What's An Alternative to Accutane? The Topical Approach (Part 2 of 2)

Welcome to part 2 of 2 of our Alternatives to Accutane post.

For the most effective results clearing up your acne, you’ll want to take the two-step approach working both internally and externally. Incase you missed it, make sure to catch up on first part of this series exploring the internal holistic approach to healing your acne first.

The Lowdown On Conventional Skincare Products for Acne

Spoiler alert - not all skincare products are created equally! In fact, there are many products out there specifically marketed for acne which are way too aggressive. These result in a compromised skin barrier leaving your skin feeling tight, dry and oily at the same time. When we over-strip and dry out the skin too much with the wrong products, it causes a rebound effect and the sebaceous glands produce even more oil to compensate for the dryness. On top of that, there are tons of skincare products out there packed with cheap fillers, and harmful ingredients that are absorbed into our bloodstream and act as endocrine disruptors which may cause damage to our delicate hormonal systems, making our acne even worse. 

When our founder Avalon was struggling with her acne, she was prescribed a number of different prescription topical products that stripped her skin of natural oil. This made her skin even more sensitive and caused extreme flaking. Avalon's skin began peeling intensely and became incredibly inflamed - the prescription cream was not working. Avalon had enough of her skin feeling like sandpaper and couldn't understand why these acne products couldn't both clear up her acne and also leave her skin feeling soft and hydrated. The journey to cleaner topical products is part of what led Avalon to discover the powerful approach of internal wellness. Keep reading to discover some of our favourite clean beauty brands for acne-prone skin.

How to Choose Better Products

The good news is that these days there are incredible topical skincare products widely available without the harmful ingredients that can improve your skin and acne immensely. The general rule with topical skincare when dealing with any inflammatory skin condition - keep it simple and keep it gentle. Your skin is going through a lot and is extra sensitive right now. The last thing you want to do is aggravate it even more with harsh products. Here are some basic guidelines as well as a couple of clean beauty product recommendations that we are fans of to help you get started. None of these products are sponsored or endorsed, just sharing the ones we love. 

Step 1: Cleanse

If your skin feels tight, dry or itchy after cleansing, that means it’s time for you to get a new cleanser! Cleansers to go for  - a gentle cleanser that doesn’t disrupt your skin barrier but still leaves your face feeling clean and fresh. A gel, cream or even foam cleanser can all work great as long as they are not too harsh. If you wear makeup, make sure to go for a cleanser that removes all of your makeup to prevent buildup and more breakouts. Most of the cleansers on this list will remove makeup. Avoid washing your face with hot water - hot water will further dry out and aggravate your skin. Stick to lukewarm/cool water whenever washing your face. This includes in the shower!

Step 2: Moisturize

Yes, even with acne and oily skin it is still important to apply some kind of moisturizer to maintain skin barrier health and hydration. Depending on how oily or dry your skin currently feels, go with a lighter or more rich moisturizer to give your skin what it needs. We’ve also included a blemish-prone face oil in the mix here - don’t be scared! Using the right oils can provide amazing results for acne-prone skin and not cause further breakouts.

Step 3: Toner

Toners are designed to rebalance the PH of your skin, making it slightly more acidic. This acidic PH helps to keep your skin protected from bacteria that can clog your pores. Look for one that contains willow bark which is a natural form of salicylic acid.  

Step 4: Actives

Serums and actives have concentrated, targeted ingredients that help give your skin a boost, keep it clear and healthy.

Step 5: Mask

A face mask can help speed up the clearing of your skin, just don’t overdo it! 1-2 times per week should be all your skin needs for a little deep clearing action. 

Step 6: Spot Treatment

For the most pesky pimples, go for a targeted spot treatment without zapping your whole face. 

Step 7: Sun Protection

Never, ever forget the SPF! We love SPF formulas that also provide coverage and colour correction to help even out skin redness and reduce/eliminate the amount of makeup and foundation needed. 


It’s important to note that having realistic expectations around when your skin will clear up is essential. Change can take time but the results will be long-lasting. Give yourself at least 4-6 weeks on any new supplement/diet/skincare protocol to see results. Of course, everyone is different but as a general rule of thumb, the longer you’ve been experiencing acne, the longer it will probably take to fully clear up. So be patient and be kind to yourself throughout this process. You will heal and you will get there in your own time.

Wherever you are on your journey to heal your acne, we know it’s not always easy and we are here to support you however we can. We get it because we’ve been there ourselves. Just remember that you can make a massive difference by starting to address your health internally as well as externally. While Accutane may be a good choice for some, there are plenty of alternatives with no side effects available to you should you choose to go in that direction. 

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