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There’s no way around it—sometimes drug store-caliber products aren’t enough to treat stubborn acne. When benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid formulas fail, it’s time for a stronger solution.

Enter, MDacne Customized Treatment Cream and Curology Custom Formula for Acne. Both brands were designed to help folks achieve their skin goals by providing custom formulas that are delivered to their door each month.

Naturally, this begs the question: which treatment is better?

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MDacne vs Curology Custom Acne Treatment

Founded in 2014, Curology was the first service to offer customized, affordable prescription skincare without having to visit the doctor. Given that this was a major development in the skincare world, it’s no surprise that copycat brands like MDacne would follow.

Today, Curology requires that you first take a quiz to identify your specific skin needs, then a dermatology provider prescribes you a medicated formula. Some of their hard-hitting ingredients include retinoids like tretinoin, and antibiotics like clindamycin and metronidazole. Moreover, Curology’s customized formula doesn’t include a cleanser or moisturizer. They do, however, recommend purchasing their cleanser and moisturizer duo with the prescribed treatment. Curology’s cleanser is meant to be one-size-fits-all, while you can choose between two moisturizers—one that’s targeted towards dry and aging skin, and the other is for normal to oily skin.

To access MDacne’s skin quiz, you must first download their app. From there, you answer several questions and submit a selfie, which is then analyzed by the app—not by a dermatology provider. After target areas are identified, MDacne recommends which products would be best for you. Further, what sets MDacne apart from Curology is that they suggest not just one customized formula, but three: a treatment cream; a soothing moisturizer; and a hydrating cleanser.

Curology has over 9,000 5-star reviews with 93% of customers reporting that their customized formula was effective. On the other hand, MDacne’s site only provides starred reviews on their individual products page. Interestingly, I also found that some of the products on this page were their customized formulas. How “customized” are they, really, if they’re accessible to everyone?

Cost-wise, Curology’s customized formula is $20 per bottle/per month (and an additional $10 for the cleanser/moisturizer set), while MDacne’s trio costs $30 per month.

Conclusion

As a Curology customer myself, I can confirm that my experience has been incredible. But, for the sake of research, I took the MDacne quiz.

Surprisingly, the results were immediate. I was perplexed by the treatment cream and cleanser they recommended, which were salicylic acid based. Since my Curology prescription includes tretinoin, clindamycin, and azelaic acid to address anti-aging and hormonal acne needs (which I specified in both quizzes), the custom kit that MDacne curated for me didn’t feel aligned with either need. Perhaps it would make more sense to have a qualified professional assess someone’s skin—not an app.

We’re happy to share that both MDacne and Curology are cruelty-free and vegan companies. However, it doesn’t appear that either has a public pledge or commitment to sustainability.

Between both brands, it’s clear that Curology is the more customized experience overall, which may be better for complex cases. But don’t write off MDacne just yet—their individual products list is stellar and highly-regarded by customers. And, hey, they might even work well alongside a Curology formula.

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