Okay, just so you know, this is going to be a l-o-n-g read. Also, if you’re not suffering from acne, you probably won’t find this post very interesting. Just a heads-up.
This is my 1st Accutane post, to see an update, check out this post.
Most of you guys know that I’ve been suffering from acne for pretty much as long as I remember. I’d only go through a few weeks of completely clear skin at a time. First world problem? To some, perhaps it is. Acne doesn’t only affect your looks though. It can be physically painful and it can suck the life and energy out of you and in some cases it can have psychological effects like depression.
I went through many courses of taking antibiotics and using tretinoin creams. This combo worked well, until the time came to go off the antibiotics- that’s when my acne would always come back. None of the doctors I’ve seen ever suggested going on Accutane (Absorica). Last year I went to see a new doctor and she suggested it to me on a very first visit, which kind of surprised me since my acne was no longer severe. It was just freaking stubborn. I was very hesitant and once again went on antibiotics for several months. Two weeks after going off antibiotics, I started breaking out all over again. That’s when I decided to go on Absorica, in hopes that it will permanently clear my skin.
THINGS THAT HELPED ME BEFORE GOING ON ABSORICA
Before telling you about my experience, I want to mention a few things that helped me heal my cystic acne. I was on and off antibiotics for years and I hated taking them as they always made me sick. My lifestyle and diet change is something that made the biggest difference in my skin. I had horrible cystic acne, on my chin, neck, cheeks, temples- it was bad, guys. It was so bad I never left the house and avoided going out. I remember one time I went out to get my hair done and as I was looking in the mirror at the salon, I just felt tears coming down my face. I wanted to get up and leave, I just felt so uncomfortable and couldn’t stand to look in the mirror. I was on an awful birth control that not only worsened my depression that I suffered from at the time, but also ruined my skin once I stopped taking it. The cystic acne was so bad, I couldn’t sleep at times. Sleeping was actually painful: every time I touched my cheeks or neck while tossing around, I was in pain.
Don’t mind the sperm brows, guys, I was an over-plucker. This was about 8-9 years ago and back then, I’d actually consider this to be a good skin day. What you don’t see on this picture, are huge cystic breakouts under my chin.
When I started my Sophomore year in college I decided to take a few nutrition classes and one of my professors, who was an RD helped me make the dairy-acne connection. Taking her class changed my life. That’s when I started reading nutrition books, getting into food documentaries and eliminated dairy from my diet. Once I stopped eating dairy products, my cystic acne cleared up within a month. Omega 3 also helped me A LOT with cystic acne. I stay away from anything fried and try to stick to a mostly plant-based diet. This has made the biggest difference in my skin. I don’t drink any sugary drinks, no juices (unless it’s actual juice) or sodas. I was never much of a junk-food person anyway so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, I’ve always been a healthy eater.
Another thing that helped me was using a laundry detergent that’s free of fragrance and dyes, changing my pillow cases every few days and staying away from a lot of products that target acne. There are so many drugstore products from brands like Neutrogena that are said to help your skin, but they can actually make your acne worse. When you have acne or oily skin you might think that you should be very harsh on your skin, using a ton of drying products, scrubs, but the key is to be delicate with your skin and let your acne heal. This is something that was life-changing for me. I stopped using my Clarisonic, switched my harsh cleansers for plain, delicate ones and used a simple BP gel, AHA products and BHA like these Stridex pads. I do the same with a moisturizer: keep it plain, simple and fragrance-free. Your face should not feel tight and dry after cleansing, even if you’re naturally very oily. I could keep going on and on and on about this, but instead, I’d recommend you browse through the Skincare Addiction sub on reddit. That sub is gold and full of very useful information, especially if you’re just getting into skincare or want to create a good routine.
Now, keep in mind that when it comes to skin problems, it’s different for everyone. There is a lot of misconception about acne, too. I have a friend who never knew anyone with skin problems and until she met me, she was under the impression that people who suffer from acne don’t take care of their skin- nothing could be further from the truth. Some people can eat junk food on daily basis and have beautiful, flawless skin. Some tend to break out after eating a piece of candy. A lot of people have issues with hormonal acne, which also is a whole other thing. These are just a few things that helped me deal with my skin problems.
After going off antibiotics, before starting Absorica. You can see that despite the acne and spot-redness, my skin looks bright and not extremely red or irritated- that’s because I started being gentle with it, rather than scrubbing it and constantly using irritating products.
Changing my diet helped me heal my cystic acne completely, but I still had acne. You can see deep rolling scars on my cheeks, and temples- years ago those areas of my face were covered in huge, painful cysts.
One of the reasons I can’t stand to visit makeup counters, to this day, is because people can be quite insensitive. I remember visiting a Chanel counter once with my sister and buying a foundation. The MUA took one look at me and said: “oh honey, you need to stop drinking soda look at your poor skin!“. My sister started laughing hysterically because everyone who knows me knows that if there’s one thing you’ll never see me drink, it’s soda. I hate even having it in the house and always nag at everyone I know to stop drinking it. It’s just one of those annoying things about me. So see, people might think that they know what they’re talking about, but in reality a very few of them do (like the woman who once suggested I rub urine on my face before going to sleep- she enlightened me with that suggestion while I was waiting to pay for my groceries at a packed supermarket, so that was nice). I even had some people (complete strangers) suggest I have a baby because after you have a kid, your skin will miraculously clear up (gtfo, honestly). I think the unsolicited advice is what makes dealing with skin problems a lot more stressful, uncomfortable and annoying than anything else.
