Interview with @Sunshineeskin on her experience with Accutane

by Tommi Skin

Our team interviewed a few skincare/ acne positivity content creators to discuss their experience with Acne & Accutane. Heres what Emily from @Sunshineeskin had to say. 

What was your experience on Accutane? Was it positive or negative?

Majority of my Accutane experience was definitely positive. From the beginning, I experienced expected side effects such as dry lips and skin, however most of these side were completely manageable. 90% of my ride on Accutane was totally fine in my opinion. There was nothing out of the ordinary, and nothing that was completely unpleasant.

It was only within the last week or so, I suddenly started to experience nausea, heightened levels of anxiousness and panic attacks (which I hadn’t experienced in years). At this point, I had been on Accutane for 11 months, and it was my body’s way of telling me it was time to stop the medication. My dermatologist directed me to stop the medication a month shy of our original treatment plan.

Even throughout the purging experience, I felt mentally relieved and was in a much better headspace than the months before. After so many years of spending thousands of dollars trialling skincare products, implementing diet changes, trying any kind of treatments that I was praying would magically perform a miracle, after so many years of frustration, disappointment, suffering and losing hope, I was finally on a medication that I knew was going to work.

It was a relief, to be completely honest. It was a newfound hope that I was finally going to get my confidence back and feel like my true self again. It was a sign that I was about to finally be free of the shackle's acne had always strapped to me.

For me, this feeling alone completely counteracted the [small number of] negative side effects I had experienced. I knew that my life was going to improve as my mental and emotional health was finally able to mend and heal.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of starting/ going through Accutane?

I think many people who go on Accutane are worried about the purging period and nervous for their skin to possibly get worse before it gets better.

For me personally, when I experienced this (and I had an intense purge can I just say), I actually was feeling better mentally throughout it than the way I was feeling prior to being on accutane. I would remind myself the purge was an indication that the medication is working.

If you do experience a purge, please try to find comfort in knowing that this is just the medication running its course and that it’s working the way it should. Every day that you go through, is a day closer to your skin clearing, your mental health improving, and a day closer to feeling your true self.

I would also advise you to please listen to your body and how it is responding to the medication. Trust your gut instinct on these things. If there’s ever a time where you feel like it’s not responding well, please reach out to your dermatologist.

What was the biggest lesson you learnt about your skin along the way?
To be honest, the biggest thing I realised was how much I had let my skin take control over my life and my mental health prior to accutane. Being finally free of those feelings, it made me realise I used to surrender every waking moment to worrying about my skin, it truly took control of my every thought.

Within the last year, I also discovered the acne-positive community on Instagram. This community has taught me so much about self-love, embracing my skin, and solidarity of our community and the importance of normalising all skin types (particularly representation in media and social media). Although my skin has physically changed from the accutane, it’s the skin-positive community on Instagram that has helped me shift my view of acne and authentically embracing it.

I know this is rich coming from someone who now finally is free of her acne (for the moment, anyway). But as my life goes on, and I inevitably begin to break out again, I truly believe I will no longer let it bother me the way it used to. I know now how to continue to stay positive, embrace my acne and truly love myself, beauty marks and all.

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