Of all the things I've written about on this blog, by FAR the most popular has been my posts on Accutane. I've gotten tons of comments on my first Accutane post, and the second one, where I went through the skincare I used during my Accutane treatment, has been blowing up on Pinterest.
I've been off Accutane for about a year and a half now, and I thought it might be nice to share how my skin is doing, and what my skincare regime is like post-Accutane.
Let's start off with the current state of my skin: Fantastic. Now having a breakout is the exception, whereas before Accutane, having relatively clear skin (or even skin that I could cover up with makeup pretty well) was exceptional. I can't find any pictures of my skin without makeup before Accutane. I know I snapped some with my phone at one point, but I was so down on myself, and I hated my skin so much, I guess I just deleted the photos and tried to forget I ever had bad skin. I DID, however, find a photo that shows how my skin looked at its worst, but with a TON of makeup on. This was during month five of my six month course of Accutane. I also happen to be at Madame Tussaud's in Las Vegas, posing with Wax Stevie Wonder.
Now that I have clear skin, I'm sorry that this is the best picture of my "before" skin I can offer. Before you say, "That's not that bad!" Let me reiterate: I'm wearing about 37 pounds of makeup in this picture. Believe me, without the intense cover-up process I went through every day, you couldn't have gotten me to leave the house, let alone go on a vacation where I was sure to have a bunch of pictures taken of me. Under that coating of concealer and foundation and more concealer, my skin was red, bumpy, peeling, and it felt like more problems crept up every day.
But this isn't about my skin THEN, it's about my skin NOW. Now is a great time for me, skin-wise. Breakouts are a rarity, my skintone is evening out, and I have the confidence to leave the house without those 37 pounds of concealer. Sometimes I go out without any makeup on at all! GASP! Best of all, I get to have fun with makeup again! Post-Accutane, makeup is again a source of creative expression and fun for me, instead of my shield to make me feel confident enough to leave the house. My skincare now is about maintaining my clear skin, instead of trying to go to war with my problem skin. Here's the routine I'm using currently.
Nighttime Skincare Routine
We're going to start with nighttime, because that's more intensive than my morning regime. Any beauty expert will tell you that nighttime is the right time - for skincare! (Corny jokes, however, are a 24/7 business.)
Step 1: Cleanse
I take off my makeup with Boscia Makeup Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil. I've tried other cleansing oils but none compare to Boscia's. I wrote a review of this cleansing oil before, a loooong time ago. Since writing that post, I've probably gone through five bottles of this cleansing oil and tried five others (which were garbage compared to Boscia). Here's the gist of how this miracle elixir works: I just take one and a half pumps of it and rub it into my dry face (with clean hands!) and it dissolves every stitch of makeup. It has such good slip and feels so great on my skin, I sometimes space out and just massage my face till I snap back into reality.
I shower at night, so after using my cleansing oil, I hop in the shower and wash it off there. In the shower I cleanse my face again with Cetaphil (in my case, Target Brand Cetaphil), my beloved face washin' buddy for going on 15 years. I use my Clarisonic Mia with the Cetaphil most nights as well. I use the sensitive brush head with my Clarisonic, as I've noticed that post-Accutane my skin can get irritated much more easily.
Step 2: Treat
After I get out of the shower I pat my face dry and apply two products that I get from my dermatologist. First is Aczone. My skin reacts really badly to both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid, so my dermatologist put me on this twice a day dapsone gel. He also gave me a coupon to use in conjunction with my insurance, so I never pay more than $25 for my prescription, which is very helpful! Second is Retin-A, which I buy directly from my derm's office. Retin-A is probably my favorite skincare product ever. Can a prescription cream be classified as a "favorite skincare product?" It can now! Retin-A doesn't just treat and prevent acne - it also fights wrinkles and other signs of aging. You can get lots of retinol products (with a lesser amount of retinol than a prescription) over the counter, but I say get a prescription for the more powerful stuff. Why mess around, right?
Step 3: Moisturize
My skin is oily, but when it gets even a little dry, it's SUPER dry. It's a trait that has confounded dermatologists for years, so I certainly can't explain it myself. What I've found is that my oily skin is happiest when I don't try to treat the oiliness, but instead try to prevent the dryness. So, instead of using products for oily skin, which are super drying and leave my skin literally peeling off in sheets, I use products for dry, sensitive skin that are incredibly moisturizing. (Where the oiliness is concerned, I just carry around blotting papers at all times.)
