My Acne Story: How Roaccutane Changed My Life


If you’ve ever been a sufferer of severe acne, you’ll know the depression that comes with it.

When I say ‘acne’ I don’t mean a few spots here and there. That’s nothing. Side effects of my acne included; crying because of how ugly I looked, not wanting to leave my room because of how many spots covered my skin that no makeup could ever conceal and knowing people called me ‘Spotzilla’ behind my back.

It started out with just a few spots on my forehead, but it was normal for a teenager to get spots. It was part of puberty. I was 14 and it continued for a year or so with a few spots on my forehead and chin but nothing I was overly concerned about. Although I was self conscious that not many people I knew seemed to have as many as I did.

I went to the doctors and was prescribed a contraceptive pill to help regulate my hormones and a cream that would dry out my skin and keep the oil at bay. This lotion was the stuff of witchcraft and six weeks later my skin was clear, although a bit dry. I got the odd spot but I lathered on the cream over night and it was almost gone the next day. I finally came off the pill and I thought my acne problems were over.



When I turned 17, my acne came back only this time one hundred times worse. I had spots covering every inch of my face. ‘Pizza face’ literally. Cysts appeared on my cheeks and forehead and they hurt to touch. I could literally see the ones sitting on my cheeks if I looked downwards. My parents kept saying it was normal, just a teenage phase but I looked at every other girl in my school and no one had anywhere near the same amount of acne that I had. They all wore makeup like I did, but why was I the one with the spots? I had a clean diet, I didn’t drink and I probably cleaned my face more than anyone else I knew.


It got to the stage where I had absolutely no confidence in myself, felt extremely unattractive and hated myself for being so ugly.

I went back to the doctor and he gave me another contraceptive pill and a different cream, as the one I’d been using previously had been taken off the market. They didn’t work. I found some of the old cream I used to use and covered my face with it before going to bed, but woke up the next morning with my face roaring red and burnt. I was put on another contraceptive pill but again it didn’t work. 12 weeks later and my face was still as ugly as ever.

By this point I was putting everything on my spots to get rid. Sudocrem, toothpaste, even my dad’s aftershave. I was taking shots of Aloe Vera every morning with my breakfast (would not recommend), buying anything from The Body Shop that was for ‘acne-prone skin’, using face washes I saw advertised on TV to clear spots, but nothing worked. If anything, they made my skin worse.



The doctor referred me to a dermatologist who took one look at my face and said ‘Roaccutane‘. She explained the dangers and stigma that comes with the drug but at that point I was willing to try anything to get rid of the lumps on my face.

When I went back to the hospital every month to check my progress I sat with my eyes burning into the floor because I was so embarrassed by the amount of acne on my face. But with each month I went back, the more confident I was because it was working. The only side effect I seemed to notice was very dry lips, but Vaseline helped with that a lot. My dermatologist also gave me samples of Aquaphor which also helped a lot with the dryness.

Roaccutane has a reputation of causing depression but for me it was quite the opposite, because acne was the cause of my depression and roaccutane was getting rid of it. On my last visit to the hospital I was the happiest I’d ever been, and much more confident. My face was clear with not one spot but a lot of acne scarring.


This is five months on Roaccutane. (March 2014 / August 2014)

I’ll always have a few red marks from previous spots but I’ll hopefully never have to go through that amount of acne ever again. I still get the odd spot when it’s coming up to my time of the month, or when I’ve been drinking too much but nothing I can’t deal with. I’ve been using a cream by Nip & Fab for the past few months and have noticed a huge difference in the reduction of my acne scars. I can even see freckles starting to appear on my white skin where there used to be a lot of redness. I apply a small layer all over my face at night-time, quite like a night mask and wash off the excess in the morning. It also helps in keeping my skin moisturised and less dry.

I’ve never been brave enough to share these images before, but it shows the wonders that Roaccutane can do.

People often hear the words ‘Accutane’ and ‘Roaccutane’ and immediately turn their noses up because of the negative aura the drug has. If anyone ever asked me about my thoughts on the medicine, as a past user of it I wouldn’t need to think twice about recommending it. I did a lot of research before going through with the treatment because of what I had heard, but seeing the results that people were getting was the only convincing that I needed. I didn’t care for the possible side effects, I just wanted my face to be clear again. I saw no negative side effects with the drug only the occasional dry lip, but the positives massively outweighed the negatives and I don’t regret taking Roaccutane in the slightest.


acne roaccutane

This was my face at its worst, and my face today, with not one spot. I have fake tan on in the second photo (and just had my lashes done), but hopefully the sun shining in my face can show that there’s not one bump or spot on my skin and I couldn’t be more thankful. I’m four years on from my Roaccutane treatment and my skin has never shown any signs of returning to what it was before.

