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Simple, gentle, mild — that’s what you want when you’re looking for the best products to use while on Accutane, dermatologist Dr. Jason Hadley, M.D., tells Elite Daily. “Accutane causes dry skin, sun sensitivity, and highly sensitive skin,” Dr. Hadley explains, so he recommends a very basic skin care regimen while taking the medication, including a gentle cleanser, sunscreen, and an emollient moisturizer. “Emollient-based moisturizers are best, as these provide better barrier protection — look for ingredients like ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids in your products,” he says.
For a bit of scientific background, Dr. Hadley explains, “Accutane is a vitamin A analog known as retinoid. Retinoids are powerful exfoliators of the skin, with Accutane being the strongest. The [sloughing] of the most superficial layer of the skin greatly diminishes the skin’s ability to act as a barrier, so it has more of a challenge to hold onto water and oil. Accutane also decreases oil production, which can exacerbate the problem. All of this leads to a dramatic increase in sensitivity to irritants and sunlight.” Hence why it’s so important to be extra gentle with your skin while taking Accutane, and to be diligent about applying SPF.
While on Accutane, unless your dermatologist advises otherwise, Dr. Hadley says to avoid using skin care products that contain things like AHAs, BHAs, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and retinol, because on top of the already-drying Accutane, adding any more harsh ingredients or exfoliants will be too much for your skin.
To shop the best products to use with Accutane, scroll on.
1. The Overall Best Moisturizer To Use While On Accutane
Known for being basic in the best way, CeraVe’s best-selling moisturizer is a foolproof choice for comforting dry, sensitive, irritated skin. It’s made with strengthening ceramides, hydrating hyaluronic acid, and moisturizing glycerin, which is an emollient, like Dr. Hadley suggested. The gentle formula is fragrance-free, rich without being greasy, and suitable for use on both your face and body — and since it comes in a massive, 19-ounce tub, you may indeed wind up using it from head to toe. To top it off, this moisturizer features the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance, meaning people with all sorts of skin sensitivities should be able to use it safely.
2. The Best Travel-Friendly Moisturizer To Use While On Accutane
If you need a smaller moisturizer for travel, Avène Cleanance HYDRA Soothing Cream is a perfect choice, as it was literally designed to be used alongside harsh acne treatments (like Accutane). Made with the brand’s soothing thermal spring water and fatty acids, which Dr. Hadley suggested looking for, this should help alleviate Accutane symptoms like flaking, dryness, and redness within a week.
3. The Best Facial Sunscreen To Use While On Accutane
No matter what time of year it is, wearing sunscreen every day is essential while on Accutane, because the medication makes your skin dramatically more sensitive to the sun, says the expert. In general, Dr. Hadley advises mineral sunscreens for patients taking Accutane, because they tend to be less irritating than chemical sunscreens. Though pricey, ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen — a zinc oxide-based mineral sunscreen with SPF 50 — is a firm favorite among dermatologists, and it was specifically made with sun-damaged skin in mind. With consistent use, it should help keep your skin looking clear in the long-term by both healing and preventing past and future sun damage, respectively.
4. The Best Facial Cleanser To Use While On Accutane
When you’re on Accutane, the gentler the cleanser, the better. And it doesn’t get much gentler than Vanicream’s cult-favorite facial cleanser, which literally has the word ‘gentle’ right in its name. It’s free of all of the most common potential irritants, like sulfates, soap, and fragrance, to name a few, but one of the few things it does contain is glycerin — one of those barrier-protecting emollients Dr. Hadley recommended. This, too has the National Eczema Association’s Seal of Acceptance, and comes in a generously sized 8-ounce bottle for just $9.
5. The Best Facial Serum To Use While On Accutane
Before you apply your moisturizer and sunscreen, give your skin even more hydration with Vichy Minéral 89 Face Serum. It’s made with hyaluronic acid, which is known for its ability to attract and lock in moisture, and the brand’s mineral-rich volcanic water to further help hydrate and strengthen your skin. The oil-free formula is extremely lightweight, so it sinks into skin quickly without leaving behind a residue, and it layers underneath other products beautifully. This has also been approved by the National Eczema Association, so you should be able to use it safely even if you’re experiencing extreme irritation.