Differin Gel


176 reviews

77% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.1

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 4.1

Price: $$$


DIFFERIN Gel contains adapalene 0.1% (1 mg) in a vehicle consisting of carbomer 940, poloxamer 182, edetate disodium, methylparaben, sodium carbomer 940, edentate disodium, methylparaben poloxamer 182, propylene glycol, purified water and sodium hydroxide. May contain hydrochloric acid to adjust pH

on 1/20/2013 6:08:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Other, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

I never write reviews but when I was searching for a solution to my cystic acne I promised myself I would if I found a product that worked. Over the past 20 years I've tried oral antibiotics, Accutane, benzol peroxide, salicyc acid, and nothing has helped like Differin did (other than the pill which does work wonders but which I stopped taking several years ago). Differin does cause an awful purge for the first 8-12 weeks but you just need to stick with it.

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Age: 36-43

Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Hazel

Iīm 36 now and it got my first prescription at the age of 31.
I suffer from skin that keratinizes too much and therefore, my pores around my mouth and chin area clog easily.
Iīm nowhere near having a full acne, but my chin and jaw area looked quite bumpy, sometimes with red spots and I had underlying impurities.
I used it only a few months, but concentrated on my mouth and chin area, not using it on my whole face. At the same time, I used some erythromycin cream on my face. My spots dissappeared and my skin cleared up.
Thereīs a huge warning from my side: DO use a high spf sunscreen when you use this! Your skin may become thinner and more sensitive to sun exposure, so use at least spf 30 every day.
As I didnīt want to use this in long term, I changed my skincare routine and eliminated comedogenic ingredients.
By finding a skincare regimen, that worked for me (took me years!) and knowing my skin, I reduced my breakouts to the unavoidable hormonal breakouts once a month.
But I returned to this just last year because I got a melasma on my upper lip.
My derm wanted me to use aha or bha, but that didnīt work for my melasma. So I got the second prescription of differin gel at the age of 36.
Studies have proven, that retin-a works for melasma, but it takes 6 months at least for it to work. You have to be patient, but it improved my melasma in just a few weeks and I hope, it will eventually remove it completely in the next few months. Again, I used it only on a small area in my face, on my upper lip to target the melasma.
I didnīt want to use hydroquinone or other treatments for my melasma and I was willing to use it every night for months in order to make it work. Treating a melasma is so difficult, but if your skin tolerates retin-a, you might try differin as a treatment.
Of course, I wear spf 50 every day to prevent my melasma from emerging once again and I avoid being in the sun with my face. I put on a hat and apply loads of sunscreen when I go to the beach.
So, the differin gel helped me with different skin issues and I really recommend this.
But I donīt want to use this over years and years, because there certainly are side-effects. And there are people, who just cannot use this at all, because their skin doesnīt tolerate the adapalene.
For me, itīs a concentrated treatment for serious skin issues, but definitely no long-term product.

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

on 1/5/2013 10:27:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Other, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

I've had persistent cystic acne on my chin for the last 7 years or so, and I really, really wanted this to work. Instead it's been like a bad relationship that I just can't quit. After 8 months of dedicated use, at best, it did not do much of anything (except cause these tiny clogs on the side of my face, so I started to apply to my chin only). But a few days ago, a planet started growing in the middle of my chin, and in my panic and desperation, I grabbed my Differin to give it yet another chance. I don't know what happened, maybe I applied too much, but by the next morning, the planet had spawned its own galaxy and taken over my entire chin. No joke, my chin and lower lip were so red and swollen that it actually hurt to talk. It's been two days now, and I've been icing it and taking ibuprofen to bring down the swelling, which has helped some, but wow. I think I'm finally breaking up with you for good, Differin. You and me are just no good.

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

on 12/27/2012 8:38:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Cool

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Green

Since I was 12/13 I've had acne. Usually a cyst, a nodule or two, and whiteheads primarily. Through out middle school and high school I tried everything: Neutrogena (I used to love one of their spot treatments until it stopped working), Clearasil, Pro-Active (destroyed my skin!), Murad...I think you see what I'm getting at here. I'd start to get clear, maybe only have a pimple or two, before breaking out again.

During my spring semester of my first year of college my skin became terrible. 3-4 cysts and nodules with a few whiteheads at once, but mostly big and painful pimples. In July I finally went to the dermatologist and she prescribed me Differin 0.1% gel and Doxycycline. She told me to be prepared for things to get bad before they got better. For me, it never got better.

I think it took a few days before I started breaking out. Along with the first break outs came extreme dryness and flaking. I normally have oily skin, so having my skin completely dry out and itch scared me, but I stuck with it. Eventually the dryness did go away and I wasn't as oily anymore. Also Differin made my skin very sensitive to other products, even causing some products to burn which I'd NEVER experienced before.

