Getting on Accutane means you're about to experience a whole lot of side effects and have to basically change your entire routine in order to make Accutane a priority, and that's just the truth. I had a lot of questions while getting on Accutane and I knew I would get extremely dry, but I wanted to know more. When would I be dry? When should I switch out my products? Should I do anything before getting on Accutane? I hope this post can be exactly what helps you. On April 20th, 2020, I took my first Accutane dosage. The 5 days before this, I started slowly turning my routine into one for dry skin despite my skin being very oily before this.
Week 0 – Preventatives
I started putting baby oil in my nose every night to start moisturizing my nose. If you didn't know, a lot of people get bloody noses while on Accutane because every inch of your body gets extremely dry, including the inside of your nose. Some choose nasal sprays but I've never been a fan of them. Some choose vaseline but my friend who was also on Accutane said she hated the feeling of a thick Vaseline. I started directly with baby oil and I honestly love it. Easy to use, doesn't feel gross either. I will also make an entire dedicated Accutane essentials post once I am further along in my Accutane journey. Even if I wasn't dry yet, I figure I rather take all the precautions I can early and if it doesn't help so be it, but maybe I can in fact help reduce the dryness or prolong the time it takes for my entire body to become extremely dry. I continued to use my acne face wash and usual skincare routine, but I added a hydrating serum at night before I went to bed starting 3 days before I got on Accutane as well. I always have the habit of using a lip treatment or thick lipstick before bed so I kept doing this but I also ensure I used vaseline on my lips in the morning about 3 days prior to starting Accutane as well. Other than this, I kept everything normal.
Week 0 - New Routine and Beginning Side Effects
Starting from the first day of Accutane, I started using baby oil in my noise morning and night. I was previously using a stretch mark lotion as well on certain parts of my body and since Accutane thins out your skin and makes you dryer, I want to continue fulling hydrating my body while I am on Accutane both for my body but also in hopes of not increasing my chances to get stretch marks. Every morning and night I used the stretch mark lotion in the various areas and then added a hydration lotion for dry skin everywhere else on my body at night.
As for the face, I swapped out my acne cleanser to one for dry sensitive skin, removed ALL acne or oily skin skincare products from my routine, and stuck to only hydrating ones. I will make a separate blog post once I feel like I have this fully down, but for now I am still experimenting with various products. Anyways, I swapped out my face lotion to a thicker moisturizer instead, and I started using chapsticks all day.
You also must wear sunscreen when you're on Accutane. Regardless of what I was doing I would start my day with an SPF 50, but if I knew I was going out into the sun I had my SPF 100 and a hat ready for me. I trick I found to not look like a ghost from such a heavy sunscreen - coming from a very fair-skinned girl used to sunburns - is to mix it in your sunscreen with your moisturizer. This helps the sunscreen actually absorb into your face rather than cause streaks and struggling to absorb in when you use so much lotion on your face.
The last little hack I discovered that worked during this time was for makeup. I love doing my makeup. Not even to hide my skin, I just genuinely have fun with it. After one day of doing makeup and seeing signs of dryness I decided to take my beloved hyaluronic acid foundation but also mix it with a lotion. This helped my skin stay moisturized but also allowed the foundation to sink in more rather than sit on top of my dry skin. This helped a ton for my nose and chin but I did see a bit of dryness on my top lip.
Beginning Side Effects
On day 5 when I started using my makeup, I noticed I was starting to get dry on the top of my nose and around my lips and chin. I can't say I have noticed chapped lips... most people say this is the first thing they notice, but I've been really good with my chapstick. I will say that I constantly reapply because I do feel like my lips absorb it pretty quickly, but luckily I had no visible signs of dry lips at this stage.
Week 2 - Routine Updates
In week 2, I stuck mostly to what I was doing at the end of week 1. Baby oil morning and night, every morning and night I wash my face with a gentle face cleanser. I decided to only use my Foreo Luna Facial Cleanser when I washed my face in the shower since I didn’t want my skin to become too sensitive simply from overuse of it but it does seem to work a soft exfoliator. In the morning I started applying my thick moisturizer and I use my sunscreen hack and still continued to apply makeup when I wanted to. At night I kept my same PM lotion, hydrating eye cream, and a layer of my thicker body lotion right before I get in bed, the same that I now use in the morning. I also always sleep with my humidifier on which I turn on about an hour before I sleep. Lastly is my lip treatment before bed has still been what I love forward to because it just feels good (even before Accutane).
For being week 2 and having visible dryness mid-week the first week, I have been able to definitely calm this down. I don’t see any dryness both with or without makeup in my skin and my face doesn’t feel dry either both to the touch or when I move it around... there’s not that tight feeling. I will say my lips at time feel drying but they aren’t visibly chapped either. There was one day I started feeling just the outline of my lips feeling dry, so just remember to apply chapstick really well. Don’t try to apply it all prettily, coat your lips everywhere nicely, especially when you’re going to sleep. Lastly, I did start getting increasingly itchier on my scalp and my arms.
Week 3 - Routine Updates
Week 3 had little changes, I started using lotion at night that is meant for eczema on my arms since this was the area that was irritating me, particularly shoulders. I also started making my own more concentrated spot treatment anti-itch lotion that I mention in my Accutane hacks post. I started using a special shampoo made for various irritated scalp conditions and a scalp treatment on day 1 of week 3 (Monday) and I literally was not itchy until Saturday of that week. Lastly, for skin hydration, I started randomly putting a lighter lotion on my face when I felt like my skin had fully absorbed the lotion I had previously put on.
My itchiness was down significantly after I started using my scalp treatment and shampoo. I usually wash my hair only twice a week, however, I did this prior to Accutane as well as I had trained my hair quite well and work out often so I toss it in a bun and no one notices. As far as skin, I got visibly dry on my nose one day do that's when I chose to use my heavy cream day and night, I have once again, not been dry to the eye since. I still get occasional breakouts, but I do feel like from afar look so much better and my skin feels a more even color so far. Lastly, all the bumpy textures I felt on my forehead have decreased a great amount.
Week 4 - Routine Updates
In week 4, the only thing I changed was ensuring I was consistent with my baby oil in my nose day and night since I had slacked the last 3 days and had done just once a day.
My skin once again did not change too much during this last week of month 1. My skin has not dried out to a noticeable point to others or myself. My lips have barely dried out. Perhaps a tad more, but mostly I have gotten to the point of being so used to having lip balm applied that as soon as I do not feel a nice glossy finish of chapstick, I feel the need to reapply. The biggest update is that on the morning of day 1 of week 4, I decided to start to reapply morning and night my baby oil after forgetting a few days during the last 3 days and I noticed blood on my Q-Tip. I just ensure to apply a good layer of baby oil and by the night there was none in the back of my nose and there have been no bloody noses so far.