This post may border on vain, but I mean every word of it. I’m sure there are people out there who’ve had the same struggles as I have, and I want to help you out!
I’ve been getting acne since I was 10 years old. For you mathematicians, that’s 22 years and over two-thirds of my life. My acne wasn’t too terrible when it first started, but as I became a teenager, it got a lot worse and remained that way into my 20s.
I still get zits at 32, but they’re nowhere near as horrible as they used to be.
All because of a miracle drug called Accutane.
This is not a sponsored post; I just want to shout from the rooftops how much Accutane helped me because it’s the only thing that cleared up my face when nothing else could. I tried cleansers, Clearasil, Retin A (tretinoin), benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, tetracycline, birth control…every kind of pill, cream, prescribed or drugstore product, I tried it. None of it worked.
My acne got pretty bad starting in my later teens, and it was humiliating. I had big red bumps all over my face, and I wanted nothing more than to be rid of them. I also had a very oily complexion, no matter how dedicated I was with my cleansing regimen. I felt ugly and gross, and it caused a lot of shame and insecurity in my life.
After trying everything else under the sun, my dermatologist finally recommended Accutane (AKA isotretinoin – the brand I actually took was Claravis). Accutane is a super-strong acne medication that comes in pill form and actually shrinks your oil glands. So if you’re like me and also have oily skin and hair, the best part about being on this medication is that the oil magically disappears! (At least while you’re on the medication, and even afterward, your skin produces less oil.) For the first (and only) time in my life, I could go days without washing my hair while on Accutane. I actually never reached a day (and I tried, for curiosity’s sake) that I needed to wash my hair. It looked fine and blessedly dry even days after its last shampoo.
On Accutane, your acne gets worse before it gets better. It can be a bit painful (physically and emotionally – ha), but then it all starts to clear up and you have the best skin of your life. It took at least three weeks for me to start seeing results, but once I did? Hallelujah! 🙌🏼
You will also have very dry skin and lips (Aquaphor will be your best friend), and you’ll need to be careful about not getting too much sun so you don’t burn.
Accutane is generally prescribed for around five months but this can vary, and according to my dermatologist, 96% of people have their acne cured after one round of Accutane. That number goes up to 97% with two rounds, 98% with three rounds, 99% with four rounds, and after that doctors usually don’t prescribe it. (It’s possible this information has since changed – I’m not a medical professional – but this is what I learned while I was on Accutane several years ago.)
Naturally, I was one of the lucky ones who needed more than one round of Accutane. 😂 I did my first round in college, my acne returned several months later, and then I completed my second round after finishing college. My acne did come back a bit after the medication worked its way out of my system, but not to the extent it had before, so my doctor chose not to recommend me for a third round of Accutane. It’s been 10 years since, and I’ve never again had the horrible acne that I used to as a teenager.
Not everyone can get on this medication, because as I mentioned, it’s very strong. You cannot be pregnant or even at risk of getting pregnant (as the very clearly-marked picture of a crossed-out pregnant woman on every pill’s packaging reminds you 😂), because Accutane causes severe birth defects. Females are also required to be on two forms of birth control before, during, and after Accutane for a certain amount of time. (My two forms were abstinence and birth control pills, which I know sounds silly, but that’s how seriously they take this. You have to sign a contract and fill out an online questionnaire every month to confirm that you are still using both agreed-upon forms of contraception. If you fail any of the questions, they won’t fill your prescription.)
I won’t lie: Accutane is expensive. It cost up to $500 per month for me in 2010 and may be even higher now. It’s a splurge, and you’ll meet your deductible fast.
But it’s TOTALLY worth it. After all the dermatologist visits and other prescriptions, I’d already spent plenty and seen no real results. Accutane did the trick, and I would recommend it to anyone whose doctor will allow it. It’s truly a miracle drug! I wish I had gotten on it when I was a young teenager instead of 20-something so I could’ve saved myself years of embarrassment and unsightliness. I know several others who’ve taken Accutane – both male and female – and they all echo my sentiments.
Though I firmly believe our worth comes from God and not from our physical appearance, Accutane truly changed my life and I’m so grateful there was something out there that actually worked. If you’re struggling with severe acne, ask your doctor if you might be a good candidate for Accutane. (And maybe save up some money while you’re at it so you’re prepared for the sticker shock. 😬) You won’t regret it!
Here are a few pictures from before, during, and after. The first photo is the day I started my second round of Accutane. The second photo was a week-and-a-half later on my most painful day. The third photo was three weeks into the medication, and the fourth photo is from this year (10 years later). I do have makeup on in the last photo, but you can still see that I have a few pimples (and, in unrelated news, a few more wrinkles 😉).
I hope this is helpful for anyone struggling with acne like I did for so many years. There is hope! Again, I am not a medical expert, but I would be happy to answer any questions based on my own experience with Accutane. Feel free to drop a comment below!