Musely FaceRx is an online prescription skincare service and telemedicine platform founded by entrepreneur Jack Jia in 2019. The company was designed to minimize the time, money, and effort often required to meet with a dermatologist and receive prescriptions to treat cosmetic skin concerns.
Musely’s board of board-certified dermatologists (lead by Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marie Jhin, M.D.) developed a small product line of highly effective formulas that could be customized for each user’s unique skincare needs. A user can meet online with a board-certified dermatologist, who will then prescribe a customized treatment based on one of these formulas so that they can tackle their cosmetic concerns. Musely treatments focus on signs of aging, dark spots (including melasma and hyperpigmentation), rosacea, and hair loss.
A key component of the Musely model is that the company offers medications that are freshly made by one of the company’s select pharmacies. By contrast, many mass-produced medications end up sitting on the shelf before even making it to the consumer’s hands. The idea behind this is that you receive super potent formulas that will offer the best possible results.
The Musely Online Consultation Process
In order to access Musely FaceRx treatments, users are required to go through the company’s consultation process. These treatments are exclusive to the company, which means you can’t have them prescribed by a dermatologist not associated with the company. The consultation fee is $20, and the company does not currently take insurance.
To get started, users go to the website and determine which treatment(s) they’d like to use, based on the concerns they’re looking to address. They then add this treatment to their cart and start the checkout process to begin the telemedicine “visit” with a dermatologist. This involves
answering a questionnaire and uploading photos of the area they’re looking to treat. This typically takes less than five minutes.
After filling out the questionnaire and uploading photos, the user then enters their payment information. That’s all that is required on the patient side for getting their prescription. Unlike a traditional dermatologist appointment, there’s no need to meet face-to-face (over video conference or in-person), and the process is super quick and streamlined.
A doctor reviews the information provided by the user within 24 hours to determine whether the treatment is appropriate, and then prescribes the customized prescription, which is valid for a year. It is then sent to one of Musely’s select pharmacies to be made, and then shipped right to the user’s home.
Common Active Ingredients in Musely Products
With the exception of the company’s over-the-counter sunscreen and cleanser, all Musely treatments require a prescription. This is because they are made with prescription-strength active ingredients to provide more dramatic results (compared to other over-the-counter solutions). While the active ingredients you use will depend on the product and specific formulation prescribed to you, there are a few frequently used ingredients in the brand’s formulations:
- Tretinoin: Tretinoin is a prescription retinoid that has been FDA-approved for softening wrinkles, improving skin texture, fading hyperpigmentation, and treating acne. It targets these issues by stimulating collagen production and boosting skin cell turnover. It’s one of the best anti-aging ingredients available, and is often considered to be the gold-standard for those looking to achieve a more youthful complexion.
- Hydroquinone: Many of the Musely dark spot formulas contain hydroquinone. This highly effective brightening ingredient blocks the formation of melanin to fade the appearance of discoloration. While it was at one point available over-the-counter in lower concentrations, this ingredient can only be used with a prescription. Hydroquinone isn’t suitable for long-term use, and instead is meant to be used until the desired results are achieved. Your dermatologist will guide you on how long you should use it.
- Azelaic Acid: Azelaic acid is often referred to as a gentler alternative to hydroquinone. It blocks melanin production to brighten the skin, and also reduces inflammation and fights acne. Over-the-counter azelaic acid formulations are available, but a prescription is needed for formulas containing a 15% or higher concentration. It can be used long-term, and is also considered safe to use during pregnancy and nursing (although you should always refer to your obstetrician’s instructions).
Musely Product Reviews
Now, let’s talk about some of the most popular prescription products under the Musely brand. Each product mentioned below has either been tested personally by me or another product tester on the GoodGlow team.
|Dark Spot Treatment
|The Spot Cream
|Peel for Dark Spots
|The Spot Peel
|The Anti-Aging Cream
|For Neck and Chest Anti-Aging:
|The Neck Cream
Best Dark Spot Treatment:
The Spot Cream
The Spot Cream from Musely is formulated with powerful ingredients that have been proven to fade dark spots and brighten the complexion.
Suitable for all skin types, although those with very dry or sensitive skin may want to avoid the hydroquinone formulations.
Three of the formulations are made with hydroquinone, which is the gold-standard for treating dark spots.
A pregnancy and nursing-safe formulation omits hydroquinone, and instead uses tranexamic and azelaic acids.
