I decided pretty much, as soon as I found out I would be going on Roaccutane, that I knew I wanted to document my journey taking the tablets. Seeing as I’m reaching my first month mark on the drugs, I wanted to talk about why I decided to start taking them and a little insight into my skin history. Also a little FYI – I will be doing a diary post of my first month and what side effects I’ve had, over the next couple of weeks. This post, is about why I made the decision to go on Roacctuane and how my skin has made me feel over the years.
I often think that spots, acne, blemishes, whatever you call them, are overlooked. I sometimes feel that people think, it’s okay to openly point them out on other people, or to many ‘they’re not a big thing and you should just get over it’ – things which have frustrated me no end over the years. So that’s why I want to talk openly and honestly about this journey ( I know that sounds super cringe but I couldn’t think of another way to describe the next 6 months) and today I’m going to lay all my cards on the table and talk about why I’m doing this and how my skin makes me feel.
If it makes just one of you feel a bit better and a little less alone, then this post has done it’s job. Quite often, I feel like I’m the only person without clear, perfect skin. Which I know is not true, but it’s how I feel. I quite often feel ugly, and hate myself when I look in the mirror. I hate my skin and will think ‘why is it so hard for me to have clear skin?’ ‘Why does nothing work.’ ‘Where am I going wrong? I’m 26 why do I still have spots?’ I would hate for anyone else to feel like this so I do hope that by talking about this, it will help.
Okay so enough waffling, let’s start at the beginning.
My Skin History
My earliest memory of dealing with spots is when I was about 12 – I think. I’m pretty sure I was in my first year of secondary school and I suddenly noticed I had an array of angry red spots erupt on my forehead. TBH these were a bit of a saving grace as they finally made my Mum let me grow out my curtain of a fringe, as I was convinced they were a result of said fringe.
The fringe in question that I had for the first 12 years of my life.
Then my memory is a bit hazy of my teenage skin, from as far as I can remember it wasn’t awful but it must have been pretty bad as I remember going back and forth to the doctors to try different antibiotics and topical creams (one cream was so strong it bleached the colour from my expensive Playboy pyjamas that I’d got for Christmas- my Mum was not best pleased!).
When I was 16, I put on Dianette, a contraceptive pill which is one of the best for clearing your skin. I was on this for about a year, then I was on Yasmin for a good 2/3 years. My skin wasn’t amazing but it wasn’t awful. Things took a turn for the worse though in my early 20’s, I soon realised that doctors in University cities don’t have a huge budget, so will tend to not put you on more expensive pills such as Yasmin, instead putting you on ones such as Marvlon and Rigevidon. Which I didn’t get on with at all.
This was my skin in 2013 when things started to go downhill…
My skin got progressively worse, it was more and more oily, had a lot of redness, and cystic under the skin spots were popping up every other day. Any confidence I did have, slowly disappeared from about 2011 onwards, and I’d spend hours, and hours searching skincare blogs to find products that may work. I spent a good chunk of my student loan on skincare products, but nothing worked.
Over the past year, I decided to come off the pill as 1. it wasn’t helping my skin and 2. it was playing havoc with my mental health. My skin managed to get even worse and I knew I had to do something. I’ve spent the past 18 months, going backwards and forwards to the doctors – I’ve tried several topical creams, rounds of antibiotics and finally this Summer, I was referred to a dermatologist.
My skin at the start of my Roaccutane course. I feel very exposed uploading these.
In early October, I had my initial appointment where I was told, I was being offered a course of Roaccutane. I was given 6 weeks to think about it, do some research, have my blood tests done, and after passing a pregnancy test (passing probably isn’t the right word here is it, but you get my drift) (( also side note- little word of advice, if you ever need to wee in a cup, do not, and I repeat do not, wear a bell sleeved top, it makes the process way more trickier than what it needs to be.)) I was given a prescription for my first months dose of Roaccutane.
So what is Roaccutane?
