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Treatments (Face) - Differin Gel

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rated 4.0(168 reviews)

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rated 5 of 5 top reviewer on 3/8/2012 9:29:00 AM More reviews by str8thuggin

Age: 36-43 Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

WARNING: DO NOT WAX EYEBROWS WHILE USING THIS PRODUCT!!!!

Sorry for the all caps, but no one warned me, and now I have ugly red marks under my eyebrows where the skin was ripped/burned off. Google "differin eyebrow waxing" and you will see that many other people have had this problem. Differin thins the skin and can make it much more prone to damaging. Just wanted to warn you guys because I didn't see anything in any of the other reviews about this, and trust me, it is NOT attractive.

Now, on to the review. Basically, I love this stuff. I had been using OTC retinol (RoC) for about a year but felt that I had gone about as far as I could with it. I have some blackheads on my nose and small whiteheads on my chin that seem to always have been there. The occasional zit, but nothing major. Since starting the Differin two weeks ago, this is all clearing up beautifully. My skin is getting a lovely glow and wrinkles seem to be diminishing. I got this for the anti-aging benefits but love that it's clearing up my skin as well. I use only at night, but want to work up to 2x/day. There are some flaky spots as would be expected, but these went away after I had used the retinol for a few weeks and I expect that it will be the same with the differin.

I cleanse my face at night with CeraVe, wait about half an hour, apply the differin, wait another half hour, then apply vitamin E oil. I am LOVING this combo.

I chose this over retin-A/taz/etc. because it was the only retinoid product that my insurance (blue cross) would pay for for a person my age. To get the others, I would have to be 24 or under. Why I don't know, but for some reason they would spring for the differin, so that's what I asked my Dr for. It was $15 after my co-pay.

I think that because I had already used retinol, my skin was more used to it, and caused me to tolerate the differin very well. Just not on anything that I will be waxing!
EDIT: According to Paula Begoun, retinol/retinoids are NOT exfoliants. Yes, they speed up cellular turnover which is why people get the "flakies" with these products, but they do nothing to actually remove the flakies from the skin's surface. Since reading this, I have started using a mild salicylic acid lotion (CeraVe SA) to remove all the stuff that the Differin brings up. NOT at the same time (Differin at night, SA after work). I let the SA lotion set on my face for a bit and give myself a facial massage. All the dry bits literally roll off my skin in little pills (sorry to be gross) and I am left with baby smooth skin afterwards. I have found all mechanical exfoliants to be too harsh on my skin since using Differin.
BONUS: This seems to be removing my syringoma which everyone says only a dermatologist can do. YAY!

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rated 5 of 5 on 2/26/2012 8:14:00 AM More reviews by AnnieRocco

Age: 25-29 Skin: Sensitive, Fair-Medium, Warm Hair: Brown, Straight, Fine Eyes: Black

Got this in 0.1% from my derm for my mild acne (whiteheads and blackheads mostly on my cheeks). Been using for almost a mth and now i cannot live without it! My bumps looks much lesser just after a few days into this treatment. So far it didnt cause me any purging nor did it stings my skin. After about 4 days into it, my skin burns so badly after cleansing at night (im using mu remover n cleanser which contains aha and my clarisonic brush). So much so tat watever i put onto my skin after tat just makes my skin burns like mad! I know i should not be using harsh cleanser with differin but im not comfortable using a gentle cleanser at night... Perhaps i should not use clarisonic too but i dont feel my skin is clean without a strong cleanser plus clarisonic! So whenever it starts burning real bad, i skip using differin a few days and resume when my skin no longer burns upon washing (my skin dosent burn in the am with my gentle cleanser..). Im receiving microdermabrasion treatment every forthnightly as well so was advised to stop differin a few days before and after the treatment so ive been on n off on differin but still, it gives me great results! Perhaps since im going on n off on differin, i dun get all the bad reactions too.. My derm says its perfectly fine to go on n off like this till my skin get used to it without burning so im just gonna do tat! i realised my skin is less oily, pores looks a bit smaller, skin looks smoother (lesser bumps) overall with no bad side effects except the burning. Very happy with this!!

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rated 3 of 5 on 2/22/2012 4:11:00 AM More reviews by vantuong1190

Age: 19-24 Skin: Combination, Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Black

Ok , so my GP prescribed me with this gel and Tetralysal 300mg for 2 months. I don't have to pay for anything here in UK (with NHS prescription). I don't have big, deep spots, but tiny pumps cover all over my face, and they are easily popped up, but easily replaced with another yeallow stuff inside as well, I've now got a really rough skin! So I'm unsure if this treatment is right, but I'm diagnosed with acnes anyway...

