Accutane is a serious drug, and it is important to curate a selection of beneficial products before starting the treatment. The key is to use gentle, hydrating, and non-irritating skincare products.

Read on to learn about the side effects you can expect, as well as the best products to use while on Accutane to counteract these effects.

Accutane Skin Side Effects

Accutane (or isotretinoin, the active ingredient found in the drug) has maintained its status as the most clinically effective anti-acne therapy since it was approved by the FDA in 1982. While it is incredibly effective, there are some major side effects that anyone about to go on the drug needs to know about.

Does Accutane Cause Dry Skin?

Yes - many people who take Accutane experience dryness of the skin.

This can present as flakiness, itchiness, redness, and peeling skin. Skin is also likely to be more irritable. This primarily occurs on the face, but can happen anywhere on the body.

Many patients taking Accutane will also experience chapped lips. On top of that, patients are prone to increased sun sensitivity.

The Best Products to Use While on Accutane

The products you use while on Accutane shouldn’t irritate the skin, and should actively work to replenish the moisture that it is losing. The following are some of the best products to use while on Accutane.

1. CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash (For Cleansing)

CeraVe Hydrating Face Wash (For Cleansing)

Editor's Pick: #1 Best Face Cleanser to Use While on Accutane

CeraVe is a popular skincare brand that is highly recommended by dermatologists. This cleanser is very gentle, making it one of the best products to use while on Accutane. The formula contains essential ceramides (1, 3, and 6-II), as well as hyaluronic acid. These help the skin retain its natural moisture and restore the protective barrier. It effectively cleanses the skin, but doesn’t leave behind a tight or dry feeling. Additionally, it is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and non-irritating.

How to Use: Wet your face with lukewarm water. Pump out about a dime sized amount of cleanser. Begin gently massaging it over your face in circular motions, being sure to cover every area. After about 30 to 60 seconds, rinse the cleanser off with lukewarm water. Gently pat dry your face with a clean towel. Use 1 to 2 times a day.

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2. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (For Cleansing)

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (For Cleansing)

 Option #2

Cetaphil is also a dermatologist recommended skincare brand. The Gentle Skin Cleanser is another excellent face wash you can use. It is suitable for both the face and body, and is gentle enough for daily use. The cleanser has a creamy, non-foaming formula that removes debris from the face without stripping it of its natural protective oils. This cleanser also conditions the skin as it works, making it a perfect choice for Accutane users. It is fragrance-free, non-comedogenic, and hypoallergenic.

How to Use: Wet your face with lukewarm water. Pump out about a dime sized amount of cleanser. Begin gently massaging it over your face in circular motions, being sure to cover every area. After about 30 to 60 seconds, rinse the cleanser off with lukewarm water. Gently pat dry your face with a clean towel. Use 1 to 2 times a day.

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3. Hadalabo Hyaluronic Lotion (For Adding Hydration Back to the Skin)

Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion (For Adding Hydration Back to the Skin)

Editor's Pick: #1 Best Hyaluronic Acid Serum to Use While on Accutane

Hyaluronic acid is particularly useful for people on Accutane. It attracts moisture and retains water in the outer layer of the skin. By using products with hyaluronic acid, you are drawing hydration to the skin, which can reduce the uncomfortable dryness. In turn, this fights the flakiness, itchiness, and redness associated with Accutane use. The Hadalabo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion is a lightweight formula that locks-in moisture. For Accutane users, it is the ideal product to apply before a face moisturizer to rehydrate the skin.

How to Use: After cleansing your face, dispense a few drops into your palm. Gently massage it into your facial skin. Follow up with a face moisturizer. You can also add a few drops directly to your face moisturizer, and then gently massage it into your skin. Use 1 to 2 times per day.

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4. Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster (For Adding Hydration Back to the Skin)

Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster (For Adding Hydration Back to the Skin)

 Option #2

This is another excellent hyaluronic acid product that Accutane users can benefit from. In addition to hyaluronic acid, it contains panthenol, glycerin, and ceramides. These active ingredients work together to deliver moisture to the skin and retain it. The gel formula will provide your skin with a hydrating boost it will crave while on Accutane, and it works great under a moisturizer.

How to Use: After cleansing your face, dispense a few drops into your palm. Gently massage it into your facial skin. Follow up with a face moisturizer. You can also add a few drops directly to your face moisturizer, and then gently massage it into your skin. Use 1 to 2 times per day.

