Looking for a UK skincare guide for teens taking Isotretinoin or Accutane?
My teenager is 16 and after trying all the usual acne treatments and spending a year on antibiotics, she was referred to a dermatologist. After taking one look at her skin, the specialist prescribed a sixth month course of Accutane.
What happens when you take Accutane?
Like everyone being prescribed this medication, my teen’s nurse provided a guide to skincare rules when taking Accutane. These are:
- You’re going to get dry skin, so you need to moisturise
- You’re going to get dry scalp and hair, so you need to have gentle products
- Your skin will generally be fragile, irritated and prone to itches, redness and rashes
- Your lips will be INSANELY dry
- You will have basically no sun protection, so you need to wear high factor SPF all day, every day
Listening to all of this I thought – simple. We’ll just follow these rules. When we got home I started looking for a skincare guide for UK teens on Isotretinoin. We found some great options but with some things we struggled. Where do you find a daily moisturiser with an SPF of 30? Most high street products are only SPF15. And what can I put in the bath if I’m taking Accutane? What if I want to treat my dry scalp that’s giving me dandruff? And what lip balm is actually going to WORK?
Accutane Skin Side Effects
Within a few weeks of starting Isotretinoin, my teen’s lips were unbelievably dry and cracked. This is more than just the chapped lips you get in winter. Teens who take Accutane can expect to have large areas of peeling skin around their lips and cracks that can make eating, drinking and talking painful.
Generally, your skin will probably become more sensitive. Teenagers may experience rashes or eczema, especially if this is something they have experienced before. You should also expect generally dry skin that is more prone to cuts and scratches. This is on top of the sore muscles that sporty teens will enjoy on Accutane!
Also, there’s the sun sensitivity. Accutane essentially blocks your body’s sun defences meaning your teen will need high SPF skincare every time they step outside. The acne medication makes their skin incredibly prone to burning even on cloudy days. You need a great moisturiser with a high SPF of at least 30. Remember if you’re using a lower SPF moisturiser you’ll also a separate sunscreen that is topped up throughout the day.
Today we’re sharing a skincare guide for UK teens taking Isotretinoin. We hope you find it useful!
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UK skincare guide for teens taking isotretinoin
Whatever products you use on your skin when taking Isotretinoin, it needs to be non-comedogenic. This means it won’t clog the pores in your skin, making it less prone to breakouts.
Products must be highly moisturising because your skin is going to be very dry. It needs to not include any acids or abrasive ingredients that could harm your sensitive skin, or rip it.
I’ve split this guide into three sections covering the main sorts of skincare products you’ll need if you’re on Accutane or Isotretinoin. These are sun protection, facial products and products for hair and body.
Best SPF when taking Accutane
The consultant we saw advised my daughter not to leave the house with anything less than a moisturiser containing SPF 30. But when i tried to find a daily moisturiser with a high SPF it turns out to be like looking for hen’s teeth.
Hopefully the list of products below will save you some time if you’re looking for an SPF 30 moisturiser that is skin friendly and suitable for people taking Accutane. The products listed below are available online but there is also a Simple moisturiser that contains SPF 30 I just can’t find it online – but it is stocked in Boots stores.
Fenty Daily Moisturiser, SPF 30
The Fenty Skin Hydra Vizor Invisible Moisturiser has an SPF 30 making this great for teens on Accutane. It’s billed as a combined sunscreen and moisturiser, and should be reapplied regularly throughout the day.
Normally it costs £34 but it’s currently on offer for £27 at Boots. Is it worth the price tag? Flea thinks so. This is light, and the pink-tinted cream soaks in without leaving a white film. It also has a light melon scent that is really lovely. And of course it’s oil free, noncomedogenic and vegan-friendly.
Avene Hydrance for Dry Skin, SPF 30
This rich moisturising cream costs around £17 and is designed for dry and sensitive skin, while including an SPF 30 sunscreen. Reviews say that it soaks in without leaving a white cast and leaves your skin feeling soft and soothed. You can buy it at LookFantastic here.
La Roche Posay Face Mist, SPF 50
This product isn’t a 2-in-1 but rather a specific sunscreen that is designed to be sprayed on the face. It can be applied under or over make-up and gives teens something quick and easy to use during the day to top up sun protection while they’re busy doing other (more interesting) things. Currently available at LookFantastic in a single or trio pack that saves £10, or as a set for the whole body at £28.
