Known for Her Instagram-Famous Acne Journey, Kali Kushner Shares 5 Things She Wishes She Knew Before Starting Accutane

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It’s not every day that someone asserts their claim to fame to their cystic acne, but 22-year-old Kali Kushner—you’ve probably seen her face on your Instagram feed—has done just that.

After battling serious acne for about six months, Kushner’s dermatologist recommended Accutane (aka isotretinoin), an oral medication designed to treat cystic acne, and within months of taking it, she could finally see improvements to her skin. She began to track her skin’s progress on an Instagram account that was originally meant for her eyes only—now off of the medication and with 22,000 followers under her belt, Kushner is using her social influence as a platform to inspire others who may be going through a similar journey.

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Though Kushner tells us she had an “extremely positive” experience with Accutane—the worst part, she says, was turning 21 while on the medication and not being able to drink alcohol (“You should absolutely not drink while on the drug!” she says)—we wanted to know what she wished she knew before taking the medication. Here, the top five things she wishes someone told her before starting Accutane.

You’re going to be extremely achy ALL the time.

“I had heard of lower back pain when on Accutane before, but I didn’t expect it to take a toll on my entire body,” Kushner says. “I felt like a 90-year-old grandma every single day; it was pretty insane. It even got to the point where I had to cut back on hours at work because I couldn’t keep up!”

You’ll have a lot of questions thrown your way.

“Family and friends will question your decisions so much while on Accutane,” says Kushner, explaining that questions like “So, you can’t ever have kids then” or “Isn’t that the worst drug you can put into your body” aren’t unusual to hear. “Both of those questions are pretty much wrong. Regardless of what they ask or say, always make sure you have your facts to back yourself up.”

You’ll be easily irritable.

“When your whole body is dried out, you’re achy and have frequent headaches, of course you’re going to be irritable,” Kushner says of this side effect that may sound a little predictable to some. “I told myself that I wasn’t going to let this drug affect me, but I was so wrong. Accutane messes with your emotions in a different way—for me, it was a crazy mix of feeling bipolar and constantly snapping at friends and family for no reason at all.”

It dries you up everywhere.

“And I mean everywhere, ladies, if you get what I mean. This side effect is barely talked about, but if you do begin taking Accutane, expect some level of dryness.” 

Accutane is not foolproof cure for your skin.

“Perfect skin does not equal a perfect life,” says Kushner, adding that what’s even more important to note is that while Accutane while clear your skin while you are taking the medication (“and for the most part afterwards”), don’t expect to never get a pimple ever again. “Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. You’ll still get pimples occasionally, and that’s okay.”

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