My most defining character trait is that 70% of my mental capacity is dedicated to chasing clear skin. Ask my sister, roommate, or the ex I used to make boil my Clarisonic brush heads. For people with clear complexions, skin care is a glamorous, low-stakes exploration of fancy tinctures done while wearing a silk robe. But for people like me, a person with skin that is flippant, it is a desperate, Sisyphean task that sends me into rage blackouts. So, until I emerge from this hormonal chrysalis as a beautiful butterfly, I've got my steps and I'm sticking to them. Or, at least, I was.
I discovered Curology during an Instagram fugue state. It appeared as an Instagram ad, like a mirage in the desert, peddling clear skin and telemedicine. The premise is simple: Replace your entire routine with one bottle, filled with several prescription-strength compounds, delivered to your doorstep. The appeal is obvious: Interact with one less medical professional. The cost is nominal: $20 a month after a free 30-day trial. I immediately created an account.
Before you reach Nirvana, there's a survey. Weeping, I made note of my acne, clogged pores, dark spots, skin texture, and wayward oil production. As per Curology's request, I uploaded several truly startling selfies to show them my skin in its current state. I was then assigned to a medical provider—one Joyce Delgado, PA-C—a Certified Physician’s Assistant with remarkably taut-looking skin.
She prescribed me the following formulation:
4% Azelaic Acid: Alleges to fight dark spots and is both antibacterial and antifungal
1% Clindamycin: Antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and kills Propionibacterium acnes (a major bacterial perp behind acne)
4% Niacinamide: A “Vitamin-B3-derived antioxidant that fights acne, inflammation, and hyperpigmentation”
My custom unguent came in a stout pump bottle that looked kind of sexy, but mostly sterile. Following instructions closely, I applied two pumps of the unscented ointment to my freshly washed and freshly dried witch skin. (It left no residue.) With glycerin and sweet almond seed oil, it’s probably moisturizing enough on its own, but I still followed up with my Dr. Jart Water Drop moisturizer as I like to be very shiny before bed. I couldn't wait to be more beautiful.
The first few weeks were a mess. I had more breakouts than I started with, and my skin looked dry and crèpe-y. I sent no less than three frantic emails to Joyce, who ensured me that the “increased exfoliation of skin cells inside of the pores...can lead to a temporary acne flare as pores become clogged by the exfoliating skin cells.” Sound logic for sure, and something I have zero patience for. Skin cells should know better.
Then, one morning three weeks in, I realized it was all gone. The blemishes, the redness—it had all died down. It was the first Pimple Free Day of my 20s. I texted all my friends.
Now, a little over two months into it, my skin has never been more low maintenance. Sure, it isn’t poreless glazed terra cotta (yet!!!), but for the first time since infancy, it is reliably devoid of acne, and most excitingly predictable—a bad descriptor for horror films, but a GREAT one for your skin. My forehead, which was once home to a smattering of post-acne marks, is as close to one color as it may ever be. That weird steering wheel texture my cheeks sometimes have: kaput. Best of all, I am also not relentlessly jumping between products in a fraught attempt to troubleshoot my acne away. With all of that mental capacity cleared up, I might just learn a new language. Bonjour!
Or Gotham is a writer based in New York City. He is also Warby Parker's in-house illustrator.