It’s already been one month since I started my Accutane journey. CRAZY! One down… 5 to go. It’s been an adjustment – both in good and bad ways. Although there’s still a long way to go, I’ve made enough progress in just one month that even others are starting to notice. But it does come at a bit of a price – I have a list of side effects I’ve started experiencing, some of them within a week of starting the medication. So for those of you who have been interested to keep up with me during my Accutane journey, here’s month one! Read my initial post about My Decision to Start Accutane to get an idea of my skin/acne treatment history.
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THIS POST IS NOT A PROMOTION FOR ACCUTANE. ACCUTANE IS A SERIOUS DRUG WITH SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS AND IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. I AM ONLY LOGGING MY EXPERIENCE (AFTER YEARS OF OTHER, SAFER TREATMENTS) FOR THOSE THAT ARE TRYING TO DO RESEARCH TO MAKE THEIR OWN PERSONAL DECISIONS REGARDING ACCUTANE. TALK TO YOUR DERMATOLOGIST.
I’ll start with the positives first. As I mentioned above, I have seen progress so far during the treatment – however, I did experience what people call “the purge phase.” This purge phase is when the Accutane pushes all the dirt and oil forward – for me this resulted in some pretty massive, painful cystic pimples for a couple weeks. But as of right now, at week 4, I still have pimples scattered throughout my face, but they’re not nearly as large or painful and don’t take as long to go away.
Right now, the most significant improvement has been how much my bruising has faded. They’re still slightly present, but they’re bruises that have been there for months and now they’re almost gone. The texture and look of my skin in and of itself just looks so much better, despite the acne that still remains.
So far, the side effects of Accutane have been fairly tolerable, but I’m only one month in with only half my dosage 30mg a day – this next month I will start to work my way up to 60mg a day. Here’s the current list of side effects I am experiencing and when they appeared:
- Dry lips (day 6)
- Sensitive skin – plucking my eyebrows has become a nightmare and left my skin looking incredibly angry and red (day 9)
- Some headaches/brief, sharp pains (day 10-17ish, not so much a current issue)
- Eczema breakout on knuckles – it was on both hands, but my right was the worst (day 17)
- Dry skin around nose + dry eyes (day 18)
- Dry skin inside nose – weird, I know (day 20)
- Slight nose bleed in morning (day 21)
- Irritability and short tempered-ness (started around week 3, ongoing)
When it comes to being on Accutane, having a good skincare routine is an absolute must.
- CeraVe Moisturizing Cream – a little goes a loooong way with this tub of moisturizer. It’s a thick, non-greasy texture; I primarily use it on my face, but it was great for my hands when I had my eczema breakout. It’s fragrance-free so it won’t irritate your skin.
- As weird as this one may sound, I really like the Walmart brand version of Cetaphil’s gentle foaming face wash. I don’t use a makeup remover prior to washing my face, and for some reason, Walmart’s gets my makeup off and leaves my face feeling clean – brand name Cetaphil left me having to rewash my face a few times, and even then, I still felt like the makeup residue remained. Other than that, it is a gentle face wash, so it doesn’t irritate my skin. I also use the Walmart brand for the CeraVe hydrating cleaner whenever I don’t have makeup on (it hasn’t been great for getting makeup off either)
- Seacret Mineral Rich Refining Toner – I’m a consultant for Seacret and this is one of the (many) products I find myself turning to. Their toner helps me ensure that I’ve cleaned off all the makeup and dirt from my face after cleansing. It’s full of minerals from the Dead Sea, balances pH levels, evens skin tone, and hydrates (thank youuu aloe vera + chamomile!) Plus it’s paraben free.
- Tarte Cosmetics Rainforest of the Sea Foundation – Tarte is without a doubt my favorite cosmetics company (mostly because I’ve had continual good luck with them) because they are fairly well-known for cutting out harmful ingredients from their products. This foundation is incredibly hydrating and also has 15+ SPF (which is great for the sun sensitivity that is likely to occur while on Acctuane).
- Eau Thermale Avene, SPF 50+ Face Sunscreen – if you’re spending a lot of time out in the sun, one of the side effects to be cautious of is increased sensitivity to sunlight (so far this hasn’t been an issue for me since it’s winter and the majority of my time spent outside is once it’s dark out). This sunscreen is super light on your skin, goes perfectly under makeup, and is good for all skin types (thanks FabFitFun for the find!) Try some of their other products: Regular (full body) Hydrating unscreen, Ultra-light Hydrating Face Sunscreen, Ultra-light Hydrating (full body) Suncreen
- Aquaphor – it will save your lips! Fragrance + paraben free and hydrating. Normal lip balms are fine too, but they really only touch the surface.
- Vaseline Lip Therapy – actually, there’s several Vaseline lip products that are good, but this one is right next to the Aquaphor at the store. Vaseline is cheaper and doesn’t have quite as much of that tacky lip gloss feel, but it isn’t paraben free and tends to wear off a little bit faster. But over all, it’s still a good product.
- Mentholatum – like Vic’s Vapor Rub, but with natural ingredients. It might seem weird, but this is what I use to hydrate the skin in my nose to avoid a nose bleed from over-dried, cracked skin.
- WATER. Drinking lots of water will really help keep everything hydrated naturally. I have a venti sized (20 fl oz) Starbucks tumbler (sometimes you gotta sip in style to get yourself motivated, I’ve realized) that I have with me every day at work and make it a goal of mine to drink 8-10 of them a day. Yes, it’s a lot, but hydration is key! Especially when it comes time to do that monthly blood work.
That’s all for now, my loves! Stay tuned for month two!