Yes, I’m maintaining a dark spots logbook and the newest entry is Differin or officially, Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1%. While I had settled upon a dark spot elimination routine by using the products chronicled in a previous [post here], finding Differin has been such a ‘change agent’ moment. But before I share how it worked for me, here are the housekeeping bits that are important to note.
Differin received OTC (Over The Counter) status in the USA in 2016. The key ingredient is Adapalene, which is a retinoid that works to clear pores and reduce the formation of new acne.
Here’s the full ingredients list:
Active Ingredient: Adapalene 0.1% retinoid
Inactive Ingredients: Carbomer 940, edetate disodium, methylparaben, poloxamer 182, propylene glycol, purified water and sodium hydroxide. May contain hydrochloric acid to adjust pH.
Differin can be used by persons twelve years and older and should be applied at night. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should consult your physician before using. Your skin becomes more sun-sensitive while using Differin, so it’s important to use sunscreen consistently during the daytime.
How To Use:
Apply Differin on clean skin, in a thin layer all over the face but not the eye contour, then consider topping with your regular moisturiser if your skin is quite dry. You may also need to edit the number of products with acids or actives you may have been using or maybe give them a bit of break while using Differin. Or, alternate the days you use acid based products and Differin, but ideally, you should consider using it as your main corrector.
I decided to use Differin because I wanted to dramatically fade dark spots that had developed after a particularly intense and first-time cheek breakout. While I was seeing results from a routine I cobbled together to push back against the aftermath of that breakout episode, I wanted one product that would help me to cross the line into achieving clearer skin faster.
It took a couple of weeks before I began seeing changes in my skin that began with an increase in dryness. That was followed by waking up to areas of small white patches and some flaking referred to as retinization. But I was able to smooth over those areas by using my usual moisturiser. After about a month, the dark spots finally began breaking apart and the dry patches and flaking went away.
Added to that, the texture of my skin has improved, especially since the extra dryness has gone away.
Another thing to note in my experience is that I had a couple of new pimples appear on my jawline while using Differin. Chances are they were likely hormone related, but Differin shortened the time they stayed active and sped up the healing process. There was one granddaddy pimple that took a few beats longer to make an exit, but once it flattened out, it also faded quickly.
Now to Differin’s texture, which is a rapidly absorbing light gel. Plus, it’s fragrance-free and also oil free. It’s not advisable to apply excess amounts because over-applying won’t speed up healing. Differin is also not a spot treatment, so even when your skin clears it’s important to keep using it and applying it all over the face.
My makeup application was hardly affected but I still used a hydrating serum, SPF and primer in order to help my makeup go on better when I initially began using Differin. Now that my skin has adapted and improved, I can apply concealer and powder over my sunscreen and serum while skipping foundation if it’s a very casual day. Should you be considering Differin for anti-ageing purposes, it may be more advisable to seek out prescription retinol, but if acne or breakouts are more your concern, then Differin is a good place to start.
If like me you have a deeper skin tone, there are some acne/dark spot treatments that may not be advisable to use. But as Differin is a retinoid, dermatologists generally recommend this category of corrector for deeper skin tones.
The requirements to get Differin in other countries varies, so research the requirements for your location outside the USA. Plus, in some other countries, it is referred to as different names so certainly check with your dermatologist or local pharmacist to determine your options.
To conclude, I would absolutely recommend Differin if you need a straightforward, pharmaceutical grade dark spot corrector/acne fighter. I’ve seen dramatic improvements in my skin that may have taken longer to achieve with cosmetic items. In the US, Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% comes in two sizes, 0.5ozs which retails for less than 20USD and in 1.6ozs for around 30USD.
If you have cystic acne or acne that has not responded to typical anti-acne products, consider seeing a dermatologist first. Otherwise, if you decide to try Differin, it’s important to follow the instructions, wear SPF consistently and do a patch test first to determine your tolerance.