Accutane is a powerful medication used to treat severe acne.
However, it comes with a common side effect almost 100% of users experience: dry lips.
This occurrence is so common it got its own name, often referred to as “Accutane lips,” and can be a challenge to deal with.
However, fortunately, there are steps you can take to combat the lip dryness associated with this drug, and this doesn’t mean you only have to rely on chapstick, which often doesn’t help much.
In this article, I will talk about Accutane and why it causes lip dryness, as well as how to best combat this condition with a simple lip care routine.
Finally, I will also give you the best product recommendations that will help you get your lips back to being soft and smooth in no time.
What is Accutane, and What Does It Do?
Accutane is the brand name for the medication known as isotretinoin, an oral medication used to treat severe acne on the face and body.
It is also commonly prescribed to people whose acne has resisted previous treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide, adapalene, and antibiotics, as well as those dealing with severe acne in larger areas such as the chest and back.
And the reason why Accutane is so effective is that it works by inhibiting the oil-producing glands and reducing the gland’s size. Once the gland’s size is reduced, the gland will then produce less oil.
This can help acne since excess oil is essentially food for the acne-causing bacteria that live on the skin; therefore, lack of it will cause the bacteria to become starved, thus minimizing proliferation and eventually minimizing acne, too.
The Side Effects of Accutane
Despite its efficacy, Accutane is known to come with some unpleasant side effects, the most common ones including dry skin, chapped lips, and dry eyes.
Sometimes, people that are going through a long course of Accutane can experience joint pain, headaches, and hair loss, but these are rarer side effects that don’t happen to most people.
But despite that, it’s important to note that one of the main reasons for these side effects is the lack of our natural oil because we need the oil produced by our sebaceous glands to lubricate our skin, joints, hair, and eyes.
Without it, everything will dry out and start to chap, itch, sting, and lead to inflammation and discomfort.
The Effects of Accutane on Lip Health
Due to shrinking the sebaceous glands and causing a decrease in skin-lubricating oil, Accutane is known to cause chapped lips or so-called “Accutane lips.”
This means that during your treatment on this medication, you will likely experience moderately to severely dry and cracked lips as your skin loses its natural moisture.
“Accutane lips” are one of the most common side effects of the drug, with almost 100% of people taking the medication experiencing them to some degree.
This can be especially problematic since constantly cracked and dry lips can not only be uncomfortable but they can also lead to infections, bleeding, and scarring if left untreated.
How to Manage Dry Lips While on Accutane?
Besides regularly applying lip balm to soften the chaps, there are a few other ways to relieve dry lips while on Accutane.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on the best lip care routine while on Accutane:
Exfoliate Your Lips
While using exfoliating acids or scrubs on your face is a hard no while taking Accutane, you can safely exfoliate your lips to remove the dead and dried skin cells and help promote healing.
However, exfoliating your lips while on Accutane has to be done with the utmost caution to prevent any further damage.
Therefore, invest in a mild lip scrub that contains fine granules that won’t cause damage to the lips, and apply a little bit of the product on the surface.
Proceed to gently massage the product in circular motions for 1-2 minutes and carefully remove it with a damp cloth.
You can do this twice to three times a week for the best results.
Invest In a Quality Lip Balm
While $5 chapsticks are the most convenient option for many, the truth is that these products don’t work as well because they don’t contain hydrating ingredients that will bring moisture to your lips and relieve some of that dryness.
Instead, they only contain some type of wax that is intended to create an occlusive seal on the surface of the lips to prevent moisture from evaporating.
However, if the lips are already dry, the wax isn’t protecting any moisture from evaporating because there’s none to begin with.
Thus, when you’re dealing with “Accutane lips,” you want to purchase a quality lip balm that contains hydrating ingredients such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid as well as some sort of softening oils and waxes that will actually infuse the lips with moisture first and then create a protective seal to prevent it from evaporating and leaving your lips dry.
Try a Lip Mask
Another great trick to keep your lips hydrated is using a lip mask.
These are usually made from ingredients that calm the skin while providing additional moisture.
Apply them directly over your lips or on top of a lip balm and leave them overnight for the most soothing and moisturizing effect.
Whether you’re going to apply your facial sunscreen on your lips or a lip balm that contains SPF of at least 30 or higher, it’s important to wear sunscreen on your lips every day, especially if you’re going to be outside for extended periods.
This is because the sun can also damage our skin and cause further irritation and dryness on our lips, so always make sure that you protect them from the UV rays, especially while on Accutane.
Carefully Pick Your Lipstick
Finally, being on Accutane doesn’t mean you can’t wear makeup, but it does mean that you have to be more careful when picking certain beauty products, such as lipstick, as some of them can really dry out your lips and make things even worse.
Therefore, while you’re on Accutane, stay away from liquid lipsticks or anything that’s overly mattifying and opt for something more hydrating, such as a creamy lipstick with a velvet finish, a tinted lip balm or oil that won’t cause discomfort or exacerbate the chaps, and will soften your lips.
The Best Lip Scrubs While on Accutane
Here are the best lip scrubs that will gently exfoliate your lips without causing further damage while on Accutane:
Tree Hut Sugarlips Lip Scrub
The Tree Hut Sugarlips Lip Scrub contains natural ingredients such as sugar, shea butter, and jojoba oil to make your lips soft and smooth.
