FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

By Sophia Ruiz, CEO / Founder, integrative esthetician, and published researcher

When starting the regimen, some of our customers see a difference in their skin clarity, texture, and hydration in as little as one week (according to our reviewers). However, there are an equal amount of our customers who do take up to 6 months to achieve skin with consistently more clarity. This timeline is on-par with almost all protocols for blemish-prone skin!

TLDR: Openly and honestly, there's no way to know for sure. However, the formulations in this regimen were designed specifically to be different from what's currently available, simply because I believe that most products/regimens (based on their ingredients and technology) don't address the molecular environment in the way that is needed to facilitate optimal skin clarity. I also work one-on-one customers to tailor the skincare regimen to the individual which, I believe, increases the chances of success! Get started on a personalized regimen by filling out this quiz here.

First of all, I completely understand your concerns, your discouragement, and your frustration. I was also in that position, which was a huge driving force behind the formulation of these products. I had tried what felt like everything and yet nothing gave me truly effective, lasting results in a way that also supported my skin health and longevity.

Second of all, the difficult (and transparent) truth is that there really is no way to know. Each individual's skin is different and there are many, many factors that influence how we respond to topically-applied compounds.

At the same time, I built this regimen specifically to be different from what I had ever used for my acne-prone skin in the past. Because I had spent so many years poring through research papers, I saw that there were major gaps in the way we approached acne-prone skin. These gaps are what spurred me into action to create these products.

For this reason, I believe the philosophy behind the formulations, both individually and collectively (when used together), is really what makes them different. They fill a lot of the gaps that most "active" products are missing. I believe these gaps are what makes or breaks the efficacy of a formula and, by filling them, that these products are, by definition, different from what you've used before.

On top of this, a huge amount of time of the beginning years of this company was spent working one-on-one with customers. From doing this work, I was able to gather data about so many different skin types, acne types, and what some of the "predictors" are in terms of what specific regimen is likely to be the most successful.

I always say this experience has been, by far, much more valuable than the years of research that led up to the creation of these products and this company -- simply because it gave me the tools to construct skincare regimens on a highly individual level.

So, while many of our customers see incredible changes in their skin with just our 3-step regimen, I've also come to know that there are dynamics that go on within the skin that our regimen alone can't handle alone (yet). This is why I'm also committed to offering free, personalized, one-on-one support to help you layer your regimen with additional actives as is needed for you, specifically.

If this is something you're interested in, please start by filling out this skin quiz!

TLDR: Not necessarily. However, purging is just a sign that you're speeding up the healing of acne spots under the surface, usually in the form of mild pustules. This is normal and even a good sign! You can expect purging to subside in 1-3 weeks and can support the process by ensuring your skin is hydrated and you're consistent with your skincare regimen. If you're concerned about your purging, email me at sophia@curve-wellness.com! :)

Not everyone purges when beginning a new skincare regimen, however, many do! In fact, purging can even be a sign that a regimen will be effective for you.

Here's why:

All acne spots begin as a pore blockage known as a comedone. Sometimes, comedones can be easily handled by the skin's natural exfoliation process. Other times, this blockage can eventually grow to the point where oxygen can no longer flow into the pore as it would normally. As a result, bacteria that are normally controlled by the antimicrobial properties of oxygen can then begin to overgrow.

Once this happens, the immune system recognizes the abnormally high amount of bacteria as an "invader", turning on inflammation (redness and swelling) and sending white blood cells to the pore with bacterial overgrowth.

Eventually, the immune system "takes over" the pore, leading to the formation of a pustule -- aka, those pesky red spots with a bright, white center (made up of pus, aka white blood cells). Other times, the body isn't able to effectively "take over" the pore, which is when a cyst forms without a visible pus-filled "head".

However, as many of us who have dealt with cystic acne know, eventually the immune system does effectively take over the affected pore, resulting in the formation of a cyst with a visible pustule head. In other words, a cyst does eventually become a larger version of a pustule.

At this stage, the pustule will often spontaneously release its contents -- when a pimple "pops" on its own. From this point, the acne spot will heal much like a normal wound -- scabbing over, flaking off, and becoming a red or brown mark (also known as post-inflammatory erythema -- post-acne red marks -- and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation -- melanin accumulation in a previous acne spot).

From this, we can see that a pustule is actually quite far along in the healing process of an acne spot. In fact, it's the end stage right before the acne spot becomes normal skin (albeit, often leaving behind a mark) again.

So, when we begin a new skincare regimen that accelerates the healing process and paves the way for our body to address bacterial overgrowth present in the pore, much like our products are designed to do, it can accelerate the life cycle of acne spots that are already brewing under the surface. And when we accelerate the life cycle of many acne spots at once, we can see many pustules pop up at once -- simply because many acne spots are going from comedone (the beginning stage) to pustule (the almost-end stage) all at the same time!

In other words, when you see lots of pustules pop up all at once? This is actually a sign that acne spots are healing. This is especially true when spots skip that damaging cystic stage (which can often leave atrophic scarring -- one of the hardest aspects of acne to treat). It's important to note that these are not new spots, just existing acne spots reaching their end-stage at the same time.

The purging timeline is different for everyone! However, it typically lasts between 1 and 2 weeks. If it extends beyond this time period, please get in contact with me at sophia@curve-wellness.com for additional assistance!

TLDR: The myth that oil causes breakouts comes from a misinterpretation of acne research that suggests increased oil production is a major driving force behind acne. And while increased oil production does play a role, it's more about the composition of the sebum that matters the most. The same is true of botanical oils in skincare: what matters is the fatty acids the oil is made up of. In fact, the right oils can actually directly counteract some molecular signaling pathways related to breakouts and, overall, improve major aspects of skin health.

One of the biggest misconceptions about oils is that they cause breakouts. This primarily stems from the fact that most acne-prone skin types produce more oil, called sebum, when compared to non-acne-prone skin types. But, studies show that it's actually probably not the quantity of sebum that causes breakouts - rather, it's the composition of the sebum that matters when it comes to acne.

Why?

Well, this primarily has to do with the comedogenicity of our sebum, aka the pore-clogging ability of the oil our skin produces. When sebum is highly comedogenic (pore-clogging), it contributes to formation of pore clogs (comedones), eventually leading to an acne spot.

And what is the biggest factor in the comedogenicity of our sebum?

Composition -- what our sebum is made up of!

See, there are very few inherently pore-clogging components of sebum. Much of our sebum is made up of non-comedogenic lipids like fatty acids (more on these later), squalene, and cholesterol.

None of these components are comedogenic on their own. Studies have found that it's when the percentages of these lipids change that the sebum changes from non-comedogenic (and nourishing, mind you!) to comedogenic and pro-acne.

In other words, it's not the sebum itself that is the issue or the amount of sebum you produce, but, rather, what that sebum is made up of! Of course, making a larger amount of comedogenic sebum can make things worse, but the quantity of oil present 

From this perspective, we can also see that adding more oil to the skin isn't really the issue. Instead, much like our own sebum, it's what kind of fatty acids those oils are made up of that is the main concern.

More importantly, because these oils are made up of similar components to our sebum, we can actually leverage the composition of specific oils (not all oils are created equal) to engineer a less comedogenic environment (think of it kind of like "diluting" the comedogenic sebum present!).

The ingredients in both the Clarity and Vitale serum are hand-selected for and designed to do just this, while oils whose composition can actually exacerbate a comedogenic environment are left out.

It's also worth touching on the fact that plant oils have some pretty amazing compounds that really benefit the skin:

- Fat-soluble antioxidants that are readily absorbable by the skin, which can be used to address the underlying mechanisms of blemishes and aging.Barrier-building linoleic acid (a fatty acid present in high quantities only within certain oils) to support hydration retention, pollution defense, and overall skin health. Linoleic acid has also been shown to reduce comedone numbers in humans.Botanical peptides that enhance the absorption of active compounds and support skin health on a cellular level.

Taking all of this information together, the right oils are not only highly unlikely to exacerbate acne-prone skin, but can provide significant benefits.

TLDRIf you're acne-prone, Clarity is likely going to be your best bet. If you're just looking to improve overall skin health and tone, Vitale is likely a better fit for you. However, if you're acne-prone and sensitive to strong smells or want to opt out of using essential oils, Vitale is still a highly supportive, beneficial serum! You can also use both together, particularly if you're have a drier, acne-prone skin type.

Both serums are built on our principles of supporting skin clarity and health using the hand-selected biocompatible, nutrient-dense oils.

However, Clarity is a higher active-matter oil than Vitale.

The main reason for this: acne-prone skin is out of homeostasis -- meaning, molecularly, the skin environment is out of balance. To correct this, Clarity contains active plant ingredients that interact with skin enzymes, lipids, and receptors and, as a result, encourage homeostasis. Altogether, this helps support skin health and clarity.

Vitale, on the other hand, is a deeply nourishing oil compatible with all skin types. To achieve this compatibility, a lower active matter formula is used.

That being said, if you are sensitive to strong smells or would prefer to avoid potent plant extracts (like essential oils) at this time, Vitale is not only suitable, but beneficial for supporting skin clarity in blemish-prone skin.

Vitale and Clarity can also be used together in acne-prone skin, particularly if stubborn dryness and dehydration is a concern!

As always, though, if you need help deciding which serum to choose, you can always reach out to me at sophia@curve-wellness.com!

TLDR: The most commonly-used method of determining whether an ingredient is "fungal acne-safe" can't really be applied to the skin as a whole, due to many other factors present in real life skin. As a result, "fungal acne-safe" is not really a term that holds a ton of weight. However, targeting fungal acne or fungal overgrowth in the skin is absolutely something I take into account when designed a skincare regimen for someone, but my method of addressing fungal overgrowth is mainly targeted at why the overgrowth is there in the first place.

