Accutane didn’t work for me, but this did!

Hi friends! As it turns out, Accutane is not the product for me. I am extremely disappointed, as I thought this medication would magically make my acne disappear for years to come. I feel like it’s important for people considering Accutane to know both the good and the bad aspects of the medication and I want to explain what products have worked for me and why I love them. So, if you’re ready, get readin’!

As you all know, I was experiencing horrible back pain that began to interfere with my ability to sleep well, drive comfortably, and participate comfortably in labs at school. These issues seemed to subside with my dermatologist’s order for prednisone and a few days off the medication. Once back on Accutane, my back pain flared up and I developed swollen and painful lymph nodes on the back of my neck, base of my ears, and down the side of my neck. My dermatologist said my lymph nodes were swollen because they were fighting a bacterial infection under the skin from picking my face (still don’t believe that was the case) and put me on antibiotics for a week. My lymph nodes continued to swell and turned out to be the worst throat infection I’ve ever experienced. My parents, both in the medical field, suggested the infection could be Mono or a severe case Strep and to try the antibiotics before seeing a doctor. Eventually, my nodes became so swollen I had much difficulty swallowing and breathing while sleeping at night, and debated going to urgent care to see if the antibiotics were strong enough. After about 5 days on the antibiotics, the infection began improving and eventually went away completely. During the 10 days I was on antibiotics, I was instructed to not take Accutane and pick up next month’s dose when I was finished. I went to pick up the medicine for my second month and was informed I missed the window to pick it up and I would have to restart the entire process because of legalities. At that point, I spent a few hundred dollars between the medication and office visits, and spent much time rearranging my schedule to drive 2.5 hours home to see my doctor monthly. The trouble was not worth the end result of Accutane, so I decided to end my treatment rather than begin the process from day 1 again.

After solidifying my decision to leave Accutane in the past, I began researching natural products that help improve sensitive, acne-prone skin. First, I discovered 1st Phorm’s Opti-Greens 50, a supplement that has 11+ servings of vegetables, along with a blend of super foods, probiotics, and digestive enzymes. 1st Phorm is a popular supplement company in the fitness community, so I had heard the buzz about this product for quite some time. I’ve read testimonies that it helps with improving your skin and thought “nice skin and extra veggies, a two-for-one deal…sign me up!”. I purchased the Opti-Greens 50 on sale and began taking them immediately. I must say, the *taste is questionable, but the effects have been awesome! Not only am I feeling more energized and experiencing less bloat (need another blog for that topic), my skin feels and looks healthier than before.

Next, I had to find a skin care line that would help combat my acne. I debated between Lush products and Burt’s Bees products because they both emphasize natural ingredients and advocate against animal cruelty (vegetarian here), but ultimately decided to purchase Burt’s Bees Natural Acne Treatment line. I chose this line because of the incorporation of salicylic acid which helps dissolve sebum, dead skin, and dirt that clogs pores which causes acne. I did consider benzoyl peroxide products but it is known to trigger eczema, which I have. Although this line has many products, I decided to only purchase the Natural Acne Solutions Purifying Gel Cleanser (AM/PM), the Natural Acne Solutions Clarifying Toner (PM), and the Natural Acne Solutions Maximum Strength Spot Treatment Cream (as needed) from the line because I need to slowly transition my skin from Accutane to the higher dosages of salicylic acid in these products. I pair them with Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing Towelettes with Cotton Extract (National Eczema Association certified whoop whoop) to remove makeup, Aveeno’s Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (AM mixed with moisturizer), and CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream (also National Eczema Association certified) each morning and night. So far, I’ve noticed any acne I develop is much smaller and is minimized with the spot treatment, and any existing acne scars I have aren’t as dark as they usually are thanks to the SPF.

I absolutely LOVE the products I am using now because they incorporate great ingredients and I physically see and feel a difference in my skin without any of the long/short term side effects of Accutane. If you have any questions about Accutane, any products I’m currently using, or have any general questions for me, please leave a comment! I’ve learned skin care is a trial and error process that may take years and a lot of money to figure out, but I truly believe there’s something out there for everyone. Although my skin is not 100% clear yet, check out my progress below:

*I tried putting one serving of greens in a glass of water and stirred until dissolved as instructed, but quickly discovered the greens tasted horrible and did not dissolve completely. Instead, I now use a blender bottle with one or two servings of greens and a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio of orange/apple juice to water to help subside the taste of the greens without too much added sugar. Try to drink an additional full cup of water from the bottle to get any remaining residue of the greens from your cup in your belly (and you’re helping keep your skin hydrated)!

Day 21: Progress Pictures & My Side Effects

Welcome back friends! I have so many things I want to share now that I have gathered the confidence to put my skin on display! First, please be kind with my progress pictures. It has taken me a lot of courage to post them. Second, I have decided to post every 3-4 weeks instead of biweekly because school it takes up so much of my time. Third, I want to tell you all why I decided to pursue Accutane and share my results/side effects thus far. Please read through until the end to see how my visible symptoms can be deceiving to others!

