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I'd had varying levels of acne since I was 12 and had exhausted every possible solution - antibiotics, topicals, birth control, gluten-free dieting, spironolactone, etc. Some of these treatments would improve my skin for a few weeks or months, but nothing ever lasted. Starting in my mid-20s, doctors started mentioning Accutane as a possible solution, but I'd heard such awful stories about it that I always resisted.
Fast-forward to my 30th birthday. I had just gotten off spironolactone, which had worked marvelously for my skin but had also caused an allergic reaction. I decided that I was at the point that I would do ANYthing to finally and emphatically rid myself of acne, so I marched into my dermatologist's office and demanded Accutane.
To put it briefly, Accutane was a miracle drug for me, and I experienced only the most minimal (and manageable) of side effects. I had to remain vigilant about skin/lip dryness, but so long as I moisturized faithfully and kept my lips slicked with Aquaphor, it was totally manageable - nothing worse than I experience during, say, a normal mid-Atlantic winter. I also experienced some joint and muscle achiness, but this was only inconvenient, not dehabilitating.
At the four-month mark, my dermatologist noticed that my liver enzymes were starting to increase, so she reduced my daily dosage until I finished the course a month later. (They returned to normal after I ended the medication.) This had been my biggest fear - I didn't want to cause any lasting damage to my body - but the beauty of the monthly blood tests is that your doctor should catch any problems before they become irreversible.
I've been off for five months now, and I haven't had a single cystic zit since; the worst acne I've seen is a few tiny, non-inflamed zits along my hairline that often pop up before my period. I would still describe my skin type as "oily," but it's not nearly as oily as it was pre-Accutane. And I've had no lasting side-effects or problems - I would absolutely do this all over again, and I feel silly for being so fearful of trying Accutane in the first place.
My one key piece of advice: Try to find a dermatologist who is experienced with Accutane. I was fortunate enough to find a doctor who specializes in cosmetic dermatology, so she had the Accutane processes down pat - she told me exactly which cleansers and moisturizers to use, what dietary adjustments would help, etc. (She also put me on an awesome retinoid after, which has helped - along with at-home peels - get rid of the nasty scars and dark spots that remained after Accutane.)
I had sworn to myself that I would post my experience with Accutane here, because I had stalked this message board for weeks before starting my course and found the information very helpful. I want to add to the chorus of voices who took Accutane successfully and are glad they did!
I went on Accutane back in August 2012 after suffering with mild-moderate acne for 3 years. I was on a 20mg dosage daily (which was eventually elevated to 40mg), and was on it for a total of 11 months. The first thing I noticed was my acne seemed to take a lot longer to clear up than most stories I'd read - roughly 9 months if I remember correctly. After the first couple of months on 20mg, my dermatologist increased the dose to 40mg, and that gave me really terrible side effects (nose bleeds, back pain, anxiety etc.), as well as a horrible breakout. My mild acne turned horrible on my cheeks - they were almost entirely covered in large spots. I put up with it, thinking it was some sort of initial breakout, but when it was still there about 9 months into the treatment, the derm put me back to 20mg. It was only then that the spots cleared up dramatically, and before I knew it, my face was 100% clear, as well as my back and chest. At the 11 month mark, I came off accutane, however 3 months later, my face begun to break out again. Another factor worth noting is my increase in anxiety, particular about how I looked in social settings. I would also cry at the drop of a hat and found myself spiralling into sad moods every now and then. Now, almost 2 years later, and my facial acne is just as bad as before I went on accutane, however, my back and chest have stayed 100% clear nearly all of the time. I'll be going on accutane again in a few weeks, which will hopefully finish off the job for my face. It works, but only to an extent. Stubborn acne (even if it's mild), may require a second or even third round of the medication.
The only reason I am not giving this 5 stars is because I have just had my last derm appointment and am yet to see what will happen when I stop taking this.
Firstly I will say after 4 months I have only one or two very mild spots. Which considering what it was like before is amazing.
I just want to share my experience because I know I did a lot of research before taking this.
Pros: my skin has cleared up, it's amazing not to have oily skin, don't need to wash my hair constantly.
Cons: dry skin: in particular my lips- stock up on Carmex & don't use Vaseline (it doesn't moisturise it creates a barrier.) I got mild eczema, small rashes, dry eyes (get eye drops!) I have in the last two weeks of medication had problems where when I go to the toilet it starts bleeding- this is because it must be drying up every where. Now that is quite a lot of cons but I STILL maintain it's been more than worth it & it's not been as bad as I was expecting.
