This post is a comprehensive review of Agency Skincare, an anti-aging skincare line created in 2021 and a member of a growing faction of companies that provide more personalized skincare. Topics covered include why I chose Agency to review, the Agency process, product ingredients, pricing and finally, whether Agency skincare is worth a shot. I will also publish before and after photos.
Additional information on product ingredients is in The Beauty Maestra Resource Library here.
This is NOT an Agency sponsored post.
Agency Skincare Review
The beauty world was a simpler and easier place when I first embarked on my skincare journey decades ago. Few active ingredients were available and known to the general public. Still fewer product lines. Fast forward to today with so many products at our fingertips and all claiming to deliver better on the promise of turning back the hands of time.
While grateful to be alive during this time in beauty history, the plethora of choices has become a double-edged sword.
Which of the many products do we choose and which of the chosen ones play well together?
Enter Agency Skincare
When I first considered trying a product line like Agency Skincare, I knew information overload was high for me. I had something akin to product fatigue if there is such a thing.
I was in a headspace where I wanted easy and effective. A metaphorical all-inclusive resort for skincare where skin decisions were made, and skin woes remedied by the best most cutting-edge ingredients. I didn’t need to remain at the resort forever, but I did want to glow by the end of my stay.
In my case, effective skincare means packing a strong anti-aging one-two punch: better skin texture and reduced hyperpigmentation, a nagging problem for me since the hormones of pregnancy.
My hunch is that perhaps some of you may feel similarly. In all honesty, this desire for a simpler life was a key factor behind trying and reviewing Agency Skincare.
Agency came when I felt most product fatigue. It checked some pretty important boxes:
- Provided a “turnkey” (complete) skin solution
- Specialized in my specific skin issues: anti-aging and hyperpigmentation
- Compounded products with well-researched active ingredients
- Offered medical oversight and communication with real medical professionals in real-time
- Provided a non-static skincare routine that evolves to an individual’s unique needs
The closest I had come to this was an Obagi skincare system some years prior that leveraged a couple of similar active ingredients.
Agency Before and After Photos
To begin, let’s start with my real unfiltered (5-month) progress photos. Spoiler alert, the results so far have been great. If I hadn’t taken the photos, I probably wouldn’t have believed how dramatic the change was in such a short amount of time.
So how does Agency work so well anyway? I believe it boils down to the 2 Ps: Product (ingredients) and Process.
Let’s talk Agency fundamentals.
What is Agency Skincare?
Agency Skincare is a subscription-based (flat monthly fee) skincare line that provides semi-custom skincare for the consumer. This type of personalized skincare is gaining momentum, and there are an ever-increasing number of players in the market. Some competitors include Curology (sister company to Agency), Musely, and Apostrophe to name a few.
While Agency doesn’t describe itself as semi-custom, in my estimation, that label is pretty accurate. Their 2 most important products contain a defined non-deviating roster of ingredients. To address anti-aging (lines, wrinkles, skin texture) and hyperpigmentation (dark spots) concerns, Agency compounds and prescribes a subset of these ingredients for each customer.
If interested, a complete list of these ingredients and their benefits is located in the Resource Library here.
What is the Agency Skincare Process?
The interaction with Agency is predominantly via its website and messaging platform (which is well done and easy to navigate). There are no live conversations. This may or may not be a negative, but for those of us who still get misty-eyed over talking to a live person to customize anything, I thought it prudent to mention.
The process begins by completing a fairly lengthy questionnaire with medical history, skin history, medications, conditions, etc. This “intake form” also offers the opportunity to identify specific areas of skin concern. Facial photos are uploaded initially and every 2 months to track progress. The products and formulations are then prescribed based on your personal history.
Agency assigns and connects you to a medical professional. To set expectations, in my case, that individual wasn’t a doctor but rather a Physician’s Assistant (PA). I have had the same PA the entire time.
My PA reaches out to me via the messaging platform every 60 days to get an update on skin progress. The products and formulations are then re-assessed by progress. Agency ships new formulations along with instructions every 2 months.
Between the bi-monthly updates, if there are any issues or questions, I can reach back out to the PA. It takes about 24-48 hours to receive a response. There is also a Knowledge Library or blog that is pretty comprehensive and a Facebook discussion group that I have found helpful.
Agency Skincare Products
The Agency skincare line is simple and consists of 3 product “types”. Within these “types” are 4 products.
- Cloud Care Duo (Cleanser & Moisturizer-sold as a set)
- Future Formula
- Dark Spot Formula
While the Cloud Care Duo is the same for everyone, both the Future Formula and the Dark Spot Formula are fully customizable by Agency.
Cloud Care Duo-Cleanser and Moisturizer
Both the Cleanser and Moisturizer products are surprisingly good. I will also say that the moisturizer for my skin is one of the best daily moisturizers I have tried. Ever. It is very moisturizing but not greasy. That combination is difficult to achieve.