The phenomenon of fungal acne has exploded in recent years and for good reason: although research indicates fungal acne is actually quite rare, there are a decent subset of individuals whose acne appears to be fungal in nature (maybe more so than what has been found in research). A lot of these same individuals swear by fungal acne-safe products to clear their skin.

In general, it's something I absolutely take into account when assessing the needs of someone's skin and recommending an overall, personalized skincare regimen (if you need help with this, please reach out to me at sophia@curve-wellness.com!).

But, I think it's important to address what constitutes whether skincare products are "fungal acne-safe".

Across the Internet, there appears to be one way an ingredient is determined fungal acne safe. That is: does *insert ingredient here* stimulate the growth of Malassezia spp. fungi?

The problem here is that the only real means we have to answer this question is a method of research called an in vitro study, aka throwing a bunch of stuff into a petri dish and measuring the changes that occur.

In this case, researchers place Malassezia spp. fungi into a petri dish, mix it with another compound, and determine the effects of said compound on the growth of Malassezia spp.

To put it simply, if the number of Malassezia spp. yeast goes up, said ingredient is said to be a promoter of fungal growth. If the number of Malassezia spp. yeast goes down, said ingredient is said to be a possible anti-fungal ingredient.

When we translate this to the world of fungal acne, any ingredient that increases Malassezia spp. fungi growth is considered not safe for fungal acne.

Undoubtedly, this research is valuable. But, the problem here is that we don't just have Malassezia spp. fungi on our skin. We have a whole microbiome, consisting of many different fungi and bacteria, all of which influence the growth of each other -- when one bacterial or fungal strain increases in quantity, oftentimes different strains decrease in response.

So, just because something stimulates the growth of Malassezia spp. fungi in a petri dish, doesn't mean we can apply those same results to the Malassezia on the skin in the context of the whole skin microbiome.

For example, an ingredient that stimulates the growth of Malassezia in a petri dish might also stimulate the growth of a bacterial strain in the skin microbiome that has a suppressive effect on Malassezia. In this instance, applying that ingredient to the skin could technically result in a net zero Malassezia growth, simply because of the way it affects the microbiome as a whole.

We also have to consider why Malassezia is elevated in the first place. Sometimes, this can be because of underlying factors like inflammation, free radical activity, and overall skin sensitivity to allergenic stimulation. If a skincare ingredient can address this underlying trigger for Malassezia overgrowth, it doesn't matter whether it's "fungal acne safe" or not -- it would be likely to have a positive effect on Malassezia overgrowth.

I say all of this to say: not every ingredient that is determined "unsafe" for fungal acne will actually trigger Malassezia overgrowth on the skin, which is why I steer away from hyperfocusing in on certain ingredients. Instead, I focus more on how we address the underlying imbalances that are contributing to Malassezia overgrowth in the first place.

From working with many different customers with many different variations of acne, my experience is that these products are beneficial for Malassezia overgrowth.

Yes!

All of our products are compatible with benzoyl peroxide, tretinoin, and clindamycin as well as oral prescriptions.

For tretinoin, I recommend using it after Clarity in the PM. A moisturizer can also be used after Clarity, underneath tretinoin to further minimize sensitivity.

For benzoyl peroxide, if using a cleanser, use after the Purity oil cleanser. If using a topical, use after Clarity but wait at least 10 minutes before application!

For clindamycin, use after Clarity.

While some of our customers have been able to discontinue some prescription topicals and achieve clearer skin using the regimen, it's important to note that not all prescription topicals should be stopped cold turkey.

For example, if you are currently using clindamycin, acne-causing bacteria can adapt to the clindamycin, entering a state of "antibiotic resistance". In this state, bacteria become more resistant overall and even more aggressive. For this reason, many clindamycin users note that clindamycin stops working after some time or that, when they stop, their acne comes back worse than when they started.

So, when transitioning off of clindamycin, it's super important that you replace clindamycin use with benzoyl peroxide - either in the form of a cleanser or a leave-on topical. This helps combat the antibiotic resistance and reduce the aggressiveness of the bacteria.

If you are currently using benzoyl peroxide, I do recommend slowly weaning off the benzoyl peroxide. This will look different for everyone depending on how you're using it. If you're using twice daily, cutting down to once daily every other day to start (and using twice daily every other day), then once daily every day, then once daily every other day, etc. until you're down to no usage!

It is important to note, though, that there are some underlying conditions that may require you to use benzoyl peroxide long-term. It's possible that using the regimen alongside your benzoyl peroxide may mean that you need less frequent usage!

As a bonus, the regimen also helps to coutneract some of the side effects of benzoyl peroxide. In fact, some of our customers find they can tolerate benzoyl peroxide for the first time when using it in the regimen, even when they were previously unable to use it.

Prescription topicals like adapalene and tretinoin can be discontinued when starting the regimen! However, if you have seen a dramatic difference in your skin using these prescriptions, it may be worth weaning yourself off of the topicals or just reducing your usage (instead of stopping the topicals completely).