Acne Products

Differin Gel 101: What You Need to Know

If you’ve ever dabbled in the acne products market, you’ve probably heard of Differin Gel.

I started applying this daily since December 1st, 2019 and will continue using it for a full 12 weeks to see if it actually works as an acne clearing product.

Naturally, I’ve done some research on it and wanted to share what I’ve learned. Hopefully these basics help guide anyone looking for some quick, well-researched info on Differin Gel.

What is Differin Gel?

Differin Gel is a prescription strength acne treatment that contains the retinoid adapalene.

Adapalene, specifically, has been proven to be less prone to irritation while maintaining high efficacy [1].

Since it was first introduced to the market, this product was only available to consumers by prescription only.

On April 15th, 2016, the FDA approved Differin Gel for over-the-counter availability.

What are retinoids?

A retinoid is basically a vitamin A-based formula.

Retinoids are known for their ability to facilitate cell turnover [2], anti-wrinkle properties [3], and of course, acne/inflammatory healing properties [4].

Differin Gel / Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment
Differin Gel / Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

Differin succinctly describes the benefits of cell turnover best:

“Regulating skin cell turnover to a normal rate helps to keep the pores from clogging and target acne before it even starts.” –

Anti-wrinkle properties of retinoids promote keratinocytes proliferation. Keratinocytes are skin cells (epidermal cells) that product keratin. And keratin is a protective protein that makes up hair, skin, and nails.

What is retinization?

Retinization is basically a period of time where the skin experiences irritation that may come in the form of redness, inflammation, dryness, scaling, burning/stinging, and acne purging.

Differin states that this process lessens at around the four week mark of continuous once-daily use.

However, during my research of Differin users on social forums, this period has lasted for several months before they saw any acne clearing benefits.

How should I apply Differin Gel?

Differin recommends applying their gel once daily, preferably in the evening, to the entire face. However, if applying the gel in the morning, then wear sunscreen. The reason for this is because retinoids increase skin sensitivity to the sun, making skin more vulnerable to skin damage.

It’s also worth noting that Differin should be applied even after your acne has cleared. The continuous application of this gel maintains cell turnover, keeping pores from clogging and developing into acne.

Can I use Differin Gel as a spot treatment product?

Differin does not recommend to using product as a spot treatment.

The heart of Differin’s magical acne powers is that it penetrates the root cause of acne before it even forms.

So, while there are products that are useful in targeting more superficial or surface acne, this is not one of them.

About the Author

Hey there, I’m Connor – the author of this site. I’ve been battling acne from my teenage years all the way up to early adulthood. I created this site to share my experiences and what I’ve learned in an effort to helps others combat acne. You can read more about my story on the About page.

2 replies on “Differin Gel 101: What You Need to Know”

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