Unfortunately, for those of you who may be interested like I was, Agency does not sell any of its products either outside of the Agency family or outside of the prescription subscription. The cleanser and moisturizer can only be purchased only as a set.
What makes these products so good are their combination of ingredients and the great hydration and moisturizing they provide. This result is all the more remarkable given the potential for irritation and dryness from the ingredients of the other products in the line.
Agency Future Formula
Future Formula addresses skin texture, fine lines, wrinkles, etc. See The Resource Library here for the full ingredient list.
In the meantime, below is my formulation tracked over the 6 months I’ve been in the program. This progress overview is something they provide for everyone.
The anti-aging powerhouse ingredient in Future Formula is Tretinoin or also known as Retin A. As you can see above, Agency prescribes increased concentrations of Tretinoin by your skin’s ability to handle it.
While I could write several posts about Tretinoin/Retin A, what I can say here is that it is an extremely transformative prescription skincare ingredient. Tretinoin influences how skin cells behave, speeds skin cell turnover, boosts the growth of new skin cells and collagen production. It affects skin texture, acne and dark spots.
While Tretinoin is a wonder skin ingredient, there are real and potential side effects. Increasing dosage too quickly, putting too much on the face without moisturizing adequately, etc. can cause dryness, flakiness, increased skin sensitivity to sunlight, increased acne, etc.
Not everyone can tolerate it. Having a provider help you through it or a Facebook group to discuss it while it’s happening can substantially increase the chances of success (and transformation). I also believe that the other added ingredients below are critical success factors and play well together.
Dexpanthenol & Niacinamide
Two of the other ingredients are Dexpanthenol and Niacinamide. They both moisturize and are used typically to treat or prevent dry skin. I am assuming that these ingredients help counterbalance the potential irritation of Tretinoin.
Finally, Tranexamic Acid is a newer acid on the market. It helps significantly with brightening skin and reducing the look of dark spots/hyperpigmentation.
Agency Dark Spot Formula
The other custom formula is the Dark Spot Formula which in conjunction with the Future Formula addresses hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Here is my Dark Spot formulation/prescription over the last 6 months:
Much like Tretinoin for skin texture, Agency leverages Hydroquinone as their Dark Spot Formula powerhouse magic ingredient. Hydroquinone is considered the “gold standard” ingredient to reduce dark spots. It works by inhibiting melanin production (which produces the spots).
With all of that effectiveness comes a downside. Over longer usage, the skin can become hydroquinone resistant. Additionally, and I can personally attest to this, should someone stop hydroquinone abruptly, more spots can appear with a vengeance. It is not good enough to just put Hydroquinone on one’s skin and expect success.
Agency is thoughtful and employs newer protocols in how it prescribes hydroquinone to avoid some of the pitfalls. Agency cycles Hydroquinone on and off every 2 months. During a hydroquinone off-cycle, Agency changes the Dark Spot Formula and formulates it with an increase in non-hydroquinone melanin inhibitors. These inhibitors are Kojic Acid, Azelaic Acid and Tranexamic Acid. Both Future Formula and Dark Spot Formulas include them.
The last 2 ingredients, Resveratrol and Green Tree Extract are anti-inflammatories. Resveratrol neutralizes free radicals and reduces pigmentation caused by the sun and more.
Agency Skincare Cost
A few comments about pricing.
- Pricing is subscription based which means that you pay a flat fee monthly based on the products you choose.
- Pricing is la carte. The consumer chooses which products to buy. For example, if you already have a Cleanser and Moisturizer at home that you like, you have the option of eliminating that set from your order.
- Pricing is detailed here on their website and starts at $30/month.
- Agency offers the first month free trial offer.
A Few Final Thoughts on Agency Skincare
First, my results in a relative short amount of time have been nothing less than great. That is saying a lot when using ingredients like Tretinoin and Hydroquinone which can sabotage efforts in the short term. I attribute this to thoughtful ingredients that play well together and a supportive structure to the process.
With that said, I do have a couple of suggestions for improvement, but they are nits and somewhat personal:
- A couple of very essential products are missing from the Agency line for it to be more completely turnkey (as I had hoped). These would be a physical sunscreen as well as a Vitamin C formula. In Agency’s defense, they have recommendations for these products on their blog. It may also be that they will develop these products in the future.
- Customization and personalization are selling points for the Agency line; however, no live communication happens to deliver on that promise. While I realize that live communication becomes complex (and expensive) very quickly, my suggestion would be to include the option of just 1 live conversation with the provider for the initial intake.
I intend to continue on for the next 6 months to see how my skin continues to improve and how Agency, the company, continues to evolve.
For the time being, at least, it looks like I will be staying at this particular all-inclusive skincare resort.
This post was a comprehensive review of Agency Skincare, an anti-aging skincare line created in 2021 and a member of a growing faction of more personalized dermatology. Topics covered include why I chose Agency to review, the Agency process, product, pricing and finally, whether Agency skincare is worth it. I also published before and after photos.
I would love to hear comments from any of you who may have tried this line or something similar.
Thank you for reading!