While no one can deny that Accutane side effects can be uncomfortable, this certainly doesn’t mean that you must suffer through them without any help.
The right skincare routine can do wonders to relieve some of the common discomforts caused by Accutane and even improve your skin’s overall health and appearance and accelerate healing.
By understanding which ingredients to include and avoid in your routine, you can effectively manage side effects such as dryness, redness, and irritation while also ensuring the efficacy of your Accutane treatment.
Therefore, continue reading to learn about what Accutane is, how it works, and how you can create the best Accutane skincare routine that won’t overwhelm your delicate skin but will provide the necessary nourishment and comfort it needs.
What is Accutane?
accutane, clinically known as isotretinoin, is a potent medication for treating severe acne on the face and body.
It’s a form of vitamin A that reduces the amount of oil released in your skin by promoting apoptosis or programmed cell death in oil-producing cells.
This action decreases oil production and reduces the food source for bacteria that cause acne, thus leading to clearer skin.
Accutane is typically prescribed for individuals who have not responded to other acne treatments and can only be obtained with a prescription from a doctor.
It’s available in oral form and is usually taken daily for 15-20 weeks, although treatment duration may vary depending on the severity of acne and individual response.
Besides the name Accutane, isotretinoin can also be found under various brand names, including Roaccutane, Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret, etc.
The Side Effects of Accutane
The most common side effects of Accutane include dryness of the skin, lips, and eyes. Other side effects may include muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, and vision changes.
Additionally, Accutane can also cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy, which is why doctors closely monitor female patients while on the medication and require them to take birth control pills.
In rarer cases, Accutane may also cause mental health issues, including depression and suicidal thoughts.
However, there are no studies that link this powerful medication to these conditions or give a potential explanation as to why an increase in mental health issues may occur.
A potential explanation as to why Accutane may cause depression in some individuals is that the high vitamin A dosage (hypervitaminosis) can be extremely harsh on the digestive, liver, endocrine, circulatory, and skeletal organs and systems in the body.
This action can cause symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, headaches, etc., which can worsen some individuals’ mental health and well-being.
Therefore, while the effects of Accutane are individual and cannot be predicted, it’s essential to discuss any concerns with a doctor before starting treatment.
Additionally, patients are advised to report any changes in mood or behavior to their doctor immediately while taking this medication.
The Best Morning Skincare Routine While on Accutane
A morning skincare routine for Accutane users should focus on skin protection.
Here is a step-by-step guide to the best morning skincare routine while on Accutane:
- Start with a gentle, non-foaming cleanser to clean your skin without irritating or stripping its fragile barrier.
- Follow up with a nourishing moisturizer to soothe and protect your skin from dryness, flakiness, and irritation.
- Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, as Accutane can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
This routine prepares your skin for the day ahead and protects it from harmful environmental factors like UV rays and pollution.
The Best Nighttime Skincare While on Accutane
The nighttime skincare routine for Accutane users should emphasize skin repair.
Here is a step-by-step guide to the best nighttime skincare routine while on Accutane:
- Begin with the same gentle cleanser used in the morning.
- Follow this with a hydrating toner or serum to replenish lost moisture and improve skin texture.
- Finally, apply a thicker moisturizer containing ingredients like ceramides to lock in hydration and strengthen the skin barrier.
This routine helps nourish and strengthen skin damaged by Accutane so that it can heal and repair itself faster.
The Best Cleansers While on Accutane
Cleansing your face is the most important part of your skincare routine, as this allows you to remove the buildup of dirt and pollution accumulating on your skin throughout the day.
However, choosing the right cleanser for you while on Accutane can be challenging, as you need to find one that is mild, non-medicated, and does not contain any alcohol, fragrances, or exfoliating agents.
Here are the best cleansers to use while on Accutane:
Avène – Extremely Gentle Cleanser
The Extremely Gentle Cleanser by Avène is specifically formulated for sensitive and reactive skin that gets easily irritated by climatic conditions, dermatological treatments, and extreme dryness, making it the best cleanser when on Accutane, due to the irritating effect the drug can have on the skin.
It effectively removes dirt, makeup, pollution, and impurities while also soothing the skin and leaving it with long-lasting comfort and hydration.