After trying hundreds of products, I’ve finally found a skincare routine that best suits my skin type. It’s also helped in keeping my skin in top condition.

Have you ever suffered from acne? How did it make you feel? How did you take control of it? If you currently suffer from a few spots or more, feel free to ask me anything and I’ll try my best to help!


A recent graduate of Business with Public Relations from LJMU, Orlagh works in the influencer marketing industry and has just returned to the UK after spending one year working in New York City.

Find me on: Twitter | Instagram


  1. June 15, 2016 / 8:35 pm

    Wow! Your skin has had a total transformation. Thank you for sharing your photos, that was very brave of you. I’ve only suffered spots on my chin which I can normally control with diet/skin care but still gets me down especially when I wear lipstick! I think it just highlights that area more if you get me.

    Glad you’re feeling more confident too!

    • June 15, 2016 / 8:39 pm

      Thank you so so much! Even one spot can put anyone in a bad mood, I get you. I’m just so thankful that my skin is finally clear and I don’t have to go through that again! It’s so good to look back over old photos and see how far my skin has come!

  2. June 15, 2016 / 11:11 pm

    I’m so happy you finally found something that worked for you, you’re skin looks amazing now! I know how it feels, I am currently using Benzoyl peroxide for my acne, it’s slowly working but I have to be careful in the sun! Xx

    • June 15, 2016 / 11:17 pm

      thank you so much! I had benzoyl peroxide my first time around and it worked like a dream! but the next time I tried it my skin reacted really badly with it, I was gutted! it’s very good at drying out your skin but just be careful it doesn’t burn your skin xx

  3. September 7, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    Wow! The transformation is absolutely amazing. It’s so great you have found a product that works for you, I’ve never heard of it before but I think I’ll need to look into it now. It’s so amazing how you have shared your before and after pictures so people can really see what a difference it makes!

    Jordanne ||

  4. September 9, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    Thank you so much! It was scary to include the before and after pictures since I’d never shown them to anyone before, but I’m quite proud of them now that I can look back and see how far my skin has come and know that I’ll never have to go back to that again. Thank you for reading Jordanne x

  5. Anaïs
    March 9, 2017 / 7:16 pm

    That’s an amazing transformation! I’m so happy for you that it has helped you get rid of the acne and get your confidence back. I’m currently on a very low dose of roaccutane (first week) and I’m already noticing the dryness of the skin. It’s super annoying when I have to wear makeup because there’s always at least one area I forgot to moisturise enough. My case is not at all comparable to you, but I hope this also gets rid of my acne forever bc I’ve kinda had it (I’m 23, it should’ve died out a long time ago, especially since I’ve been on the right kind of birth control since I was 17). How are you doing now on the skin front?

    • orlaghclaire
      March 12, 2017 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you! My skin is still so clear, with the odd spot around my time of the month but other than that it’s really clear. I’ve noticed that the only times I flare up with spots is if I’ve been drinking too much or eating a bad diet. As long as I keep these under control I have no problems with spots. When I finished roaccutane I had quite a lot of scarring left but it’s been almost two years now that I’m off it and I have absolutely no scarring or pock marks left on my face!

  6. Shirley Morgan
    March 20, 2017 / 5:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing your journey on dealing with Acne. It has been 5 months now and I have been to two different skin clinic and paid quite a lot but it never shows any improvements. I dont know what to do now coz it felt like Ive done everything and nothing seems to happen. I would like to try Roaccutane as my last option. Thank you ever so much.

    • orlaghclaire
      March 20, 2017 / 6:22 pm

      Hi Shirley, I can’t recommend Roaccutane enough to anyone that suffers with acne. It really is miraculous stuff. You can see the difference it made to my face in six months and to this day I have never had anything as severe – my face is as clear as anything. No one would ever know that I even suffered from acne. Make an appointment with a dermatologist or your GP and ask them about Roaccutane to see if they can put you onto it!

