A few days ago, I decided to share some personal information regarding my skin in my Instagram Stories, and the new “skin journey” I am on. I had an overwhelming response from SO many kind women who shared many things with me – some with similar personal experiences, some with just simple words of care, and some with suggestions hoping to help me. I never expected such kindness – the type that surrounds you and encourages you to keep being transparent and to use Instagram as a way of connecting with REAL people who face many of the same things as me.
My Skin Journey: Why I decided to do Accutane
I want to explain my skin type, things I have tried, what kind of worked, and why I decided to do Accutane. In doing so, I am sharing my personal experience – not trying to say I have come up with all of the right answers. What works for me and might be the journey I have decided to take, may not be right for everyone. I do have to say that for me, acne has been the biggest destroyer of my confidence and even at times affects my motivation. I have struggled with embarrassment more times than I could ever count. And, for those reasons alone, finding something that can either subside or cure this problem is worth it to me. (…because let’s be real, photo editing and those perfect Snapchat & Instagram filters don’t just follow me around in real life! :))
My skin type
It sounds funny to say everyone has a “skin type,” but really, we all do. Mine has always always been WAY too oily, and I usually have acne on any given day of the month, with possible major flare ups around my “time of the month.” From the time I started wearing makeup, my biggest need was finding a good powder I could pat on my oily face; and not just my T-zone. I carried it with me EVERYWHERE for whenever I noticed I was shiny. On top of all the oil, the acne also came at age 13 or so. My mom also had acne (and adult acne), so I do think maybe in some way I have my mom’s skin type.
Things I tried
Because my mom had acne, she was VERY sweet AND sensitive to what I was going through. She helped me learn to use yellow hues in concealers to cover redness. She helped me try different kinds of face wash, and took me to dermatologists to try various products, prescriptions, topical ointments, and to get advice. Birth control made the biggest difference for my skin through my teen age years, probably because it reduced the affects of the hormones. It definitely was not a cure-all, but it did help me to have less cystic acne and break outs than I had been experiencing. I stayed on it for at least 10 years following off and on BUT – I hate(d) being on it. It caused mood swings and weight gain. Once I was in college, I struggled with low self esteem and was embarrassed to meet new people due to continued acne problems, so – (enter cry-face emoji) – I resorted to tanning beds a couple times a month to dry out my skin and make my skin, acne, and scars “blend” into the same color. (Definitely a regret now.) From a teenager until I was about 26 or 27 years old, I tried nearly every prescription antibiotic possible that ends in -cin, or -cycline, along with countless types of topical retinoid medicines. Most of the antibiotics made me sick to my stomach, and all of them never worked enough to make a noticeable, consistent difference with my acne and skin.
What kind of worked
By the time I was entering my late 20’s, I gave up on dermatologists and was completely discouraged. So, I went a new route: Diet change. As an adult still struggling with acne, I listened to many people say that cutting out things like dairy, coffee, processed and greasy foods, and sugars would help. I did that with major consistency for nearly a year (and only allowed cheat days for special times/events), and although it helped somewhat, I still was having random break outs, and especially during my time of the month my face was looking just like it did when I was ingesting those things. SO, that didn’t completely work for me, although I still keep those foods to a minimum, especially dairy. (And I learned that obviously a healthy lifestyle and meal can make a difference in many areas of the body. I am now doing Whole 30 and loving it so far! I’ve only fallen “off the wagon” a few times, but jumped back on!)
I also decided to try some skin care lines. Multiple women I crossed paths with (hair stylists, “new” friends, co workers, etc), gave suggestions, and I was down to try anything no matter the cost. Skin Script Mild Acne Skin Kit was the first “topical” regimine that made a difference. I heard about Skin Script because it comes out of Tempe (part of Phoenix), and at the time I was desperate to find something to help my acne subside for my upcoming wedding . It helped clear up my skin more than other products did, and was probably my favorite of everything I tried to fight my acne because it cleared up my skin enough to allow makeup to cover blemishes for my wedding day! However, I moved on from it eventually, because although it tamed some of the break outs, it didn’t keep me from deating with them completely… so “on to the next thing…” (that became my hope and motto!)
Once I passed 30 years old, I noticed the scaring I was getting from my acne (especially the deep, mounding, cystic ones) was starting to age my face faster, and knew I needed to find more options. I began considering Accutane, and started reading up on it. Because of a host of side effects, I was hesitant. A sweet coworker mentioned Rodan + Fields Unblemished, and I thought WHY NOT? I gave another whole-hearted try for a little over 8 months. Although I also had some clearer skin days, I continued to experience bad flare ups around my time of the month, plus, ever since my bout with appendicitis and going under anesthesia, I began dealing with acne on my back also, and it was also not going away even after 3 years.
Accutane: My last resort
In closing, I now share with you my last resort in an effort to gain back confidence and happiness: Accutane. The brand I am on is Absorica -a form of isotretinoin. (Now I do know that happiness is a choice and doesn’t come from appearance OR things, but hopefully you get what I mean here. Those of you who also struggle with adult acne will get what I mean by dreaming of gaining back your life in a sense.) It’s hard to feel happy and motivated when you feel yucky on the outside… enter my love for fashion… it’s such a boost of fun and makes me smile! 🙂
My doctor made a referral to a local dermatologist and I talked through my “skin history” with her. She recommended going forward with Accutane in the iPledge program, and of course we talked through the side effects and cautions that come with being on it. I am currently taking Absorica because it treats the most severe form of acne (recalcitrant nodular acne), and I am hopeful it will make a difference, possibly long-term.
Where I’m at now
I am 4 days in to month 2. My first month on Absorica I was completely clear for the first time in what feels like probably forever! 🙂 Now that I am in month two, I have developed a few large nodules. I have heard that having some acne pop up is common within the first 2-3 months of taking Accutane, so I guess I was prepared to not see instant results. The side effects I’m experiencing so far are very dry, extremely chapped lips, and weirdly – very dry often peeling eyelids of all things! My contacts do feel extra dry on my eyeballs, also, but nothing a little eye drop can’t help. My dermatologist recommended I use the CeraVe Line while I’m on Accutane to combat the dryness.
I can’t wait to see what happens, and look forward to sharing more of this “skin journey” with you in the coming months when I am done with Accutane. I’ll link the products I currently am using below.
I would love to hear from you, and am open to trying to answer any questions or comments you might have (if you happened to be able to read through this book-of-a-post!). I am happy to share my experience with you!
I have also struggled with terrible acne, often cystic. It looks horrible and hurts. I’ve tried so many things and had some slight successes only to eventually go back to my standard acne face. I’ve been using meds from my dermatologist but am still having acne. Accutane is my last option. I’m 33, I teach 6th grade, am married and have children, and I still have acne like a teenager. Could you please give me a new update about how you skin is doing on Accutane? Thanks so much! Love your blog!
Hi Nicole! I am planning to do a complete review of my experience once my treatment is done. I am expecting it to be 6 months long. Our struggle with acne sounds so similar! Right now I am almost in the middle of month 3. I have only had one major cyst since starting (and I think it was in month 2), and yesterday just had a random little pimple pop up. It has been amazing so far. My biggest side effects are major dry eyes (even overnight when my eyes are closed!), extremely chapped and peeling lips, and dry skin on my eyelids up to my eyebrows. Apart from that, my face has completely cleared. Now my back is still producing quite a bit of acne which I”m going to talk to my derm about next month, but part of me wonders if that’s due to sweating in our extreme heat here. I will find out if she expects that to still clear up, as that is a major concern of mine still. I will do my best to update more when my 6 months are done! Thanks for the comment! Hope this reply helps!