I take the pill in the morning with empty stomach which makes me feel sick!, and apply the gel thinly at night. I've only been using it for 5 days, so my skin has really got worse as the GP warned me before. She said it would be worse for 4 weeks, after that I would probably see improvement, if not, then I had to go back to her. So a bit of patience here.

So far getting worse in my case is that even more tiny pumps on my face, red and burning sensation, sun sensitivity... I will update my skin condition later...

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rated 5 of 5 on 1/20/2012 11:26:00 PM More reviews by prettyfacades

Age: 19-24 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Warm Hair: Black, Straight, Fine Eyes: Brown

This is my hero. I've been using this for a couple of years now.

When I first started with differin, I was on oral antibiotics and this didn't really help my skin but I'm now using it on it's own as maintenance post accutane and it works really well!

One thing though: be careful not to use too much! It can dry out your skin and leave it red and irritated. Only use a pea-sized amount. If you can't spread it all over my face with a small amount, just mix in a little bit of moisturiser to help it spread.

It keeps my pores clean and helps keep cystic acne away.

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rated 2 of 5 on 1/17/2012 6:20:00 PM More reviews by emmanelson96

Age: 18 & Under Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Red, Wavy, Medium Eyes: Blue

This is going to be my first review on this. I will make an edit in a few months if I see different results than I am getting now.

I received this one month ago from my Dermatologist. The thing is, I have started to get terrible acne on my back, shoulders and chest for no reason. My face is clear and fine, but I got this for my body acne. I started using this every 2 nights, then every other night, then nightly, which is what I am doing now. There has been no improvement in my skin. If anything, it has gotten much worse. My skin is extremely itchy, hurts to touch because there are so many pimples and it looks disgusting. I know they say that your acne has to get worse with this stuff, but this is just terrible.
Imagine having to wear shirts up to your neck because you can't show any of your chest or back. Imagine having to buy the same shirt, just like 7 of them and wearing them everyday of the week. That is what I have to do. If I wear anything other than cotton my skin is so itchy I literally have to leave school and come home to take a shower. I have to scrub my skin so hard to get rid of the itch.
I see more acne coming in with this stuff. I don't know if it is going to go away soon or what, but so far this product has been terrible for me.

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rated 5 of 5 on 12/9/2011 11:02:00 AM More reviews by dasanchez04

Age: 19-24 Skin: Acne-prone, Medium, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Brown

I used differin gel 0.1 in high school and it was the best product I've ever used for my acne! I saw results in one day! I was very impressed and it was the first time I had gone to a dermy. I used it for a year with great results until my skin got immune to it :( well 6 yrs later I am using it again with differnt results. It did not work as quickly and I did get an initial breakout. I was using tetracycline with differin in hs but now I only usee differin which is probably why I didn't get the best reuslts with it, but I am satisfied. I am on 8 weeks of using it and my scars are reducing and my acne is not as bad

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rated 5 of 5 on 11/2/2011 2:52:00 PM More reviews by Zanna2010

Age: 30-35 Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Other Eyes: Hazel

Great product for clearing up acne. Made my acne worse for about a month before I saw improvment. Definitely had bouts of dry patches and redness at times. Applying a thinner layer helped remedy this problem. Stopped using it once I became pregnant because you can't use it when pregnant. My skin broke out worse than ever in my life. Weening off of this and dealing with pregnancy hormones all at once was a nightmare. I suggest if you are using this and planning to become pregnant that you ween off this first and switch to Clidoxyl Gel which is not as great as Differin but deemed safe during pregnancy. This way you get it out of the way before you introduce all those pregnancy hormones which can make you breakout out on their own.

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rated 2 of 5 on 10/21/2011 1:57:00 AM More reviews by marshallmaniac

Age: 30-35 Skin: Acne-prone, Other, Not Sure Hair: Brown, Other, Other Eyes: Green

*UPDATE 30 Jan 2012* I scrapped Differin at the end of December. Unfortunately, after about 5 months of being on the stuff, I just didn't see enough of an improvement to warrant continuing. I continued to break out though all other side effects - redness, dryness, itching, etc. all went away. Shame. Gonna give Skinoren a whirl now...

Okay, so first let me say that I will be returning in the next couple of weeks to a month to edit my review as I have not yet hit my target number of weeks of being on this medicine. Could be that plenty changes from now till then, but I wanted to write a partial review as normally I just troll this site reading what others have written (thanks to everyone for their input).


I've been on Differin now for just about 10 weeks. I picked it up prescription free from a pharmacy while on a trip to the Emirates a few months ago. I was looking for Skinoren (which I bought two tubes of) and the pharmacist recommended Differin instead.