It is free from fragrance, parabens, artificial colors, and alcohol, which can easily irritate skin undergoing an Accutane treatment.
CeraVe – Hydrating Cleanser
The CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is a cult favorite due to its ability to effectively cleanse and deeply hydrate dry, sensitive, and reactive skin.
It gently sweeps away dirt, pollution, and impurities without stripping away moisture and is enriched with hyaluronic acid to strengthen and restore the natural barrier function for long-lasting hydration.
It’s also free from soaps and fragrances, which means it’s more than suitable for skin dried out by Accutane.
The Ordinary – Squalane Cleanser
The Ordinary’s Squalane Cleanser is carefully formulated to cleanse and soothe dry skin while simultaneously moisturizing with a combination of hydrating squalane and other lipophilic esters.
This gentle, barely-foaming cleanser gently removes makeup and impurities without disturbing the skin’s delicate barrier or exacerbating Accutane-caused dryness and irritation.
The Best Toners While on Accutane
While toners aren’t necessary for any skincare routine, they can help draw moisture to the skin and relieve dryness and discomfort caused by Accutane.
However, when choosing a toner while on Accutane, you must opt for products containing skin-soothing, hydrating, and nourishing ingredients while avoiding those containing drying alcohol and irritating fragrant components.
Here are some of the best toners while on Accutane:
Paula’s Choice – Advanced Replenishing Toner
The Paula’s Choice Advanced Replenishing Toner has a milky lotion-like consistency that glides smoothly on the skin, providing immediate hydration.
The toner is rich in hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which can help strengthen the skin barrier and improve hydration, making it fantastic for combating the dry skin commonly experienced by Accutane users.
The toner also contains skin-soothing ingredients such as panthenol and bisabolol that alleviate redness and inflammation, common side effects of Accutane.
EltaMD – Skin Recovery Essence Toner
The EltaMD Skin Recovery Essence Toner has an essence-like consistency designed to deeply hydrate and nourish the skin.
It contains ingredients such as copper peptides, humectants, soothing saccharides, as well as a patented amino acid blend that helps repair the skin barrier, visibly reduce the appearance of redness, minimize the risk of irritation, and increase hydration.
The toner also includes propanediol, another soothing ingredient that can help reduce irritation and redness caused by Accutane.
Vivant Skin Care – Skin-Nourishing Toner
The Vivant Skin Care Skin-Nourishing Toner is a deeply nourishing solution with a light, easily absorbable consistency.
It boasts an array of skin-loving ingredients, including antioxidants and hydrating agents, designed to soothe and replenish moisture in the skin.
This makes it an excellent choice for Accutane users, as it helps counteract the dryness and irritation often associated with the medication, promoting overall skin health and comfort.
The Best Moisturizers While on Accutane
Moisturizing while on Accutane is of utmost importance as your skin is going to become dry and sensitive, so you need to keep it hydrated and nourished.
It’s also important to choose the right one while your skin is in a delicate state.
Opt for one that contains a minimum of chemicals as well as no alcohol and fragrance.
Here are some of the best moisturizers while on Accutane:
Embryolisse – Lait-Creme Concentre
Embryolisse’s Lait-Creme Sensitive is a deeply moisturizing and nourishing cream developed for irritated and sensitive skin, making it a perfect moisturizer for skin sensitized from Accutane.
The soothing cream is fragrance-free and rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins that provide the skin with nutrients and protect it from pathogenic aggressors while helping it retain moisture and a healthy barrier.
Besides that, the formula has soothing aloe vera and moisturizing shea butter and beeswax, making it a thick, nourishing product suitable for dry, sensitive, and irritated skin.
CeraVe – Facial Moisturizing Lotion
Another classic for extremely dry skin on Accutane is the CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, which offers a lightweight and silky texture that provides all-day hydration.
It is efficient in helping to strengthen and restore the natural skin barrier thanks to containing a combination of barrier-strengthening ceramides, which help prevent moisture evaporation and provide the ultimate comfort for irritated, sensitized skin.
