What Skincare I Loved Whilst Taking Accutane
Adult acne is a very taboo subject in a world which is OBSESSED by clear skin. We're more obsessed than ever about looking perfect, and with so many easily accessible filters and skin smoothing apps and good makeup on the market, often if you have acne its so easily to cover it up. However, I like so many understand that no matter what measures you take, and methods you have readily available to hide it, adult acne can be a soul destroying issue and can take a real toll on your mental health and self confidence. Despite 80% of British 11-30 year-olds suffering from the condition at some point, because we can so easily hide it with our millenial methods, we don't even realise there's others out there going through the same things as us!
I wish I had been even more honest than I was when I was going through this journey, but putting yourself in front of a camera when you feel so ugly is very difficult, and it took me a long time to feel strong enough to do that. However, although I can't share my acne journey with you, I can share everything I know to make your experience with Isotretinon more comfortable. At the moment the closest thing to a cure for acne available right now is an extremely controversial drug called Isotretinoin (AKA Roaccutane). Its been deemed as one of the most effective drugs in treating acne, having a 95% success rate in clearing up acne in four to six months and around 70% of those who take it say they never suffer from acne again.This is a last resort for more as its pretty brutal. Roaccutane works by decreasing sebum production in the skin and is a last resort due to its bad reputation of extreme side effects. Here are some for you:
cracks in the corners of the mouth
cracking or peeling skin
inflammation of the whites of the eyes
changes in your fingernails or toenails
.....And the list goes on. The first time I saw this list was years before I decided to take the drug. I read "Should stop taking if symptoms of depression--unusual mood changes, crying spells, feelings of low self-worth, loss of interest in things you once enjoyed, new sleep problems, thoughts about hurting yourself" and changed my mind instantly, as I was already an anxious person and I just felt like I couldn't handle it. 5 years later and I was so fed up with being depressed about my skin, I thought I might aswell be depressed and eventually be cured. So I bit the bullet and went for it! It's fair to say I had a horrible time on the drug for 6/7 months, and although it could have been worse I got most of the symptoms listed above.
I started out on a low dose of 20 mg to begin with and I was horrified. In the first couple of weeks my skin went mental, and was worse than ever. Thankfully after around 14 days, things started clearing up, and by 1 month my skin was the closest it's ever been to 'clear'. As the months my skin just got better and better, however all the symptoms of the drug worsened. For me joint pain, depression and the overall dryness of my skin everywhere were the worst things. Lets just say, THEY DO NOT LIE ABOUT DRYNESS. Everything was dry. Like, so so dry that I could not stop drink water and if I ever thought skincare was obsession I already had...well this just took it to a whole new level. I became crazy! Nuts for skincare! I wouldn't dare go anyway without the whole hydration station in my bag. And at the time, it wasn't at all fun, and I spent alot of time and money finding the right products for me, however, this has given me the total 'know' about what your skin LOVES on this drug, because believe me I tried everything! So here is my ROACCUTANE LOVE LIST....I hope these top tips and product recommendations help you as much as they helped me!
Drink water ( and lots of it ) consistently throughout the day. Because Roaccutane sucks all the moisture from your body ( hence the joint paint, thirst and dryness ) its more important that ever to keep hydrated.
2. Wash with cool water
Washing with Hot water drys out your skin and hair, so keep that shower temp turned down!
3. Shave ONLY
Or use hair removal cream.Unless you want a free, and very painful chemical peel ...don't do it.
4. Add Fatty Acids to Your Diet
Accutane can increase your cholesterol and triglyceride levels, so it’s important to eat a low fat, high fiber diet while taking it. In addition, eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flax seeds, walnuts, and spinach can help to lower inflammation.
5. Prepare an on the go survival bag
Keep minis of your essential skincare with you all the time. The key to skincare working is consistency, so take breaks through your day to replenish!
The ideal skincare routine while taking Roaccutane should be non-comedogenic and aimed towards dry and sensitive skin..because I can confirm that is exactly what you'll have! Products that are alcohol and fragrance-free are better now than ever and SPF is an absolutely non negotiable step .As the skin is extremely sensitive and fragile whilst taking roaccutane it is best to avoid products designed for oily or ageing skin as these can be a be too intense. Watch out for retinoids,alpha and beta hydroxy acids, essential oils and harsh scrubs or exfoliators.
It's really important that Accutane users steer clear of harsh and drying cleansers that strip the skin of its natural oils. I think its best to look for cleansers that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. There are a few cleansers I recommend during thi sperioud of extremely dr yand dehydrated skin. My favrouites are CeraVe’s Hydrating cleanser, The Ordinary Squalene Cleanser and Avene Extremely Gentle Cleansing Lotion. All three are very gentle, fragrance free and contain minimal preservations. I found that the cleansing lotion was better for me when I hadnt worn any makeup with a splash of cold water, as actual cleansers are more soapy and naturally more drying. However of course if you are wearing makeup its really important to still clean your skin properly even when on on Roacutane.
