The Roaccutane Diaries: Part One


I’ve had acne for 11 years. Yup, 11 years now. I refused to believe it was ‘acne’ and thought it was just blemishes or a few persistent spots until recently where I finally accepted it was the dreaded a-word.

Part of the reason I introduced beauty on this blog was due to my quest for blemish free skin. Before then, this blog was devoted solely to fashion and all things style, but my love of lipstick and spot treatments soon took over. I’ve tried every lotion and potion, spent literally thousands of pounds on skincare, bought into every innovation and nothing has worked long term. Sure, products help and I see a reduction in spots, but they always come back and I’ve never once had a day where I could say I was blemish free in all of this time.

One thing that did help is when I realised dairy gave me cystic acne and, more recently, that soy also contributed to my blemishes, so I have cut them out over the past year or so. This took away more of the under the skin, super painful spots but I do still get them on occasion (damn pizza) and this did nothing to the rest of the spots and blackheads I have.

Over the last 2-3 months, my skin has got worse and worse. I believe this is partly due to stress, but it did nothing for my confidence. I haven’t been able to go out of the house without makeup on (unless it was to Morrisons or something boring) and I would often end up in tears looking at my skin, or want to cancel plans as soon as I’d put my makeup on because you could still see my blemishes. It sounds incredibly superficial, and I know I am more than my looks, but it can be genuinely crushing.

This comes more prominently when people say things like ‘have you tried washing your face more?’ (this actually makes skin worse, fyi), ‘have you tried wearing less makeup?’ (I take extremely good care of my skin and remove makeup properly, thank you) or ‘it’s not that bad’ (you don’t have to live with it). It can be really heartbreaking to hear these things, even if it’s coming from a genuine place.

So, it was only after reading Kate‘s posts about her skincare journey that I thought I would get a grip and sort my skin out. I feel like this year is the year I get stuff done and am so hoping this will help me gain my confidence back!

After reading about Roaccutane for the past 6-8 months, I went to my GP’s to ask for a referral to a dermatologist. I wasn’t sure if the derm would even give me it at first but I’m so glad he wanted me to bypass traditional prescriptions and go straight for the big guns. This isn’t the usual way of doing things, but he said based on my current age (25) and how long I’ve been suffering (11 years), it was probably the most permanent solution.

Roaccutane, or Isotretinoin as the drug is actually called, is typically a last resort. It’s some seriously powerful stuff with some pretty major side effects, so is something that’s only prescribed by a dermatologist. You have to have a blood test both before taking it and at eight weeks to make sure it isn’t damaging your liver or kidneys, and you have to take a pregnancy test both before and every single month you’re on the drug. You cannot get pregnant while on this or the baby will have guaranteed birth defects – like I said, it’s pretty serious. You usually have to use two forms of contraception with this, but I’ll just be using one as I explained to my derm that I’ve used both the pill and the injection and they made my skin worse (plus my mood swings were horrific!). I am fully aware of the risks though.

After getting my prescription, I have to get a blood test before every new prescription as my white blood cell count is slightly low. I’m taking 30mg to start off with (1 x 10mg and 1 x 20mg) which may increase over the months. How much you take is based on your weight, so it varies per person.

So, I’ll be doing a monthly update on my progress from now until the end of treatment which could be 4, 5 or 6 months. I’m going to take a photo now and at the end of treatment, as I sadly don’t feel confident enough to go barefaced at the moment. My next update will probably be much shorter, but I’m going to be super honest with all of the side effects and such. Here’s to potentially clear skin by summer!

Helen x
Check out these amazing blogs: Jordan Alice and Oh Kalu Kalay!