SkinCeuticals – Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
The Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 by SkinCeuticals is a replenishing cream that contains the optimal lipid ratio of 2% pure ceramides 1 and 3, 4% natural cholesterol, and 2% fatty acids, which aims to nourish the skin while simultaneously correcting Accutane-induced damage.
The unique lipid correction cream will also strengthen the skin barrier and encourage the skin to repair itself, while the creamy, fast-absorbing texture will provide it with an instant radiance as soon as applied to the skin.
It is an excellent product for dry and sensitive skin, and it can also be used as post-procedure aftercare or when starting retinol, tretinoin, or Accutane to prevent the irritation and flakiness often associated with these potent vitamin A derivatives.
The Best Sunscreens While on Accutane
Consider this the most important part of your morning skincare routine on Accutane.
Isotretinoin is a powerful ingredient that will increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, and besides the very uncomfortable burning sensation you may experience, there is also the added risk of acquiring hyperpigmentation.
You should, therefore, avoid direct sun exposure while taking Accutane and consider slathering on that sunscreen for added protection, just in case.
Here are some of the best sunscreens while on Accutane:
REN – Clean Skin Mineral SPF 30 Mattifying Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
The REN Clean Skin Mineral SPF 30 is a daily gentle physical sunscreen specifically formulated for even the most sensitive skin going through Accutane.
Infused with naturally sourced zinc oxide, the cream forms a protective shield when applied to your skin and creates a non-comedogenic barrier that intercepts the sun’s harmful rays and environmental pollutants.
Paula’s Choice – Essential Glow SPF 30
The Paula’s Choice Essential Glow SPF 30 is a moisturizing sunscreen that provides broad-spectrum protection against UV rays but also imparts a healthy glow to the skin, thanks to the formula’s illuminating mineral pigments.
In addition to that, the sunscreen also contains a cocktail of antioxidants, including kiwi, licorice, and niacinamide, which help brighten the skin and fight environmental damage.
Furthermore, the Essential Glow SPF 30 is enriched with soothing ingredients like allantoin and bisabolol, which calm the skin and minimize redness and irritation caused by Accutane.
With a lightweight and non-greasy consistency, this sunscreen is free of alcohol and irritating fragrances, making it a fantastic option for sensitive, irritated, or breakout-prone skin.
EltaMD UV – Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40
The EltaMD UV Restore Broad-Spectrum SPF 40 is a non-irritating mineral sunscreen suitable for those with dry skin caused by Accutane.
It provides high UVA and UVB protection, with an SPF of 40, and is made of transparent zinc oxide and antioxidants, which not only protect the skin from harmful sun rays but also help soothe irritation, reduce the appearance of redness and smoothen the complexion.
The Best Lip Balms While on Accutane
The lips are the softest and most delicate area of your face (right after the eyes), and, as such, they are also the most affected area by Accutane.
Dry, cracked, and bleeding lips are one of the main side effects of this powerful drug, which means you are likely to experience this adverse occurrence once you start your course of medication.
Therefore, lip balms are a must when Accutane steps its foot on the dancefloor, and here are some of the best ones you can use during this period:
Aquaphor Lip Repair Stick
The Aquaphor Lip Repair Stick is a classic choice for Accutane users due to its potent moisturizing properties, affordable price, and ability to soften the lips while relieving discomfort.
Its formulation, rich in nourishing ingredients like shea butter, soothing panthenol, and barrier-forming beeswax, works effectively to provide instant relief for dry, chapped lips while forming a protective layer on the surface to prevent moisture from evaporating.
The stick format also allows for easy application, promoting healing and keeping lips hydrated throughout the day.
NUXE – Baume Levres Reve De Miel Honey Lip Balm
The NUXE Lip Balm is a repairing and ultra-nourishing treatment that just glides onto the lips like a dream and makes them feel instantly soothed and moisturized.
Perfect for before-bed lip care while you’re on Accutane.
Ultrasun – Ultralip SPF 30
Ultrasun Ultralip SPF 30 is a high-quality lip balm designed specifically to protect your delicate pout from the sun and its aggressive rays.
Think of it like this – if you are ready to protect your entire face, neck, and body from burning, why shouldn’t you do that with the most sensitive area on your face?
