As a lot of you may know, I’ve been on an Accutane regimen for a little while now (I just found out I’m about to start my *hopefully* final month!). Accutane is infamous for the extreme skin dryness that everyone seems to experience while on the medication. To give an example, while I’m writing this, I’m on 7 day hair!!! 😳 Yup. It’s been an entire week without washing the not-even-remotely-greasy mop on my head which, I must say, is a positive side effect in my eyes. 😉 With that though, my face has certainly gone from combo / oily to definitely on the dry side. Given that, I have managed to avoid much of the flaky, itchy, tight or other such variations of actual discomfort from the drying effects of the Accutane…with the exception of my nose, which, to be fair, is usually a bit flaky. Since I’ve been using the same products pretty consistently, I feel like I can finally share my cruelty free “secrets” for managing super dry and sensitive skin that is also safe for using while taking Accutane.
I’m going to go in the order that I use each product, so that means we’ll start with a makeup remover. This step I only do at night and only if I’ve been wearing makeup, but it is a necessary step for me when anything other than my morning skincare is on my skin. The specific product I’ve been using is the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm, but I feel like any balm cleanser will be a good option here. As far as the Farmacy Balm goes, it’s basically just a solid blend of oils. A tiny little scoop rubbed into dry skin starts breaking down the grease, grime and makeup from the day. Add a tiny bit of water to emulsify the oils and fully remove all that junk from your skin. Then simply rinse it all down the drain. If you want, you can stop here since this is a makeup removing cleanser, but I prefer to do a double cleanse and follow it with second cleanser. Whatever you choose to do next, I highly recommend starting with a cleansing balm for removing makeup since it cleanses without stripping the skin and can even add a bit of hydration to the skin.
After I’ve used a makeup remover, I prefer to follow it with a gel cleanser of some sort since my skin is already wet from removing the cleansing balm. I aim for one that does not foam because foaming cleansers almost always contain some ingredients that may be a bit drying to the skin. My favorites are the Sibu Polishing Facial Cleanser and the Osea Ocean Cleanser. That said, if my face is makeup free, either for my morning cleanse or at the end of a no-makeup day, I highly recommend going for an oil cleanser. My preferences are the Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil and the Derma E Nourishing Rose Oil Cleanser. I recently compared the two here, but they feel quite similar and work much the same. They are basically just oil blends that you apply to dry skin and add a tiny bit of water to emulsify the oils into a milky cleanser. Massage that around the face and then rinse away with water. Easy, effective and so comfortable for drier skin. I highly recommend oil cleansers really for anyone, but especially for those with dry and or sensitive skin because they are gentle while still being effective…and can remove makeup if you’re looking for a one-and-done cleanser or are in a rush. I just prefer the double cleanse to really ensure every last bit of makeup is off of my skin.
At this point I’ll gently pat my skin with a clean towel and move on to the real hydrating powerhouses. I start with the NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex. This uses 15 hyaluronic compounds that work in multiple ways at multiple layers to retain and draw moisture into the skin. Hyaluronic Acid is a bit of a hydrating superhero as it can attract 1,000 times its weight in water, which means that it’s not just going to coat the skin, but actively draw and retain moisture into the skin. I have tried a version from The Ordinary which is good, but not my favorite. Next I tested out the Hylamide version of this wonder ingredient which was better than that from The Ordinary, but not as good as the NIOD. Unfortunately the NIOD comes in a super tiny 15mL bottle for about double the price of the mid-priced Hylamide, but it really does make a surprising difference in the comfort and hydration of my skin. Whatever brand you choose to use – be it one of these or another brand entirely, I highly recommend adding Hyaluronic Acid to your skincare routine no matter your skin type, but especially if you’re dry. Your skin will thank you!
I never forget an eye cream and it’s usually right before an onslaught of oils that I apply one. I have a different choice for day and night because I always aim to use an eye cream with SPF in the morning, though they are incredibly difficult to find! My current morning go-to is the Supergoop! Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 37. I’m not sure if this makes a huge difference in the appearance of my under eyes, but it keeps the area moisturized and protected from UV rays while not interfering with makeup application. That’s really all I ask for at this point in my life. For an evening eye cream, I prefer something a bit heavier with more anti-aging benefits. That said, I haven’t really found anything I can’t live without, though my most recent find seems promising. It is the Youth to the People Eye Cream and I’ve really enjoyed it, though I cannot say for certain that it does more than keep the under eyes well hydrated. It’s a good, thick cream that gets the job done and I really like the consistency of it. It’s thick without feeling heavy and it spreads nicely across the skin. To be fair, I don’t expect miracles from any eye cream and while on Accutane I kind of feel a need to avoid many active ingredients since many are typical no-nos. I guess my eye creams are pretty basic, but no less effective in terms of hydration and sun protection. Pretty much just what you need when on Accutane…and sometimes less really is more.