What I used to help my skin through the dryness-
Cetaphil moisturiser &
Cleanser, eye drops for dry eyes, home made manuka honey and aspirin face wash/ mask, hair masks, head &
Shoulders shampoo & conditioner- (you will get dandruff), eve lom cleanser, Carmex, aloe protective restoring mask (body shop), Estée Lauder do a spot treatment that I found good, lancome tient visionarie (non comedegenic foundation), clarins instant smooth perfecting touch (as a primer -also non comedegenic)
Things I learned- DONT use an exfoliating glove I took half my skin off doing this.
DO moisturise as often as possible (on your body too! (I never moisturised before taking this so a routine for me has taken some time.. But trust me when I missed it out that's when I ended up with eczema.
DO avoid perfumed products.- I made the mistake of taking the travel sized soap and glory stuff with me on holiday and ended up with eczema and rashes all over me- they are so perfumed.
Don't spray perfume on your skin-
Stick to your clothes- same
Reason as above!
Anyway hope this is helpful!
I'm a female and I was on Accutane 2 times. My younger brother was on it 3 times. Now, my son is on it. I decided it was finally time to share my story. My share is a bit long, but I wanted to be comprehensive. There are photos too. All or nothing. I pasted it on the Acne.org blog:
I have moderate acne on my face since childhood.Now I am a 19 tear old male and It doesn't seem to go away.I consulted a dermatologist and she prescribed tetracycline,salicylic fave wash and climniskin gel.It worked for a while and after that I couldn't continue the treatment due to public exam and entrance exam.It stayed clear for a few days and now its back.I again consulted the dermatologist and She prescribed Clyndamycin gel,minocycline and salicilic face wash.After two weaks of no improvement I consulted her again and she prescribed ISO- TRETIN 10 which is a 10 mg tablet of ISOTRETINOIN.I have heard of this and extensively read about the drug.She prescribed these with ease.She didn't even mention about the side effects until I asked.Now I am on a cycle.of Isotretinoin on alternate days for two weeks.I asked her if I have to take it for six months and she said not at all necessary.I think my cycle will only be two weeks.I need to know If I will have any change in acne at all after using this...Please reply ......
I always had perfect skin as a child and teenager, right up until I was 18 and I went on the contraceptive pill. After 2 years on the pill I came off as I found that it made me very edgy, plus I wasn't in a relationship anymore and felt no need to continue with it. 6 months later, at 21, I had my first ever acne breakout and it was bad. It started with a few spots, then it covered my entire jawline (classic hormonal acne) the top half of my face was clear, the bottom half was covered in spots that kept coming back again and again.
I took antibiotics for a year and tried various topical lotions, used expensive skincare products and herbal remedies, I even tried acupuncture but nothing worked until I went on Roaccutane.
I am lucky that I have had an amazing dermatologist throughout the whole of this who has been able to shed some light on the situation; to cut a long story short - the contraceptive pill f**ked up my hormones resulting in adult onset acne. He was swift to get me onto a 3-6 month (it was 5 months in total) course of Roaccutane so as to avoid any deep scarring of the skin. He was strict about skincare products (I can only use oil free cleaner and moisturisers and avoid makeup, using mineral oil free matte powder and blush but no foundations or concealers) and I keep to this routine and try to avoid 'messing about' with different products too much.
Roaccutane has been a harsh and difficult journey, I felt like sh*t when I was on it. The dry lips are a distant memory now, but I remember how awful they were (mine sometimes split at the sides and I reapplied lip salve, what felt like, once a minute!) I haven't suffered from any depression but I would feel a tiredness that I have never ever felt before and I can see how people become depressed by this, especially younger acne suffers (I was 23 on my course and felt strong enough to cope.) My whole body ached and I felt completely knocked out. I would come home from work eat and get straight into bed to just lie there or nap for hours and hours. I love the gym, and I found that my knee joints played up (I remember going for a 6 mile run, which would be a normal thing for me to do pre roaccutane, but 2 months into the treatment and I couldn't walk the next day after the run, a pupil at school helped me up the stairs like a woman four times my age - scary) so be prepared to have to completely take it easy and essentially live in a bit of a haze for the months of treatment....
My life was a weird blur during those 5 months, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel as my skin improved quickly.
Once off the drug, the redness, tiredness, chapped lips and joint pain all went away within 2-4 weeks.
