Differin Acne Treatment Gel

Filtered by skin tone : Fair
 Differin Acne Treatment Gel

3.9

77 reviews

80% would repurchase

Package Quality: 4.0

Price: $$$

Package Quality: 4.0

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

Where to Buy



Start your review


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.



Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Red, Wavy, Fine

Eyes: Blue

Differin is a wild ride for sure. I used it when it was prescription many years ago, and at that time I had no real skincare routine other than washing my face to speak of, and on top of that I had no idea what the side effects were. It was a terrible experience, but it did clear my acne (in addition to drying my face out so badly that my skin occasionally cracked and bled.) I have continued to struggle with acne, and I am pretty much done with that BS now that I am in my 30s. Once I heard that Differin was becoming an OTC treatment I debated whether or not I'd give it another try since things that had previously been working well for me weren't anymore. I finally bought a small tube about three months ago and did a lot of research on how to prevent the nasty peeling and cracking while still getting an anti-acne benefit from this product. I learned through MUA and other avenues that buffering the gel by using something else underneath it helps to ease the irritation, especially on sensitive skin. I've also been piling on loads of additional moisture and using the gel on alternating nights up to about four times a week. It does still make my skin a little dry and peely, but nowhere nearly as bad as when I used it before. My acne still isn't 100% clear since I am neither using the product full strength directly on my skin and adding a ton of moisturizer/oil to help mitigate the intense dryness this causes, but I am definitely seeing an improvement in the texture of my skin, the appearance of deep pimples, and the healing time of existing pimples. It hasn't been a miracle, but again, I am not using it nearly as often as is recommended. The results are worth the time and the extra work, and I will continue using it this way until my acne has cleared sufficiently. Of course, your mileage may vary, but if you have sensitive skin and acne, I'd recommend this product if you do some research for buffering it and how to moisturize while still letting the product be effective.

2 of 2 people found this helpful.


Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Blond, Other, Other

Eyes: Blue

I was so excited to try this when it became over the counter. I try to buy it on sale or with a coupon which helps it to become reasonably priced for me. My skin had already been doing much better in the year prior to using differin but I do think this has helped clear the last 10% or so of my acne and helps to treat any pimples I get here and there. I use every other night and only experience dryness in the winter. I only wish this had a reputation for anti aging as well.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.


Age: 30-35

Skin: Combination, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Curly, Other

Eyes: Green

I have sensitive, combination skin with mild but stubborn acne, in my 30s. I'm so glad this is now available without a prescription. It's changed my skin dramatically for the better. I no longer need to use benzoyl peroxide, which is effective but drying. I've tried tretinoin (Retinin A) but my skin is just too sensitive.

A few tips:
* It will take a few weeks to see a result. Skin cycle time is about 6 weeks, plan on it. I saw results in 3 weeks.
* Apply immediately after cleansing to be most effective, unless you are trying to reduce irritation, in which case apply after moisturisers.
* As this is a retinol, your skin may purge. I didn't, possibly because I switched directly from BP.

6 of 6 people found this helpful.


Age: 36-43

Skin: Combination, Fair, Cool

Hair: Blond, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Green

I purchased this because I wanted to see if this would work for me instead of using retin a. I will say this works very well and on my skin is quite gentle. I have been using this for months daily at bedtime and am very happy with the results. My skin is clear and smooth. But I do still get hormonal spots that I sometimes have to use my retin a on. Reason being the Differin gel works but it's not as strong as retin a so it takes longer for spots to go away. I had a cluster of underground spots and it took months with the differin gel to finally clear it. In the end I did use some retin a to finally get rid of the acne spots I had. So I rated this 5 lippies because if you don't mind waiting and putting in the effort in time this does work.

But if you are still dealing with spots for quite a long time I find the retin a works better. Now granted one is now otc while the other is by RX. So I find now that I use them both but not at the same time. I use differin gel daily while I'll spot treat with the retin a when I have a spot that's taking forever to heal. The Differin gel though is an excellent product no doubt about it as both me and my sig other loves it. I use it on his spots too but he only needs it as a spot treatment. For me it comes down to speed and convenience if you have the patience to use this for the long haul it will work. But if you want speed and rapid exfoliation the retin a is the route to go.

I will continue to use differin gel everyday and that is the key with this you must stick with it. I find it very gentle and it's a great daily acne treatment. So to me this does work as long as I use this daily without fail. Also I do not peel at all with this whereas with the other I peel and that's something I really dislike. So for me I prefer the Differin but if I want anti aging use plus acne treatment the retin a is better hands down. So if you're looking for an acne treatment my advice with this is to just stick with it. Give it at least 8 solid weeks or longer. It does work and it does work well. Plus being able to get this otc I think is excellent and a great product for me. Also the fact that it's so gentle makes it a great product for my sensitive skin. Recommended.