Let’s start with progress pictures people! I started Accutane on 10/16/18 (black shirt) and am currently 21 days in (white shirt). I am not wearing any make up and tried to keep hair free from my face for ya’ll. I usually smother my face in concealer to hide everything so this is a vulnerable moment for me! Unfortunately, my side view pictures won’t load so these front view pictures will have to do for now.






I chose Accutane because I’ve exhausted literally every other method since I experienced acne for the first time about 11 years ago. My dermatologist has prescribed every medication, I’ve tried every home remedy, and I’ve purchased every drug store product. You name it, I’ve tried it (11 years is a lot of time to experiment). I’m sure you can imagine the money spent on dermatologist visits, medications, and face washes galore. If not, I can tell you it’s A LOT! Essentially, I’m trying Accutane because I don’t have any options left. I’ve been torn on Accutance because it’s such a strong medication with undesirable side effects that needs to be taken twice daily for six months *I’ve already forgotten to take two doses, whoops*. My dermatologist said Accutane is the last medication he can prescribe that may be beneficial for my skin so I went through with it!

To prepare myself, I asked my dermatologist many questions, read blogs, and watched tens of videos about other people’s experience with the medication. I learned that I should expect severely dry skin and lips, body aches, worsened acne, and possible temperaments in my mood. I was expecting a few weeks to experience these symptoms, but they started almost immediately. I have been taking Accutance for 21 days now and have already experienced the following:

  1. Dry Lips – My lips started to dry and peel by my second day of the medication. Fortunately, I bought Cortibalm in advance (thanks for the suggestion friends) to beat the dryness. If I go longer than an hour without applying the balm, my lips may fall off.
  2. Dry/Peeling Skin – I feel like a SNAKE ya’ll. My skin is SHEDDING. First, my face began to peel which is completely visible with or without makeup. Next, my scalp started drying out like the Sahara Desert. I’ve been using Head and Shoulders to try to avoid the dandruff but it DOESN’T WORK. I’ve tried applying coconut oil to my scalp before showering which has helped. After my dry scalp kicked in, my ears began to peel. Yesterday I noticed the back of my hands looked scaly so I’ve been using Burt’s Bee’s Almond Milk Hand Cream *magic in a jar* to combat the scales.
  3. Back Pain – About a week and a half into the medication, I started experiencing terrible back pain only when laying in bed at night – a pain so terrible it prohibited me from breathing at times. I called my dermatologist to see the pain was related to the medication and was told back pain is a common side effect of Accutane. Since then, I’ve had to adjust how I sleep to an upright position which is not comfortable so I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in two weeks.
  4. Worsened Acne – I was told my acne would get worse before it gets better, but GEEZE. I have been experiencing painful cystic acne and lots of unwanted red and bumpy acne, both of which are occurring more than usual. Apparently, this is happening because #1 my skin is “rebelling” before it will allow the medication to work its magic and #2 for the duration of the medication, I’m no longer allowed to use any of my previous products that have active ingredients in them which help control acne breakouts. I am going through concealer at an ungodly rate to look presentable for school. Overall, my skin is much worse right now, but I know it will clam down in weeks to come!

I want to add that as excited as I am to know that in 5 months I should have clear skin, it’s very hard to be taking the medication while I’m in school. For those of you who don’t know, I am in a master’s program for occupational therapy. My program requires me to get up close and personal with people in my class on an almost daily basis to study and practice manipulating each other’s bodies. This has been especially hard for me when I’m face to face with a peer while my face is shedding like a snake, my scalp is dry and flaky, and my acne is worse. No amount of lotion, cream, or makeup seems to help with any of my symptoms yet. So, for those of you who will be seeing me often until May, please know I am not unhygienic, I am on Accutane and it is not kind to my skin right now (: If anything, I am more hygiene-conscious now than I ever have been before.

I have my 1 month check in with my dermatologist next week so I will be including some details about that on my next post. If you have any suggestions for me about how to kick some side effects to the curb, please leave me a comment. Thanks for keeping up with me peeps. See you in another couple of weeks!

– Mary

The Journey Begins

Hi friends! Welcome to my first ever blog! I’ve decided to dip a toe into blogging for a specific reason – I have a short journey I’m beginning that I’d like to document and share with you all related to my biggest insecurity since I was about 12 or 13 years old. If you know me personally, I’m sure you can identify that I suffer from persistent acne. *Did I really just write that for you all to read?* YES, I did! I am sharing my troubles with treating acne because I wish I had access to materials of this sort from the moment I got my first angry bump. If the title of this blog hasn’t given itself away yet, I will be sharing my experience with the “last resort” acne treatment in the world of dermatology – Accutane. I am hoping to deliver biweekly updates for the next six months to maintain accurate progress, as I should expect my skin to experience some significant “mood swings”. If you’re interested in tagging along on my skincare journey, I’ll be posting my first set of progress pictures and my tidbit on why I’ve decided to go through with this powerful drug soon.

Stay posted!

– Mary