My honest advice would be - try other options first, research the drug, read up about it, talk to a dermatologist, think about the root of the problem not just a quick fix and be prepared mentally and physically for the treatment.
I wish you all the love and luck in the world. Be strong.
I first got acne in my early teens, 13-14 years old. My older brother had it badly and tried all sorts of things before he finally got on an oral antibiotic that helped him. I used topicals like Differin through my teen years, and my acne eventually subsided to a few here and there. It got much better in the summer when I was outdoors more, and sometimes I'd go for months at a time with no creams at all. When I graduated college, my acne began to come back. Like I said, I always had a few here and there, but nothing that made me too self-conscious. Oily skin is genetic in my family, so I simply accepted that I'd always have a few breakouts. But it got to the point where I'd have several on my face at once, and I started to get a lot of the cystic kind. I began going back to my dermatologist and she got me on Solodyn, which was an oral antibiotic. It worked wonders and my face cleared up in a matter of months to the point I literally had no breakouts aside from one every week or two. I would have gladly stayed on this, but my dermatologist told me 1) It would never actually cure my acne, so if I wanted to stay clear-skinned, I was going to have to continue to take this pill daily. Not a huge deal, but an annoyance none the less. More importantly to me, it was an antibiotic which can have an adverse affect on birth control. This can be said of all antibiotics taken alongside birth control, and I just didn't like that risk. After 6 months on Solodyn, I ran out and decided to see if my acne was still bad or if finally at age 23, it would subside. It came back worse than ever, almost an entirely different kind of acne. It was cystic and red and many of them would hurt. My cheeks and jawline were covered almost nonstop, regardless of what I did. I had enough and went back to my dermatologist, where she told me I was a prime candidate for Accutane.
I was hoping for another oral medication that wasn't an antibiotic, but apparently nothing like that exists yet. When she gave me the iPledge booklet and told me all the risks and possible side-effects that come along with Accutane, I was obviously a bit afraid. I went home right away and read the entire booklet. Most of it stated the same side-effects that come with almost every medication, even simple over the counter cold medicines. But some of the bigger ones, like depression and the onset of colitis really scared me. It seems a bit ridiculous to risk your most vital internal organs to clear up your face, something that has no direct effect on your health. Obviously, the other risk women have to worry about is the horrible birth defects that can result if you get pregnant while on Accutane. My family was split on the medication, but I ultimately decided I wanted to try it. With the requirements of the pregnancy tests and blood work monthly just to get the refill, I figured my doctor would stop me on the medication immediately if it was having adverse effects on my health, and I'd recognize if I was feeling differently as well and would stop if I felt like the medication was making me feel different.
I got put on a kind of accutane called Absorica, and I had to take it twice daily with a meal. I ended up having to stay on the medication for 5 months total. After just the first month, my blackheads literally dried up and disappeared. I couldn’t remember ever seeing my skin like that, as I had blackheads since 11-12 years old as I mentioned earlier. Initially, my nodular acne got worse. It was coming out on my shoulders and chest too, where I never even had a problem. My doctor assured me that this is how the medication works, drying the pores out from inside and pushing out everything bad, so to speak. After this initial flare up, it increasingly got better day after day, finally yielding a clear face after about 3 months. I truly couldn’t believe it. For the final 2 months, I could honestly count on one hand the number of zits I’ve had, and I account those mostly to my time of the month when many women experience breakouts. Not only is my skin clear all over, but I almost feel as though the medication has evened out my entire complexion. I never had much acne scarring like some people experience, but I’ve read that it can actually help lessen the appearance of scarring, too. Most importantly, I didn’t experience a single health change. All of my vitals remained the same during themedication, I’ve had no gastrointestinal problems, no signs of depression, no nothing. The smaller side-effects that I did experience throughout were chapped lips, dry skin/hair, and nosebleeds. All of these are nuisances, but worth the annoyance in my opinion for the end result. I simply had Aquaphor with me everywhere I went and reapplied it to my lips nonstop, put Vaseline in my nostrils with a q-tip before bed, and washed my hair every other day instead of daily. Small prices to pay for a clear face. I’m a contact wearer and dry eyes are another common side-effect, but I didn’t even experience that. Other common small side-effects included decreased night vision and frequent headaches, but I didn’t experience either of these. My insurance also covered my prescription wonderfully, making the medication under $10 a month. I went to the same lab for bloodwork every month and that was free, and I only paid a few office visit fees during my 5 month stint on Absorica. Obviously, this will differ depending on your insurance, so that’s also something to make sure you look in to.