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5. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (For Moisturizing the Face and Body)

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream (Face and Body)

Best Body Cream to Use While on Accutane

This nurturing moisturizing cream is one of the best products to use while on Accutane. Dry, irritated skin is no match for this hydrating, dermatologist-created formula. The formula is appropriate for both the facial skin and the body, so the multi-use drugstore product is an excellent tool to have in your medicine cabinet. CeraVe Moisturizing Cream includes ceramides (1, 3, and 6-II) and hyaluronic acid, which help restore the protective barrier of the skin and attract moisture. It is non-comedogenic, non-irritating, and also free of fragrance and oil. While it is a heavy cream, it is also non-greasy, so you won’t have to worry about uncomfortable stickiness.

How to Use: On the face, gently massage it into the skin after cleansing and applying a serum (like a hyaluronic acid product). On the body, gently massage it into all areas to fight dryness. Apply multiple times throughout the day if necessary.

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6. EltaMD UV SPF 44 (For Protecting from the Sun During the Day)

EltaMD UV Replenish Broad-Spectrum SPF 44 (Face Sunscreen)

Best Face Sunscreen to Use While on Accutane

Since your skin can be extra sensitive to the sun while on Accutane, it is vital that you use an SPF during the day. This EltaMD sunscreen is a 100% physical sunscreen, which is much more gentle than chemical sunscreens. It also contains hyaluronic acid for a boost of hydration. There is the tinted version (the UV Elements Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 44) for those who want a bit of coverage.

How to Use: In the morning, after cleansing, applying a serum, and applying a moisturizer, gently apply the sunscreen. Be sure to cover all areas, including the neck and chest for optimal sun protection. Use on a daily basis.

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7. Aquaphor Healing Ointment (For Treating Extra Dry Skin and Chapped Lips)

Aquaphor Healing Ointment (For Treating Extra Dry Skin and Chapped Lips)

Best Lip Ointment to Use While on Accutane

Uncomfortably chapped lips and dry, flaky skin is a staple of Accutane treatment. Thankfully, Aquaphor can help. Aquaphor Healing Ointment includes a 41% concentration of petrolatum (also known as petroleum jelly), which can heal dry and flaky skin and chapped lips. There is also panthenol, glycerin, and lanolin, which work to restore the protective barrier of the skin while moisturizing. Aquaphor is safe for sensitive skin, as it is free of fragrances, preservatives, and dyes.

How to Use: On the face, after applying moisturizer, take some of the ointment and gently massage it into any areas that are extra dry. This may include around the eyes or nose. Note that this has a heavier, slightly greasy consistency, so you may prefer to use it on the face at night. On the lips, coat the entire area, including the corners.

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8. Vaseline Healing Jelly (For Treating Extra Dry Skin and Chapped Lips)

Vaseline Healing Jelly (For Treating Extra Dry Skin and Chapped Lips)

Vaseline is another excellent skin ointment that can be used to treat chapped lips and dry, flaky skin. It is 100% petrolatum, with no additional ingredients, so anyone with allergies to any of the additional ingredients in Aquaphor will have better luck with Vaseline. Vaseline works by locking in moisture, and has been clinically proven to help dry skin heal.

How to Use: On the face, after applying moisturizer, take some of the ointment and gently massage it into any areas that are extra dry. This may include around the eyes or nose. Note that this has a heavier, slightly greasy consistency, so you may prefer to use it on the face at night. On the lips, coat the entire area, including the corners.

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FAQs

What can you not take while on Accutane?

Talk to your doctor about any other drugs you are taking, as there are some drugs that will not interact well with Accutane. You should not take vitamin A supplements during your treatment, and should also avoid alcohol and tobacco.

Is it OK to exfoliate while on Accutane?

Your skin will be extremely sensitive, so you should avoid exfoliating. Exfoliating will only irritate the skin. This includes both chemical exfoliants (like AHAs and BHAs) and physical exfoliants (like a facial scrub or a damp towel).

Can you use acne cream while on Accutane?

Since your skin will be extremely sensitive and dry, you should not use acne cream or any acne-fighting topical product, like those with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil. This will only further irritate and dry out the skin. Focus on hydrating, healing products while on Accutane.

The Bottom Line

The best products to use while on Accutane are gentle, hydrating, non-irritating, and non-drying. A cleanser, hyaluronic acid, moisturizing cream, SPF, and healing ointment can help keep your skin clean, protected, and hydrated during treatment. Avoid exfoliants (chemical and physical), acne creams, and other harsh products.