Here's What Differin Gel Can And Can't Do For Your Skin

If you suffer from acne, you've probably tried everything from benzoyl peroxide to salicylic acid, but there's one hero product that stands out from the rest as an acne treatment — Differin. This treatment can be a lifesaver if you're acne-prone, and there's even an over-the-counter version available to purchase (per Differin). 

Differin is the brand name of the compound adapalene, via Medicine Net. Like retinol, adapalene is a topical retinoid, which is a type of compound derived from vitamin A and meant to be applied on the skin (via Bustle). All retinoids promote cell regeneration, but Differin differs from retinol as it's considerably more potent and is targeted as an acne treatment (per Differin). Initially, Differin was only available as a prescription, but now the company offers a weaker version of their adapalene gel at the drugstore. 

If you're wondering what sets Differin apart from other retinoids, then keep reading our guide as to what Differin can and can't do.

Differin can be a powerhouse product for acne

Adapalene works specifically to target acne by deterring the buildup of dead skin cells, which can cause clogged pores while alleviating redness and irritation (per The Cut and Healthline). As Dermatologist Rachel Maiman explained to Bustle, "Adapalene has potent anti-inflammatory effects independent of its activity on cellular turnover." According to Differin, when compared to retinol, adapalene penetrates the pores deeper to combat acne at its source.

While it's only FDA-approved as an acne treatment, some dermatologists say Differin can have anti-aging effects. Dermatologist Mohiba Tareen told Today, "Differin is a fantastic anti-aging product as it stimulates collagen production by cells in our dermis (the deeper layer of the skin). This is what helps with fine lines and overall skin thickness." She added, "It exfoliates the surface of the skin cells to prevent the brown spots and mottled pigmentation that contribute to an aged appearance." However, Dermatologist Brooke Jeffy says to "Reach for adapalene if acne is your primary concern and retinol for more of the anti-aging benefits" (via Bustle).

Precautions to consider when using Differin Gel

Differin states that unlike several other acne treatments, the gel should not be used as a spot treatment. So even if you have pimples in select spots, you have to apply Differin all over the face. And while Differin will help clear acne, it mainly works to prevent acne. Also, it's supposed to be used as a nightly treatment, even on days when you don't have acne.

Those with mild-to-moderate cases of acne can expect to see visible signs of improvement. However, Differin is not recommended for those with severe acne. The company suggests consulting with a dermatologist for treatments targeted toward severe acne. According to Mayo Clinic, Differin may cause irritation if you have eczema or seborrheic dermatitis.

When using Differin, it's especially important to remember to apply a generous amount of sunscreen during the day (via Differin). Differin can also be drying to the skin, so make sure to apply rich moisturizers while using the product. If you have dry skin, Today recommends the "sandwich method," in which you apply a light moisturizer before Differin and then a richer moisturizer afterward. You should also avoid combining retinol with AHAs and BHAs, as that can result in over-exfoliation of the skin (via Differin). 

Overall, the benefits of Differin outweigh any drawbacks. So if you want to get rid of that dreaded maskne, Differin just may be the best solution for you.