Brightens and Promotes Even Skin Tone
Active ingredients help fade the appearance of dark spots for a more even skin tone.
The Spot Cream is a treatment prescribed to patients looking to tackle melasma, sun spots, discoloration, age spots, and/or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from acne. This formula is powered by science-backed ingredients that brighten and fade dark spots for a more even skin tone. It can be applied on a daily basis, although usage ultimately depends on what your dermatologist prescribes. Your dermatologist will tell you how long you should be on the treatment.
This cream comes in four different formulations, most of which are powered by hydroquinone. As mentioned above, this ingredient is considered to be one of the gold-standards for lightening dark spots.
Erase and M+ both contain a very potent 12% concentration of this dark spot lightening ingredient. If you are prescribed either of these formulations, the initial fill will also include hydrocortisone. This mild steroid helps minimize inflammation, redness, and itching as your skin first adapts to the hydroquinone. Nurture, on the other hand, contains a lower (but still effective) 6% concentration of hydroquinone, and does not contain hydrocortisone.
HQ Free+ is the option without hydroquinone that is safe for those who are pregnant or nursing (although you should always first consult with your obstetrician before adding a new product to your routine). Two of the key active ingredients in this formulation are tranexamic acid and azelaic acid. Both ingredients block the production of melanin to fight dark spots. Azelaic acid also supports skin renewal and tackles bacteria that can lead to acne and rosacea.
Every formula under The Spot Cream umbrella also contains a 2% concentration of niacinamide. This multi-tasking ingredient minimizes inflammation and boosts smoothness, and has also been shown to have a positive effect on discoloration.
Depending on the formula you’re prescribed, other active ingredients in your treatment may include kojic acid, tretinoin, and/or vitamin C. All of these ingredients have been proven to be effective treatments for improving the appearance of dark spots.
All of these formulations are generally suitable for all skin types, but those with sensitive and/or very dry skin may want to practice caution with the three that contain hydroquinone, since this ingredient is known to cause irritation and dryness. In these cases, it may be safer to stick with HQ Free+ (although the formula prescribed is up to the discretion of your Musely dermatologist).
GoodGlow product tester Sabrina M. (female, age 28) tested this product for 24 days to see how it affected her acne scarring and dark spots. She did notice a visible reduction of dark spots during this short time period. This aligns with many other Musely Spot Cream reviews, where users noted they saw an improvement after just a couple weeks. She also noted that she experienced fewer acne breakouts, although they didn’t completely subside.
The Spot Cream Pros:
- Prescription-strength formula with a blend of highly effective ingredients
- Brightens and effectively fades dark spots
The Spot Cream Cons:
- May cause irritation and dryness
Best Peel for Dark Spots:
The Spot Peel
This peel from Musely is designed to be used every three to six months to quickly fade discoloration and promote an even skin tone.
Suitable for all skin types, but may be too aggressive for sensitive skin.
High concentrations of active ingredients quickly work to improve skin tone.
Peel is meant to be used every three to six months for optimal results.
Promotes Even Skin Tone
Hydroquinone or azelaic acid work with other powerful ingredients to fade discoloration.
The Spot Peel helps target discoloration for a more even and radiant skin tone, and can be done every three to six months. This fast-acting formula is effective on its own, but can be used in tandem with The Spot Cream for maximum results.
There are two different formulations of this peel: Boost and Burst. Burst contains a 12% concentration of hydroquinone, whereas Boost has a 20% concentration of azelaic acid (for those looking for a gentler hydroquinone alternative). Both of these formulas tackle dark spots by blocking the production of melanin.
Beyond these key differences, these formulations otherwise have the same formula. They contain tretinoin, arbutin, vitamin C, and titanium dioxide, all of which play a role in improving the appearance of discoloration.
It should be noted that The Spot Peel is an aggressive treatment, and you will likely experience some side effects. Some redness and mild peeling may occur the first three days after the treatment. On days four and five, some patients experience more intense peeling.
GoodGlow product tested Addison M. (female, age 31) tried out The Spot Peel for her dark spots. While it did reduce her dark spots, she notes that it did noticeably increase her skin’s sensitivity to the sun. WIth that in mind, following proper sun protection practices is especially important after using this peel.