Let’s talk my Accutane skincare routine. I can’t stick to using just one cleanser as usually I cleanse my face about three times a day and look for different things in a cleanser, depending on what time of day I use it. In the morning, I usually reach for CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser; it’s formulated with ceramides that soften skin, it moisturizers and is perfect for sensitive skin. If I wake up with my skin feeling dry, then I’ll double cleanse with the oil-based MŪN Akwi Cleanser (which I keep raving about as it was one of the best products I’ve discovered in 2016), wash it off with a warm washcloth and follow up with CeraVe.
When I get home from work, one of the first things I have to do is take my makeup off. Before I started the Absorica treatment, my skin was extremely oily, so usually at the end of the day my makeup was literally melting off my face and I couldn’t wait to get home and take it off. It’s become a habit and even though my makeup stays in place all day these days since my skin is so dry, I still don’t like wearing makeup around the house. I usually use a cleansing milk to remove my makeup like the Darphin Intral Cleansing Milk or the Mario Badescu Cleansing Milk with Carnation Rice Oil. I wash it off with a warm washcloth and follow up with this Garnier Cleanser.
TONERS + TREATMENTS + MOISTURIZERS
During the Accutane treatment, skin and lips get extremely dry. I already talked about my favorite lip treatments right here. As far as a moisturizer goes, I rotate between a few. Clinique Moisture Surge is great to use under makeup because it’s light and not greasy. As my skin is extremely dry, I love reaching for my face mists. I recently fell in love with the MŪN Anarose Hydrating Rose Toner which balances skin’s pH, hydrates and is suitable for all skin types. I’m also still loving this one from Complex Beauty. For now, I’m avoiding some of my favorite peels and AHA products as my skin is very sensitive. The only treatment I reach for at the moment is MŪN Aknari Brightening Youth Serum. It’s formulated with Prickly Pear Seed Oil, which has high Linoleic Acid content, Vitamin E, it acts as an antioxidant, absorbs beautifully into the skin and penetrates deeply without leaving a greasy residue behind. It also contains Argan Oil (also rich in Vitamin E) and Bulgarian Rose Essential Oil which has antibacterial properties, making it a great product for acne prone skin, like mine. It does come in a small bottle but I only need one pump to gently press it all over my skin and neck. It makes my skin bright, soft and smooth and calms any redness I experience from time to time. Wish I could bathe in this stuff. At night, once the serum absorbs I follow up with something richer like Cetaphil Cream (one of those products I can’t live without regardless of how my skin is doing), Derma E Hydrating Night Cream or Perricone MD Multi-Action Overnight Treatment.
Edit: I totally forgot to mention sunscreen which is a must for me, all -year round, it’s very important when you’re undergoing any kind of acne or skin-renewing treatment. It should be a must for you too, especially if you’re dealing with hyperpigmentation or want to prevent skin aging and wrinkles. For about a year now, I’ve been loving this sunscreen.
If you’re interested in trying MŪN products you can use my code “MUN13T” for 15% off.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH ABSORICA SO FAR
Okay, still with me? Good. So, if you’re suffering from acne, then chances are you’ve probably heard of isotretinoin- vitamin A derivative- treatment called Absorica (the most common brand used to be called “Accutane”). It’s a medication that can only be prescribed by your doctor that reduces the amount of oil released by oil glands in the skin and helps skin renew itself more quickly. In just a single dose it can cause serious birth defects, that’s why you won’t be able to go on it unless you use two forms of birth control (if you’re a female patient) or are abstinent. You need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting your treatment, and before every single prescription refill. You also need to sign up for an iPledge program where you basically pledge that you will not get pregnant, share your medication or donate blood. Every single month you also need to take a questionnaire online before your pharmacy authorizes your refill (silly questions like: “your neighbor asks you to give them a portion of your treatment, what do you do/say and why“, etc. ). You also need monthly blood tests done to detect any possible abnormalities.
After almost 3.5 months of treatment. My pores look almost as if they’re blurred and I seriously can’t stop staring at them up close.
Now, if that process doesn’t sound exhausting enough, there are also a ton of serious side effects that come along with this treatment. Probably too many for me to list, so I’ll only talk about the ones that I’ve experienced.
First: dry, red, sensitive skin is quite the obvious one, and it’s extreme. Not really complaining about this one because I’ve always had oily skin and hair that had to be washed every single day. I now wash my hair once a week which is great, although I do miss that healthy-shine my hair always had. It’s very matte right now. I also developed eczema on my hands, my body skin is very dry which flares up my dermatographism. Muscle, joint and back pain is pretty bad too. I had a couple of nose bleeds, but those went away. Last month my doctor raised my dose from 40mg to 60mg and I now also suffer from extreme fatigue. I can sleep for 10-12 hours and still wake up tired. The aches and pains I can put up with but the fatigue is becoming a little extreme. I’m always tired, sleepy, exhausted and have bags under my eyes. I haven’t worked out in weeks because my back pain is at times unbearable. I’m used to being very active and never needed much sleep, this is why I find it so hard to deal with the fatigue. Coffee doesn’t do the trick, neither do my usual little pick-me-ups that always help me.