  7. Katie Louise
    April 11, 2017 / 7:10 pm

    I’ve just started Roaccutane a week ago for very severe acne that has persisted through two rounds of antibiotics – I am so so grateful that you have shared your story, as you’re right, the negative press around the drug is so off-putting! I am keeping everything crossed that the drug will help me as it has helped you. My derm actually recommended it to me a year ago but I was so worried about the side effects that I refused, I so wish I had just started it straight away, my skin might have been clear by now if I had! I’m glad to have read some success stories now and be starting my treatment. Again, thank you so much for sharing so honestly, it makes all the difference to fellow acne sufferers! xox

    • orlaghclaire
      April 11, 2017 / 8:23 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Katie! Really hoping Roaccutane works out for you, and I know how off-putting the ‘possible’ side effects can be, but they are just worse case scenarios. I was the same as you researching and researching success stories to see if it was worth it and I wish everyone could know how amazing the drug is. I know it effects everyone differently, but hopefully you have the same success as I did. Let me know how you get on with your course of treatment! xxx

  8. Joanne
    May 21, 2017 / 10:00 pm

    Ive had acne since i was 13, i am now 28, i have literally tried eveything, my doctors finally reffered me to dermo 2 months ago. Today I have just started Roaccytane… your photos have made me feel more positive, Thankyou!!

    I hope it works for me, wish me luck!

    • orlaghclaire
      May 22, 2017 / 7:19 am

      I tried so many things before being put on Roaccutane and nothing ever worked for me, but it really is a life saver! I really hope it works for you, and give it time to work, mine started to clear after two months or so.

      Best of luck!!

  9. Kiya
    June 2, 2017 / 1:53 pm

    Thank you sooo much for sharing your journey! How amazing. I can 100% relate to you and I felt the same when I went to get roaccutane I didn’t care what the side effects were anything was better than those horrible cysts! I am so glad you got good results your skin is absolutely beautiful! Yay! I’ll be coming off soon and will be telling my story too.. if you want to read! 🙂 xx

    • orlaghclaire
      June 2, 2017 / 1:58 pm

      Thank you for your kind words Kiya! I hope everything goes well for you and I will definitely read up on your journey when you come off. All the best xx

  10. June 15, 2017 / 11:20 am

    Thanks for sharing! Very good results.

  11. Olivia Gould
    June 30, 2017 / 5:13 pm

    Wow! Amazing. You look fantastic. I am about to start on my journey too and I can only hope it works as well for me. What is the skincare routine you do now then if you don’t mind me asking?

    • orlaghclaire
      July 2, 2017 / 7:27 pm

      I really hope it works for you like it did for me! Make sure you give it time to work, mine took a few months before I started to notice a real difference. I use Garnier Soothing 2-in-1 make-up remover (the blue liquid, not the clear one – it doesn’t agree with my skin), I never use wipes anymore as the liquid clears every inch of make-up so easily. I also use Nip & Fab Deep Fix cream and leave it on as a thin mask overnight and wash off in the morning. It’s cleared my face of all scarring – it’s quite amazing!

  12. Asad
    May 31, 2018 / 8:29 am

    That was very brave and indeed very inspiring of you posting your nightmare . I have had acne since 16 and now I’m 21 and I have been doing every treatment , spending huge sum of money on changing doctors and medicine . The problems you faced I still feel every inch of yours , lack of confidence make it worse . Now my Dr has finally recommended me roacutane for six months, your blog inspired me a lot that I alone is not only facing this problem . let’s see how this works out for me . high hopes 🙂

    • orlaghclaire
      May 31, 2018 / 8:53 am

      Hi Asad, I’m so sorry to hear that you’re going through something similar. I really hope Roaccutane works as well for you as it did for me. I wish you every success with it, and probably the biggest change you will notice will be in your confidence and not in your skin!

  13. Sam
    September 25, 2018 / 11:23 pm

    Hey girl! Thank you for sharing this beautiful story. I literally only stopped crying when I read this. I had what I would describe as a mild breakout but it was non stop. I’m only on my third week of Nimegen which is just another name for Roaccutane. And my skin is worst than ever. The breakouts are now severe and scary. Did this happen to you?

    Also, I haven’t put any moisturiser from the moment my doc prescribed me with skin care (facial wash and drying pimple serum). And my skin is drying out. Any recommend moisturiser for me to use while on this medication?

    How’s your skin been a year on? Thanks again for sharing your story.

    • orlaghclaire
      September 26, 2018 / 6:04 pm

      Hi Sam, thank you so much for reaching out. I’m so sorry you’re going through this as it was a really horrible time for me. Yes at the start the medication brings everything to the surface of your skin to get rid of anything that’s waiting to come through. It’s extremely disheartening to feel like your skin is getting worse, but it has to get worse before it gets better. Hard to hear, I know.