The CereVe is nice as it contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid to add moisture to the skin. My skin LOVES anything that is Hyaloric Acid-y. The Squalane Cleanser is great at dissolving makeup and is designed to be a balm like formula changes to a clear oil-like texture when warmed by the palms. This make this cleanser fab for removing dirt AND moisturising the skin.
Morning & Daytime Moisturisers
For moisturiser, my skin craved rich intense hydration. These are my top picks! I have split them into daytime and nighttime mainly becuase of the packaging. I think moisturiser is really important during this time so just keep it lathered.The best time to apply moisturizers is within three minutes of showering, when your skin absorbs the moisture the best. If you are regular moisturising through the day and are makeup free you may want to use the Embroylisse or The ordinary. However if you want to moisturise in the morning and then apply makeup I would go with the skin food or Aquaphor. Again products you like are personal so give them a try! My personal favourite of this selection is the Weleda Skin Food for the morning and The Egyptian Magic at night. SPF is extremely important also, so these are moisturisers to use as a base, but SPF should not be forgotten if you are out and about especially.
The Ordinary Niacinamide and Zinc is a product you can use throughout your treatment and after. It helps control sebum production, decongest pores and calm redness. The Glossier Super Bounce Serum is a real heavy weight in the hydration department but feels feather light. The Ordinary Hyaluronic + B5 is one of my favourite products ever. Hyaluronic Acid - Attracts up to 1000 times its weight in water and Vitamin B5 - Hydrates and heals dry and damaged skin by stabilising skin's barrier function and promoting the growth of stronger tissue- great while on Accutane!
God, I absolutely relished in spritz during my treatment. I went through them like wildfire, because there's nothing more refreshing especially when you are wearing makeup to have a hydrated spritz!
The Avene is fab, with a more misty spritz. The fix+ again is great and seconds as a makeup fix spray and this is more of a spray then a mist. Or alternately a good basic rose water spray does the job! Note, these are all even better out of the fridge!!
A heavy-duty moisturizer for the body is an absolute neccesity on Roaccutane. Not only does the face end up crust central, but the body needs extra hydration TLC too! These are the ones I love! I also suggest showering with an oily body wash, and regular exfoliating in the shower with a body mit or brush.
If there's one thing you're going to go through a whole a lot of while taking Roaccutane - it's LIP BALM. And not just any old lip bam does the job, it really needs to be long lasting to stop you from having to reapply every five minutes. These are my favourite products for the lips, however if your out and about and in the sun make sure you combine these with an SPF on top. I really think the key to managing extreme dryness is layering up products, not one product will give you everything you need. In this line up the glossier balm, Weleda and Homeoplasmine are fab balms! The Gengigel is actually a treatment for the mouth like ulcers and sore gums, this is great for the very split dry lips! Its tacky and soothing, and a nice add on to use underneath your balm or to pop on overnight. Definitely invest!
As you probably know your new sun-sensitive skin is VERY prone to burning. Even on cloudy days SPF , especially balm, is a product that should be glued to your hand all day. I love this Clinique stick, because its perfect for in the pocket and doubling up on top of you lip balm, and for pesky particularly dry areas. The EltaMD is a brilliant sun block. It has zinc, which blocks UVA and UVB, and niacinamide which helps dull the redness youll get on Accutane. The Altruist is a great SPF mist, which is super convenient to take out and about and to use without getting messy. Also like the stick, great to double up onto of base products.
There are a few short-term side effects of Roaccutane on the eyes including dry eyes, blurred vision, tears, and conjunctivitis. Dry eyes were the biggest thing for me and eye drops saved the day. Basic hydrating drops will do the trick and avoiding contact lenses while you're on the treatment.
Makeup is of course still essential for a lot of us even during treatment. These are my favourite hydrating complexion products, that have a creamy feel so keep you looking and feeling fresh! combine these with a nice cool spritz...heaven!
Things in life that are certain and getting the worst flaky scalp ever while taking Roaccutane is one of them. While there are so many anti-dandruff shampoos on the market, this was by far my favourite, and when I was really desperate I would use Head and Shoulders. If you don't like ginger, maybe try a sample size first but for the price I thought this was fab, and I love The Body Shop! Another top tip is shower and wash your hair with colder water as hot water is drying, and maybe try an apple cider vinegar rinse between washes!
Roaccutane usually works its way out of the system over a period of about 28 days after stopping treatment. You'll probably notice that after a week or so of stopping the medication, the intense dryness starts to improve. Over this time the skin should become less sensitive and fragile and should you can start easing back to your regular routine. I now found I stick to a acne prone skin routine, and focus on hydration, and lots of it! Retinoids and AHAs/BHAs can come back on the scene and are good to use as a maintenance treatment at night after Roaccutane as these help to keep the skin clear of comedones and reduce any marks or scarring that the acne has caused.
Skin is still delicate in the months after taking a course of Roaccutane so avoid any invasive treatments and make sure your SPF is still your bestie! I hope you love these products and tips and feel free to reach out if you have any more Qs!