I’m not one to complain, but every time I mention my back pain or take a little longer to get up or reach for the 3rd cup of coffee, I get asked the same question: do you really think all these side effects are worth it? My answer is: yes. Going on Accutane wasn’t an easy decision for me and it took me a while to decide to finally try it. I’m a bit of a health nut and after seeing how much my diet has helped me, I believed that I could clear my skin completely just by keeping it up. It didn’t happen though. I believe that the exact words I used when my doctor asked me if I’m ready to go on Accutane were: “Yes. I’m tired.“
It’s a pain in the ass when a bunch of friends get together and all of a sudden your skin becomes the main topic of a conversation. It gets old and it gets exhausting. Someone will mention an amazing product their cousin tried (“have you tried this or that?”), someone will notice that your skin is looking a little worse. I even had clients at work comment on my skin. Usually, it’s well-meaning people, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t feel like punching every single one of them in the face the moment they brought my acne up. I feel like, for years, I just wanted to scream “hello, there’s more to me than just my acne!“. So yes, to me, the side effects are worth it. I only had one concern: depression and anxiety. In some cases isotretinoin can cause depression and anxiety and having suffered from both in the past, it was something I worried about. I’d be willing to take twice as much back pain or muscle aches, as long as my anxiety didn’t come back because it’s seriously one of the worst feelings, ever. I did notice that I’m slightly more emotional, but thankfully I haven’t experienced any anxiety, otherwise, I know I’d have to get off the treatment as that is not something I’d be willing to put up with.
As far as the results go? I love them. I freaking love them. I’m actually starting to love my skin, which I never thought would happen. My skin looks best it’s ever looked, it’s bright, smooth, clear and I’m excited to see even more improvement as the treatment continues. My doctor told me that I’ll love the treatment and I do, even with all the side effects. I didn’t experience any “purging” and my skin feels so smooth and so clear, I actually love looking at it up close. My scars have become lighter but some of them are also a bit more visible now that my acne has cleared up, but that’s something I’ll worry about once I complete the treatment.
I think that the only few people who understand my willingness to put up with these side effects are my husband, mom, and sister because they know just how much my acne has affected me in the past. As I’m listing all of my side effects I’m thinking that they sound pretty harsh, but in reality, it’s just the fatigue that’s really bothering me.
Keep in mind that I am not a doctor and can’t give medical advice so you shouldn’t treat what I say in this post as such. This is just me sharing my experience. Before I went on the treatment I was extremely nervous and looked all over the internet for others sharing their personal experience, which is why I decided to share mine as well.
Sorry for this post being so long and if you’ve made it all the way until the end- bless you! I will probably share another update once I complete my treatment, but promise that it won’t be nearly as long as this post. Also, if you’re currently suffering from acne and find it difficult to deal with at times, remember that you’re not alone. I don’t want to be all dramatic here, but I do know that dealing with skin issues isn’t fun.
To see my skin update, see this post.
This content includes referral links and/or PR samples/gifted products. Read my disclosure policy for more info. A version of this post was previously published in September of 2016.
Gia GianinaFebruary 6, 2017 at 3:23 pm
Wow Paula, this post gave me goosebumps. I can’t even imagine how you managed to get over all those questions, all those unsolicited advice. You are so strong and you encourage others to be like you! Congrats! Acne wasn’t present in my life, thank God, but i read all the info. I thought that in the last photo you are wearing foundation because your skin looks so bright and clean! And the differences between the photos from the beginning of the treatment and the recent ones are quite remarkable!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 4:24 pm
Thank you so much Gia! Consider yourself lucky then! haha :) Thank you so much for taking the time to read even though you luckily don’t have to deal with the same issues. I was a little nervous to publish this post, but I’m glad I finally did!
ElizzaMay 21, 2020 at 1:11 pm
So true words! Great results! Thanks for sharing your wonderful posts.❤️ I have only been on Accutane for 2 weeks now but already I see such a difference! So happy 😀 I googled ‘ BEN247AC ‘ and got the treatment. Everyone is complementing how smooth my skin looks 😀! I had severe acne all over my face, moderate on my shoulders and back. My skin acne made me miserable, it was all over my entire face and it was red and agreessive and bumpy. Now it is pale pink and has gone down drastically and I have only been on it for 2 weeks! The side effects I have experienced are dry skin and cracked lips. I put coconut oil on my lips and moisturise constantly and that is helping to manage it a lot.
Claudia JustalittleblushFebruary 6, 2017 at 3:27 pm
Thanks for sharing. I’ve dealt with pretty horrible acne as a symptom of my PCOS. The sheer amount of people who have made comments or offered unsolicited advice is insane. I thought I was going to murder someone at one point! Even really close friends and family have been so hurtful (without even realizing it). Like you, my skin has somewhat cleared after MANY lifestyle changes, but I don’t think I’ve seen a single day when my face is completely clear. I was only diagnosed with PCOS a little less than a year ago so I want to give it a little more time before I explore something like Accutane, but I’ve been reading a lot about other’s experiences to help me make my decision.
I’m surprised your doctors didn’t suggest Accutane from the get go. Every single doctor I’ve gone to (and not just dermatologists) have been eager to get me on that bandwagon hehe.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 4:30 pm
You’re very welcome Claudia! So sorry you had to deal with people commenting on your skin too. I know that a lot of people say things without thinking or without meaning any harm, but they still can get on my nerves. I’m not surprised you wanted to murder someone because I almost slapped a couple of people across the face haha.
I think that the reason why my current doctor was so quick to offer Accutane was because she’s quite young. My other doctors were usually a bit old school and I myself was afraid to go on it, so I never asked. Glad that my current doctor convinced me though. Hope you find a treatment that works for you!
VanessaFebruary 6, 2017 at 3:49 pm
I have actually taken the same treatment as you, different brand name. It has been roughly a year since I finished my treatment and my skin is amazing. I still have some faint scars but they are easily covered by a light layer of foundation, and using face oils has helped them fade really well.
I had to see 3 different doctors before the final one recommended me the treatment.
I think its really important to inform people that there are treatments that can actually help you, I was also prescribed antibiotics and had no effect on my skin.