      I was afraid to use anything on my skin while I was on the treatment as it’s super, super sensitive. I would definitely use a light moisturiser for dry skin – I love the Take A Deep Breath moisturiser by philosophy, it’s really gentle on the skin.

      Thankfully my skin is super clear now and nowhere near as bad as back then. I think it was 8 months in and I had no spots on my face whatsoever. I do get the odd spot here and there when it’s my time of month or when I’ve been flying but nothing to overly concern me.

      I wish you every success with your treatment! The hardest part is waiting for it to work because as soon as you take that first dose, you want to wake up with clear skin. But it does take time and it’s definitely worth the wait!

  14. Louise Askew
    October 8, 2018 / 9:44 pm

    Hi there so good to read a positive story. I’m due to start o the drug this week but I’m terrified of my skin getting a lot worse and the side effects. Like you just want to get a clear face to go make up free. What did you use for the scars?? Thanks for listening

    • orlaghclaire
      October 8, 2018 / 10:52 pm

      Hi Louise, from my experience it did make my skin worse to begin with but this was to bring everything to the surface and although it is horrible to see your skin get worse, it is for a good reason. Once all the underlying spots come to the surface, your face will start to completely dry out and clear up. For me, the side effects weren’t that bad. The only thing I had to deal with was really dry lips and an occasional nose bleed, but you can go a long time without washing your hair which was a bonus – your hair rarely gets greasy! I just used moisturiser for the scarring, it was a cream by Nip & Fab that my skin loved but it’s been discontinued now 🙁 I’ve started to use Philosophy creams now that my skin is clear but you will be needing a heavy, rich moisturiser when you finish the treatment as your skin will be so dry. I used to use Elemis and Clinique face creams at night. Best of luck with your treatment, and I hope you get similar results as me. It will take a long time, but it will be so worth it xx

  15. Louise Askew
    October 13, 2018 / 3:26 pm

    Thanks so much for the reply. So it has started and I’m on a low dose of 20mg, the dermatologist was very reassuring and told me to stop googling!! I’ve invested in some creams for dry skin and I’m ready. Best wishes L x

  16. Adam
    April 23, 2019 / 3:05 pm

    Hi there, congratulations on ur skin transformation. I’ve been using roaccutane for 2 months and my face somehow got worsen. May I ask did you use any cleanser or toner products for your face during the treatment? because I’m not using any skin product right now and my face feels so dry all the time.

    • orlaghclaire
      April 23, 2019 / 5:03 pm

      Hi Adam, at the start I did feel rather hopeless as it made my skin worse to begin with. It brings out all underlying spots to the surface, so it will appear worse. At the start I was also wishing it to clear all at once but it does unfortunately take time to clear completely – I think mine was after six months or so. The only think I can think of is the dosage you’re on – it may need to be increased. However your dermatologist should be reviewing your dosage with your progress every month and mine was only increased gradually. But I definitely noticed a difference when the dosage was around 40mg. However, because of the possible side effects, it shouldn’t be increased rapidly. You’ll definitely need a heavy moisturiser and this freaked me out at the beginning because my skin had always been so oily which I assumed caused the spots, but just put moisturiser on at night and when you notice it getting dry as you don’t want your skin to flake too much – mine did quite badly. Garnier works for my skin and do a lot of moisture intense creams and masks. Hope the Roaccutane works out for you!

      • Adam
        April 24, 2019 / 3:30 pm

        Thank you very much on ur sharing and quick reply. 🙂

  17. Sophie
    July 9, 2019 / 9:47 pm

    Hi, what dose were you on to begin with? And when did you notice a difference? I’ve just been prescribed 20mg, but i’m just so scared to take it because of the potential risk with side effects. I wish i could get to root cause of this and cure it holistically. I’m seeing a naturopath in a few weeks to get some tests done and if all fails i’ll try the accutane.

    • Orlagh Shanks
      July 15, 2019 / 2:31 pm

      I think I started off on around 20mg before it was upped each month. I honestly didn’t notice any of the side effects except for dry lips and nose. Most of the reviews I read online and YouTube videos I watched were positive. I would always recommend it, but it can’t be guaranteed that you won’t experience any of the severe side effects.

      • Louise Pow
        July 17, 2019 / 5:15 am

        I felt very nervous when I started out. The dry lips were the worst symptom but so worth it as after finishing the course I have been blessed with lovely skin. So wish I’d taken the option of this treatment when I was in my early 20s so I did not have to go through years of spotty skin.

        Good luck

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