Accutane Week 1 Check-in (with Photos + Video)
Alright! I am officially 12 days into Accutane, so this is pretty much my week one check-in. Here we go! (Note: I started writing this 12 days in, but on the day it's published I'll be 17 days in.)
Taking the Daily Pill
So, I'm taking one 40mg capsule of Accutane (a.k.a isotretinoin) once a day, typically between 11:30am and 1:30pm. You're supposed to take the pill around the same time every day, so because I took it around 12:50 in the afternoon on the first day, I'm trying to stay around that time.
You're also supposed to take the pill with food, so that's what I've been doing. My doctor never said anything to me about taking it with a "fatty" food, but as I've watched YouTube videos and read blog posts from other people who have been on Accutane, I've seen a handful of them say that they were advised to take their medication with a fatty food. I read on a message board that there is a new version of isotretinoin called Absorica that doesn't require a fatty food intake like the other drugs, but that's not what I'm on. I'm using Claravis (a different brand), which I've read you should eat a fatty food with, or just take it with your biggest meal of the day. So, to be safe, I've been taking my pill with a big brunch-like meal that includes some combination of avocado, avocado oil, hummus, and peanut butter. When I see my doctor for my month one check-up, I'll ask about the whole fatty foods thang.
Like I said, I'm using Claravis, which is a brand. There's a handful of brands of Accutane (Absorica, Amnesteem, Claravis, Myorisan, and Zenatane), but they're all basically the same thing-- a very concentrated form of vitamin A and the closest thing to a cure for acne. Claravis just happens to be what my dermatologist prescribed and what my local pharmacy carries.
As you can see, it's very important to stick to your commitment to not get pregnant while taking Accutane because of the huge risk of birth defects. Ya can't even grab your pill of the day without a "DO NOT GET PREGNANT, BITCH" reminder. (Okay, maybe I added the "bitch" part, but you feel me.)
The first few days felt like a waiting game to see if/when side effects would hit. Not only was I waking up every day looking for changes in my skin (which I knew I probably wouldn't see for a little while, but let's be real, you can get verrrry eager when your skin has been poopy for so long), but I was waking up looking for side effects. A few days in, I felt good. Maybe I'll be one of those rare people who don't deal with side effects on this drug. But that thought didn't last very long. About a week in, the side effects started to hit. The first thing I noticed was some peeling and itchiness in the crevices of my nose. And then I noticed some faint peeling around my chin and lips, as well as severe dryness in my lips. Thank God for Aquafor! Luckily, I had listened to the advice of other vloggers and bloggers, as well as some friends of mine, who said how important medicated chapstick like Aquafor is during the Accutane process. So I started using Aquafor about a month before I even started the medication in order to prepare my lips for the shitshow they were about to endure (and are now enduring).
At 12 days in now, I'm aware that the side effects will likely get worse before everything starts to get better. I'm trying to curb them as much as possible with moisturizing and some facial oil, but I knew going into this about the side effects. And I know they're a temporary price to pay to get my skin and my life back.
Products I'm Using
Okay, products! One of the difficult things for me with dealing with acne and being on Accutane is that I'm using products that contain chemicals (i.e Cetaphil and CeraVe), and therefore, are not holistic, natural, and organic. And that's important to me. I normally only buy organic, cruelty-free skin, beauty, and home products, but I just keep telling myself, "This is temporary, and once my skin is better I can go back to a holistic beauty routine."
That being said, it's been important for me to incorporate organic products into my daily routine while on Accutane. So, in addition to the Cetaphil and CeraVe products recommended by dermatologists, I'm also using FIG+YARROW, Sun Bum, and my regular cleansing oil from Trader Joe's. (And all my makeup products are still from the organic, cruelty-free brands I love). While on Accutane, it's crucial to keep your skin moisturized and be extra careful when it comes to the sun. I switched out my SPF 30 for SPF 50, and I'm going to make sure to bring a big hat when I go to the beach in the warmer months. It's a little frustrating to have started Accutane as the spring and summer months are starting to show themselves, buuuut it is what it is.
*I'll post my current during-Accutane morning and nighttime routines soon and link it here!
*NOTE: I started using Tretinoin cream (a.k.a. Retin A) a few months before I started Accutane. My hometown dermatologist back in New York who completely cleared my skin in high school prescribed it to me when I went home for the holidays (December 2017) so I'd have something to help with my skin as I waited to start Accutane, because women can't start Accutane right away (it takes at least 30 days) due to the iPledge commitment to not get pregnant and the pregnancy testing. Retin A is known to be a miracle worker when it comes to lightening/getting rid of scarring, so that's why my cheeks don't look as inflamed as they have in the past. So, I started Accutane with less inflammation (as well as less active acne) than I've had in previous months. If you want to see a more detailed timeline of my acne journey over the last year and a half, here's a blog post from May with pretty consistent chronological photos. Not currently included in that post is a few photos I have from this this past August of 2017, so I'll include them here to show you how much the redness and active acne have gone down.
August 7 to August 21, 2017
March 18, 2018 - One Day Before Starting Accutane
Left cheek - 3/18/18
Right cheek - 3/18/18
March 30, 2018 - 12 Days Into Accutane
Left cheek - 3/30/18
Left cheek - 3/30/18
Right cheek - 3/30/18
Right cheek - 3/30/18
YouTube Video --> ACCUTANE WEEK 1 CHECK IN: SIDE EFFECTS + SKINCARE ROUTINE
*This is a video I made on Day 9, so a couple days before I wrote the rest of this post.
Right now, the main pro is just knowing that the end result will (hopefully) be worth it. Because it's only been 12 days and I haven't seen big positive results yet, that's the only pro I've got. But there will be more to come!
- The side effects, of course! Having to carry Aquafor everywhere and reapply it every so often as a server in a restaurant is annoying.
- Knowing the side effects will probably worsen before I start seeing positive results.
- Not getting to be carefree in the spring/summer months in terms of being out in the sun, going on hikes, going to the beach, etc., all because this medication doesn't pair well with sunlight.
- Dating/sex life: Luckily I'm not seeing anyone right now, so the sex thing is a moot point, but if I do develop real feelings for someone and enter into a romantic relationship while on Accutane, I'mma be entering Struggle City. And then just the idea of dating anyone new while I'm going through this and dealing with pealing and having to plan things around my skin. Of course, any good guy will understand, but I also just want to be the more carefree and low-maintenance person I am when I'm not dealing with all this acne scarring and redness.
- Life on hold. I've said this in other posts, but I really have put so much of my life on hold over the last year and a half because of my skin. And as easy as it is to be like, "Just embrace it and don't let it get to you," it's not that simple. I'm also an actor, and I need new headshots to get more work, but I don't want to spend the money on new headshots until my skin is where I want it to be. And there's all this traveling I want to do, but I want my skin to be better so I can travel without having to stress about my skin every single day and wear makeup and have my suitcase weighing extra because of all my skin care products and medication.
As much as it looks like the cons outweigh the lonely little pro right now (and they do on paper, clearly), the pro does outweigh all the cons to me. All the side effects and stress...it's all a temporary price I'm paying to be happy with my skin again and feel like I'm in control of my life again.
Soooo, all that being said, we are past week one and moving forward! I'll keep ya posted.