I thought spots were something you grew out of, I’d never had perfect skin but in truth, my ‘bad skin days’ were just the odd pimple, white head or a result of far too much squeezing. One year into starting YouTube and becoming a Personal Trainer and my skin decided to break up with me. The texture was bumpy and I could feel small spot like cysts under the surface. Stupidly I got into a routine of squeezing, scrubbing, picking and playing with my skin, it got worse. I tried botanical products, then chemical ones, I even tried facials, microdermabrasion, topical creams and laser, my skin just ignored it.
It wasn’t until I started Vlogmas that the online world noticed my skin and before long I was receiving comments such as ‘she’s not healthy, look at her skin.’ It broke my heart and was the catalyst for my visit to the doctor, in all honesty the doctor didn’t care and why would she, my skin wasn’t terrible compared to others but it was terrible for me.
After two years of getting nowhere I took action and paid privately to see a specialist at Spire Hospital in Norwich. Stupidly or wisely I had Googled the drug Accutane as I knew it was going to be my last option. With such bad press due to its strong side effects, I was beyond nervous for my appointment. My research was correct and my doctor believed a course of 6 months at 75mg would hopefully clear up my acne. There was one issue, to be on Accutane you also have to be on the contraceptive pill, which I wasn’t, I’ve never been great with hormones.
What is Roaccutane? Roaccutane otherwise known as Accutane or Isotretinoin is a form of vitamin A. The drug works by targeting your oil glands, and reducing oil production. In lower doses it can help remodel dermal collagen and reduce scar formation – including acne scars as well as blackheads, whiteheads, zits, cysts and pimples. Roaccutane should only be used if your acne is severe, cystic or scarring or if your acne fails to respond to normal acne medications. Due to the numerous side effects associated with the drug it is wise that you exhaust all other options and speak to a Dermatologist who will be able to ascertain if you are suitable for this medication.
After a month and my first cycle on the contraceptive pill Yasmin, I was allowed to start my treatment. The first month was at half dosage and I was expecting miracles, nothing changed. In all honesty my acne didn’t change until month three, it was an agonising wait as although my skin wasn’t changing, everything else was.
Side Effects: Google the drug and you’ll be horrified but there is a reason it’s out there, for most of you I’m sure side effects will be minimal, for others nothing at all, unfortunately for me, we weren’t the best of friends.
Lips: Invest in a super moisturising lip balm, my life saviour was Sugar Sport, I honestly didn’t realise my lips had so many layers. Be prepared for them to crack and bleed, the corners of your mouth are the worst. Try not to pick or peel (as I did) it doesn’t do anything but make it worse, instead gently exfoliate with this Lush Lip Scrub or a soft toothbrush.
Eyes: I don’t remember a day when people didn’t ask me if I’d been crying. A reduction in moisture causes your eyes to feel dry, itchy, red and sore, invest in a good eye drop like Optrex ActiMist.
Nose: My nose turned into one hard bogey, I could feel the inside of my nose pull as I spoke, no point in picking as it drys back almost immediately and if you pick too much you will cause nosebleeds. Pop vaseline around the edges and inside your nose to avoid it drying as much as you can.
Scalp: With all my sexiness I never even gave my scalp a second thought until my hairdresser told me I had psoriasis and dandruff, the best shampoo and conditioner I found was Aveda Damage Remedy, I would also pop my hair in coconut oil mask twice a week.
Skin: Avoid your usual products and opt for basics, I used Garnier Cleansing Micellar water to take off my makeup and Million Dollar Moisturiser by Lush day and night, your skin will peel and flake so when you shower try to gently exfoliate using a flannel. I found that my skin would break and bleed at the lightest touch and I also developed Exma on my arms – I started using Frank Body Scrub on my body from month 2 onwards, not only did it help with dry skin and imperfections but it left me feeling soft instead of scaly. Once out of the shower i would use Bio Oil for any scars or cuts and found they soon healed and went away.
Sun: Once you are at full dosage you will find your skin extremely susceptible to the sun, I was lucky enough to go away on several trips but found that my skin would go bright red within minutes of being exposed to the sun, however this wasn’t always a sign that my skin was burnt, it was generally just a reaction. I now use Garnier Ambre Solaria Dry Mist SPF for my Body and Kiehls Daily Defence for my face to make sure I am protected at all times.
Mental: I am unsure if my starting of the contraceptive pill and Accutane on the same day is the cause of my mental state but either way I certainly had good and bad days. I have never been one to fluctuate much, mood wise, but during my 4 months, I would say I had bouts of depression and anxiety. I felt very aware of myself and unhappy which is something I have never felt. If you are using the drug make sure to tell those around you so that they can support you when you need it.
Fitness: My doctor advised me that my biggest issue might be with my fitness. Unfortunately, it made my joints and bones feel incredibly dry, I also experienced muscle soreness (DOMS) for much longer than normal which made recovery and training a little difficult. During this time I found I put on around 10lbs which I have to admit was heartbreaking for me as my body is something I have to share on social media. It has been 2 weeks since I finished and I have subsequently lost 5lbs so it is my belief that most of it is water retention.
Result: I finished my course earlier than expected, my doctor asked if I felt confident in my skin and I said yes. My skin is not perfect but it’s perfect enough for me and in reality the side effects were outweighing my need to continue with the drug. Would I do it again? No. For me the side effects were huge, I still think much of my issue came from starting the contraceptive and the drug at the same time but still, it affected me more than I had expected and was very difficult to deal with while on social media. However I am so happy with the results and cannot believe how beautiful my skin is now, my pores are tiny, it feels soft and most of the side effects had stopped within 8 days. If you are thinking of getting treatment for Acne, have just started Accutane or have any questions leave me a comment below and I will be happy to help. I also shared a more personal video about this on my YouTube Channel which you can watch here.