Isotretinoin, also known as accutane or roaccutane is a form of vitamin A and is a prescription oral course given to those with severe or consistent acne. This treatment is given by a dermatologist and I highly recommend consulting your GP if you suffer from acne.
My acne journey
In February 2019, I finished my course of isotretinoin, a form of roaccutane / accutane. This is a treatment for severe acne, and unless you’re suffering from this, I wouldn’t recommend going on this treatment as it’s very heavy and the side effects can be brutal. I’d recommend reading more about this on the NHS website. I want to emphasise that I am not medically trained, and you should always consult your GP if you’re struggling with severe acne.
It’s a process getting isotretinoin treatment, and I think it’s worth mentioning that I’ve tried antibiotics and topical treatments before being put on isotretinoin. Please consult your GP for medical advise. In this post, I simply want to share my experience with the treatment and the products that I found helped me the most during this treatment.
Side effects I experienced
One of the most common side effects on isotretinoin is dryness. The dryness can be extreme; we’re talking dry everywhere from skin to lips to hair. The reason for this is that isotretinoin will reduce the amount of natural oil made by your skin so blocked pores are less likely. The focus on this post will be to share the products I loved during my treatment to combat the dryness and sensitivity in the skin.
Products I loved during my treatment
La Roche Posay Effaclar H cleansing cream and moisturiser
You’re going to want to keep your skincare routine simple on this treatment, simply because your skin will be so sensitive products can feel uncomfortable to apply. However, La Roche Posay have a line of products specifically designed for those on acne treatment, and I can highly recommend it. I started with the cleansing cream and moisturiser the same day I took my first pill, and I loved these. The cleansing cream is very gentle and feels soothing and not drying. The moisturiser is non-comedogenic, contains no parabens and contains ingredients such as squalane and niacinamide.
Purito Centella toner and serum
If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that centella is one of my favourite skin care ingredients and that these products are my holy grails. I used these before, during and after, and I honestly think they made a huge difference on my skin during the treatment. Centella reduces redness and is calming, as well as being moisturising. As purging is a huge part of the treatment, I highly recommend something to soothe the redness and inflammation, and these really do the trick.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
I have to admit that at one point, my skin was so sore and sensitive I needed extra moisture, and I went for the CeraVe moisturiser in the pot. It’s designed for dry skin, and is a rich cream which contains 3 ceramides to help protect the skin’s natural barrier. On the worst days, I used this on my face as well as on my body. This moisturiser is a miracle! I had some very dry patches on my arms, and this moisturiser completely took care of these dry patches. It also comes in a huge pot, so it’s good value in my opinion.
HadaLabo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Face Foam
When I ran out of the La Roche Posay cleanser, I had this Hada Labo cleanser lying around at home, and I thought I’d try it. Although I do usually prefer a milky / creamy cleanser, it worked for me during my treatment. It didn’t dry out my skin and didn’t feel stripping, so this might also be worth a try.
Banila Co Clean It Zero
If you’re using makeup, please remember to use an oil cleanser or cleansing balm as your first step to ensure you’re double cleansing. I found the Banila cleansing balm to be perfect during my treatment; not too harsh, removed the makeup perfectly and didn’t leave my skin feeling damaged. Follow with the LRP or Hada Labo cleanser.
The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil
In my opinion, this is essential whilst on the treatment. Cold pressed rose hip oil is fabulous for dry skin, but it is a bit oily, so if you can’t stand it alone, you can mix a few drops in with your moisturiser. Rose hip oil is also great for reducing inflammation and hyperpigmentation, but note that for reducing the appearance of red marks and scars, it’s a very slow process. Regardless, it’s a must for moisture and hydration!
Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Gel
I hope you already know that you should be using sun protection daily, but if you’re not doing it, please do so whilst on this treatment. Your skin will be very sensitive and trust me, you will burn, even during the winter. I found the Cosrx sun cream to work well for me, it’s one of my favourite sun creams and it sits well under makeup, is not greasy and didn’t break me out. You need to find what works for you, but I really recommend this little gem.
As for lips.. Your lips will be extremely dry. I tried so many different lip balms, and honestly, what worked best for me, was to swap between a few so that my lips didn’t get too used to one single product. Some of the balms I found best was the La Roche Posay Cicaplast Lips, O’Keeffes Lip Repair, Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask and a variety of Carmex. I know a lot of people also swear by Aquaphor, but I never tried it as I was happy with what I had.
I’m now almost two years past treatment, and my skin has stayed clear. I think it’s common to get a pimple here and there and for those who think they’re never going to see a pimple again, that’s an unrealistic expectation. However, your acne should hopefully not come back as severe as it once was.
When it comes to scarring, red marks will lighten after you finish your treatment (unless they do during the treatment), but pitted scars are more difficult to reduce. Please do give it time even after you finish your treatment, but if you want to try some treatments for post acne marks, you can consider a vitamin c serum, micro needling for pitted scars or a chemical peel at your beauty salon.
Have you been on isotretinoin, then feel free to share your best tips too! And if you have any questions, I’m more than happy to do my best to answer them.