Differin Acne Treatment Gel

Filtered by skin type : Acne-prone
 Differin Acne Treatment Gel


84 reviews

82% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.0

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 4.0

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

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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.

25 of 25 people found this helpful.

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Medium, Neutral

Hair: Black, Kinky, Coarse

Eyes: Hazel

This is what I spent literally a decade waiting for.
My skin history: severe and constant pustular acne since age 14. Extreme blackheads that would not respond to BHA, glycolic peels, the peeling effect of persagel10, the clarisonic etc etc. Very poor cell turnover rate and hence a lot of congestion, dehydration and tons of surface oil covering a sensitised surface.
Fun right? I cracked a few months ago after undergoing 4 expensive glycolic peels at the best private dermatology clinic did more harm than anything. I'd tried every AHA, BHA and antibiotic, the only option left (according to my new derm who prescribed me the differin) was a topical retinoid or accutane. She prescribed a high-dose (600mg) of Trimethoprim to clear up the acne systematically and quickly because I was scarring badly. . . and this. Glorious, powerful Differin. She handed me the prescriptions and said if these didn't work to completely clear it up, in four months I needed to come back for roaccuntane. To quote her, ''no one should ever have to walk around with a face like that''- it should tell you the state my skin was in after a ten year failed battle.
The differin makes your skin worse initially. I already felt so ugly I couldn't have cared less. It made my blemishes much more angry and so red that layers of colorstay couldn't hope to even remotely conceal them, = but I honestly didn't notice a major purge, maybe the antibiotics prevented this. Within *three weeks*, 90%+ of my acne had disappeared. It's now been 2 months, and I haven't had a single blemish. Not a single one. My skin texture is smooth, the blackheads on my nose are gone, my tzone pores are still big but never swollen and clogged. My complexion is brighter and healthy. I actually look younger. The only evidence of my ten year acne suffering is three leftover scars, two on my forehead and one on my cheek. I am currently applying Trilogy rosehip 2x a day, but am considering buying Obagi's melamix (4% hydroquinone), to speed up the healing process.
Differin has given me confidence that I genuinely haven't had since pre-puberty. I can go out of the house with no makeup. I've even gone to parties and nights out with no base or any sort of blemish concealer. I truly recomend this to anyone with congestion and/or acne. I am also grateful as I have consequently researched retinoids and their unparalleled benefits. My intention is to progress to .3% differin in a few years, then a stronger retinol to help with ageing. I even wear SPF every day now, something I would never have attempted beforehand with my volatile skin. Ergo, the differin's also led to me taking new pride in my skincare.

My routine, in case it helps someone suffering.
AM: wash with mdformulations cleanser (AHA)
follow with persagel 10 to entire face
follow with Neutrogena sheer dry touch spf 45
spot treat 3 scars with Trilogy rosehip oil

PM: wash with same cleanser
apply Differin .1% to entire face
Usually follow with patting in Trilogy rosehip oil. I love how Differin has enabled me to get away with using a face oil, it feels so nourishing and I have no greaseball face the next morning.

21 of 21 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.

18 of 18 people found this helpful.

on 10/6/2017 10:19:00 AM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Hazel

Okay, so I literally made an account just to write this review because the stuff is that good. I always had minimal acne in the past that would spike randomly but eventually die down. This year, I found out I have a thyroid disease, which totally screws up your hormones. My acne was out of control and I tried EVERYTHING. I started using Differin about 5 months ago and I rarely ever see a single zit. Not kidding. I think it's even faded my acne scars. I wanted to wait five months to write this because you can't trust reviews that are written after a few tries. Retinoids work slowly over time. I am the least patient person I know but I swear this stuff is GOLD. I mean, to be able to combat endocrine crash related acne?? That's good stuff. I washed my face with a simple cleanser, Castille Soap, and moisturizer with Garnier Moisture Bomb. They work well with the Differin if you're more oily prone. Your face might have more oil or it might dry out in the first two weeks, but after that everything evens out. Best of luck!!

