4 Good Skin Habits I've Kept Post-Accutane

Five months on the acne drug showed me how to care for my skin.

After a less-harrowing-than-anticipated five-month course of Accutane (I did an extra month for posterity), I’m done. No more problematic dry skin and eyes, no more questionable scars and avoiding the sun like a vampire of the non-sparkly variety. I’m a survivor, you guys.

The best thing being on Accutane gave me--besides great skin, obviously--is a greater awareness of the products I put on my body. I was constantly on the hunt for hydrating, hypoallergenic products during those five months, and I developed some responsible, sophisticated habits. I feel more like a grown-up than ever before.

Here are some things I'll take away from my five-month journey to the land of human desert and back.

The Sun Is Serious

Pre-Accutane I knew that the sun wasn’t good for my skin, but confession: with my Mediterranean ancestry, I always felt like I could skip the SPF. (Oof! Why did I think that? EVERYONE needs sunscreen.) Accutane changed all that. The medication makes your skin really sensitive to sunlight. If I didn’t cover up, my skin would quickly become red and hot to the touch. And if I spent extended periods of time outside sans sunscreen, I'd get headaches and a hungover feeling. The experience completely changed my perspective. Now I use an SPF 50 every morning on my face and, when possible, I avoid sitting in the sun for too long.

My Skin Deserves Better

I’ve never really had sensitive skin before. When you’re on Accutane, however, you need to be really careful about how you treat that top, protective layer of skin. I never realized how cruel I was to my poor epidermis. From picking it to using harsh products, I did it all. It was only when I saw scratch marks up and down my arms and back that I realized how sensitive skin can actually be. I’ve since learned to be a lot more gentle with my precious skin by keeping my nails and fingers far away and using milder solutions in my skin care routine. No more unnecessarily scented creams, no more products with alcohol. Now I’m all about simplicity.

Moisturizer Isn’t Optional

I’ve always treated moisturizing like an optional thing. Sure, I’d slather a bit of moisturizer on my face after washing it, but it didn’t really matter what kind I used. And moisturizing my body? Forget about it. That only happened when my legs turned ashy and I needed to wear a dress. Now I moisturize daily, morning, and night. And since wrinkles and skin conditions are exacerbated by a lack of moisture, I’m glad I’ve included this in my daily routine.

Fat = Good

Not only did my water intake go up when I was on Accutane, I also learned which foods keep my skin pretty and healthy. The most valuable lesson was that certain fats can be incredibly beneficial. While a lot of fats aren’t great for your health, mono-saturated and polyunsaturated fats are just fine. Foods such as fish, nuts, and avocado will help keep your skin moisturized and resilient. Plus, the added vitamin E protects your skin against free radical damage. While I’m not a huge fan of these foods, I did manage to start incorporating avocado into my diet by adding into my vegetable smoothies (I can’t eat something that mushy just on its own) and eating more fish than I used to.

  • Do you remember to moisturize every day?
  • Anyone using Accutane right now? How is it affecting your skin care routine?