The Spot Peel Pros:
- Potent, fast-acting formula
- Prescription-strength peel made with proven ingredients
The Spot Peel Pros:
- May cause irritation and dryness
Best for Anti-Aging:
The Anti-Aging Night Cream
This prescription tretinoin cream works to soften fine lines and wrinkles, improve sun damage, and prevent breakouts for a youthful and clear complexion.
Suitable for all skin types.
Hydrating and Soothing
Niacinamide and hyaluronic acid help counteract the side effects of tretinoin.
Formula helps treat and prevent blemishes and refine pores.
Prescription tretinoin targets multiple signs of aging.
The Anti-Aging Night Cream partners a prescription-strength concentration of tretinoin (the FDA-approved gold-standard for anti-aging) with other ingredients that work together to soften fine lines and wrinkles and fade sun damage and hyperpigmentation. While it’s specifically marketed towards anti-aging purposes, the formula speeds up cell turnover, which makes it ideal for treating and preventing breakouts.
There are three different formulations of this cream, but they all contain the same ingredients. The Gentle formula has a 0.025% concentration of tretinoin (the lowest available), and is created for those new to using retinoids (as well as those who have more sensitive skin). Next up is the Balanced formula with a 0.05% concentration, and then the Veteran formula with a 0.1% concentration (which is ideal for those who have experience with prescription-strength retinoids).
All of these formulas also contain a 4% concentration of niacinamide, which helps calm inflammation, refine pores, and brighten the complexion. They also contain a 0.5% concentration of hyaluronic acid, a humectant that attracts moisture to the skin and locks it in.
GoodGlow product tester Ashley Wilson (female, age 37) tested out the Anti-Aging Night Cream. She found the formula helped with signs of aging, and also improved skin tone. She didn’t experience any adverse side effects.
Anti-Aging Night Cream Pros:
- Prescription formula helps target signs of aging and breakouts
- Made with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to counteract dryness and irritation
Anti-Aging Night Cream Cons:
- May cause irritation and dryness, especially when skin is adjusting to the formula
Best for Neck and Chest Anti-Aging:
The Neck Cream
The Neck Cream is created to treat skin concerns around the neck or chest (depending on the formula used), helping to improve skin tone and soften signs of aging.
Suitable for all skin types.
Hydrating and Soothing
Niacinamide and hyaluronic acid improve moisture levels and calm the skin.
Improves Skin Tone
Tretinoin (and in the case of the Chest formula, hydroquinone) helps fade the appearance of dark spots.
Tretinoin targets multiple signs of aging.
The Neck Cream comes in two different formulations: Neck and Chest. Both are meant to target signs of aging in those areas to improve the overall appearance of the skin.
The Neck formula is similar to the Gentle formula of the Anti-Aging Night Cream. Like that formula, it contains a 0.025% concentration of anti-aging tretinoin, which helps firm the skin and smooth the appearance of lines. It also contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to boost moisture levels and calm inflammation.
The Chest formula also has anti-aging benefits, but is also targeted towards fading sun damage – a common skin concern on the chest. It contains a slightly lower 0.01% concentration of tretinoin, as well as an 8% concentration of brightening hydroquinone. Like the Neck formula, this solution also contains niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.
GoodGlow product tester Ashley Wilson also tried this cream for one month, and was prescribed the Chest formula. She found that it helped tighten the appearance of the skin, and she didn’t experience any adverse side effects.
The Neck Cream Pros:
- Prescription tretinoin improves visible signs of aging for a more youthful appearance
- Includes hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to hydrate and calm the skin
The Neck Cream Cons:
- May cause irritation and dryness
Final Verdict: Is Musely Worth It?
Musely is an excellent resource that allows more people to get highly-effective prescription-based treatments from board-certified dermatologists. Given that the company expands accessibility to board-certified dermatologists who prescribe quality, science-backed treatments, Musely is definitely worth trying.
Of course, nothing beats meeting with a board-certified dermatologist in-person. When you meet face-to-face, a dermatologist will better be able to assess your needs and talk through your concerns with you. They’ll also be able to actually see your skin in person, which is a major upside that you don’t get through Musely. Ultimately, if meeting with a dermatologist is available to you, I’d recommend first going down this route before turning to Musely.
As you’re considering treatments for your skin concerns, I also highly recommend that you take a look at your diet and current skincare routine – especially if acne is a major issue. Our lifestyle can play a major role in our skin health, and sometimes making shifts to our diet or routine is the key to improving our complexion.