16 of 16 people found this helpful.

on 9/17/2017 2:16:00 PM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair-Medium, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Fine

Eyes: Brown

I can truly say I think I've finally found the cure to my acne after years of misery and embarrassment. ANYONE who feels like they have tried everything besides accutane (which i refused to use), please give this a try. Obviously, its not an overnight thing, give it a few weeks! My acne would be cystic and painful, and would always reside under my cheekbones, and contouring my face would always be the worst part of my make up routine. The way the directed use with this stuff is has cut my skincare regimen in half. I cut out any salicylic acids/harsh products and just let the adapalene do it's job. I haven't seen my skin this clear since I was in high school, it honestly puts me all up in my feels how much my skin has improved. My skin is almost 100%! This stuff has allowed me to be able to start the process of evening out dark spots and scarring. I am so thankful for this product, and I'm begging you guys to give it a try! <3
side note:
1. STOP PICKING YOUR FACE!!!!! The dramatic improvement I saw from this product made me leave my face alone. I used to pop and pop and pick and pick and my skin would look angry, and my acne would swell. Whenever I pick my face now, I instantly regret it because my skin looked great until I started messing with it!!
2. Use an SPF with this stuff, your skin gets a bit sensitive to UV. I've began using Bareminerals Bareskin spf 20 for some protection.
3. Definitely use before bed! I put this stuff on after a good gentle cleansing and my witch hazel toner. Retinoids, for me, have always been so much more effective as a before bed product.
4. Try to cut out harsh drying products! This stuff has trained me to not over do it (I used to be so guilty of this) I use dermalogica gentle calming cleanser, I also did buy Differin's cleansing wash as well. I seldom use benzoyl peroxide products, maybe for the occasional mask or spot treatment, but my skin is loving the adapalene, that's really all it needs now.
Good luck everyone, I hope this stuff works miracles on you too! xoxo

14 of 14 people found this helpful.

on 7/17/2017 5:04:00 AM

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Green

This stuff saved my actual life. My skin was struggling about 6 months ago and when I saw this was in stores, I was so excited to give it a try. My acne has pretty much cleared now, or at least looks better than it ever has. I am confident enough to go out without makeup on now! I have been using this product for about 4 months now, and I don't think I will ever stop. It continues to improve the appearance of skin even after the recommended 12 weeks. It does take around 12 weeks to really see the results, but you can tell it's working after about 3 weeks! My only advice to make the process faster, is DO NOT pick at any acne once you start using it. It will help your skin calm down so much faster. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way, but I truly stand by it! I hope it works for everyone else the way it did for me.
Also, do not get your eyebrows waxed while using this product. it makes the skin too thin.

13 of 13 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.

8 of 9 people found this helpful.

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

8 of 8 people found this helpful.

Age: 19-24

Skin: Acne-prone, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

Sorry guys, I'm here to crash the Differin party. Using this stuff was a nightmare for me. Is this product designed to trick people into thinking their skin is worse than it is so they keep using it?! I tried it on 3 different occasions, stuck with it for months, but alas the only difference I saw in my skin was negative -- redness, irritation, peeling, bumps on my forehead, big cystic pimples that scarred my face, and a horrible "orange peel" texture when I would try to put on my makeup. Some of these can be considered normal side effects of using a retinoid and I told myself for a while it was normal, but ultimately once I stopped using Differin for a week my skin was calm, happy, healthy, and 90% of the acne I thought was hormonal was gone. If you want to give Differin a shot it might work for you, but be careful and pay attention to your skin. If you continuously break out in areas where you normally don't, you are NOT purging and you should stop use immediately.

7 of 12 people found this helpful.

on 8/17/2017 11:29:00 PM

Age: 30-35

Skin: Acne-prone, Medium Brown, Warm

Hair: Black, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Brown

So far (3 weeks) I notice this makes my skin smoother, more sensitive, and also makes breakouts come to the surface faster than usual. Not overnight or anything, but breakouts do come to a head faster.

Sadly, this does not prevent breakouts from cosmetics. If I put on a problematic powder, foundation, or sunscreen, I WILL get pimples from it as per usual.

The way I apply this is after moisturizer at night. I wash my face, put either Differin Balancing moisturizer or Vanicream Light lotion on damp skin, let that set/dry, and then I put on a layer of differin gel all over. After a minute or so I dab either PC 2.5% Benzoyl peroxide, or 10% BENZOYL peroxide Persagel. I far prefer the 10% as my face is a frigging mess of breakouts at the moment. I can tell its getting better though, which is at least a relief from the annoyance of getting wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and acne at the same time.

Using this makes my usual chemical sunscreens burn a little, but I still use them because I tried switching to FOUR different mineral sunscreens and they all caused me breakouts and some burned my face (Neostrata, Neutrogena, Clinique, Paulas Choice), setting me back in the improvements I was seeing with the aid of differin gel.

I plan on sticking with this for at least 3 months. Hopefully this works.

7 of 8 people found this helpful.

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