Maybe, like me, you’ve got less-than-glowing skin. Maybe you’re trying to deal with your breakouts, dark spots, dull complexion or loss of tone—all by using the flavor-of-the-month brand/ingredient/skin care tool (love you, rose quartz roller). Finally, maybe none of the products you’ve heard about from your friends or read about on a trusted website are really doing the trick. That was my predicament, but I’d be damned if I was going to spend countless hours finding a dermatologist and driving to their office, only to fork over hundreds of dollars for a quick consult. After all, it’s not as though my face was full of pustules that needed emergency seeing to.
Instead, I did nothing and my skin continued to look like one big meh-shrug emoji. So when I heard about Curology, the $20-a-month skin care subscription service where you chat with dermatologists on your computer, I was curious. This San Francisco tech start-up is on a mission to give people all over the country access to affordable and customized care from skin doctors. I discovered the three-year-old brand via its Insta feed, where upbeat inspo and dewy faces won me over. That, and the ease of the service they promised.
To start, I answered a skin care quiz that was something like 15 questions (which, btw, was way faster than the never-ending forms you get when you see a new doctor). The questions were about my skin care regimen now (erratic), any meds I’m on and what’s stressing me out about my face (uneven tone, large pores, dryness). Then I took left-, right- and forward-facing snaps of my face with my phone, uploaded, hit send and forgot about it.
Ten days later, I got a little box with three products. A cleanser, a moisturizer and (the hero of the bunch) a lotion with some prescription ingredients mixed into it. (I was frankly relieved not to have a bunch of different products for various parts of my face.) I also got an email introducing me to my assigned dermatologist, a San Diego–based clinician who, in a note, explained that he’d prescribed a custom leave-on lotion I was supposed to apply before bed. It had 5% azelaic acid to lighten dark spots and smooth skin texture, 2% tranexamic acid to calm redness and 2% niacinamide to reduce wrinkles and improve skin elasticity.