Differin Gel

 Differin Gel

3.9

195 reviews

76% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.1

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 4.1

Price: $$$

INGREDIENTS

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

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Age: 19-24

Skin: Dry, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

I swear by this stuff. I'm using the OTC 0.1%.

To start out, here's my PM routine:
remove makeup and/or sunscreen (CVS brand eye makeup remover, and an oil/gel/cream cleanser to remove face makeup. I like the DHC oil cleanser and prefer oil cleansers, but have been using Glossier's milky jelly cleanser lately)
cleanse with CeraVe foaming cleanser & use Clarisonic about once a week
wait about 10 minutes
apply pea size amount of Differin
wait at least 20 minutes
tap 3 drops argan oil (I use the Trader Joe's brand) onto my face, focusing on my drier areas, which for me is my chin and jaw
apply CeraVe's moisturizing cream AKA CeraVe in the tub.
sometimes I'll mix the argan oil with the CeraVe if I'm feeling lazy
and about once a month I use the Makeup Artist's Choice mandelic/salicylic acid peel. I do not use Differin on the day before, or after the peel. (example: no Differin Monday, do peel Tuesday, no Differin Wednesday, resume Thursday)

Now, for some background. I'm 23 and have dealt with acne since I was around 13, however it got much worse when I was around 17-18. I've tried what feels like everything, short of actually going to the doctor and getting a prescription. I'd say my acne is moderate, but definitely not severe. I never get deep, painful, cystic pimples. I would typically break out in fairly large pimples, sometimes clusters of pimples, that usually took about 2-3 weeks to fully go away. And of course by the time that breakout cleared up, I had another one waiting to surface. My breakouts occur mainly on my cheeks, with some here and there on my chin, and never on my forehead. Oh, and I ALWAYS scar.

I started using Differin on December 24, 2016. It's now May 11, 2017. So, I've been using it consistently for almost 5 months. I know you're supposed to build up your usage of this, however, I did not. I was using The Ordinary's advanced retinoid 2% before trying Differin, so my skin had already built up a bit of a tolerance. I was initially planning on slowly working my way into it, but when I didn't experience any redness or extreme dryness, I delved into using it every night.

It's also worth noting that I'm still on my first tube, which is supposed to be a 3 month supply. Granted, I have skipped days here and there, but in total I've probably only skipped about 20.

I didn't purge with this at all, but it may be due to the fact that I was using the other retinoid beforehand. The only "side effect" I've had is flaking. When I first started using this, I was also using the corresponding cleanser and moisturizer. I didn't mind the cleanser, and used up almost the entire bottle, but it didn't foam and I prefer something that does...so I decided on the CeraVe foaming cleaser and love it. The moisturizer wasn't heavy enough for me at all. I was having tons of flaking, so decided I needed to find a different moisturizer. The CeraVe moisturizing cream cured that, but I often times still felt dry, so I added the argan oil in after 2 months. I no longer have any issues with flaking.

As far as seeing progress, I noticed a difference in how my skin looked after about a month. I was breaking out less often, and my scars were fading. After almost 5 months of use, all of my pre-existing scars are almost completely gone. I know that may sound like slow progress, but it's progress that I've never had before. My pores look clearer, and my skin just looks more...radiant. As far as breaking out goes, I still get a pimple here and there (usually at the end of my period), but with the exception of one time (which is partly my fault*), I never break out in clusters of pimples anymore. Whenever I do get a pimple, it goes away quicker and does not leave as dark as a mark.

*The reasoning for why the cluster breakout is my fault, is that I picked. I had developed a pimple, and tried to pop it when it wasn't ready, which of course just irritated it even worse, and therefore caused more pimples...which I also picked at.

Another thing I've changed since starting Differin that has made a considerable difference is that I've started drinking more water. I've been drinking at least 60 oz a day, but typically around 75-80. I also quit drinking soda as often (used to drink it daily, now probably once a week), which I think has made a small difference.

One VERY IMPORTANT thing you must do while using Differin (or any retinoid or acid) is to WEAR SUNSCREEN!!! The one I'm currently using is the Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk SPF50+/PA+++ and really like it. I've also tried Biore SARASARA UV Mild Care Milk Sunscreen 120ml SPF30 PA++ (a bit powdery and not high enough PA rating for my liking) and Nivea Sun Protect Super Water Gel SPF 50/PA+++ (doesn't dry down/too wet feeling for my liking). If you're someone who hates sunscreen because they feel heavy and greasy, I definitely recommend looking into Asian sunscreens.

The packaging is great. No frills, not messy, easy to get every last bit out. The price is good for what it does. You can get a two pack of the large size and small size at Sam's for $30, and there's also coupons on their website.

So...I think I've covered everything?
In my experience, this is a fantastic product. Of course, this isn't going to be for everyone, but if you aren't having extreme discomfort or horrible "side effects" I recommend being patient and giving it the 3 months before you give up. You aren't going to see overnight results, and it may get worse before it gets better, but it's worth it in the long run.
To end things, my skin looks clearer and more radiant after these 5 months than it has in years, and I'm having less pimples and faster healing times. I actually feel comfortable going into public with no face makeup, which is huuuuge for me! I will never be without this product.