Vanessa x | http://www.springlilies.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 4:32 pm
So happy to hear that your skin is looking amazing after completed treatment! I’ve heard about people having issues with their doctors not wanting to put them on it, but to be honest I was afraid and wanted to avoid going on Accutane at all cost. So glad that my doctor convinced me though, I can definitely get used to my skin looking as good as it does now :)
Dagmara KlichFebruary 6, 2017 at 4:53 pm
How amazingly your skin has improved, Paula! But you’ve been through a lot!
I’ve been lucky not to suffer with acne so I can only try to imagine your experience. Best of luck with the rest of your treatment. xx
href=”http://www.mummysbeautycorner.com/”>Mummy’s Beauty Corner
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 8:30 pm
It’s been a long journey, but I’m finally at a very happy place with my skin :)
Consider yourself lucky. It can really suck the life out of you at times, even though it’s just skin. Once it becomes everything someone sees when they look at you, it’s almost as if you lose who you are and become “that girl with bad skin”. Thanks so much Dagmara!
Primrose BigwoodFebruary 6, 2017 at 4:54 pm
Thank you so much for posting this – I’ve suffered for years with skin problems due to taking antibiotics which just made my skin awful, hence why I’m dubious to go on accutane, I’m so worried about the depression side, but also worried about it coming back after! I suppose everyone is different! I can so relate, people literally just feel the need to comment on your skin 24/7, don’t think they mean to be insensitive but god its hard to deal with! So happy it’s working for you, your skin looks absolutely incredible! x
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 8:34 pm
Accutane works differently than antibiotics. I know that there is a small percentage of people who have to go through several rounds of treatments, but in many cases, one round (which is usually at minimum 4 months) is enough. I was paranoid about the depression/anxiety too, especially since I myself have a history of both and there’s also a history of depression in my family. I was terrified when my doctor upped my dosage, but I’m so happy that I’m not experiencing any psychological side effects (other than being a bit more emotional). My doctor did tell me to call her right away if I start feeling sad or unmotivated, etc. I also noticed that I have a bit of a temper on these, and my doctor did tell me to warn my family and friends and tell them to be supportive during the treatment, and they’ve all been great. It’s a lot to put up with but so far I’m really happy I decided to go on it and in all honesty all the side effects aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they’d be. x
Samantha FrancesFebruary 6, 2017 at 6:06 pm
I relate to this 100%! I think I’ve commented on quite a few of your skincare posts talking about acne because I’m also currently on accutane and it’s so nice being able to chat to someone about it! I completely agree about the side effects being worth it. This is my second time on the treatment (the mini pill brought all my acne back) and even though my side effects are even worse this time, it’s still worth it! I’m finally getting to the point where it’s really starting to clear up properly, aside from a few stubborn ones along my jawline, and I absolutely love doing my skincare routine at night because for once it’s so lovely to apply my products onto smooth skin! That feeling will never get old. Your skin looks absolutely incredible!! I’m still not brave enough to post a bare-faced photo because of all the scars I still have, but hopefully they’ll fade over time. So happy for you that it’s working <3 xxx
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 8:46 pm
It really is nice having someone who can relate! I don’t really know anyone who suffered from as many skin problems as I have and so many people think that it’s just a simple matter of washing your face more often. No. lol it doesn’t work that way!
Hope this second round clears it up for you. How severe was your acne? Mine was awful about 7-8 years ago, but cleared up significantly. That’s why I was shocked when my derm recommended acccutane right of the bat. because now that I look at those pictures, it doesn’t seem that bad. It only goes to show how horrible my skin was at some point lol. Now I kind of wish I asked about accutane sooner! I’m now also very familiar with the feeling of applying products onto smooth skin and you’re right- it never gets old. It’s such a simple thing that to some might seem silly, but it’s nice to not have to stress about your skin all the time. Thank you so much Sam and wishing you the best of luck with your treatment as well! Keep me posted on how it’s going! :)
Samantha FrancesFebruary 11, 2017 at 2:34 pm
Exactly! Most people with acne probably wash their face too much! I feel like my acne was more severe the second time round, when the mini pill caused it to come back, because this time not only did I have regular spots on my cheeks and chin, but I now had those terrible cysts along my jawline that just swell up and do nothing but cause you pain for weeks until they go down! Thank you, you too! :) xxx
JennFebruary 6, 2017 at 7:55 pm
What a fantastic post! I feel a bit heated thinking about all of the people who made comments to you. It’s so inappropriate for someone to try to give their two cents on something they don’t understand! I never suffered from acne too horribly, though of course I thought it was the worst ever. I am so happy that you’ve found a successful treatment, despite the side effects. I totally understand them being worth it. Your skin looks so clear now, really terrific! Best wishes through the rest of the treatment, I look forward to hearing more about your journey!
Jenn – http://www.beautybyjellybean.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 8:48 pm
Thank you so much Jenn! I start feeling a little angry every time I think about those comments too, but after dealing with them all my life, it gets old. After a while you just stop reacting to them. I’m really happy I finally found something that works and hope to get through the treatment and not have to repeat it. Wish I’d asked my doctor about it sooner!
BernadetteFebruary 6, 2017 at 8:27 pm
Such a fantastic post. It sucks that people said such jerky comments but it’s always those who are insecure themselves and mad about it that go around and try to make others feel bad. I know i get occasional comments about my brows being to thick yet every time it’s by people who obviously have super thin brows and have to fill them in a lot. People should just stop being mean to one another, nobody’s perfect. I was lucky enough to not have to deal with acne though my skin still gives me grief in its own way which i am trying to figure out.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 6, 2017 at 8:49 pm
Thank you Love! In all honesty, I think those people don’t really mean harm and aren’t trying to be mean. They think they’re being helpful, where in reality they’re just being a little rude and mean haha. Happy that you didn’t have to deal with acne, it sucks!
BernadetteFebruary 6, 2017 at 9:06 pm
Not all of them are trying to be rude but once in a while there is one that is being deliberately rude. Though currently I am having these little bumps on my skin. I don’t know what they are and I’ve been trying acid toners but so far no luck to help get rid of them – skin texturisation is so frustration because whenever I wear makeup they are quite noticeable. I’m hoping that when I eventually make a ‘the ordinary’ order and try retinol and lactic acid it helps – I am currently using alpha H liquid gold and I am not seeing that particular issue get better. I feel like my skin isn’t sensitive so I need something on the stronger side.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 9:21 am
Oh definitely! I ordered a few products from The Ordinary and can’t wait to try them. Right now my skin is a little too sensitive to use a lot of acids. Have you tried these peel pads from Dr. Dennis Gross: goo.gl/EMjAv0 they are amazing for those small bumps.
BernadetteFebruary 10, 2017 at 8:45 pm
I feel like nothing works for those bumps i have. I also don’t know what is causing them so i could possibly still be doing the thing causing those bumps. No i haven’t tried them i definitely need to look into them if they can help.
KelseyFebruary 7, 2017 at 12:06 am
Such a good post sweet girl! I’ve dealt with acne all my life and unfortunately I should have tried medication early on. I still haven’t gone on any as I fear the side effects (so glad I’m not the only one focused on that!), but I’m the e x a c t same way. All my abrasive cleansers were tossed and now I use just chemical exfoliants and have a little arsenal of oils on hand. I’m so happy to hear that you are loving the treatment and your skin is STUNNING! Like if mine doesn’t stop the little breakouts… I may just finally take the leap and talk to a doctor.
Thanks so much for sharing this sweet girl! It’s so fun to see people open and talk about our issues full force :)
xo Kelsey | http://www.abalancingpeach.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 9:24 am
Thank you so much Kelsey! I wish I went on this particular treatment sooner, but the side effects seemed so scary. Chemical exfoliants and oils are staples for me too! Aw thank you! I still feel like I have a long way to go but it’s been weeks since I’ve had a breakout, which feels amazing haha :) You should definitely see a doctor if you can. I was seeing them on and off, some I really didn’t like, some just pushed creams on me and I’m so happy I finally found a doctor that actually listens to me. My current doctor asked questions none of my previous doctors did, like my lifestyle, what my typical day looks like, things that pretty much you’d think have nothing to do with acne haha ;) Love her!
The Pale TailsFebruary 7, 2017 at 1:35 am
This is SUCH an amazing post. You brave brave girl. Always been absolutely stunning despite having acne. I too have struggled with spots all my life, I remember being younger and going on accutane but the only thing that really worked for me was the pill, it was a special one to get rid of spots. Unfortunately though it gave me severe headaches, panic attacks and messed me up in general so I had to go off it. My spots went up and down over time. Now, they’re not the worst, but I still get them. I hate cyst like ones, they’re so sore. But yeah, I’m ok with my skin now even though it’s not the clearest. Thanks for this post, you’re super brave and such a beautiful and admirable woman both with and without makeup.
Beckie xo // The Pale Tails
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 9:27 am
Aww thank you so much Beckie, you’re so sweet!! Ugh panic attacks are the worst. I’d rather be in severe physical pain than go through them. It sucks that so many treatments offered also come with severe side effects. But a few spots here and there are normal for many of us but I do feel your pain when it comes to those sore cysts, they’re the worst. Omega 3 supplements really helped me with those, they worked like magic. Thank you again Beckie for your sweet, kind comment! x
Aleksandra // bunniesaremagicFebruary 7, 2017 at 6:16 am
Wow, that was a post and a half. Must have been terrifying to talk about something so… private where anyone and everyone can see it.
I have some skin troubles of my own, but they don’t even compare. As I probably mentioned above, I started using snail based cream for my face and most of them basically went away. I am obsessed with that cream and tell everyone about it. Sorry. It just felt like it gave me back my ‘days without make up outside’. Although that is only when one does not look closely, as I don’t really have problems with big breakouts, more with tiny blocked pores and needle sized cysts that never go away.
However, on a related note, I am going to go through laser eye surgery in April. Not the pretty, walk-in walk-out type that heals in 24h and makes you happier instantly, as my eyes are way too delicate for that. The painful, you-will-go-to-hell-and-back type, the one that requires you to grow a part of your eye back and no one even tries to pretend it won’t be soul breaking. But I NEED to do it. I keep hearing people telling me about all the side effects and pain, and the fact that my eye sight can take months to fully recover… But it will recover. And I will feel fine again. In some way, of course, as there are thing I won’t be able to fix in myself – ever – but at least this one will be sorted, and I will get my eyes back.
Some things are just worth the pain, aren’t they?
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:38 pm
It really was, I almost regretted posting this as soon as I hit “publish” but I think that especially in the blogging world, there is so much perfectionism and I myself sometimes feel like perhaps I shouldn’t blog about beauty because I struggled so much with my skin, but the truth is my skin problems were what got me interested in the beauty world in the first place. And I’m not here to pretend I’m perfect, or, perfect-looking.
