Differin Gel isn’t like other over-the-counter acne treatments. So you shouldn’t try to use it in the same way. It’s a process that’s delightfully different.
Apply a thin layer of Differin all over your face once every day, whether you have just a few spots or a full-on breakout. Remember, this isn’t a spot treatment you only use when needed. Think of it like brushing your teeth: You don’t just brush the teeth with food in them — you brush them all. Every day. Because skipping days won't give you desired results. Make Differin Gel a part of your daily skincare routine for the best chance at clearing your acne.
Apply all over your face, not just on visible acne spots
Differin Gel goes to work deep in your pores, where acne starts
Some people may experience mild redness, dryness or irritation on the treated area. Don’t freak out. That’s just what dermatologists call retinization; it happens as your skin adapts to the treatment, and usually subsides after about four weeks. Differin Gel is still doing its job to reduce acne-causing clogs, so it’s important to keep using it daily. You may start to see a reduction in acne around the two-week mark, and some may even see results after one-week. Keep it up — it gets better.
Mild redness/irritation (retinization) may occur within the first four weeks
Differin Gel is working hard behind the scenes to unclog pores and clear acne
Switch to using every other day if you experience too much irritation when starting Differin Gel. If irritation becomes severe (overly bothersome), stop use and ask a doctor before using the product again
You should see a significant difference around the 12-week mark — clinical studies reported a nearly 60% acne reduction. Like any health regimen, skipping a day could lead to a setback. Continue using Differin Gel every day, even after your skin looks clearer, for increased reduction.
Acne is noticeably reduced, which leads to improvement of skin tone and texture
Continued daily use keeps pores clear and helps prevent breakouts
Things to watch for.
Most importantly, watch for positive results between week 2 and week 12. But before you achieve your best skin, you may experience a few mild side effects that subside after about week 4. Overall, Differin Gel has superior tolerability compared to topical prescription retinoid acne treatments that don’t contain adapalene. Common side effects include dryness, redness, irritation and burning/stinging. These symptoms usually peak at the 2- to 4-week mark before subsiding. Not everyone will experience these side effects, and in clinical studies, average scores were less than mild.
Tips for best results
Apply a thin layer of Differin Gel once every day all over your face — even when your face is clear — for long-term results
Use Differin Moisturizer and Cleanser to keep skin clean and hydrated
Don’t be discouraged by temporary retinization; it should subside after about week 4
It doesn’t happen to everyone, but it’s worth noting. Retinization is the adjustment period in which the skin becomes acclimated with adapalene, the retinoid in Differin Gel. During this time, skin may become red and irritated. Differin Balancing Moisturizer works to help relieve dryness.
Before you achieve your best skin, you may experience a few mild side effects that subside after about week 4.
Retinization typically begins to subside around week 4 of daily Differin Gel treatment. Whether or not you experience retinization, remember, Differin is still working to clear and prevent acne breakouts.
A dermatologist’s perspective
What is retinization?
Retinization occurs most frequently during the first part of treatment, when your skin is getting used to Differin Gel.
Dr. Adam Friedman
Differin Gel (adapalene 0.1%)
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