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."