Moving right along, it’s time for some facial oils. I actually use 3 different oils, and yes, I apply each one separately. You could combine whatever oils you want together and apply all at once, but I find that doing each one by itself really helps it to absorb into the skin before adding the next so it kind of builds up to feeling hydrated and comfortable. When it comes to face oils, I recommend doing some research into the benefits of various oils and deciding what seems most appropriate for your skin concerns as they all have different properties that address a wide array of skin issues. Some of the oils I really enjoy include Marula Oil, Rosehip Oil, Argan Oil, Chia Seed Oil, Seabuthorn Oil, and Jojoba Oil. There are tons of oils on the market that are fantastic though so these are just some of my faves. When it comes to my recent skincare regime, I start with 4 drops of the Derma E Illuminating Face Oil which is a blend of Seabuckthorn and Rosehip oils. I would say it is a light to medium weight oil that absorbs quickly while hydrating even super dry skin without leaving the skin greasy. After that I move on to the One Love Organics Oh Mega Calming Chia Seed Oil. This is an oil aimed at sensitive and reactive skins that helps soothe and hydrate all skin types. Again, I would call it a light to medium weight oil that absorbs well while hydrating and not leaving me greasy. Last but not least I reach for The Ordinary’s 100% Cold-Pressed Virgin Marula Oil. This is a heavier oil in my opinion and one that I didn’t like much when I was more combo to oily. However, on dry skin it’s fantastic! A little goes a long way too…and being from The Ordinary, it is incredibly affordable!
After this oil overload, I usually add a traditional moisturizer. I’m not that particular about what I use in the morning, though in the evening I had been married to the Farmacy Sleep Tight Firming Night Balm. This stuff is quite thick and when my skin was in the early phases of drying out, it did seem a bit heavy and kind of slimy – greasy isn’t quite the right word. I kept using it though because I would wake up every morning with all the product fully absorbed into my skin making it feel soft, supple and well hydrated! Now that my skin is definitely dry, I don’t find it such an odd feeling on the skin. It is in fact a balm consistency – almost like a non-greasy version of something like Vaseline. Don’t let that frighten you as there is no mineral oil involved and it’s really not that sticky, slimy, greasy or otherwise unpleasant. It’s just thick and protective is really the best word I can think of. Kind of like a great lip balm that protects and really keeps the moisture in. That’s actually a pretty good way of explaining the Firming Night Balm. Protective, hydrating and it kind of seals everything into the skin while penetrating and absorbing throughout the night. I highly recommend this if you’re dry…and it takes very little to effectively cover the entire face. But notice I said had been married to this night cream. I just started using the Derma E Hydrating Night Cream and it too is absolutely fantastic! It has that traditional moisturizing cream texture that is quite thick, but somehow doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. Like the Farmacy Night Balm, this cream just quenches the extreme thirst of my skin and I wake up feeling perhaps better hydrated than with the Farmacy! Remember the wonders of Hyaluronic Acid ? Well, this cream contains the miracle ingredient as well. It is a truly enjoyable experience to use, not to mention my skin feels divinely hydrated and plump by morning. I think one of these intense creams combined with the Hyaluronic Acid serum that is the real secret to maintaining a comfortable, non-flaky face that may be dry, but it’s not parched, dehydrated or otherwise uncomfortable.
For the morning, I do use a slightly lighter moisturizer. As I said, I’m not too fussy about what I use, but I recently got a point perk from Sephora of the Sunday Riley C.E.O. C + E antiOXIDANT Protect + Repair Moisturizer that has been my latest go-to. It’s hydrating without being heavy or greasy, plus it has some added antioxidant properties that I don’t think will negatively affect the skin while using Accutane (if you’re unaware, you should be avoiding any and all exfoliating products while on the medication and I believe this is safe, but I am not a doctor). I feel like this also adds a bit of a radiance to the skin that’s not too much. I’ve tried some others where I just feel like a shiny mess, but the C.E.O. seems to be a true radiance booster as opposed to an overly hydrating shine maker. Another common choice for my mornings is the Farmacy Rise ‘N Shine Daily Moisturize Lock. It’s lovely – again not overly heavy, greasy or uncomfortable. I’m not sure what, if any, additional benefits it has, but it works under makeup and it’s just kind of a nice basic day cream that effectively hydrates the skin. It’s a rare morning that I’m not using one of these two day creams so obviously I would recommend them!