I broke out everywhere on my face. Through the almost 4 months I used Differin, I don't think one part of my face DIDN'T get a pimple. What's worst is they were almost all nodules and cysts. Before I primarily broke out on my chin and a little on my jaw and t-zone, but now I was breaking out in places I'd never gotten even a whitehead before! I had at least 15 active pimples at once!

In December I went back to my derm, I think I had around 15-20 pimples at the time, and she switched me to Epiduo at night and Aczone during the day- let's hope these work out! Obviously Differin has worked for some people- I was sadly not one of them.

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

on 11/27/2012 3:17:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Warm

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Brown

Long review below!

Hi guys, I'm about to enter my 10th week on Differin 0.1, and it's pretty awesome. I had adult acne from hell this year and it completely shat all over my confidence and self esteem. There were days, even weeks (I work from home, thank god) where I wouldn't leave the house. I couldn't look in mirrors, my face hurt when I would take a bite of food, and my face was just the reddest, lumpiest, bumpiest thing ever. I'm not gonna lie, acne made me cry and I'm not really one for tears. Timeline below; my skin is combo/slightly dry, acne prone, sensitive.

Week 1: Only applied twice the first week. Small pea sized amount, slight dryness/stinging.

Week 2: Applied 3x this week. Face was starting to peel/feel very dry and would burn like holy hell after I applied moisturizer, but that feeling dissipated after a minute or so. I could also feel my skin getting more sensitive.

Week 3: Applied 3x this week since my face still wasn't ready to handle a dose every night. Skin is flaking, but not too bad. Still very dry (having to apply moisturizer throughout the day). Blemishes are getting smaller, and less frequent.

Week 4: Applied 5x this week and finally starting to see some improvement. I'm still breaking out but they definitely heal up quick. Skin is flaking less, and dryness is now tolerable.

Week 5 Applied every night. Despite still rockin' some pimples, the clear areas of my skin have smoothed out considerably. I've stopped following Differin with my moisturizer at night.

Week 6/7: I'm down to 2-3 pimples on my face at a time and still a few clogs. Huge improvement over the 20+ I had all over my face for the past year. (Gross, I know.) Still applying every night, but a bigger pea size. No longer need to apply my moisturizer throughout the day.

Week 8/9: The best week of 2012 for me. I'm finally CLEAR. No pimples, no bumps, not even a single clog and my pores are next to invisible. I still have a hell of a lot of acne scars to take care of but I don't care. I haven't felt or seen my face this smooth in years. At this point Differin no longer makes my skin feel dry or sensitive and I'm barely flaking.

As many others have reviewed below, the key is to start slow and then gradually increase applications whenever you think your skin is ready. I think this really decreased the amount of irritation, dryness, and flakiness I experienced. Also make sure you're still looking out for culprits! Even though my skin was improving, I was still getting clogs and I only started to see a great deal of improvement after switching up cleansers and eliminating some products.

For everyone out there suffering with acne, I feel your pain. Medication is very individual; what works for one might not work for others, but the only way to know for sure is to give it a shot. Just be patient and you'll see results! :)

Update: 5/14/2013

Hey guys, I just wanted to give a quick update now that I'm 9 months into using Differin. I thought my skin was clear before, but I have to say the results have improved a lot since then. I can confidently say I'm 100% blemish and clog free and have reduced applications to every other night. I love this stuff.

16 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

on 11/25/2012 11:05:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Acne-prone, Other, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

I have been using Differin .3% gel for a month. My dermatologist outlined the skincare routine, which I've been following pretty much to a t:

1. Neutrogena face wash/mask with benzoyl peroxide (I do find that if I use it daily, my face is much drier)
2. Clindamycin lotion
3. Elta MD physical sunblock SPF 41

1. Cleanse with Neutrogena fresh foaming cleanser
2. Wait 20-30 minutes, then apply Differin
3. Put some kind of face lotion on top to counteract the dryness. Right now I use Complex 15 lotion

Results so far: no more cysts around my jaw line (woo-hoo!), no new acne period (unless I work out or go dancing where I sweat heavily and end up rubbing my face with a Kleenex or a wash cloth), pores look smaller because they are less clogged. I am so pleased with the results, I am afraid to jinx it. The only thing I have to correct about my face is to fade the red marks from old acne, but other than that my face is in good shape.

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

on 11/19/2012 12:58:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Olive, Warm

Hair: Black, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

*updated with pictures and routine on Jan 30, 2013

Before Differin:

After Differin:

I love this product. I did not have a very serious initial outbreak, but I did break out from time to time over and over again. It always seemed to be all clear of pimples and bumps one week and return a week after.But the overall progress was always better than when I initially started so I always persisted through using this product, hoping it'd purge out all of the impurities.