8 of 8 people found this helpful.


on 7/30/2017 10:15:00 PM

Age: 56 & Over

Skin: Sensitive, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brown, Wavy, Medium

Eyes: Hazel

I'm 64, have struggled with mild but persistent adult acne for a long time, and can't believe I waited this long to try Differin. Okay, I did use my daughter's prescription tube a few years ago, but it was winter. I got too dry and irritated and it was a short-lived experiment. This time I started Differin in the summer, and my skin had no trouble at all adjusting to it. In fact, it's been a life saver in the summer, when I normally experience many more breakouts and clogged pores as a result of the heat and humidity. The other tip that seems to help is to wait thirty minutes after washing to apply it. I've been on it for about six weeks and am seeing big improvements. My skin tone is actually less red than it used to be.

I have written a lot of reviews over the years -- the mark of a never-satisfied customer with sensitive, acne prone skin! Differin has really helped me feel like I'm doing the right thing. I've streamlined my routine and don't feel the need to experiment with products like I used to. I'm sticking with it.

UPDATE: Another reviewer noted that this doesn't prevent acne caused by cosmetics, and that seems to be the gospel truth. For example, I seem to break out any time I try a product containing any kind of silicone -- which means all silky feeling foundations and sunscreen, etc. My hair is long, and I can't even get away with using conditioners containing silicone. I just went through an awful round of cosmetic-induced acne, and no, Differin is not magic enough to keep me clear under those conditions.

COLD WEATHER UPDATE: As the weather turned cold, I had to stop using this again. I'm too prone to redness and flushing. Had to do a round of La Solution 10, Chanel's insanely expensive basic moisturizer, to get back on track.

21 of 22 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.


Age: 30-35

Skin: Dry, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Other, Other

Eyes: Hazel

I first heard that Differin was available OTC a few months ago. I immediately knew I wanted to try it. I'm 32 and still struggle with a bit of acne, mainly hormonal acne, and most of the time, it seemed to be cystic. I've been using Differin for over a month now and I am SO happy I decided to give it a try. Within only a few days, I could tell it was helping to clear up my skin. I noticed a change in tone right away. I did deal with the itchy, dry skin for about a week and a half, but for me, it was manageable. I have had a few small pimples pop up, but again, they were small and went away fairly quickly. Usually every month, I get those huge cystic zits that seem to take FOREVER to go away. So far, so good!
I have noticed my pores look smaller, and when I do wear makeup, it goes on nicely. Admittedly, I can be pretty lazy when it comes to skincare, but I haven't missed a day cleansing my face and applying this gel. I prefer to use it right before bed, and it's been a nice easy addition to my routine. A little goes a long way! I bought the smaller tube (about $13.00) and there' still plenty left.
I will also add that along with this, I tend to use the Cerave line, and so far, the two lines work great with one another.

UPDATE 7-1-2017: I just wanted to update and say that after almost two months of using the Differin Gel, I still love it. I am STILL using the original tube (going on almost two months of daily application with one small tube). I will definitely purchase the larger tube next, as I don't see myself quitting this product. Also wanted to add that even during my mentrual cycle, which is usually when I struggle with the worst break-outs, I only had one small pimple that went away within a day or two. I've even been dealing with a ton of stress lately (also a huge trigger for break-outs), but my skin has been in great shape. When I ran out of the Cerave SA cleanser, I ran to grab more, but since the store was out, I picked up the Cerave Foaming Cleanser and that has been working well along with the Differin.
I will say that this product has also put me in a nice skincare routine. They say if you repeat something for 21 days, the habit will stick, and now I'm obsessed with washing my face and using this product. I never go to bed without cleansing my face and applying the gel, and again, like I said before, I had been fairly lazy about my skincare. Seeing the results from the Differin has made me change my ways. :)

15 of 15 people found this helpful.


Age: 18 & Under

Skin: Very Oily, Fair, Neutral

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

I have basically tried ever single acne treatment on the market, and this is the best thing I've ever used. The main ingredient, Adapalene, does wonders for my troublesome skin. It goes straight to the source and starts to get rid of it that way. I've used it for about 3-4 months now and the results are amazing. You can get a small tube of this at Walgreen's for $8 and it's worth every penny! You will experience some dryness when you first start using it, but it will go away eventually.

7 of 7 people found this helpful.


Age: 19-24

Skin: Dry, Fair, Not Sure

Hair: Brunette, Straight, Medium

Eyes: Brown

***UPDATE 12/14*** I have recently quit using Differin as I have found something that works better for me (The Ordinary Glycolic 7% and their AHA + BHA peel). I still think this is a fantastic option, but it didn't keep my breakouts at bay as much as what I'm using now does.

**Updated 7/17 to account for PM routine changes**

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 Kose's Softymo Speedy oil cleanser)
cleanse with Hada Labo Tokyo hydrating facial cleanser
wait about 10 minutes
apply pea size amount of Differin **EVERY OTHER DAY!** (on days that I don't use Differin, I apply the Kiku-Masamune High Moist Lotion)
wait at least 20 minutes
apply CeraVe's moisturizing cream AKA CeraVe in the tub, sometimes mixed with 2 drops of argan oil (I use the Trader Joe's brand)
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)
I also do sheet masks fairly frequently, but don't have any standout favorites. Whenever I use a sheet mask, I use it on a day I'm not using differin.

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. I have since quit using it every single night, and have switched to using it every other day, to help reduce dryness.

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.

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. 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 withou

30 of 31 people found this helpful.


Back to Top