What’s the deal with buying custom skin care online?

As a woman in her last year of her 20s, I’ve been worrying about my skin for years. From puberty to the stress of adulthood, I feel like my skin never got out of the acne phase. I’ve tried countless products, many of which made my skin worse. In the end, I’ve noticed that my skin always looks best when I eat healthy foods, pick my skin less and use less products on it.

As a woman in her last year of her 20s, I’ve been worrying about my skin for years. From puberty to the stress of adulthood, I feel like my skin never got out of the acne phase.

I’ve tried countless products, many of which made my skin worse. In the end, I’ve noticed that my skin always looks best when I eat healthy foods, pick my skin less and use less products on it.

But the skin care world would be scared to hear or admit that’s the truth of it, so we’re left with thousands of skin care products guaranteeing better skin.

And some brands even have gone the extra step of customizing your skin care. No longer do you need to guess if the product is right for your skin type or skin concerns. The companies will do all of the work for you. You just need to take a quiz or chat with a representative to figure out your monthly plan.

So how does it actually work?

After browsing the internet acting as though I were looking for customized skin care for myself, I found a couple brands that kept popping up. Curology, Dear Brightly, Proven, Y’OUR and Atolla seemed to be the most popular brands. Keep reading to find out how each system works.

1. Curology: curology.com
“Curology makes a custom skincare formula just for you. A licensed dermatology provider evaluates your skin profile, skin type and medical history and prescribes a custom mix of three simple ingredients. So whether you’re up against acne, dark spots or fine lines—you get one bottle that’s all you.”

It starts with a free 30-day trial; you just pay $4.95 for shipping and handling. After that, it starts at $19.95 per month. According to the site, you receive a custom formula, clog-free cleanser and moisturizer and personal chats with a provider. I’m not sure how pricey this can get, because it kept prompting me to sign up.

2. Dear Brightly: dearbrightly.com
Dear Brightly is all about dermatologist-grade retinoids. The process is similar to Curology. You share your skin story in minutes, and then your doctor evaluates your skin profile and writes a prescription, if applicable. Then you get your retinoid serum delivered to your door.

Dear Brightly offers a tailored retinoid set for $137 ($97 first-time trial), a tailored retinoid serum for $99 ($59 first-time trial) and a medical grade moisturizer for $38.

3. Proven: provenskincare.com
“Proven customize products to suit you, ensuring results for your unique skin type. Enjoy the best cleanser, toner, exfoliator, moisturizer and night cream personalized just for you!”

Proven’s site doesn’t seem as pushy as the others. Maybe that’s because it doesn’t appear to offer trials. “The Proven Skincare System is priced at $145, intended to last for 45 to 60 days with recommended daily usage. Subscription users receive an additional discounted value at $119 per set with the option to customize the frequency at four, six or eight weeks.”

4. Y’OUR: y-ourskin.com
At Y’OUR, they “take into consideration your age, skin type, living environment, stress and other factors and use artificial intelligence to identify the best skin care regimen for you.”

After taking a skin quiz powered by AI, you’ll receive your personalized regimen including a cleanser, day cream, serum and night cream. After using it, you’re encouraged to give feedback so you can keep up with your skin’s needs.

“The kit that you receive includes enough product to use for three months for the average user. … Though we offer a monthly payment plan for users who prefer a lower upfront cost, we only ship once per three months … We have found that most users prefer to receive a standard-sized kit every three months rather than a smaller, one-month supply every month at a higher shipping rate. We do, however, support two payment options: the monthly payment plan for $65 per month (equivalent to $2.16/day) or three-month payment plan for $180/3 months (equivalent to $2/day).”

5. Atolla: atolla.co
At Atolla, you answer a few questions about your skin history, concerns and lifestyle/environment. Atolla’s data-informed system will create a custom start serum to address your current needs. at the end of the month, you’ll update your profile with how the product worked for you. Then, Atolla’s “patented algorithm gets to work designing your next serum, using your physical skin data and any noted updates to your lifestyle or environment.”

The cost is $45 per month.

Most of these systems are subscription-based and ship monthly or quarterly. Make sure to read the fine print so that you’re not stuck with products that aren’t right for you. And make sure to be very clear with the provider or dermatologist from the company you’re working with about any other topical skin care products you are using or any medications you are taking. These can sometimes work against each other.

Before you jump on the bandwagon of custom skin care, make sure that you’re actually taking care of yourself. Topical skin care might not be the answer; fixing things from the inside out with a healthier diet and stress-control practices might be the answer.

Where to buy

The Repository
Select Rite Aid Stores
Spee-D Foods
Buehler's Fresh Foods
Fishers Foods, including 44th Street NW, Tuscarawas St. W, Fulton Drive, Lincoln Way E. and Cleveland Ave. NW locations
Aultman Hospital Gift Shop
Mercy Medical Center Gift Shop
Gervasi Vineyard Marketplace
Carpe Diem Coffee Shop, downtown Canton and Belden Village Mall locations
News Depot
Avenue Arts Marketplace
Yum Yum Tree Alliance
Grapes in a Glass