Well it’s a pretty severe drug, it is known formally by isotretinoin. It’s a Vitamin A derivative, which is a retinoid. It’s used to treat acne, which has not got better from other treatments such as antibiotics. It works by reducing the amount of oil your body produces by reducing your oil glands, it also kills bacteria, reduces inflammation and slows down how fast the skin produces cells, meaning the lesser likelihood of getting blocked pores.
You’ve probably heard about Roaccutane, you’ve probably heard horror stories. I know I have. It’s well known for completely drying out your skin, especially your lips, and even has links to mental health problems such as depression.
However, although the side effects can be pretty nasty, the results are usually pretty impressive. Like I said, I had 6 weeks to contemplate going on the drug, and I spoke to a lot of you, and genuinely I only had 2 messages that said they hated it. Most people said it completely cleared their skin, and some even said that it was the best thing they ever did.
I knew I had to give this a try, Roaccutane is my last resort to sorting out my skin, and I don’t feel like I should just put up with bad skin.
So why did I go on Roaccutane?
Obviously to clear up my skin, but there’s almost more to it than that.
1. My Wedding :
So this may sound a bit of a weird one, but I felt like I wanted to get my skin cleared up before my wedding, as I was starting to really worry about it. I know my wedding is one day, but it’s a big day. Most importantly, I want to spend my wedding day feeling happy and confident. When I was taking outfit photos earlier this year, I remember sitting and looking at a set and just staring at my skin. I could see all these little bumps and every pore, and I thought ‘what if this is what my wedding photos look like?’ ‘What if I wake up on the day with one of my huge small country spots on my forehead?’ I didn’t even want the make up artist to see me without make up, which would be erm kind of difficult! I mean I sound like I’m freaking Beyonce. It may seem like stupid stuff to worry about, and my main concern should be getting married. Yes I get that. But if you have bad skin, you’ll know how much of an affect it has on you. How much it affects your day.
I’ve had days where I’ve changed plans cause I don’t want to go out because of my skin. I can’t exactly do that on wedding day can I?
2. For The Sake Of My Confidence :
As I mentioned above, my skin has had an huge effect on my confidence. Though over the past few months, I think as soon as I was referred to a dermatologist, I’ve been strangely at peace with my skin. But I think that’s because I knew I was getting help. Previously, I’ve sat looking in the mirror, and I would feel angry at my reflection. I would feel so frustrated that my skin looked so bad, why was this happening still? Why did nothing work. I hated my skin.
I never go out without make up, and I really want to be able to do this. I shouldn’t care what people think, but that’s easier said than done. Make up is my security blanket. I wish, I could go to the gym without concealer ( and yes I know working out with make up on is bad, but trust me, if I could do this, I would) at my lowest points, I’ve refused to open the door to the postman cause i had no make up on. I know how it sounds. Ridiculous. It sounds pathetic.
Even going to the dermatologist with no make up on was a big task. I sat in the waiting room with my hair covering my face. I looked like cousin fucking IT.
When the nurse took me for my pregnancy test, she kept looking me in the eye (like humans do when you have contact with them) and I was panicking. I was thinking ‘stop looking at me, I can’t deal with this.’ I was glad to get in the toilet with my bell sleeves to do the test.
I want to be able to go out without make up on. I wish I could go to a Body Attack class with no concealer on. I wish I could have a chilled Sunday at home without putting on foundation, in case someone pops round.
I know there are people out there dealing with a lot worse. People who have worse skin than me, or worse conditions. I get it. But when you’ve dealt with spots for over ten years, it’s chipped and chipped away at you and your confidence.
3. I’ve Tried Everything Else.
Roaccutane is the last resort for me. I’ve tried everything else; from antibiotics, topical creams, quitting dairy, drinking shit loads of water, trying different skincare products, cleansing twice, cleansing three times, using acids, taking multivitamins, I’ve lost count of what I’ve tried.
None of it worked.
Some of you may think there’s nothing wrong with my skin, and I actually even got some messages saying ‘why are you on Roaccutane? Your skin looks fine to me?’ Well that’s because I don’t show you my bad days, because I don’t want to.
