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Treatments (Face) - Differin Gel

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rated 4.0(173 reviews)

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rated 1 of 5 on 12/27/2012 8:38:00 PM More reviews by lovkat

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.

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rated 5 of 5 on 11/27/2012 3:17:00 PM More reviews by poppydoll

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.

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rated 5 of 5 on 11/25/2012 11:05:00 AM More reviews by aa2204

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.

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rated 4 of 5 on 11/19/2012 12:58:00 PM More reviews by missxannaa

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 (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 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

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rated 5 of 5 on 10/13/2012 7:28:00 AM More reviews by Duleiana

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!

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 9/6/2012 4:19:00 AM More reviews by Sunnydelite62901

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

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rated 5 of 5 on 9/5/2012 6:45:00 AM More reviews by cboylove

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.

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rated 5 of 5 on 8/26/2012 5:36:00 PM More reviews by maddyq

Age: 18 & Under Skin: Sensitive, Fair-Medium, Warm Hair: Blond, Curly, Medium Eyes: Blue

I'm not gonna tell you my whole life story with acne but it's just generally been a very rollercoaster-y few years with my skin. I finally went to the derm and got a prescription for Differin. Let me tell you, this stuff is miraculous. The first two months really suck, don't take it remotely lightly. You break out in places you've never even seen a zit before. But by the third month everything gets so much better. Perseverance is key with this stuff. And don't forget sunscreen, I was a lifeguard this summer and forgot a few times..... BAD IDEA. It messes with all of the progress you made. Now I can walk out in public with not a lick of makeup on and feel so proud of my skin.
Morning: Clean and Clear Cream Face Wash
Cetaphil Moisturizer
Night: wash rag and boiling hot water to wipe your face before cleansing (purges dirt and oil from your pores so the face wash goes as deep as possible)
Clean and Clear Cream Face Wash
Differin 0.3
Before workouts or showers during the day: Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Oil-Cleansing Wipes (smell sooooo good too!)

Hope this helps!

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rated 4 of 5 on 6/22/2012 6:10:00 AM More reviews by doris2788

Age: 18 & Under Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Black

I use the 0.1 gel nightly and use sunscreen underneath my makeup in the morning. I apply this right after I shower; my damp skin helps absorb it better. At first I thought a pea size wasn't enough, as my skin wasn't reacting to it at all. However, the dryness and redness set in by night 5, and my skin peeled when I applied makeup. My usual cleanser started to sting a bit, and surprisingly my lips peeled from the differin (I didn't even apply it there). I normally don't use moisturizer, but I immediately went down to the chemist to buy physiogel cream, and will now use it after applying differin. Will update with further use.
5 Weeks Update **

My skin had gotten way too sensitive because I was using too much, so I cut the dosage to only the size of a green pea and only applied it to my T zone. After using it for three weeks with no effects, I added a AHA+BHA exfoliating serum, and my blackheads have decreased significantly. Now the blackheads are not completely gone, but the exfoliating serum has helped clear out my pores, and the Differin gel helps to shrink pores and renew the skin. So far nothing impressive.
Week 9 Update

Finally seeing some results. I now use a pea sized differin on my T-zone, then add an AHA+BHA serum on top (T-zone only), then moisturize with a water-based gel (all over). Recently I have not been wearing makeup and have extracted my blackheads with a tool a couple times, and my blackheads have cleared about 85%. I found out that with Differin, you have to be patient (waiting out the initial breakout and flaking), and "help" the product work. Not wearing makeup and keeping the skin moisturized at all times will help your pores decrease in size. Also, cleansing the skin with cleansing oil will help melt the blackheads away. This new skincare routine is working out great for me.

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rated 1 of 5 on 6/1/2012 10:23:00 PM More reviews by AFleming101

Age: 18 & Under Skin: Normal, Fair-Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Blue

I bought this months ago, after hearing about it from a friend. I went to my doctor and he prescribed it to me, along with Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Gel. I started using it, but had to stop after 1-2 weeks after it started making my face peel horribly.

Recently, I started using it again to see if my skin could handle both. The Topical Gel in the morning, and Differin at night. It worked really well for the first 3 days with no outbreaks or dry skin. Overnight, the burning woke me up. It felt like someone had sprayed acid on my face. My skin was bright red, all my acne (I have mild to no acne, but I wanted to clear up my skin and blemishes with the medicine) stood out extremely bad. I couldn't put any lotion on my face, even Aveeno Smart Essentials SPF 30. Anything that went on my face, including make up, burned my face and would reduce me to tears from the pain.

I immediately stopped using both products and had to keep my face covered in an ice-cold, damp rag. If the rag wasn't on, my face dried out and I could barely smile due to how tight it was. The next day, the peeling began. And it came with reckoning: my whole face started peeling to the point where the new skin underneath would sting really bad.

I started soaking my face with a rag and PH water. The water dried out my skin more and put me in misery. I have a huge event next Thursday and today is Friday; I'm afraid my face won't get better before then.

I've resorted to using Curel Fragrance Free Lotion for dry and sensitive skin. The lotion has helped with the pain and peeling, but I don't know if it'll help aid my skin before Thursday.

I will NEVER use this product again! I understand it doesn't work on some people, but people with sensitive skin - BEWARE. This last week has been torture for me, and my face is as red as a tomato.

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