My advice to anyone considering taking a form of accutane would be to first and foremost read all information your doctor gives you and do your own research, especially if you are a woman, as the iPledge comes into play and you really have to think about the side effects that could harm a fetus were you to get pregnant while on the medication. I would also advise anyone considering trying the medication to truly think about what you personally feel comfortable with. Even after reading the info my doctor gave me that scared me a little at first, I thought it was worth trying because of the close monitoring while on the drug. However, so many of the online reviews and articles are negative, and it made me step back and reevaluate a little. What ultimately made me decide to go with my own gut was that in general, I think people are more likely to get online and leave a review when they’ve had a negative experience with any product, especially a drug like accutane. When people are satisfied with a product, they’re just happy with it and usually don’t think to get on and leave positive comments. This is why I wanted to make sure to share my positive story. There might be someone out there with a similar acne story to mine, and my long-winded advice here would be to do your research, make the decision for you and you alone, and give it a try. If your doctor says you’re a candidate for accutane, your acne is obviously serious enough. We all know that appearance has a large impact on how we present ourselves and feel about our image, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how Absorica has cleared up my face because I finally feel like I can be myself and not worry that everyone I talk to is staring at my acne.
I spent many years searching acne.org for solutions to chest and back acne. I tried everything from the Acne.org regimen to other prescriptions. Nothing ever cleared up my acne and I suffered with insecurity from the time I was 13 until I was 25.
Finally I decided I had nothing to lose and started Accutane. The only thing I can say is that I wish I would have taken this sooner so I would not have missed out on a lot during my youth (swimming, beaches, etc.) The only side effects I experienced were an upset stomach the first week while my body adjusted to the meds. Of course, the chapped lips and dry nose are annoying, but you can learn do deal with it. I would rather have chapped lips than a breakout any day.
It has been about 6 months since I stopped taking the medicine and I have not had one breakout. Accutane has improved my quality of life tenfold and I would recommend it to anyone who is considering it.
I started getting blackheads and whiteheads in elementary school so by the time I was entering high school I had full blown acne. It was more pustules than the deeper cystic acne, though I did occasionally get those too. My dermatologist gave me Accutane right away. This was over a decade ago now so it wasn't as big a deal like it is now. I believe I also started on the highest dose, 40mg 2x daily. During the entire time I was taking Accutane my face looked terrible! Red and flaky yet greasy from the A&D ointment I slathered on. The only side effects I had was dryness, skin, hair, mouth, eyes, nose you name it. I had blood and pregnancy tests every month without complication. I stayed on that dose only 3 of the 6 months I was supposed to because I had a vacation planned and didn't want to be a red flaky mess. I stopped the pills and as my skin came back from the dryness it was perfect! No spots, enlarged pores, excessive oilliness of my hair or face. My skin stayed in this perfect state until I was about 24. Even as my skin became oily again and I started getting clogged pores it did not return to the previous state until I turned 30 last year. So I have had, in my mind, 13 years of great skin for a few months of mild discomfort. I have struggled with lifelong depression and I didn't feel any worse when I was on the medication, having the hope of good skin actually made me feel better if anything. I would actually like to try another course/cycle of Accutane now that my acne has returned, perhaps not as aggressive as the first though. Accutane was a huge success for me and I wish more people had the same experience.
I did Accutane once 10 years ago. Yes, it did help, but not much more than the run of the mill BP or prescription creams. It was not worth it in the end. It was expensive, the blood tests were more than a minor inconvenience (I'm terrified of needles), I had nosebleeds, etc... I don't know if the deep depression I was going through while on & for a few years afterwards it is a coinidence or not (there are studies saying that it does cause depression though). However, it's the aftermath a few years later that had me regretting this the most. Let's just say I didn't start having "bowel" issues until after this and I don't consider it a coincidence considering all the people who reported IBS after using Accutane. Needless to say, it wasn't worth it and I won't go on a second round. And some of the bigger side effects reported from other user's scared me too (like premature menopause). To be honest, Dan's regimen is working better than Accutane did. I'm giving Accutane 2 star. I would give it 1, but it did help a tiny bit temporarily I guess. The acne came back with a vengence about 2 years afterwards anyway. If it actually did 100% clear my acne and kept it away, I would actually give it 5 stars despite the bad side effects, because acne has had such a detremintal effect on my life from an emotional perspective. But it didn't make me clear, sooooo....no, I wouldn't recommend this.