Proactiv vs. Curology: What’s the Better Acne Treatment?

is proactiv or curology better for acne

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If there was only one specific source for acne breakouts and other skin problems, it would be much easier to find the perfect solution.

Unfortunately, skin problems can be a result of a specific diet, age, gene, and a number of other things. This is also why several options are available for those in need of effective treatment. In this case, the focus falls on two front-runners in terms of fighting acne outbreaks, namely Proactiv and Curology.

Both have stunning reputations, and both continue to keep their devoted users happy.

But is one better than the other? Hopefully, this Proactiv vs Curology comparison will shed more light on which is better for your specific situation.

Key Differences Between Proactiv and Curology

Overall Approach

Users will notice there is a distinct difference between Proactiv and Curology in terms of their approach. Whether it’s a good or bad thing is really a personal matter.

For instance, Proactiv offers several different packages to suit all users.

While Curology uses a customized approach to the acne problem, meaning professionals decide what the treatment is going to be. That said, when you sign up for auto-delivery, you can get the Proactiv 3-Step System for less than $20 per month.


Overall, the Curology subscription comes at a very competitive price point, and it is known as one of the most affordable options on the market.


Treatment with Proactiv can start the moment the product is delivered, but Curology requires a process beforehand. After which the best treatment is discussed.


For the most part, Proactiv is leading the charge for getting the best results. But Curology is close behind thanks to its custom approach.

1. Proactiv

Price: See Current Price at Proactiv Website

the newest proactiv acne treatment

The Proactiv brand hit the market in 1995, after being developed by two experienced dermatologists (Kathy Fields and Katy Rodan). Thus far, the brand has built a solid reputation for effectively treating light to moderate acne breakouts, among other problems.

The developers have also released several products over the years, fine-tuning the best ways to treat one of the most common problems in the world – acne.

Available Products Under The Proactiv Brand

At the time of this article, there were three main medications available, namely:

  • Proactiv Solution
  • Proactiv Plus
  • Proactiv MD (see review)

Proactiv MD is the latest formula to join the line of skincare products and continues to carry the good name of the brand. In other words, the latest 3-piece acne treatment is definitely a few steps closer to living a life with fewer acne issues. And while it is not the perfect solution for everyone, the majority of users are pretty impressed with the results they get.

How Proactiv Fights Acne

their three step treatment for acne

Every product under the Proactiv brand (see all Proactiv products here) has something special to offer. And using the latest one as an example, Proactiv MD has a main ingredient called Adapalene. The latter ingredient has been clinically tested for treating acne, and the results were very positive. But it’s not just the Adapalene that makes the Proactiv treatment system great.

Additional precautions are considered as well, such as sun protection, and moisturizer.

When looking at the first product from the brand, the Proactiv Solution 3-step treatment, the active ingredient includes benzoyl peroxide. The Proactiv Plus product that came after, aimed to be less aggressive and more focused on getting pores clean before applying the treatment.

Why develop more treatments if the first was so successful? Because the benzoyl peroxide can be too aggressive for certain skin types. And the side-effects usually include dry or itching skin. For this reason, gentler and more effective ingredients were sought after, ending with Adapalene.

The bottom line is the Proactiv product range depends on specific active ingredients to target acne breakouts. At the same time, it promotes thorough cleaning while offering extra measures to stabilize the possible side-effects. For instance, moisturizer and sun protection definitely help to give the Proactiv choice the edge.

Where Can You Find The Best Deal?

Given that the reason behind the purchase is delicate and somewhat serious, there is no point in taking risks by purchasing through a third-party. There is no telling whether the treatment will be fake or original, leaving the buyer with possible treatments that won’t do them any good.

But what about the best deals? These can always be found directly on the Proactiv site. More info below:

2. Curology

the curology acne treatment system

Compared to Proactiv, Curology (read our review) doesn’t have such a long history.

However, the short time it’s been around, users have been impressed with the system. More specifically, the Curology brand has been open to the public since 2014. And instead of providing a specific treatment, they customize their system according to every patient.

Also, take note that this is a subscription-based option.

Their Acne Fighting System

As mentioned, for those who choose to try Curology, a customized package of their system is recommended. These recommendations come from licensed dermatologists.

Although, it can’t be guaranteed how much experience the dermatologists have. But a questionnaire is filled in first, and a professional is then assigned to the case. More information about the professional working with your specific case is provided, such as their personal experience in the field of dermatology.

This is also why it’s impossible to be specific about the products made available through Curology. Everything depends on the profile of the user, which includes details about medical history.

But they do make it clear that their personalized treatments include:

  • Acne Fighting Treatments
  • Unclogging Pores
  • Alleviate dark spots caused by the sun
  • Improve Skin Firmness And Texture
  • Antiaging/Wrinkle Treatment

In terms of fighting acne specifically, 90% of the medication is categorized as prescription medicine. And the active ingredients might include:

  • Azelaic Acid
  • Clindamycin
  • Niacinamide
  • Tretinoin
  • Zinc Pyrithione

How Curology Fights Acne

This is where the big difference between Proactiv and Curology comes into play, because Proactiv depends on a specific product for all users. Whereas Curology depends on the knowledge of the assigned dermatologist and information provided by the users.

Thus, the treatment with Curology can change if the specialist deems it necessary.

So, in terms of how Curology fights acne, the essential factors come down to the specialist and the information they have to work with.

For many, this has been a great approach. But with a detailed questionnaire, it makes Proactiv a more convenient choice.

Where Can You Find The Best Deal?

As established with finding the best deals for the Proactiv range, always go to the direct site if you want the best deals. This also gives you peace of mind that you’ll be getting exactly what the professionals recommend.

Which One is Better?

While both systems boast with glowing reviews, can a clear winner be established between the two? The best way to get the answer is to make a quick and objective comparison

Factors That Make Proactiv Our Top Pick

1. Proven Ingredients

Even though prescription medication can be very effective when fighting acne, especially when treatment is based on relevant information, the side-effects are real too.

One of the biggest reasons why people stick to Proactiv is because the products are not as aggressive as many of the prescription treatments provided by Curology professionals.

2. No Questionnaire Necessary

This isn’t to say that the questionnaire for Curology is unnecessary or tedious, but not everyone likes answering quite a few questions. And yes, many of the questions are going to be based on medical history and habits.

But it can’t be denied when serious medication is prescribed, the right information has to be used.

3. The dermatologists behind the products have extensive experience

When looking at the backgrounds of the two developers that brought Proactiv to the market, it is clear that they based their final product on a lot of personal research. With professionals at Curology, on the other hand, there are no rules stating the assigned professional needs to have actual experience as a dermatologist.

Of course, they have to be licensed and trained, but the experience can make a big difference when effective treatment is involved.

Reasons to Consider Curology

More affordable

There is no denying that Curology is the more affordable option, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option.

Customized treatment

For some, customized treatment with the right system can be very effective. And Curology does have a good reputation so far.

Multiple treatment options

One good reason why some individuals could prefer Curology is based on the treatment options available. Whereas Proactiv is more focused on fighting acne breakouts, Curology can address other issues like wrinkles and dark spots.

Comparison Summary

But ultimately, it’s the Proactiv line that comes out on top.

More specifically, it’s their latest product that really puts it across the finish line first. And from our point of view, Proactiv MD is the safer choice for getting the best results. However, only you can make the final decision, and you already know what is best for your specific situation.

Ready to try our top-rated acne treatment? Learn more below: