Dr. Zenovia Skincare aims to showcase the stories of real people. In this post, Nicole shares her Accutane experience, Post-Accutane skincare routine, and journey with self-love and skin positivity. Everyone has a unique perspective and skin story.
My Accutane Experience
I decided to go on Accutane in February of 2020. At that point, I had been struggling with adult-onset cystic acne for three years and was at my wit’s end with treatments, skincare hacks, and products. I was very nervous to start taking Accutane and received a lot of pushback since it is quite a controversial acne medication; however, I ultimately knew that it was best for my skin and mental health to move forward with this treatment.
I was on Accutane for 6 months. Some of the side effects I experienced included dry lips, dry skin, dry eyes, eczema, dry scalp, joint pain, and exhaustion. Thankfully, I never experienced any severe side effects nor any lasting side effects besides having a slightly drier skin type.
While on Accutane, I initially maintained a very basic skincare routine: cleansing, moisturizing, and applying an SPF every morning. As time went on, I began integrating additional steps in my routine such as using a gentle physical exfoliant to address my accumulating dead skin, Hyaluronic Acid to provide necessary hydration, and Vitamin C to address hyperpigmentation. This, of course, happened gradually over time as I tested my skin’s sensitivity.
When it comes to Accutane, people either feel like it is deathly harmful and that no one should ever take it, or think it is the only “cure” for acne. Both assumptions are not true. Yes, Accutane can be harmful and have severe, lasting side effects, but that is not the case for everyone. We take medications and vaccines throughout our lifetime that have a plethora of side effects and possible concerns. Heck, even going for a drive in our car comes with risks! But every day we make calculated choices that gauge these risks and ultimately, we decide that the benefits outweigh the concerns.
At the end of the day, a person should be able to make an educated decision with the help of their board-certified dermatologist as to what treatment is best for them. This choice should not concern other people (particularly strangers). At the same time, Accutane is by no means a cure for acne. The truth is that there is no definitive “cure” because not everyone’s acne has the same triggers. The reality is, if you don’t find what is causing you to get acne in the first place, it will most likely come back following the end of your Accutane regimen. Though Accutane is successful at helping to break the acne cycle, the only way to truly prevent your acne from returning is to identify what started the flare-ups in the first place.
My skin post-Accutane is the best it’s been in years! I rarely experience pimples because I have developed a consistent skincare routine and adhere to a relatively healthy lifestyle. My skin does require more hydration than it did previously, but otherwise, I have no other long-term side effects from the medication. Enjoy using Dr. Zenovia’s Aloe Vera Blemish Moisturizer during the day. It is lightweight, hydrating, and non-irritating for acne-prone skin. I also love Dr. Zenovia’s Peptide + Ceramide Repairing Moisturizer for nighttime as it contains ingredients to hydrate, calm, and treat the skin. When I do get the occasional blemish-- usually from stress or from wearing a mask all day I like to use a spot treatment or opt for a pimple patch.
Skin Positivity & Self-Love
Feeling comfortable and confident in your skin is a blessing and quite difficult to achieve when you live with acne. It took me a while to get to a place where I felt empowered in my skin- it took a lot of work! The most effective tactic I used to boost my confidence was allowing myself to practice feeling confident, even when I wasn’t. Meaning, I embodied the self-loving, bold, and empowered woman I wanted to be until that became my true reality. Of course, this was more difficult at first and really put me outside of my comfort zone. I chose to say “yes” to opportunities I would’ve normally said “no” to. This helped me realize that I was capable of being confident and successful, even with acne. I learned I had nothing to fear of being proud of the skin I’m in. And people started gravitating towards me for being so accepting and unafraid. Eventually, being confident became a natural part of who I am.
One of my daily practices that helped a lot was positive self-talk and reflection. I would be intentional about reorienting my thinking whenever I noticed a negative thought come up about my appearance and chose to focus on something positive instead. I was also intentional about only using my time in front of the mirror for productivity and positivity. Once I began fixating on things I didn’t like about my appearance, I would force myself to focus on a different activity.
The Blemish Queen
I started my Instagram account, @theblemishqueen back in April of 2020 to document my entire Accutane journey. Prior to starting the medication, I did a lot of research on Accutane including the side effects and expected benefits. I found a lot of peace of mind in growing my knowledge and eventually came across a handful of people on Instagram documenting their acne journey. There was comfort in seeing other people’s progress and learning about other people’s Accutane experiences. Even though there were so many people against me starting Accutane, the Instagram accounts I came across made me feel like I was not alone and had nothing to be afraid of. Once I started Accutane, I decided I wanted to be that person for someone too. Even if it meant reaching just one person, I wanted to share my experience and make a difference.
Having gone in with the mindset of reaching a handful of people, I have been blown away by the response I’ve received on my Instagram account. 50 thousand people and growing continue to follow my skin journey and find comfort and support in the acne and skin positivity community. My followers inspire me, encourage me, and influence me so deeply. Because of them, I have big visions of changing how the world views people with acne and other skin concerns.
My advice for someone currently struggling with adult acne is to remember that it does not define your worth or what you can achieve. The only person that can determine these facets of yourself is you! You can fall in love and have acne, you can be beautiful/handsome and have acne, you can be a boss and have acne, and you can be a parent and have acne. At the end of the day, you can do whatever it is that you want to do -- regardless of the status of your skin. Your acne doesn’t make you any less of a person.
My advice for anyone who is considering Accutane but struggling with uncertainty would be to conduct some research! It’s super important to be knowledgeable about any medications you are considering taking, and Accutane is no exception. Researching and asking your dermatologist questions is the best way to determine if Accutane is the best course of action for you. Ultimately, I don’t believe that Accutane should be considered unless you have severe acne and have tried all other avenues (i.e. hormonal imbalances, dietary correlations, skincare/haircare product irritation, hygienic practices, etc.)
Also, If I could go back and tell my younger self anything about skincare I would tell myself to put the makeup wipes in the trash and use a cleanser instead. I used to rely so heavily on makeup wipes as my “end of the day” cleanser and often wouldn’t follow-up with anything else. I went many-a-nights with clogged pores and highly fragranced skin. Thinking about it now makes me cringe!
I love Dr. Zenovia and the brand as a whole. I am amazed by how unique and specialized these products are for those living with hormonal acne.
Nicole Herbig @theblemishqueen is an Instagram Influencer who has documented her experience with adult acne, Accutane, and Post-Accutane skincare. She is a huge proponent of skin positivity, self-love, and showing our real skin on social media.
Related Article: How to Get Rid of Cystic Acne | Advice from a Dermatologist