While I've been on Differin, I have not been using any other acne treatments topically nor systemically. I use a Vichy facial cleanser for all skin types and I moisturize with Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream (the kind that comes in a big tub). I tried Dr. Haushka's rose light moisturizer, but it left my skin seriously tight and burned like hell. In all fairness though, since starting Differin, even touching my face causes it to burn.

I have moderate acne. Had great skin for years (I'm 30 now) and for whatever reason the last few years my skin has turned to crap - constantly breaking out with whiteheads, pustules, papules, a few blackheads here and there and cysts. Most of this stuff pops up on my chin with a few scattered on my cheeks and hairline. In the past I've tried the typical stuff - BP, topical anti bacterial stuff, etc. I also tried accutane for 1.5 months, but got off because I got bad side effects - blurry vision (which lasted till almost a year later), horrible headaches, body pain, etc. Within the 1.5 months I was on it though, it did a great job. Cleared me right up and my skin somehow was even radiant, but this was short lived. Within a few months, the acne started coming back.


So, back to the Differin. I started a little over 9 weeks ago and within the first week of use, I noticed my break outs were getting worse. My skin was also extremely dry and peeling (which lasted for a good 6-8 weeks, but now it only peels around the nose crevices, corners of my mouth and around the acne lesions - dab some Cetaphil on and I'm good to go) and very sensitive to the touch. Also, the first few weeks, even though this stuff dried my skin out big time, when I'd wake up, my skin was like an oil slick. I know that makes next to no sense, but it would be so shiny and greasy - very weird for someone with otherwise normal to dry skin. Anyway, the breakouts continued to get worse and frankly, quite horrible (so many at once, red and painful and even in places where I didn't get pimples before like my forehead - albeit, I've only gotten 2-3 there).


Oh yeah, I should say that I apply Differin - gel .01%- once per day, in the evening. I don't apply a moisturizer before or after. I only use moisturizer in the mornings. I apply what I think is a thin layer - I don't understand how people can spread a pea-sized amount over their entire face. I dot a small pea sized amount on each cheek, my forehead and chin - 4 'small peas' in total. I also don't wear any make up.


It seems as though just this week my skin MAY be starting to improve. I haven't noticed any new break outs and the stuff that was existing seems to be on its way out. Thing is, I've just started my period which for me means the week before I'm likely to start breaking out (in other words, maybe my skin is normalizing on its own again and perhaps it's not the Differin), so I want to give it another month, till my next period, to see how my skin reacts then.


Differin does a really good job of clearing pimples away. They come to a 'head' faster, pop faster (yup, I give them some encouragement), and disappear quickly. Also, the super hard ones - I think that are called blackheads - start coming out much easier too. In the past week, I've also noticed my skin generally looking more radiant. I hate to use silly words like that, but that's precisely how it is. I'm getting the same 'glow' that I did while I was on Accutane. Overall, my skin's texture is smooth (obviously I'm not talking about the bits with acne) and a lovely even color and just has a nice...glow to it. Granted, all of this just happened within the last week, so it could be fluke. I'm going to stick it out at least until I reach the 12 weeks mark (7 Nov - I keep close track of exactly how long I've been on this stuff) and likely until the end of November so I can see how my skin reacts during another period.


Some folks say they didn't start seeing results till the 6 month mark. I don't have the heart to keep at it for that long and I'm surprised at myself for sticking with it as long as I have. My 'initial breakout' lasted, um, until this week (perhaps longer depending on how the next weeks go). And let me tell you, it SUCKS. It is no exaggeration to say that each day I woke up with more and more acne and just washing my face became painful (due to wiping my hands over the acne). And this stuff was angry looking. It's really hard to be 30 and have this kind of skin.


The thing is, I'm really hoping the folks who've written reviews and told everyone who's trying Differin not to give up are right. Anyway, if this week turns out just to be a fluke after all, and if there's no continued/obvious improvement by week 12 or end Nov, then I'm likely going to bail. Differin really does do a good job of smoothing out the skin - no more under the skin bumps (which, in my case, all turned into either blackheads or nasty pustules) and the healing rate of my acne is much faster, but I want a CLEAR F

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rated 5 of 5 on 10/6/2011 9:55:00 AM More reviews by tightkitty

Age: 25-29 Skin: Acne-prone, Tan, Not Sure Hair: Brunette, Other, Coarse Eyes: Grey