We often neglect our lip care, and this is not something you should overlook, especially while on Accutane.
The only downside I used to have with this balm was the kind of sunscreen-ish smell it had, but I soon got used to it as the most important thing for me was protection before everything else.
If it does the job – it’s worth it.
The Best & Safest Skincare Ingredients for Accutane Users
Hyaluronic Acid: A powerful humectant, hyaluronic acid attracts and retains moisture in the skin, making it an excellent choice for Accutane users who struggle with dryness.
Ceramides: These lipids help reinforce the skin barrier, improving its ability to retain moisture and protect against external irritants.
Niacinamide: A gentle and calming ingredient, niacinamide can help reduce redness and inflammation caused by Accutane.
Panthenol: A derivative of vitamin B5, panthenol works to soothe and hydrate the skin, reducing redness and irritation caused by Accutane.
Vitamin E: A potent antioxidant, vitamin E helps accelerate skin healing and protects against environmental damage.
Shea Butter: A rich source of fatty acids and vitamins, shea butter deeply moisturizes and nourishes the skin, making it an excellent choice for dry and irritated skin caused by Accutane.
Ingredients to Avoid While on Accutane
Exfoliating Acids: Alpha and beta hydroxy acids can further irritate and damage the fragile skin barrier, leading to increased dryness and redness.
Alpha Arbutin: A skin-lightening ingredient, alpha arbutin can increase skin sensitivity and may cause adverse reactions in those taking Accutane.
Vitamin C: While vitamin C is an antioxidant that’s safe and beneficial to the skin, it can irritate dry and sensitive skin caused by Accutane.
Retinoids: Avoid using other retinoids while on Accutane, as it can increase the risk of adverse reactions and irritation.
Fragrances: Synthetic fragrances can irritate the skin, particularly for those taking Accutane. Opt for fragrance-free products to minimize the risk of irritation.
Essential Oils: Similarly, some essential oils can irritate the skin and should be avoided while on Accutane.
Alcohol: Drying alcohol in cosmetic products can exacerbate the already dry skin caused by Accutane. Look for products without alcohol or with fatty alcohols that are less drying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Exfoliate While on Accutane?
No, it is not advisable to exfoliate while on Accutane as it can further irritate and damage the already sensitive skin, leading to increased dryness and redness.
Exfoliation is a process that involves removing the top layer of dead skin cells. On the other side, Accutane causes increased cellular turnover, which means the cells on the skin’s surface are already shedding at a faster rate.
Exfoliating can increase this process and damage the skin barrier, leading to increased discomfort and potentially permanent skin conditions such as dermatitis.
How to Avoid Accutane Purge?
Accutane purge, also known as the initial breakout, refers to a period when acne symptoms may worsen after starting Accutane, usually within the first month, before the skin begins to clear.
To mitigate the Accutane purge, it’s essential to maintain a gentle skincare routine, using mild, hydrating products and avoiding harsh exfoliants, irritating components, and comedogenic products.
How to Keep Clear Skin After Accutane?
To maintain clear skin after Accutane, it’s crucial to adhere to a consistent skincare routine emphasizing gentle, hydrating products and protecting your skin from sun exposure with broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Additionally, using one active ingredient, such as a gentle, low-strength retinoid, can keep the pores clear and prevent bacteria buildup that leads to inflamed pimples.
Can I Wear Makeup While on Accutane?
Yes, you can wear makeup while on Accutane; however, it’s essential to choose products that won’t irritate your skin or clog your pores, as this could potentially prolong your Accutane treatment.
Look for non-comedogenic and fragrance-free cosmetics, and make sure to cleanse your skin thoroughly before and after application. Additionally, avoid using heavy foundations and opt for lighter formulas such as tinted moisturizers or mineral powders to prevent clogging pores.
While Accutane should always be considered a last-resort treatment, many people have found it extremely helpful in clearing acne.
If you are considering starting this medication to treat your acne, please remember that it can sometimes be challenging, and your skin will be extra needy during this temporary process.
Taking care of your skin and having the best skincare routine when on Accutane is important to help it heal and become flawless.
Accutane isn’t pleasant, but the results are worth the temporary side effects.
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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