ingredients were typically associated with with acne.  Try getting that kind of royal treatment from your dermatologist. Damn, Rachel.  You outdid yourself.

The next few weeks, my Curology message box became my Holy Grail.  And like in any good relationship, we had a dialogue: I continued with my questions, asking about my makeup routine, acne purging, and even Rachel’s thoughts on wellness cleanses.  

Since then, I’ve adopted a few new favorites: Paula’s Choice BHA Exfoliant, spearmint tea, and EltaMD’s UV Clear SPF 46.  I also check all my makeup ingredients on CosDNA.

Started From The Bottom Now I’m Here

I’ve been on my reverse-acne journey for about seven months now and I’m finally in a place where I can actually have “no-makeup” days and my skin is nearly clear.  Curology fixed what I’d been battling for three years.  

I look and feel better, I feel listened to, and I feel like myself again, all for a fair price.  For anyone still going through skincare woes, Curology is so low-risk and affordable, and most importantly, tailored to your needs.  Beauty should be democratic, after all.

(Note: I want to emphasize that these were all recommendations made for my unique cases of acne and will not apply to everyone.)


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