6 of 6 people found this helpful.



Age: 30-35

Skin: Oily, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Red, Curly, Medium

Eyes: Green

I use this product and a benzoyl peroxide 2.5% gel nightly (compare to RX Epiduo). This combination is the only treatment that has cleared my mild-moderate acne without excessively drying out my skin (thus causing more oil and subsequent breakouts). Not only that, but my pores are visibly reduced, tone and texture evened, and any scars have faded/continue to fade.
The small tube lasts approximately one month with regular, nightly use. I would suggest purchasing the large tube -- it's around $30, but there are usually coupons available.
I did experience a mild "purge," but after two months of REGULAR use I saw clear, radiant skin.
Keep in mind that your skin will probably look terrible and may feel painful for a little while, especially if you use this in combination with other acne-treating products. Stick with it! Give it at least eight weeks before giving up. Remember, also, that this is not a spot treatment. It's meant to be used ALL OVER the face (and body if that's an area of concern). You must use this regularly to see the desired results.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.


on 4/26/2017 2:47:00 AM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Combination, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Please note, no reviews should be even considered if they use the gel less than 8 weeks. Results may even take slightly longer. There is a purge, READ the documents included in the differin package, and FOLLOW them. In 5 weeks I noticed smoother skin, smaller pores, less blackheads, less redness (it's also an antinflammatory). Who needs highlighter when your skin is smooth and glowing. Give it a shot, but only if you can commit to a purge and at least 8 weeks of nightly application.

3 of 4 people found this helpful.


Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Blue

I've started using Differin gel, not for acne but for age prevention/ tone correction. I've been a user of Retin A on and off since '08, and love it after the initial purging and peeling stage. Sadly I can no longer afford to go to my derm twice a year or pay for the RX. But I discovered that Differin is available OTC since last year, at $28 a pop. So I figured it was worth a shot to test out its efficacy for non acne issues. I have read that Differin is more photo stable than Retin A, so you are at less risk of sun damage (that being said, I will still be using sunscreen during the AM hours). I've been using it for about a week now. Far too soon to have yielded results, but I'll edit my review as I go. So far I'm liking it better than Retin A in the initial stage. I'm am starting to peel lightly, but not anything like the snakeskin molting that occurs when I'm starting out with the RA. I'm also not experiencing the blistering on my chin/side of mouth like I do with RA until I've built up a tolerance to it. I am starting to get pimples popping up that were under my skin, but that is the normal purging process of retinoids. My combination skin seems to agree more with the gel Differin that to the cream RA. I'm a recovering product junkie trying to embrace minimalism in my skin regime. My night time routine is as follows. I use a baking soda face wash from Biore, for light daily exfoliation. Afterwards I mist my face with pure rosewater and rub in organic rosehip seed oil. I then apply a pearl sized dab of Differin onto my whole face, then use CeraVe Pm facial lotion, as it really seems to soothe the inevitable irritation that comes with retinoid use. I know not to expect the same results that RA gives me, but my skin is in a good state right now, so I'm not in need of a serious overhaul, just general maintenance. We'll see if Differin fills that need. Stay tuned...

2 of 2 people found this helpful.


on 3/26/2017 11:42:00 AM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Cool

Hair: Blond, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Blue

I was searching to add a little more to my skin regimen in regards to retinoid vs BHA as I already use a AHA at night. I was originally going to purchase Sunday Riley UFO for AM use as I love Luna. Then I noticed I can purchase Differin gel OTC. Adapelene is a retinoid that can be use in the AM as it is light stable. Also less likely to cause the skin irritation that Retin-A can cause. I use to use Retin-A in my college years.

After 1 month of use, I love how smooth my skin feels. I mix an equal portion of Differin along with my 2.5% benzoyl peroxide cream (DIY epiduo!) and apply to my face every morning. I feel I makes my BP creme work better. My skin is very clear. Maybe an occasional pimple due to hormonal changes with that time of the month, but otherwise my skin has been perfect.

Cost wise I'm very happy, as my original choice was much more $$$. I purchased it at Sam's club, got 2 tubes for about 30 bucks.

I highly recommend to those struggling with mild to moderate acne and have plateaued with just BP treatments.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.


Age: 30-35

Skin: Dry, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Blond, Curly, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

I've been using this product for little over a month. I use their brand cleanser and moisture along with the gel itself. It took about a week and a half before my face changed at all. At first, it was dry and a bit itchy but I did see a slight improvement. I was frustrated and wanted to quit, but for the price, I stuck it out. now, after a month, I'm SOO glad I did. Now, most of the dryness is gone and even the blackheads on my nose are 90% gone. so happy with this product! Yes, it dries out your face....but ONLY where your pores are clogged! Though it days not to spot treat.....using the differin gel itself, I've been treating my acne prone areas daily and less proned areas every other day. ...But still use the cleanser and moisturizer daily. I've also been using a sensitive skin peel-off moisturizing mask ONLY ON THE DRY AREAS, and it definitely helps remove some of the dry skin. **CAUTION** It states on the packaging not to have your eyebrows waxed while on this product....I learned the hard way, don't break this rule!! The wax tore off a layer of skin everywhere it touched. PAINFUL!! The next time, I stopped using the product for 2 days prior to getting them waxed. They were still a bit sensitive, bit all skin stayed intact!