My HG acne treatment!!
AT FIRST-Prior to using this product,I've struggled with acne since I was about 12. My skin would fluctuate greatly from a few random pimples to cystic ruptures that would scar my face. My skin had always made me self conscious and I always cursed my friends with perfect skin, because they never knew the continuous struggle people with acne face.
When I entered my early 20ís my skin went from unpredictable to my cheeks covered with persistent medium-sized pimples that would never come to a head and large, painful cystic pimples mainly cluttering all around my cheeks. Some pimples were sticking out and some were deep cysts underneath that would take weeks to months to finally go away and most times leaving me with dark marks or hyperpigmentation that took months to fade. This was the worst my skin had ever been. But, how could that be? Iím not a teenager anymore but at this point I have tried everything OTC including some persriptions,retin-a,benzamycin,sulfur wash to name a few..even I had already tried Differin but this time I followed directions lol I was 14 and I was applying WAY to much back then and becameto irritated to continue..

03/11-My derm prescribed this product as part of an anti-acne regimen: Differin cream .1 + oral antibiotic(doxy or mono) or one that you can handle, topical antibiotic (she gave me clindamycin lotion to offset the dryness that may occur), Cetaphil cleanser, and olay sensitive skin sp 15). She also wanted to put me on b-control but that's not an option for me since I tried that before and my blood pressure rose to levels that could give me a stroke but anyway--- To be completely and utterly honest, the first two weeks were a little rough. Initially, this product did dry out my face and it became more sensitive to skin care products. But since I have oily skin it kind of made it NORMAL from drying it out a little.Adapalene (Differin) has been shown not to break down in sunlight like other Retinoids. Adapalene is actually a synthetic version of Vitamin A. It can make you photosensitive and the sun be sure to use a gentle sunscreen!!! I did get some dryness and flaking and a little discomfort. My skin felt, flaky, tight, irritated, felt raw,and at sometimes felt like I had slight windburn. But all the meanwhile my skin was steadily improving!!! Make sure you do not get this anywhere near or under your eyes btw.Like many of the other reviewers, I did suffer an "initial breakout" of sorts but if you take an oral antibiotic with it,it minimizes with your purging process . Some will purge more then others depending on how many pimples you have under the surface that did not come out yet. My derm also recommended if the purging becomes to much or to painful to use a PEA size every OTHER night,a few nights I did do that but for the most part I would still apply but do what works for you. Sometimes I would wake up and my face would be an absolute oil-slick overnight. I'd wake up in the morning and my face would be completely covered in oil, That has since stopped. I don't know if that was part of the purging process of oil and impurities or what but still my face was steadily improving!! I could quickly see a change in the way the pimples that were forming. During my purging process I got small pimples that quickly went away ,that was already a big difference since I was used to getting huge painful cysts!!!! just small pimples that go away quickly sometimes even over night if I apply to my face and then apply and a good dab on that pimple as a spot treatment as well. I find that differin clears up my acne without giving me down time or looking a mess..I only went through a short time of discomfort and it was so worth it. I love when I get little flakies and new baby skin is waiting for me!! There are no instant results. But with any Retinoid product you have to have patience. It clears the gunk out of your pores, revealing fresher skin and helps with cell turnover. I haven't had any major problems with more breakouts I still do get an occasional stress or hormonal pimple. My skin texture and tone were improving and many of my acne scars were beginning to fade very happy.

10/06/11-Now my skin is clearer than it was back then, I still get an occasional pimple due to stress and hormones. I still have a few old marks from past volcanic pimples that are fading from YEARS of eruptions. My skin's now also really soft and smooth, which was never the case on other topical treatments. I no longer use the oral and topical antibiotics, I only prescription medication I use is the Differin and it has been a godsend for me!! I have since bumped up from the .1 lotion, I now I alternate the .1 gel with the .3 gel nightly and love it. But if you never took Differen I would suggest starting with the .1 lotion and take it slow since the .1 gel seems stronger. Some days I'm even brave enough to go without foundation before I had to cake it on.

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rated 3 of 5 on 10/4/2011 9:06:00 AM More reviews by LianneN

Age: 19-24 Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Neutral Hair: Brunette, Curly, Fine Eyes: Blue

I used to use Tretinoin gel (0.01% and 0.025%) for over a year, it made me purge like crazy for about 3 months. Thereafter I had skin clear of spots but it never stopped making me peel and sensitive. I have been using differin for over 2 months and I like it sooooo much better! I wished that it had the same anti aging effect as tretinoin though. My skin is no longer so flakey. I don't think its doing as good a job at keeping my skin clear but it still works. I can leave this on all night without any issea, tretinoin I could only do short contact therapy for about 10mins.

I will use this and hope one day my skin can tolerate tretinoin!

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