I rarely ever take a selfie, I only shoot videos on good skin days with my ring light which hides a multitude of sins, I rely on full coverage concealer and yes you’d probably never know how bad my skin was unless you saw me on a bad day or without make up. After dealing with spots for the past 10+ years, I’ve gotten very good at hiding it. But trust me, my dermatologist wouldn’t have put me on this if my skin wasn’t ‘that bad’.
So that leads us to now.
My pre Roacctuane skincare haul!
I know the next six months aren’t going to be easy. But hopefully they’ll be worth it. Maybe by the end of this, I’ll have regained some confidence, even if I’m able to leave the house without make up, that would be a huge step. Not having to sit in the mirror and wonder how I can style my hair to hide the massive craters on my forehead, or not have anyone ask me concerned if ‘I’ve bumped my head’ when no, it’s just a massive spot would be great.
I get so angry, when people just dismiss spots. People are so quick to throw insults around about people’s skin as if it’s nothing. People describe people as ‘the one with bad skin’ or will say ‘wow look at that spot on your head’ or ‘wow you’re so oily all of the time’ without even thinking what effect that can have on people.
Maybe I’m a sensitive Sally. Okay no scrap that, I am a sensitive Sally, but for every YouTube comment, or something someome has said to me or behind my back about my skin, I seem to not be able to forget those words. I once heard someone I know say behind my back ‘at least I don’t have spots’ about me, and years on, it still feels like a punch to my stomach. Which sounds ridiculous, I know. But when you struggle with your skin, I don’t even know how to describe it, but these words and comments have such an effect on you.
You feel everyone is looking at you. Although they’re probably not. You feel like a freak. You can’t look anyone in the eye. It sounds like you’re super self absorbed or vain, but it’s honestly not that at all. Anyone else who struggled with their skin will get this.
Having bad skin has such an effect on you mentally, but it also does physically too. I sometimes get under the skin spots that are so sore, it hurts every time I make an expression like a constant reminder it’s there. Your skin can feel sore and sensitive sometimes, if you get them on your back, your bra strap can rub on one all day being a constant annoyance, I’ve even had spots in my ears which have made my eyes water when a headphone touched them.
If you’re reading this and you’ve never had to deal with spots, or bad skin, then all I can ask, is that you perhaps show empathy towards people who are dealing with this. You may already do this, but I have encountered so many people who seem to think spots aren’t a big deal, or have absolutely no empathy whatsoever. I mean and a lot of these people have been doctors. I call them ‘the doctors who have clearly never had a spot in their life.’
Me when I see a doctor who says ‘your skin isn’t that bad’ or someone says to me ‘you know if you wore less make up, your skin wouldn’t be so bad.’
Think about what you say, and yes this has got all very Sensitive Sally again, but you have no idea sometimes how your words can effect someone. I mean this goes for literally anything. But just think.
Even little comments like this can affect you.
I know, we’re literally a step away from me sounding like I’m competing in a Miss World competition.
If you’re reading this, and you struggle with your skin, then don’t let anyone ever make you feel like your skin worries aren’t justified. Whether you struggle with moderate or severe acne, it sucks no matter how bad it is. It sucks no matter what age you are, whether you’re 14, 24, or 44. If you’re really struggling then keep going to your doctor to get professional help. Keep fighting till they refer you to a dermatologist. Don’t be put off if you see a shitty doctor, book in with another one, keep going and keep fighting.
So I will stop now. I could literally write and write about this (as you can probably tell) but this starts the mark of a new chapter and I’m weirdly excited. I know the next six months aren’t probably going to be a walk in the park, and I know that all my confidence problems won’t be solved by this, but I know it’s going to sure as hell help.
I also apologise if I’ve come across a bit strange in this. I wanted to be completely 100% honest and tell you exactly how I feel and how my skin makes me feel. I want to be completely honest for the whole time I’m taking Roaccutane.
So I will now go. Thank you for reading this, I’m sorry it probably took you about six years, and I really hope that you’ll find these posts interesting.
I’d love to know if you’ve ever been on Roaccutane as if you have any product suggestions, please send them my way.
And I apologise this isn’t very Blogmas-y but I just wanted to write about this. Things will be back to normal again tomorrow 🙂