2 of 2 people found this helpful.


on 3/7/2017 10:59:00 PM

Age: 36-43

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Brown

Purchased both the cleanser, and gel a little over one month ago. Initially started using both daily. Had a breakout, and severe dry skin within days. Took a break from both for one week. Recovered nicely. Began using cleanser again daily, gel every other day. I moisturize every day with YES to Tomatoes ( an Acne product you can buy at Target), and have not had any reaction to the Differin since I switched my routine.
I have oily, acne prone skin. I have textural issues on my lower cheeks and chin. I'm 42, Caucasian. I get occasional acne that seems to last forever, and will sometimes leave a mark although I do not pick or touch.
Since I've been on the differin routine, I have not experienced one breakout. My acne scars are fading. My pores have gotten smaller. My oil is under control, although not gone. My scarring just seems to be less noticeable. It feels like my skin is slowly turning over. I am that person who looks in the mirror in every different light, who doesn't date because they are afraid of getting caught in that "bad" light. I feel that in the next couple of months, this product could be the slow, but sure change for me. I will update.

10 of 10 people found this helpful.


on 12/31/2016 7:49:00 PM

Age: 25-29

Skin: Very Oily, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Blond, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Green

I've been using this here and there for quite some time and realized I never wrote a review for it. I credit chemical exfoliators for being a large component of: getting rid of my acne/keeping me clear, smoothing out my skin texture, and quickly fading any marks. It's something I've posted about on MUA a lot about over the years as my skin is a major issue in general.

The FDA recently lifted the ban on Adapalene being over-the-counter in the U.S. Adapalene is the active ingredient in Differin. It's a type of retinoid, not to be confused with Retin-A. Retin-A is tretinoin (another type of retinoid). Tretinoin is a lot stronger & won't likely be approved for over the counter sales anytime soon.

There's been a ton of debates on whether or not Differin can help with anti-aging. In my opinion, it can. There's a major misconception that it's useless for that purpose. Differin is marketed to help with acne. The reason they don't intend it for anti-aging purposes is because there hasn't been enough research for collagen production like there has with Retin A. The fact of the matter is adapelene is a retinoid, and retinoids are chemical exfoliators no matter how mild. Just keep in mind Retin-A is a lot stronger (and likely more effective).

I typically use Retin-A gel in the lowest strength (.025). Differin .1% adapalene is still milder, but I find it to be a nice alternative. Especially if I'm feeling like my skin's barrier is close to being compromised.

As already mentioned, this is a chemical exfoliator. Since it exfoliates off the top layer of skin you are more photo-sensitive. I can not stress enough how important it is to wear sunscreen if using this (even at night..even a week after stopping usage..). IT DOES NOT MATTER if the only sunlight you get is through windows or in the car. We call this "incidental exposure" on the skincare board. I myself never spend time in the sun. Regardless any natural light that hits you = UVA rays. UVA rays are damaging. In terms of anti-aging, sunscreen is even more important than using chemical exfoliators. I know those of you using this for acne purposes probably won't think that's a big deal but it goes beyond anti-aging. Protecting your barrier will help acne heal better.

If you find Differin to be too strong for you there are a few suggestions I'd like to include:
-Wait an hour after washing your face to apply
-Buffer with moisturizer
-Apply every other night (with Retin-A gel I apply once every 3 nights but with Differin I can apply almost every night...it's much more mild)

Last but not least, please only wear this at night. This goes back to the photo-sensitivity issue. I'd recommend giving Differin some time to work its magic for a couple of weeks before judging on it's effectiveness. Again this is quite mild, so it may take a while to really start exfoliating.

50 of 52 people found this helpful.


on 11/6/2016 4:50:00 PM

Age: 18 & Under

Skin: Combination, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Other, Other, Other

Eyes: Other

People give up wayyyy too soon, with a retinoid like this you're unlikely to see any actual improvements till month 3, and the differin has likely yet finished improving your skin even then, so when I see people giving up 2 days in, or 9, I can't help but laugh, clearly this med isn't for you if that's how long you're willing to give it, unless you got actual contact dermatitis from using this there's absolutely no reason to stop or judge the med before month 4-5, you shouldn't even be leaving reviews as a few days isn't long enough to judge any skincare product ever.
An initial worsening of your acne is possible and even likely which is why it's often paired with a topical/oral antibiotic to get through the purging months until the Differin starts working, so no, it's not Differin being terrible or useless rather your lack of research and ability to commit to something.

12 of 19 people found this helpful.


on 9/21/2016 10:08:00 AM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

Differin gave me an impressively painful chemical burn all over my face. Would not use again.

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