It’s super affordable yet effective at removing dead skin cells from your lips with its tiny granules of sugar.
Plus, it smells really good, too, due to the addition of soothing peppermint.
Fresh Sugar Lip Polish Exfoliator
The Fresh Sugar Lip Polish Exfoliator is a great lip scrub if you’re looking for something on the higher end and natural-based, as it’s made from all-natural ingredients such as sugar, shea butter, and skin-softening jojoba oil.
It has a creamy consistency that makes the exfoliating process easier without further drying your lips out.
La Mer The Lip Polish
Although super pricey, the La Mer Lip Polish is probably the best option on the list, therefore, if you can afford it, you certainly won’t regret buying it.
It has a beautiful consistency that resembles polish more than a scrub and is incredibly gentle on the skin.
Made with La Mer’s proprietary Marine Micro Minerals, the feel, the scent, and the effect of this product make it totally worth the splurge.
The Best Lip Balms While on Accutane
Here are the best lip balms that you should always carry with you while on Accutane:
Ultra-nourishing and fantastic for nighttime use, the Embryolisse Cicalisse is a great option if you’re looking for something that will deeply hydrate your lips and keep them moist throughout the night.
Formulated with acexamic acid, a component recognized to help accelerate the skin’s restoration process, and film-forming hyaluronic acid to hydrate and restore the skin’s appearance, softness, and smoothness.
Finally, a mixture of sugars, butters, aloe vera, and wound-healing vitamin E make this balm a must-have if you want to heal your Accutane lips fast.
EltaMD UV Lip Balm BroadSpectrum SPF 36
While the Embryolisse Cicalisse is perfect for nighttime, if you’re looking for a lip balm that will protect your sensitive lips from the sun’s rays as well, then the EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad Spectrum SPF 36 is the one.
This creamy, mineral-based lip balm contains zinc oxide that creates a physical barrier between the UV rays and the skin, along with 5% Hydromanil, a proprietary moisturizing technology that attracts and retains moisture in the lips.
The addition of nourishing vitamin E and vitamin C esters infuses the skin with antioxidant activity and prevents free radical damage that can prolong the healing process.
Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Balm SPF 50
Finally, if you prefer a tinted option that still protects your lips from damaging UV rays, look no further than the Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Balm SPF 50.
Available in three natural shades, the balm contains hydrating emollients along with jojoba esters and plant-based squalane to soften your lips while providing full coverage color in just one swipe.
The Best Lip Masks While on Accutane
Here are the best lip masks that will keep your lips soft and nourished while on Accutane:
Belif Aqua Bomb Overnight Lip Mask
Fantastic as a base mask that can be worn on its own or followed up with a heavier, oil-based mask if needed, the Belif Aqua Bomb Overnight Lip Mask contains lightweight, hydrating, and soothing components such as Centella Asiatica, madecassoside that helps restore the skin’s protective barrier, and shea butter that creates a protective film to keep the moisture in.
It’s super lightweight yet still incredibly hydrating and suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and chapped lips.
Kiehl’s Buttermask Intense Repair Lip Treatment
Kiehl’s Buttermask Intense Repair Lip Treatment is an ultra-nourishing oil-based mask that can be used as an overnight treatment or a quick pick-me-up in the morning.
It contains natural ingredients such as shea butter, almond oil, coconut oil, squalane, and various types of waxes to instantly soften your lips and create a protective seal on the surface to prevent moisture from evaporating.
Fresh Sugar Recovery Lip Mask Advanced Therapy
The Fresh Sugar Recovery Lip Mask Advanced Therapy is a fantastic overnight mask for dry, chapped lips.
It contains nourishing ingredients such as hyaluronic spheres to attract and hold onto moisture as well as intensely hydrate the lips, while various types of waxes aid in creating a protective barrier against dehydration.
Plus, grape seed oil helps soothe irritated skin and protect the delicate skin on the lips from free radical damage.
The Best Lipsticks While on Accutane
Here are some of the best nourishing lipsticks that won’t dry out your lips while on Accutane:
Glossier Generation G Sheer Matte Lipstick
While matte lipsticks are generally a no-go during an Accutane treatment due to their drying formula, the Glossier Generation G Sheer Matte Lipstick is an exception.
It has a creamy texture that glides on easily and dries down to a semi-matte, weightless finish without looking dry or cakey.
Plus, it contains glycerin which creates a hydrating barrier between your lips and the pigment, therefore preventing further drying of the skin.
NARS Afterglow Sensual Shine Hydrating Lipstick
Perfectly velvety and with a moist, luminous finish, the NARS Afterglow Sensual Shine Hydrating Lipstick is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something that won’t dry out your lips.
It contains a blend of hydrating ingredients such as shea and mango butter to provide moisture while keeping them nourished and comfortable throughout the day.
Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm
Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Volupté Shine Lipstick Balm is the perfect glossy lipstick you can use while taking Accutane.
Formulated with a unique blend of oils, waxes, and emollients, it provides moisture to the lips while also providing protection from dehydration.
Plus, it has a beautiful, glossy finish that will make your lips look stunning.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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