Learn about the ultimate skin-nourishing routine to use while on Accutane.
Accutane is an extremely harsh oral treatment for severe acne. The side effects include very dry and flaky skin that may be irritated or red from the purging stage of Accutane.
Choose a Gentle Cleanser
Cleansers often have aggressive surfactants (skin cleansing agents) that irritate the skin and cause further dryness. Choose a cleanser with ingredients that will protect your moisture barrier.
Aveeno Oat Cleanser
Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour
Colloidal oatmeal has been shown to reduce symptoms of irritation, inflammation, and dryness in the skin when applied topically (1).
It has also been shown to help repair the skin barrier by significantly increasing moisture in the skin (1).
This ingredient also helps to repair a damaged skin barrier, relieve symptoms of atopic dermatitis (a skin condition characterized by itchy and red skin), and regulate lipids in the skin (1).
Feverfew is a plant that has its name derived from the Greek phrase meaning “fever reducer” (2).
It has traditionally been used to treat psoriasis and allergies.
Feverfew has been shown to bind to certain substances that play a role in inflammatory processes. This means that it interferes with these processes, thus reducing inflammation (2).
Topical application of feverfew reduces DNA damage and lessens the effect of UV damage on the skin (3).
This ingredient has also been shown to reduce erythema, or skin redness, following UV exposure (3).
Use A Hydrating Serum
Serums are a great way to incorporate a lightweight skincare product into your routine to hydrate and moisturize the skin to help you cope with the effects of Accutane.
Neutrogena Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Hyaluronic acid is a molecule that plays a large role in maintaining skin moisture levels (4). It also plays a role in tissue repair.
This ingredient has a wonderful ability to bind to water in the skin. Therefore, it keeps hydration levels up. In this way, Hyaluronic acid helps to prevent skin aging caused by dry or dehydrated skin (4).
Hyaluronic acid has also been shown to stimulate collagen production, enhance skin tightness, reduce wrinkles, and have anti-inflammatory properties (5).
Since your skin will be extremely dry, it is important to follow cleansing with a quality moisturizer that will reduce flaking and soothe irritation.
Differin Restorative Night Moisturizer
Shea butter is used as a moisturizer in cosmetic formulations. It comes from the African shea tree.
Triterpines, a molecule found in certain plants and is evident in shea butter, has been shown to enhance tissue repair and increase collagen in the skin (6).
When topically applied, shea butter displays anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidant properties (6).
It may also have a possible effect in skin barrier repair (6).
Topical panthenol application reduces transepidermal water loss in the skin, leading to an increase in skin hydration (7). It has also been shown to be well-tolerated in moisturizers and improves skin tone (8).
Always Wear Sunscreen
Protecting the skin from the damaging effects of UV rays is an important aspect of taking care of your skin.
UV rays cause damage to collagen production, increase hyperpigmentation, promote skin redness, and other types of irritation and flaking.
There are two types of sunscreen filters – Mineral and chemical. Mineral sunscreens are also called physical sunscreens. Choosing between a physical or chemical sunscreen will depend on your skin needs.
Physical sunscreen includes filters that physically block the UV rays of the sun by reflecting them away from the skin.
This includes zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.
UVA rays contribute to photoaging and degradation of skin collagen. UVB rays contribute to skin cancers. Zinc oxide offers protection from both UVA and UVB rays. It has also been shown to exhibit antibacterial properties (9).
Titanium dioxide is a white substance that is photoprotective. It has better photoprotective properties against UVB rays than zinc oxide (10). However, zinc oxide is able to protect against a wider range of UVA rays, making both filters important to have in a physical sunscreen.
Chemical sunscreens include a variety of different filters that work to absorb UV rays, rather than reflect them.
Avobenzone is one type of chemical filter that protects against UVA rays, but degrades quickly and is unstable in sunscreen formulations (10).
Oxybenzone is another example of a broad-spectrum chemical sunscreen agent (protects against both UVA and UVB rays) (11).
The Best UV Filter To Use On Accutane
The best UV filters to use on Accutane are physical or mineral sunscreen filters. These are more suited for sensitive, irritated skin because they completely reflect the UV rays off the skin, rather than absorbing them like chemical filters do. When chemical filters absorb these rays, they create heat in the skin, which can cause skin redness and irritation.
Read all about The Ordinary’s Physical Sunscreen to get a better idea of a good sunscreen for your skin while on Accutane.
And there you have it – a comprehensive skincare routine that is gentle enough to soothe irritation and fight flaking from Accutane. Incorporating a cleanser, serum, moisturizer, and sunscreen will be a full-proof way to nourish your skin during this harsh time.
- Reynertson KA, Garay M, Nebus J, Chon S, Kaur S, Mahmood K, Kizoulis M, Southall MD. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin. J Drugs Dermatol. 2015 Jan;14(1):43-8. PMID: 25607907.
- Pareek A, Suthar M, Rathore GS, Bansal V. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011 Jan;5(9):103-10. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.79105. PMID: 22096324; PMCID: PMC3210009.
- Martin K, Sur R, Liebel F, Tierney N, Lyte P, Garay M, Oddos T, Anthonavage M, Shapiro S, Southall M. Parthenolide-depleted Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) protects skin from UV irradiation and external aggression. Arch Dermatol Res. 2008 Feb;300(2):69-80. doi: 10.1007/s00403-007-0818-x. Epub 2007 Dec 11. PMID: 18071724.
- Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):253-8. doi: 10.4161/derm.21923. PMID: 23467280; PMCID: PMC3583886.
- Bukhari SNA, Roswandi NL, Waqas M, Habib H, Hussain F, Khan S, Sohail M, Ramli NA, Thu HE, Hussain Z. Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018 Dec;120(Pt B):1682-1695. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.09.188. Epub 2018 Oct 1. PMID: 30287361.
- Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 27;19(1):70. doi: 10.3390/ijms19010070. PMID: 29280987; PMCID: PMC5796020.
- Camargo FB Jr, Gaspar LR, Maia Campos PM. Skin moisturizing effects of panthenol-based formulations. J Cosmet Sci. 2011 Jul-Aug;62(4):361-70. PMID: 21982351.
- Jerajani HR, Mizoguchi H, Li J, Whittenbarger DJ, Marmor MJ. The effects of a daily facial lotion containing vitamins B3 and E and provitamin B5 on the facial skin of Indian women: a randomized, double-blind trial. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2010 Jan-Feb;76(1):20-6. doi: 10.4103/0378-6323.58674. PMID: 20061726.
- Sirelkhatim, A., Mahmud, S., Seeni, A. et al. Review on Zinc Oxide Nanoparticles: Antibacterial Activity and Toxicity Mechanism. Nano-Micro Lett. 7, 219–242 (2015).
- Gabros S, Nessel TA, Zito PM. Sunscreens And Photoprotection. [Updated 2021 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-.
- Latha MS, Martis J, Shobha V, Sham Shinde R, Bangera S, Krishnankutty B, Bellary S, Varughese S, Rao P, Naveen Kumar BR. Sunscreening agents: a review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2013 Jan;6(1):16-26. PMID: 23320122; PMCID: PMC3543289.