I know you’ve been raving about that cream, I might try it one day! Oh my goodness, good luck with your surgery! I’m sure it’ll be worth it! With things like eyesight especially, where I’m sure there will be quite a big difference, it’ll all be worth the pain and the effort. Hope it all goes well and it won’t be as bad as think! x
Aleksandra // bunniesaremagicFebruary 9, 2017 at 3:39 am
I have researched it back and forth and agreed on the fact that no one has ever gone blind from it, so the worst should not happen :)
I agree on the honesty part, really. After all it is people who do struggle with their skin condition who need help and advice most, don’t they? I mean, everyone should look after their skin, but if it is in a good condition, it is both easier and infinitely less stressful. And taking advice from someone who ‘has been there done that’ is always more reassuring- not the most scientific way to go about things, but all of us just feel better if someone tells us they have defeated or are on a good track to defeat the same demons we are facing, rather than telling us that is is theoretically possible :)
Юля ЖуравлеваFebruary 7, 2017 at 6:53 am
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:38 pm
missgetawayFebruary 7, 2017 at 7:14 am
Thank you so much for sharing this! I’ve suffered from severe acne for years and was always extremely self conscious because of it. Once I changed my diet and went (mostly) plant based it did improve but there still is acne left and I’m just too much of a sissy to try Accutane – it sounds heavenly and a friend of mine saw amazing results but the side effects just always put me off. So weird because I feel like i wouldn’t regret trying it if it would really improve my skin like it’s said to do.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:40 pm
Diet really changed everything for me too. I was so scared of starting the treatment, but glad I decided to go for it. I don’t mind the side effects, as long as it’s not anxiety or depression as those two were my biggest concern. Sorry you had to deal with severe acne as well, it sucks! Thank you so much for stopping by! x
Ambar SyedFebruary 7, 2017 at 11:25 am
Paula, this post was exactly what I needed to read today. I’ve started my second round of Accutane and I’m now halfway through month two. My skin has definitely purged and it has got to a point where I really don’t want to leave the house right now unless it is absolutely necessary. The story about you going to the hair salon and seeing your reflection… I can totally relate because that has been me for years. I really hoped Accutane would work the first time when I took it in 2015 but it all came back raging and ten times worse after three months of finishing the course. Reading this post gave me some hope for this second round of treatment. I’m so glad that you’re happy with the results so far and I really hope that Accutane changes both our lives for the better.
Lots of Love.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:44 pm
Aww so sorry you’re feeling this way Ambar! I’ve been there myself, so I know what it’s like not wanting to leave the house. Know that it’s all temporary and won’t last forever. I really hope that I’ll only need one course of treatment as my acne is no longer as severe or bad as it once was. I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hope that your skin will clear up once and for good after you complete the second course of treatment! I’m really happy that I finally decided to go for it. x
Danielle BeautyblogFebruary 7, 2017 at 12:31 pm
So glad this is working for you Paula, your skin looks great! I’ve been on Roaccutane twice, when I was 15 and again when I was 18 and though I still get the odd breakout it’s nothing compared to how my skin used to be, though my scarring is still an issue for me. I know it has a bad rep but it was honestly the best thing I did for my skin and I was lucky to only suffer with dry skin while I was on it! I also loved having to wash my usually greasy hair much less haha!
Danielle’s Beauty Blog
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:48 pm
Thank you so much Danielle! I didn’t even realize that so many other girls also used the same treatment. I wish I knew that, I’d reach out to some of you haha! I was so scared and paranoid before deciding to go on it, but now I really wish I’d done it sooner. Haha oh yes, not having to wash your hair every single day is definitely a nice side effect and one that I don’t mind hahaha :)
Christine C.February 7, 2017 at 1:07 pm
Bravo to you girl. Working in the spa environment and helping people with skincare, I have seen how horrible it is for people to have to deal with acne. I’ve had friends and family members who have literally tried everything and going on something like this was their last resort and for the most part, most of them would gladly deal with the side effects because having their acne gone was worth it. I am so glad that it is working for you and I know what a big deal it is to share a story like this, but know that soo many will appreciate this!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:49 pm
Thank you so much Christine! This was a last resort for me too, I was just so freaking tired. Never knowing when you’re going to have a huge breakout, which lucky for me, always happened before some kind of event haha :) I was really nervous to publish this post but it’s something that I wanted to talk about here on the blog for a while now. x
steff @ brighterdarling.comFebruary 7, 2017 at 1:24 pm
Girl… we have EXTREMELY similar skin background and seems like our skin also likes similar products, too. I did Accutane back in 2008/2009 but could only last on it 6 months before my cholesterol levels were too high to be safe (and I was eating totally vegetarian to keep things low). It helped dramatically, but of course, within a couple of years, my skin DID return to it’s lovely oily breakout-prone self. It’s about 50% of what it was BEFORE I started Accutane, so I do not regret doing the 6 months of treatment either because it did help so very much – esp for those cystic/bumpy ones. Amazingly honest review and thank you for shedding light on this in such a candid way :) XO!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:53 pm
My triglycerides are a bit high but my doctor says it shouldn’t be a concern at the moment. I’m getting some blood work done tomorrow for the first time since she raised my dose, so I’m hoping that the results come back okay. I’m glad to hear that the treatment helped you- cystic breakouts are the worst! Thank you so much for stopping by. I’d never guess you had skin problems in the past, your skin always looks beautiful!
steff @ brighterdarling.comFebruary 9, 2017 at 10:37 am
Yes…. if nothing else, it’s diminished (if not totally eradicated) the cystic acne. :) Oh jeez thanks… I’m a foundation psycho, so I have perfected the “look” of perfect skin haha.
Caked To The NinesFebruary 7, 2017 at 7:32 pm
Your skin looks so good, my love!! I’m so glad the treatment is working for you and that you’re beginning to love the skin you’re in. I truly hope that you continue to see long lasting success because you deserve it, love! Acne is so personal and touchy, and it can make you feel so vulnerable. I’m shocked/annoyed/angry at all of the unsolicited advice people have given you. I don’t blame you for wanting to punch everyone in the face LOL I would want to as well. Especially the lady at the Chanel counter like WTF!!! I hate the misconception that people struggling with acne are just lazy or eat horribly because that’s so not true.
