Differin Gel

Differin Gel

Describe the brand in three words.

Over the counter (in the US)! FINALLY.

Who is it for?

Everyone over the age of 12, especially acne sufferers and people concerned with the signs of aging.

What’s in it?

Adapalene .3%, carbomer 940, edetate disodium, methylparaben, poloxamer 182, propylene glycol, purified water and sodium hydroxide. May contain hydrochloric acid to adjust pH.

What's not in it?

oil (including mineral oil, which is wonderful as I always get spots when I use Ketrel!) fragrance alcohol

Possibly acne/allergy/troubling for some ingredients?


Suitable for pregnancy/breastfeeding?


Natural? Organic? Man made? Vegan?

Man-made/vegan (albeit inadvertently, and see below)

Tested on animals in home country/EU/sold in territories that require testing?

As this was a drug it must have been tested at some point, otherwise no.

How does it smell?


How do you use it?

Apply a thin layer all over the face after cleansing, either morning or evening. Follow with your usual routine, whether that's moisturiser/spf or evening treatments i.e. oils You may see some retinization during the first four weeks of use. Redness, increased dryness, sensitivity, scaling and burning or stinging is all normal. It should disappear after a month or so. Some people get no reaction whatsoever, luck of the draw. Or luck of the genes.. I had a moderate reaction, it wasn't uncomfortable and I found no need to discontinue use. Once you're through the initial period, you continue usage. This is a permanent product, not a temporary fix.

Can it be taken around the eyes?

Orbital bone

Best for winter or summer?

Either. You use it year-round. It's stable in sunlight.

How long did I test it for? 

6 weeks.

How much is it? /Size/Approximate cost per usage?

0.5ozs/$13.99 1.6ozs/$29.99

Works well with?

Anything hydrating on top if you are particularly dry. And don't forget your SPF. While it's photostable and will continue to work well in daylight, you still need to protect the newer skin and the work it does against pigmentation. Don't waste it. Note: I personally would not buy into the other products in the range. They've obviously been quickly added in the hope that you will click both and triple your purchase, and while the moisturiser isn't awful, the cleanser's ingredients list is horrific, and neither are necessary for the Differin Gel to do its job. Step away.

Does not work well with?

Acids. During retinization, just alternate when you use acids and Differin. If I apply Differin in the morning, I may use P50 etc in the evenings. Similarly, Differin in the evenings means any acid in the mornings. I have used acids with Differin, but only on occasion and if I feel really 'dirty' when cleansing, if that makes sense. For example, if I have been out in the West End all day and am wearing more makeup than RuPaul. I throw everything at that face.

What’s the website like?

Good. Informative. Answers lots of questions.

How’s the distribution? Available freely or limited?

In the USA, everywhere: Where to buy (swines) Everywhere else: you're going to have to import it (if you can, I have yet to find anywhere that will ship )

What’s good about it?

Where to start? Prescribed for years for acne, Differin was made OTC last year and became available earlier this year in the US. You may have previously had to pay private prescription prices for this, now it's 30 bucks. So bearing that joyous news in mind, what does it actually do?

Adapalene is a type of retinoid, but importantly, it's stable when exposed to light and air, meaning you can use it during the day and it's not as irritating as tretinoin and tazarotene. Normal over the counter Vitamin A products need to be applied to the skin, where they are then broken down by your body, converted to retinoic acid and then they start to work. Adapalene is already broken down and ready to go when you apply it. A little like eating fruit. Most over the counter retinols are like bananas still in their skin, that once applied, your body will break down and the skin is removed. Adapalene is a banana that is peeled and presented to you on a plate with a knife and fork. :) It works in the pore by regulating cell turnover, something askew in acne sufferers.

For aging skins, the trials are still out as to just how effective it is at aiding wrinkles, but it's generally agreed that it helps smooth and retexture the skin, although you'd be advised to go hardcore prescription tretinoin (Ketrel and above) for real anti-aging results on wrinkles. Differin has shown to be effective on melasma, and the fact that you can use it while you're pregnant and feeding is obviously a real bonus. Having said all of that, this is definitely worth having in your kit if: You have acne, regular hormonal breakouts, whiteheads, blackheads etc Your skin is showing signs of aging such as rough texture, unevenness, and mild-heavier lines. You have pigmentation issues. How effective the Differin will be on truly aging skins remains to be seen, but non-acnaic users of Differin seem to be converted. And I'm one of them.

What’s not so good about it?

Honestly very little. Unless you know you are allergic to any of the ingredients, there is really no reason not to have this in your arsenal. If you are exceptionally dry or suffer from eczema, I'd buy a small one, patch test it and definitely use something moisturising afterwards.

Would I purchase/repurchase?

Every time I go the US yes. I bought four tubes in LA. We had to scour drugstores for it as it literally came out the week I arrived and was still arriving in stores. The pharmacist in CVS argued with me and said "That's prescription-only you GD ridiculously stupid English woman.' (I'm paraphrasing). Needless to say I found it in the aisles, waved them in his face smiling like a crazy English woman, bought the last remaining two and then dragged Steph to Walgreens for more. Not that she needed persuading to continue shopping..

Do you need it?

Yes. Honestly it's a no-brainer. If I was a retail brand selling Vitamin A products, I'd be worried about sales. For people already on prescriptions for acne, only if it saves you money for the same product.

Similar products?

No. I could list a load of other retinoid products, but they're not the same. Differin has the monopoly.

Differin is available now in sizes: 0.5ozs/$13.99 and 1.6ozs/$29.99 from Differin/Shop


*I am expecting a lot of specific questions about Differin and its uses, so please read all the comments before you type, as it may have been previously addressed.

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