First I use an eye cream. I'm obsessed with eye cream. Any time I'm asked about skincare recommendations I always say that there are only three things I think you NEED: Retin-A, sunscreen, and eye cream. I'm only 27, so I don't need an expensive anti-aging cream, I just need something that's going to lock in moisture and keep that delicate eye skin supple. I love Mario Badescu's Hyaluronic Eye Cream, because it's totally affordable while still packing a punch. I use it every night, dabbing a little under my eyes with my clean ring fingers (always use your clean ring fingers, guys. That's skincare 101). A little tub of this stuff costs $18, and even using it every night, a container lasts me 7-8 months. That's one hell of a bargain.
Next I add a lotion I get from my dermatologist called H Lotion. It contains 1% hydrocortisone, which helps calm down any flakiness or redness that may be caused by my Retin-A. I first started using this lotion when I was on Accutane, and I was happy to be told to keep using it after my treatment ended. I wish I could tell you about a dupe that's available everywhere, but I don't know of one. The best I can recommend if you're looking for something to beef up your nightly moisturizer is to look into serums.
Next is my regular ol' moisturizer. I used to use Yu-Be, but I switched to First Aid Beauty's Ultra Repair Cream after getting some minor breakouts that I attributed to the Yu-Be. To put it bluntly, the Ultra Repair Cream is miraculous. It just feels so comforting on my skin. With this and my H Lotion I go to bed feeling like I'm wearing a healing skin treatment, and I wake up with the kind of plump, fresh looking skin that would make a fairytale witch get so jealous that she tries to have me murdered.
Skincare usually refers to just your face skin, but in case you haven't heard, you have skin ALL OVER your body. I'll wait while you pick the pieces of your blown mind off the floor. I spend a lot less time on the rest of my skin, but I still have a few go-to products that I can't live without.
After I get out of the shower I like to moisturize with a body butter. Regular old body moisturizer just won't cut it for me - I need a literal tub of butter. My current obsession is Soap & Glory's The Righteous Butter. It's so rich and moisturizing, which I appreciate, but what I'm most obsessed with is the scent. It smells SO incredible. And because I put it on before bed, my sheets have become infused with this intoxicating scent and I LURVE it. I went to the Soap & Glory website to see how they described the scent (something I'm incapable of doing beyond saying, "It smells fantastic!" According to the brand, their Original Pink Scent is made up of "orange leaf, lemon, peach, sweet strawberries, summer rose, gardenia blooms, and jasmine." Like I said before: Fantastic.
One of my all time favorite intensive moisturizers is Weleda Skin Food. This is another product that I reviewed about a million years ago, and I love it just as much now as I did then. I've continually kept a tube of this in my medicine cabinet for at least ten years. Lately I've been using it before bed, slathering a good amount on my feet, elbows and hands.
Lastly, I slap on a healthy coating of Aquaphor on my lips before I go to sleep. If I don't make sure to take this step, I WILL wake up with flaky, peeling lips. Simple lip balm won't cut it either - I need Aquaphor or it's moisturizing equivalent. I've used Weleda's Skin Food in a pinch, but Aquaphor is my long-time favorite. That being said, I'm currently on the hunt for a more glam replacement. I'll keep you posted if any of my tests result in a decent substitute.
Morning Skincare Routine
After all that nighttime talk, my morning routine is remarkably simple. I wash my face with Cetaphil (no Clarisonic this time) and pat dry. Then I apply a thin later of Aczone, and then my day moisturizer with SPF. I'm currently really liking Cetaphil's Daily Facial Moisturizer with SPF 50. Then I put on makeup, which I can go into another time if you're interested. Let me know.
This regime has been working really well for me in my post-Accutane life. In fact, I'm feeling so confident in my skin now, I'll treat you to a picture of my skin as it looks now, with nary a stitch of makeup on. Not even a primer or a dab of concealer. I'm even IN MY BATHROBE. It's doesn't get more "I woke up like this" than that.