I love all of the advice you’ve given, and really want to try some MUN goodies, but especially their brightening serum! I can’t wait to see more of your skin journey. You’ve come so far, but you’ve always been beautiful! I know it’s hard to feel beautiful when you hate your skin, but really. You’ve always been gorgeous, inside and out, and I hope you feel it too!
Nida | Caked To The Nines
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:57 pm
Aw thank you so much Nida! I’m really starting to love my skin, I especially like it when someone asks me if I’m wearing foundation and I say “no” lol the look on my sister’s face when I told her that the other day was priceless ;)
Oh there are just so many misconceptions about people who have skin problems. The most annoying comment I’d get was “just wash your face more often” lol no, that’s not how that works.
MUN products are amazing, the Akwi cleanser is my fave, feels like such a treat when I use it at night- especially when paired with a nice, warm washcloth :) Thank you so much Love for your beautiful comment and for taking the time to read this long ass post lol ;) xx
Ashlynn CFebruary 8, 2017 at 12:31 am
Paula, the first thing I see in your photos are your beautiful eyes! I suffered from sporadic breakouts in my teens, and when I hit my mid 20s, I suddenly had painful cystic acne all over my forehead that never went away. I don’t know what caused it, and I honestly don’t know what made it go away, but I’m thankful. I tried everything on face that I could get off the counter, but nothing really worked besides straight up olive oil and a few essential oils. Maybe my skin is a whole other different kind of crazy, and I’m happy people stopped recommending acne stuff to me. I get that – there’s more to us than what’s on our face. We’re people too. I give you so much love for this post and for sharing your experience. It’s been a long journey for you, and I’m happy to hear that you’re happy.
The Crimson Cardigan | http://thecrimsoncardigan.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 4:01 pm
Aww Ashlynn, thank you so much! Cystic breakouts are the worst, they’re so painful and often very stubborn. So happy that they went away and you don’t have to deal with them. Acne definitely isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing and the cause is not the same for everyone, it’d be nice if people started to try and look past things like bad skin (because acne is a medical condition after all) and be a little bit more sensitive and not give out unnecessary advice haha ;) Thank you so much for your lovely comment Ashlynn! x
silverkisFebruary 8, 2017 at 1:04 am
Thank you for sharing your experience, Paula! I cannot even begin to imagine how much suffering you had been through, first world problem or not. All the best on the remainder of your treatment, and I hope everything goes smoothly, and your skin remains smooth and clear afterwards!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 4:03 pm
Thank you so much Linda! I’m really excited to finish the treatment and see how much more my skin improves. Thank you so much for stopping by! x
Kiss & Make-upFebruary 8, 2017 at 3:19 am
Oh wow, you really had it bad, I’m so sorry! :-( I was on roaccutane as well (and it helped me SO much!) but my acne wasn’t as bad as yours. It was mainly the extreme extreme EXTREME sebum production that needed to be handled. I agree, only people who’ve gone through this or people who are close to you and know how much you’re struggling understand why you’d be willing to pretty much poison your liver with this treatment. It really IS worth it.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 4:06 pm
Thank you so much Melissa! My skin was extremely oily as well, it was so difficult to deal with. Happy that the treatment helped you so much! It was a tough decision to go on it, but I’m so happy I decided to try it. Loving the results so far!
fromSandyxoFebruary 8, 2017 at 4:52 am
Thank you for sharing Paula. I suffered badly with cystic acne during my early 20s and I wish I was put on Accutane to avoid pitted scarring. I’m sorry you’re suffering from the side effects. As a pharmacist, I am happy to see the benefits have outweighed the side effects in your case. Thanks again for a such a wonderful share. Much love Sandyxo
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 4:08 pm
That scarring is the worst too. It’s one of the reasons why I’m not much of contour person, as I feel like it only makes them more visible. I’m definitely willing to put up with the side effects as my skin never looked as good as it does now. Thank you so much for stopping by Sandy! x
kimberlylocFebruary 8, 2017 at 1:38 pm
Paula, thanks for your candid, thoughtful and honest post.
I, too, have suffered from acne, especially cystic acne, since I was 11. Only now, at age 31, has it finally gotten under control, thanks to spironolactone and understanding what ingredients (natural, chemical, what have you) irritate my skin. Your comments about people critiquing your diet (which they know nothing about!) enrages me, and that sort of commentary still happens to this day. “It’s all about your diet … acne is a reflection of your insides …” While some of that may be true, what a slap in the face to people who DO pay attention to their diet and exercise. For me, it’s been very hormonal — as cystic acne typically is — and spironolactone has helped.
I’ve never considered accutane because of the side effects you mention, but I can absolutely empathize with you on what that tradeoff means for someone who has to deal with acne. Choose what’s right for you and educate yourself on what those choices can mean! Bravo to this post and for your bravery in sharing something so personal.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 4:14 pm
Thank you so much Kimberly! I’ve heard that spiro works wonders for hormonal acne. Oh I’ve had so many people comment on different aspects of my lifestyle, trying to connect it to my skin problems haha. It just gets exhausting after a while and makes you think that the first thing people see when looking at you, is your acne. My hormonal breakouts healed almost as soon as I went plant-based, but I still had clogged pores and “regular” acne and I’m so happy I decided to go on Accutane- even though it was not an easy decision and very much a last resort. Thank you again for taking the time to read this post! x
LuxBubsFebruary 8, 2017 at 5:31 pm
Dear Paula, you’re inspirational. It takes guts to post your past pictures and discuss in detail all that you’ve been thru and how you’ve felt. Hats off to you, darling!!
