Two Little Pills

In an age of ‘#make-upfree’ it would make sense to think that the odd spot and uneven skin complexion would be accepted. But it’s not. In fact, that may be a little bit of a lie, because I can guarantee that the name calling does not revolve around facial appearances anymore. However, nowadays, self-criticism seems to have replaced traditional person-on-person bullying. Although ‘natural beauty’ is promoted on countless social-media sites, there is still a desire for spot-free, clear skin. It’s seen as a sign of health, beauty and even holiness in many cultures; therefore, it’s no surprise that the individual finds themselves longing for it.

Across Facebook, Instagram and every other social media site (except maybe LinkedIn) there are countless images of men and women with the description of ‘#nophotoshop’, broadcasting their clear faces across our screens. Many revel in the idea that the beauty industry seems to be encouraging a much more natural take on femininity as well as masculinity. However, this usually occurs in the form of body confidence, as in not photo-shopping stretch marks or cellulite off models bodies. Facial modification, on the other hand, occurs throughout the media. Given that make-up is a tool used globally it is no shock that it is common place in the advertisement business. However, this does have an effect on young people (and possibly old, I wouldn’t know). From drinking gallons of water daily and changing their lifestyle, teenagers across the country (and globe) are striving for that perfect skin. For those who see colonies of spots and purple ‘atrocities’ etched onto their epidermis, there is one option aside from the Boots, blogger and home remedies that are available.


Although arguably the last drug used in the quest for natural, dewy, perfect skin it is without a doubt the most effective long term. On paper this entices people and it is only once they’ve read the long list of side effects that they are finally deterred. Yet many are still prescribed these ‘two little pills’ of wonder to take each day.

Isotretinoin. Another name for this romanticised drug. Infamously linked to depression, suicidal thoughts and drastic changes in the patients’ personality, recommended leaflets for the anti-inflammatory substance inform that one in 1000 will be affected by depression, one in 10000 it is estimated will contemplate self-harm, 50% of those attempting suicide. So why take the drug. Well, isn’t it obvious? The patients are desperate. Not necessarily begging to have the ‘#make-upfree’ Instagram account to-die-for, but the journey to even acquire this wonder drug has taken on average four other prescriptions over a three year timeline. With the failing pill boxes scattered around it is understandable why many reach out for the drug.

There has been a six-fold rise in prescription over a ten year period according to The Times — “from 6,522 [patients being given Roaccutane] in 2006, to 48,997 in 2016.” A drug used to treat skin cancers and other lethal skin diseases such as ‘lamellar ichthyosis’ as well as teenage acne, it is questionable whether it should be so accessible to the average teenager, or accessible at all.

However, the remaining 9998 patients who are prescribed the drug only reap the benefits. Albeit having to deal with sporadic muscle spasms, muscle soreness and the occasional mood-swing- in perspective it’s not that bad. And having then lifelong clear skin that others are envious seems to be a fair trade-off.

Yet no one knows who is taking the drug and who isn’t. Some publicise their prescriptions and medical history willingly but the majority don’t. Having to seemingly rely on a drug in order to provide relief and self satisfaction can to the individual feel like a weakness they must hide.

So, given that the New Year is upon us, consider being a little more considerate as your resolution.