Whenever I look back at pictures from a few years ago, I literally cringe. I feel like we all have those moments when we realize how far we’ve come. I hate how bad I treated my skin five years ago. When I think back on all the things I did and didn’t do, I could smack myself. I never washed my brushes. I didn’t update and get new make-up. I didn’t use make-up wipes to remove my make-up which I’ve noticed has helped my skin so much. I went away to college and literally let acne eat me away. I always thought it wasn’t bad – maybe a pimple here and there but that was it. I never realized how terrible it was until last week when I went through my mom’s Facebook. Terrible. It was a horrible mistake to look at those years. I had went through a terrible break-up, was two hours away from my family, and a pre-medicine student that just wanted to pass all her biology and chemistry classes with A’s.
|Before Accutane. Please Excuse my grossness on the left. All over my chin & lower cheeks. My sister was on Accutane at the time & that’s what it pulled out on her face.|
Freshman year, my face was a train wreck and it continued on the spiral for two years. 2010 to 2012, I did not take care of my skin the way I should have. I read Seventeen magazine over and over again for tips, I went to the dermatologist and went through so many different antibiotics that my stomach can’t handle them anymore. I tried the different acne topicals until my skin flushed in irritation. Packing on make-up was key until my younger sister went on Accutane. Our dermatologist guaranteed that it would clear her skin all up. Of course, it would get worse before it would get better and she was thirteen so it was bad. I would feel for her so much, the medicine draws it all out and it did that to Gabby. Not only did it draw everything out, it weakened her joints and she ended up tearing her ACL & MCL during a soccer game. That input the fear in me. I hated seeing what it did to my sister and I feared what would happen to me.
It honestly wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I feel like the precautions are necessary because things can go wrong and with medicine, there are so many long term and short term affects that you need to know of. I was on Accutane for eight months and in those six months, my skin cleared up and was literally perfect. I literally was so proud because I could say I had flawless skin.
|During Accutane. The dryness made is hurt to smile if you couldn’t tell. I have make-up covering my acne.|
Here’s what I learned from Accutane
Your lips and skin will need tons of moisture
Accutane reduces the amount of oil in your oil glands and has faster skin renewal so you need to keep lotion on at all times. Your lips will dry out and basic chapstick will not help. Aquaphor is your friend during these times. You will not understand until you are in classes and your lips are cracking, how much you love that Aquaphor. It might even get to a point where you cover the lower half of your face out insecurity.
As long as you remember to keep yourself moisturized, you can do it. I know it chases people off with the idea that there are immediate results. You have to wait it out if you want it to happen. Good things come in the end. It might take a longer cycle because everyone is different but cracked lips are only momentarily and it is usually worth it in the end. Drink lots of water. Love yourself through this process, it might be hard.
Blood test are going to be a monthly thing
I’ll be completely honest, my blood makes me woozy. I was pre-medicine and couldn’t stand the sight of blood. It makes no sense I know but I got over it until my own blood was visible. I’m really bad with my sugar levels already and having that iron removed while fasting had to be the worst thing I put my body through at this point. I would literally roll out of bed to go to the Lab and get everything done so I could feed myself. I closed my eyes or stared at the wall so I didn’t have to watch the blood being removed into two capsules. I will say I am lucky that I have prodding veins at all times.
I got use to it after awhile. It was weird thinking I was going in month after month for blood tests for acne. Like there’s so many more important things in this world and so many more serious issues. Society has grappled us to believe perfection is the answer.
It will get worse before it gets better
I can attest that it will get worse before it gets better. My sister was the first person to confirm that for me. My dermatologist was the second person to concur that notion and the internet researches also let me know it wasn’t immediate results. It got worse and I initially knew my acne wasn’t this bed when I started out. I almost regretted it and wished I had just left my skin alone. The nodules on my face got bigger and there was a point where I couldn’t sleep on certain sides of my faces before of the pain. Cystic acne isn’t like other acne. It doesn’t just go away. It hurts and it affects you because they can last for months, you’re self-conscious. You feel like you’ve done everything and that Accutane is not the answer.
The redness and size are killer. It’s embarrassing and people think it’s just a teen thing. I was a waitress at the time so it was a blow to me to have to approach table after table and not be insecure. I know people say they never notices these things but I feel like if you yearn for flawless skin, you notice other people’s skin. I do, I notice people’s faces all the time. I don’t pick them apart because of how they look – I understand the pain and need for flawless skin. Like I said before, love yourself throughout all this. We’re putting our body through so much because of imperfections.
The side effects are worrisome
Everything has a warning these days, there’s no denying that. I think the most important thing is that you cannot wax or do anything laser. The scarring is no joke so I can only imagine what it would be like if those things were to occur. I had injuries that took up to a year to heal like bruises and scars that are really visible and never faded. I got my first sunburn after dealing with Accutane so be safe in the sun. With Accutane, there are mood swings and depression to look out for – this was definitely something my dermatologist checked for. She asked me each month how I felt and if I felt any different like sick or rapid heart beating.
There’s a list of side effects, more so they are the ones to look out for. There is also less severe ones like joint pain, dizziness, and dryness. I experienced these like crazy. I hated working out when I was on Accutane and I’m already prone to being dizzy so this wasn’t great. The dryness was something I got used to. Honestly, these side effects are all a risk. Everyone is different so who knows what will happen to someone but I don’t think the more severe effects are prominent. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor so never quote me. This is my experience.
|Accutane End Results in 2013. No Make-Up or Perfect 365 on that face.|
One thing you have to learn is that not everything continues to work. Accutane will work when you take the pills but then you you have to wean yourself off and work at it. What happens after is up to your body and it’s take on everything. I will say I had great skin for two years before breaking out again. I had Cystic acne on my cheeks rather than my chin which is more hormonal in that area. I wanted to cry but you have to work with your skin. I was working with my skin at 76% percent not 100%. I was stressed out because of my living situation that went on for two years (anxiety + anger is not a good mix) and then my senior year. The amount of factors that I can put together will show me what I was breaking out again. My eating habits were trash. As soon as I graduated from college and moved out, everything went back to normal.
I can proudly say that I have left my apartment in the daytime without make-up for the first time in the last two months. I used to throw on foundation at the thought of a trip to Target on campus with the fear I would run into a cute boy. Oh man, society’s idea of perfection used to haunt me. My skin has cleared up with the help of my dermatologist and a prescription of Tretinoin Retin A and Mario Badescu products plus a healthy eating regime (I still stuff my face with m&ms and brownies, best believe) and sauna trip once a week when I’m at the gym. Not only that but I think I’m bomb and that’s all the matters, right? I don’t run to social media every week like I used to, to get people to tell me I’m pretty anymore. I’ve grown into accepting myself, flaws and all. But Accutane was the first step in really loving my skin. I own’t usher anyone away from it but I won’t encourage people to try it either.
It’s literally a chance you have to think about on your own. If you decide to go on this journey, feel free to talk to me whenever you want about it. Even if you don’t take this journey, talk to me about your solutions. Acne is annoying, be strong and love yourself.