Sebum normally helps keep your skin moisturized and balanced, but because the acne-fighting medication Accutane works by reducing the amount of sebum produced by your sebaceous glands, a side effect is that it can make your skin extremely dry. That's why, when you start Accutane (also known as Isotretinoin), you need to make sure you're using the right moisturizer and applying it regularly. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tiffany J. Libby, M.D., with whom Elite Daily spoke for this article, the best moisturizers for Accutane contain humectants, lipids, and occlusive ingredients to both draw in moisture and seal it in. She explains, “Glycerin and hyaluronic acid are excellent humectants that act as water magnets to increase water levels within the skin. Ceramides and fatty acids like linoleic acid are essential lipids that help lubricate the skin cells and seal in moisture for a healthy skin barrier.”
And because, in addition to dryness, Accutane can make skin more prone to redness, sensitivity, and flaking, Dr. Libby says it's best to choose gentle products that are hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. If you require very intense moisturization, choose ointments and creams that come in tubes or jars, as these formulations create physical barriers that help trap in moisture, though the expert adds, "Formulations are getting so advanced these days that some are able to deliver excellent moisturization that is absorbed into skin quickly without leaving the heavy, sticky feeling that usually is associated with ointments."
Ahead, you'll find five of the best skin care products to use with Accutane, all conveniently available for under $30 on Amazon.
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1. The Best Face & Body Moisturizer For Accutane
Rich in both barrier-strengthening ceramides and moisture-attracting hyaluronic acid, CeraVe Moisturizing Cream is a multitasking skin care staple that belongs in every household. It's a rich, gentle moisturizer that checks off all the right boxes when shopping for products to use with Accutane — fragrance-free, hypoallergenic, intensely hydrating, et cetera. It also boasts the Seal of Acceptance from the National Eczema Association, so even people with extremely sensitive skin can use it safely. Plus, because it comes in a massive, 19-ounce tub and can be used anywhere (on both your face and body), it's a really great value. What more could you want?
2. Doctor’s Pick: The Best Body Moisturizer For Accutane
"To take even better care of compromised skin, i.e., skin that may be so dry it has cracks, soothing ingredients like allantoin and aloe vera, [which can be found] in Cetaphil's Soothing Gel Cream, provide incredible relief and help repair [the] skin's barrier," Dr. Libby explains. This fragrance-free gel cream absorbs quickly, but provides intense, long-lasting hydration while also helping to protect skin from environmental agressors and dry air. Note that this is a body cream, not a face cream (you'll find some more great facial moisturizer recommendations just ahead).
3. The Best Lightweight Facial Moisturizer For Accutane
La Roche-Posay designed this moisturizer for people who find added fragrances, parabens, and alcohols too irritating for their skin. Though it's intensely nourishing (thanks to ingredients like glycerin, squalane, shea butter, and the brand's signature thermal spring water), it's quite lightweight, so this is a nice choice if you don't love the feeling of rich, heavy creams on your skin. In addition to being unscented and free of oil and preservatives, it's also packaged in an airtight container to prevent contaminants from getting inside.
4. The Best Facial Moisturizer With Sunscreen
You'll want to apply sunscreen regularly (which you should already be doing, of course) while taking Accutane, because it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. This moisturizing sunscreen from derm-favorite brand EltaMD contains hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin as it protects it from the sun, so it's doing two important jobs at once. It's also fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic.
5. The Best Lip Moisturizer
It's not just your skin that gets dry while you're using Accutane — your lips can become very chapped, too. So, keep a tube of Aquaphor's Lip Repair Ointment on hand to help heal your flaking, peeling lips and protect them from becoming even more dried out. The fragrance-free formula is infused with soothing chamomile, moisturizing shea butter, and several nourishing vitamins — and best of all, a tube costs less than $4 a pop.
Dr. Tiffany J. Libby, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon in Rhode Island.