The Best Products To Use While On Accutane

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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 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.

Which Products To Avoid While On Accutane

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.

Shop The Best Products To Use With Accutane

In a hurry? Here are the best products to use while on Accutane:

1. The Overall Best Moisturizer: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

2. Best Travel-Friendly Moisturizer: Avène Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream

3. Best Sunscreen: ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica Mineral Sunscreen SPF 50+

4. Best Cleanser: Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser

5. Best Serum: Vichy Minéral 89 Serum

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.

Relevant review: “I just started accutane and my skin is extremely dry. This lotion not only moisturizes, but it doesn’t feel heavy on my face. And there’s SO MUCH LOTION!! I feel like I’m never going to run out!”

2. The Best Travel-Friendly Moisturizer To Use While On Accutane

If you need a smaller moisturizer for travel, you’ve got several great options to choose from from Avène. First up is their Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream, which is an ultra-gentle, soothing cream that provides up to two days’ worth of moisturizing benefits. The fragrance-free formula uses postbiotics to relieve skin discomfort and irritation within just 30 seconds, according to the brand.

Another great option is the brand’s Cleanance Hydra Soothing Cream, which was specifically 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.

Relevant review: “I started a retinoid cream and needed moisture relief badly and this was fantastic. It is the first moisturizer that does not clog my pores and lead to other acne. My skin genuinely looks the best it ever has!”

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.

Relevant review: “As an outdoor educator at a public garden, I have tried endless sunscreen options. My dermatologist initially recommended this option and I will never go back. This is the only sunscreen that does not cause me to break out and allows me the sun protection I need. Long lasting and not greasy, I am so thankful to have found this sunscreen.”

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.

Relevant review: “I'm currently on Accutane and wanted to find a gentle cleansing wash that had as minimal ingredients, good price, and made my skin feel clean. This product aced all of those and I use it 2x a day morning/night. I've tried Cetaphil and CeraVe but still prefer this, hands down.”

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.

Relevant review: “I love this serum. My skin is very acne prone, but gets flakey, dry patches. I put one drop of this product on my face at night after showering. No other moisturizers are necessary for my skin. The serum feels gel-like as it is applied, but it soaks in quickly. Once absorbed, it does not feel sticky or tacky. This gives my skin just the right amount of moisture and doesn't cause me to break out. I also love that it does not have any scent.”


Dr. Jason Hadley, M.D., board-certified dermatologist, Hadley Dermatology

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