Last but not least – I know, I’m excessive, but I swear it takes at most about 3-5 minutes to go through all these steps – I apply a sunscreen each and every morning. I cannot stress how important it is to apply sun protection no matter the weather or the season, especially while on Accutane which makes your skin even more sensitive to the suns damaging rays. UV rays are probably your skin’s greatest enemy. So to combat this solar assault, the sunscreen I’ve used most often is again from Farmacy. If you can’t tell, I’ve been really enjoying the brand while on this dry skin rollercoaster. Anyway, their Green Screen Daily Environmental Protector Broad Spectrum Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 is wonderful! It’s not heavy or greasy, nor does it create a white cast on my skin. I can’t say whether or not it’s an issue for deeper skin tones, but on my fair-to-light complexion it’s just fine. It absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave me looking shiny. All musts in my book! Another one that I enjoy is the Supergoop! City Sunscreen Serum SPF 40 PA+++. This one feels like absolutely nothing on the skin so if you’re dealing with oilier skin or don’t want to add more hydration, this is the sunscreen for you! I’ve even recommended this to my dad who hates feeling anything on his skin, and he likes it so that’s high praise! On the other side of the spectrum (and for something a bit more affordable), I also like the Andalou Naturals DIY Booster SPF 30 Facial Serum, especially if I’m racing out the door without much time to properly wash my face or when I know I will be doing so later in the day (think of heading to the gym or dropping the kids off at school…or in my case the fur babies at the groomer). This is more of a moisturizer and sunscreen in one so it adds some hydration as well as sun protection. It’s still very comfortable – not greasy, slimy or shiny. I also really like that this combines both a mineral and physical sunscreen. I have heard that having both is actually ideal since it deflects the sun’s rays as well as absorbs that deflected sunlight. Whatever you prefer, I think one of these 3 sunscreens will have you well protected from the sun and ready for the day!
Finally I’m finished! Once in a while I will use a gentle exfoliant (usually either the Tatcha Polished Classic Rice Enzyme Powder or the Odacite Jojoba Beads Exfoliant for which I have a full review here). Typically though, I’m all about the hydration. As I said, though it sounds like a lengthy process, it takes less than 5 minutes. Even if that sounds like a huge commitment to you, I find it’s worth it to keep my skin comfortable all day long. Since finding this routine, I haven’t had any flaking skin or dry patches (my nose being the sole exception, and that has always been on the flaky side). My face rarely, if ever, feels tight, itchy or otherwise uncomfortable. Yes, my skin is on the dry side, but it’s nothing unpleasant. I actually kind of like that I don’t have to think about blotting excess oil throughout the day or battling with shine and that yucky claw-your-makeup-off feeling as the day wears on. I would appreciate a bit more natural oil to my skin, but I’m fine with the current state of things. One last note, if you’re considering a routine like this but are overwhelmed by all the oils, you can also just choose 1 oil and use more of it all at once. I only use 3-4 drops of each type, which isn’t much. I like doing it this way because I find that it absorbs quicker and easier, plus (I think) I get the benefits from a variety of oils with various properties for different concerns. If you’re interested in using multiple oils but still want to avoid the 3-step way I’ve been applying them, simply mix the oils you want to use together and apply all at once. It should have a similar effect. Again, I just like the 3-step approach to gradually add the moisture into my skin and I feel that it penetrates deeper and more effectively into my skin. Obviously what works for me may not be ideal for you, so consider these just my tips and tricks for dealing with dry, sensitive skin, especially for those taking Accutane…though anyone may benefit from any one of these products.
I hope these suggestions have been helpful, especially as the cold has settled in and most people are contending with drier skin. If you are also on Accutane, I wish you the very best and hope you’re doing well with it! If not, just remember that it’s a temporary discomfort and there is an end in sight. If you have any tips and tricks or recommendations for dealing with dry skin, please leave a comment! Suggestions are always welcome! And as always, thank you so much for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!!!
This has been so helpful! I’ve always had combo oily / normal skin but lately my skin has went really red and dry so I didn’t acually know where to start. Thank you! X
So glad you found it helpful! When your skin type suddenly switches, it’s so difficult finding a new routine that works for you. My skin is going back to normal-to-oily now and I’m having to sort it all out again! 😄 Hope your skin is doing better ❤️