Best Facial Moisturisers for Teens Taking Accutane
Cerave, from £3.99
If you’re looking for a great value facial moisturiser option when taking Isotretinoin, then you can’t go far wrong with CeraVe. It’s amazing valie, the products are acne medication friendly, and they’re inexpensive so you won’t mind stocking up so your teen can have a bottle at home, one for the gym, one for school…
We use the daily moisturiser with SPF 25 for day time and the richer moisturiser in the evenings (this is only suitable for night time as it does not contain the all-important sun protection). If you want a great body cream, this gentle moisturiser is dermatologist-recommended, super gentle on stressed skin and works as well as creams that cost 10 times as much. Since you’ll be applying this at LEAST twice every day, I recommend stocking up with this large tub and cream tube duo for £22.
Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying Daily Booster
This light gel serum helps your skin to attract and retain more water, which makes it ideal for teens taking Accutane.
Flea uses it at night after washing her face, to strengthen her skin’s barrier. It apparently contains 15 minerals and 89% volcanic water which probably means something to skincare people but in reality it makes for a nice, light product that is ideally suited to the ravages of Isotretinoin.
It’s normally costs £30 but is currently available online at LookFantastic here for £22.50.
La Roche Posay Effeclar H
This brand has a great reputation for use on blemish-prone skin. Flea didn’t have great results with it, but this Effeclar H moisturiser is ideal for teens taking isotretinoin because it’s hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic.
Costing £14 from Look Fantastic, I’ve read that this range of products were tested on people taking accutane for acne, to ensure it’s not going to irritate or cause any problems.
Best Hair and Body Products for Teens Taking Accutane
If you think that Accutane stops your body from producing as much oil as usual, it makes sense that it’s not just your face and lips that will dry. You can also expect a dry, flakier than normal scalp. The good news is you won’t need to wash your hair as often. Say goodbye to dry shampoo! But you’ll need a good, moisturising shampoo that won’t dry your scalp.
You can also expect the skin on your body to be drier and more fragile than usual. My teen has a lot of small scratches and scrapes from the usual little knocks and bumps that you get. When you’re taking Accutane, it’s essential you don’t use any sort of exfoliant on your body, you absolutely must not wax, and you need to steer clear of anything too drying.
Aveeno Oat Milk Conditioner
We relied on the Aveeno Dermexa shower gel and Aveeno Oat Milk Hair Conditioner when my teen was taking Accutane. Both are gentle and moisturising with oats to calm stressed skin. Both are very affordable and available for under a tenner online.
Sometimes when my teen’s skin gets very fragile and itchy (which can happen with Accutane) I’ve used this Tamanu Balm from Tropic Skincare. It helps skin to repair and soothes itchy skin with natural ingredients. Each tub costs £32 and contains tamanu nuts, shea and coconut. It will help reduce scarring, and can be used on lips and nails if they’re dry and fragile too. Also available in a mini size for £16. There’s solid science behind using tamanu for skin healing – in clinical trials it improved the skin barrier function by almost 20%.
You might be tempted to think any old lip balm will do when you’re on accutane. But let me tell you one thing. When your dermatologist says to expect dry lips, they mean DRY. They mean big pieces of skin flaking off your lips, cracks at the corners that make it hard to smile, and lizard skin on your chin and upper lip.
I think it might be against the law to write a UK skincare guide for teens taking isotretinoin without mentioning this hero product.
When your skin hits this stage, you’ll need industrial quantities of Aquaphor lip balm. Keep a tube in your bag, your car, your desk – it is one of the few products that will actually relieve the dryness and help your lips feel normal for an hour or two. An actual life saver at around £4 per tube.
Ameliorate Bath Oil
Sometimes when your teen is feeling particularly fed up, they will love a soothing bath. Often this isn’t recommended for teens taking Isotretinoin because bathing can really dry out the skin. However, the Ameliorate bath oil is designed for skin that is very dry or has ‘texture’ and contains a combination of ingredients that leave your skin soft and moisturised. There’s colloidal oatmeal to soothe skin with almond oil to moisturise and soften. It will help to retain moisture and is available as a bath oil and shower gel.
These are 10 products my teen has found helpful while taking Accutane/Isotretinoin. If you’ve got a great product you’d like us to add to our UK skincare guide for teens taking isotretinoin, then let me know in the comments.