However, remember … YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL and I am incredibly happy that you have settled into a routine that truly makes you feel your best. Humbled to have met you through Insta and thank you for inspiring me every day. xo Anxhela
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comFebruary 8, 2017 at 7:09 pm
Aww thank you so much Anxhela, you’ve always been so kind, I’m very happy to have met you as well! Really, it’s the IG and Blog beauty community that gave me the courage to write this post. Thank you so much for kind words, they mean the world to me! x
Ashley LaughlinFebruary 9, 2017 at 6:43 pm
I know so many people who have used this medication and I’m glad you took the plunge!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMay 2, 2017 at 9:00 am
Thanks Ashley, I’m really glad, too!
Liz | Rose Colored WaterFebruary 9, 2017 at 8:07 pm
I also did Accutane because of severe cystic acne, but unfortunately, my acne came back after two years. Before those 2 years, my skin was beautiful. I will note – I also drink a lot of soda and eat a lot of dairy and sugar. I’ve noticed a significant difference when I stop drinking pop. I just can’t seem to kick the habit. I think you will have beautiful skin from here on out if you continue on the diet. Accutane is a wonderful product, and it helps most people end their acne issues once and for all. Just remember that as your body and hormones change, it can reverse some of the Accutane effects.
And all the side effects should go away when the treatment ends. Good luck!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMay 2, 2017 at 9:02 am
Aww so sorry your acne came back! I am so glad I decided to get on it, even with all the side effects, I feel like it already changed my life but I’m definitely aware that the results aren’t always permanent.
Natalie RedmanFebruary 12, 2017 at 1:39 pm
Wow the difference is incredible! Well done for sharing this. Very inspiring!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMay 2, 2017 at 9:02 am
Thank you so much Natalie!
CindyFebruary 12, 2017 at 9:13 pm
Paula this post was so long but so so informative! I’m sure it’ll help a ton of people out there struggling with acne. I remember reading through some of Kate La Vie’s accutane stories and that was just as fascinating to read through.
But I just wanted to drop a note and say how absolutely beautiful and bright your skin looks right now! And tbh you are beautiful both inside and out – you are seriously just so sweet and genuine always! I’m excited to keep following you through your skin journey and can’t wait to see how the final results end up – even post treatment.
And you are seriously tempting me with those MUN skincare goodies – I always eye them in your IG posts and blog posts, but this post in particular has really made me want to splurge out on them!
Cindy | http://www.cindyhyue.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMay 2, 2017 at 9:03 am
Cindy, I know I’m months late with this reply, but thank you SO MUCH! You’re such a sweetheart, seriously! I really appreciate your kind words!
MUN products are pretty incredible- their cleanser is one of the best skincare products I’ve ever used!
Kate RicherFebruary 20, 2017 at 12:22 pm
Thank you so much for posting this! I struggle with acne and this will help a lot! I am a blogger as well who blogs about my teen life, travel, food and much more! It’s nice to see another person become a successful blogger at the similar age as mine!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMay 2, 2017 at 9:04 am
You are very welcome Kate, sorry to be getting back to you so late. Hope you found this post helpful!
STRUCKBLOGMarch 3, 2017 at 1:11 pm
I loved reading your story, thank you for so bravely sharing it. I have a million tabs open to check out all of the products you have recommended. I don’t have it nearly as severely as you have experienced, mine is mostly hormonal, but never ends, my chin always has some. I too wash make up off right when I get in the door! Although I wish I didn’t have to wear quite as much, it’s a confidence thing right!? I’m so happy to see your improvement. All the best and thanks again for sharing.
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMay 2, 2017 at 9:05 am
The never-ending aspect of having to deal with acne problems is seriously the worst. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post! Hope you won’t have to deal with your hormonal acne for much longer!!
Rana SolimanMarch 27, 2017 at 5:09 am
Is a moisturizer with a SPF 35 good as sunscrean like the neutrogena moisturizer?
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMarch 27, 2017 at 7:14 am
Yes! (as long as it doesn’t irritate your skin)
KimApril 24, 2017 at 11:44 am
The skincare reddit saved my skin too!! So helpful. – http://kimandmakeup.com
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comMay 2, 2017 at 9:00 am
It really is!
Tamara Sharpe ッAugust 31, 2017 at 3:23 pm
I have just read a few of your blogs on your experience with isotretinon as I will be starting my course on Sunday! I would just like to say thank you for putting my mind at rest and helping me to get excited for the results to come! Just wanted to ask, will vasaline help with the dry lips? Also I noticed your skin routine products that you used are quite pricey, can you recommend any cheaper but effective products? Also I live in the U.K. So trying to get hold of some of the products would be a bit difficult!
Thank you in advance!
Paula @ thirteenthoughts.comAugust 31, 2017 at 3:42 pm
Tamara, so excited for you to start your treatment- hoping you experience minimal side effects. Vaseline will not be enough for your lips, I’d suggest to try something without petroleum jelly (Lucas Papaw or Bite Agave Lip Mask) or just ask your doctor to prescribe you something. I’m not sure if you have Cetaphil available in the UK, but I love their moisturizer in a tub (comes in a big jar and I think it’s actually a body moisturizer looks like this: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cetaphil-Moisturizing-Cream-Fragrance-Free/dp/B000052YMQ) I used it all over my face, hands, body- you’re going to get really dry and that cream is really hydrating and lasts forever. For a cleanser again, not sure if you can get your hands on it but CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser is great. As long as you use something that’s fragrance-free and non-drying, you should be okay.
Oran BruenMarch 14, 2022 at 11:58 am
I have suffered with acne since I was 15. I have tried all different treatments including accutane. By far the best I have found is the Dermalmd Acne Treatment. I use it day and night and have had almost no acne. It does not dry out your skin like other treatment. If you thinking about it, give it a try!