The one key thing I learned with this product is that LESS IS MORE. Only use a PEA SIZE amount for your ENTIRE face. Trust me, I know you feel like if you layer on just a bit more that it will work more effectively, but it will not. It will only aggravate your skin, causing it to be extremely red, flaky, and sensitive. Even after 2 and a half months of use, I found the best results when I cut down to about half the amount of what I was using because my skin was getting extremely sensitive ALL THE TIME.

I use this only once a day at night time. I use 2.5% benzoyl peroxide in the morning, following the same consistency of a pea size for my problem areas.

I highly recommend that you ALWAYS wait until your face is DRY after washing and cleansing before you apply anything. As well, you should always moisturize and use a sunscreen if you are going to be exposed to sunlight. I thought for the first two months that being without a suncreen would be okay since it's wintertime here and often dark, but once I added suncreen to my routine, I noticed a HUGE difference in the way my skin was healing.

It is okay once in awhile to skip a day of two of your routine if you feel like your skin is so sensitive that it burns even when you touch it. I did it and it always helped to let my skin have a breather for a day or two,
My face was moderately severe, FULL of cysts that I could not get rid of and blackheads all over my nose. I no longer have any cysts and blackheads have completely disappeared from my nose. I am left with a lot of PIH (post-acne inflammed hyperpigmentation marks) but I am confident that with time, they will leave minimal scarring if any at all.
I can't stress enough that you cannot and should not pick at your skin. Your skin with differin will be extremely delicate and tear very easily. Let it do its work and give it up to 12 weeks before you decide to quit. My skin was up and down for about two months and a half before I saw a steady uphill progress.

TIP: You should create a strict skincare regimen to see optimal results. Stick with a routine and DON'T GET LAZY. There were times were I got too busy to remember to wash my face thoroughly and apply differin and during those times, I would always break out again. Even though it was a very mild breakout, it seems to defeat the purpose and go backwards instead of forward towards clear, flawless skin.

The differin I used is 0.1% gel.


1. Cleanse face with Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser.
2. Pat dry with a clean towel if I'm in a rush, but if not, wait for my skin to completely dry.
3. Apply 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide, the "Treatment" from Acne.org (I use a thick amount now that I have built up tolerance to it)
4. Wait for Treatment to completely dry
5. Apply moisturizer (I rotate between the Acne.org moisturizer and a thick CeraVe cream for extra dry days)
6. If I am going out, I will wait for the moisturizer to completely dry, apply a light sunscreen (I use Neutrogena) and then apply my make-up after my face has dried

1. Use Pond's Cold Cream to remove all make-up
2. Cleanse with Boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser
3. Wait for skin to completely dry
4. Apply a large PEA SIZE of Differin all over face
5. Apply Kiehl's Avocado eye cream

Additional add-ons:
- Cleanse with the Clarisonic Mia every other day at night, combined with the Boscia cleanser
- Using AHA once a week to replace my moisturizer in the morning (I use Dan's AHA)
- Washing my face with oatmeal before my shower twice a month
- Using a clay mask or Boscia Luminizing Black Mask when my face is particularly oily
- Using My Beauty Diary Aloe sheet masks when my face is particularly (and usually, painfully) dry

7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

on 10/13/2012 7:28:00 AM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brown, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

The very best product I've ever tried against acne. I had clear skin in general but always had only one, but very deep pimple on my nose. Literally ALWAYS - once I've get rid of one, the other one just arrived. My nose was left with scars, red spots and dark marks. But then I was prescribed to Differin and now (2 months later) my problems are simply gone!
The first 2 weeks were really hard: itching, flaking, burning, redness... I was a bit worried about how long will it take to get used to this gel. But all the bad effects stopped within 2 weeks.
I use it 2:1 mixed with La Roche-Posay Cicaplast, in the evenings (a little bit of Cicaplast is very good against flaking).
And now? Smooth, clear skin, even without foundation. Wonderful!

1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Olive, Warm

Hair: Brown, Straight, Other

Eyes: Brown

I love this stuff it keeps my skin clear and I use it nightly, afterwards I apply a glyoylic gel product to areas where I have trouble (combo skin here) keeps my skin tone even and pimple free and helps with clogged pores which is actually my biggest issue

on 9/5/2012 6:45:00 AM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Medium, Warm

Hair: Black, Straight, Coarse

Eyes: Brown

I was on accutane last year, recently my acne was returning so I used an old tube of this stuff and helps keep my skin clear.

Popular Treatments (Face)

Retin A
525 Reviews
Lemon Juice
396 Reviews
Nerium AD
66 Reviews
Back to Top