Differin Review

Differin is a topical acne medication available only by prescription.  It’s also known by the generic name adapalene and is prescribed more often than any other topical acne treatment.  Differin’s active ingredient works “under the skin’s surface at the source” of your acne problem and is proven to “get deep into pores” to clear existing acne and prevent new acne from forming.

Differin is available in three forms – a cream and two different strength gels – depending on your personal needs.  Your dermatologist will help you decide on the best Differin for you.  The result of clearer, healthier skin should be seen within 8-12 weeks after beginning treatment with Differin.

Company Information

Differin was developed by Galderma Laboratories, L.P.  This company venture began in 1981 as a joint effort by Nestle and L’oreal.  In addition to Differin, Galderma markets “innovative, therapeutic, corrective, and aesthetic solutions that meet the needs of dermatology patients and physicians.”  Galderma recognizes that “skin conditions reach much deeper than the skin itself,” and they strive to help people improve the quality of their lives.

Based on Fort Worth, Texas, USA, Galderma Laboratories has been a Better Business Bureau Accredited Business since 2003 and received a BBB grade of A+.  In the last 36 months, the BBB has received only one consumer complaint regarding Galderma.

Product Specifications

All forms of Differin are packaged in 45 gram tubes.  Differin should be applied in a thin layer over affected areas each evening just before bed.

Differin Gel 0.1% contains 1mg of the active ingredient adapalene in each gram of gel.  Differin Cream 0.1% contains the same amount of adapalene and is intended for those with sensitive skin.  Differin Gel 0.3% contains 3mg adapalene per gram of gel.  The remaining ingredients in each formula are a blend of pharmaceutical compounds including sodium hydroxide.

The active medicine in each form of Differin is adapalene, a “chemically stable, retinoid-like compound.”  Differin’s website gives technical medical information about adapalene, but in laymen’s terms, it works at the cellular level to aid skin’s renewal and reduce inflammation.

According to the package insert that comes with each Differen prescription, adapalene is absorbed through the skin at a very low rate.  Even after “chronic topical application” of Differin, those in a clinical study were found to have just trace amounts of adapalene in their systems.

Side effects of Differin include erythema (redness), scaling, dryness, pruritus (itching), and burning.  These symptoms are said to occur in 10-40% of patients using Differin acne treatment.  Itching and burning immediately after application of Differin “occurs in approximately 20% of patients.”  Less frequent side effects include skin irritation, burning/stinging, erythema, sunburn, and acne flares.  These are more common during the first month of treatment and normally “decrease in frequency and severity thereafter.”

Differin’s package insert, which may be read in its entirety on the online site, gives some warnings about using Differin.  Because it is a strong pharmaceutical drug, Differin may cause local skin irritation if used along with a product that contains sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid.  Differin should not be applied to sunburned skin, and care should be taken during sun exposure.  Sunscreen and protective clothing is recommended over any part of the body where Differin has been applied.  The acne medication should not be applied during pregnancy, and you should stop using Differin if you plan to become pregnant.

Where to Buy Differin

Differin is only available from a pharmacist with a physician’s prescription.  Since it a potent medication with potential side effects, you should enver try to buy Differin without a prescription.


The cost of Differin can be quite affordable if you have medical insurance.  Without insurance, the cost will be over $100 per tube.  Whether you have insurance or not, you can receive a $35 rebate on the purchase of 0.3% Differin Gel.  See the official Differin website for complete details.

Return Policy

Like all prescription medications, Differin may not be returned after purchase.


When talking about the pros and cons of Differin, it’s logical to start with the potential side effects mentioned above.  The list of problems that can be caused by Differin is lengthy, but many people want to try it to see if it will really work for them.  Those who have experienced some of these side effects give the acne treatment low ratings, yet often, Differin does work well to clear moderate to severe acne.

I found a number of reviews saying that Differin “doesn’t prevent future acne.”  Many users write that, while Differin dries up existing acne, new pimples continue to form.  Others write that it is “very slow to work” and that acne worsens before it gets better.  This is a common side effect of an acne medication pulling toxins and bacteria out of the skin.  It can actually be a sign that the product is working and doing its job.

Because it’s a reputable prescription medicine, Differin doesn’t normally get accused of being a scam treatment, but is it really good?  For those who persevere through the ‘initial breakout’ stage and any unpleasant side effects, the result of using Differin is usually a clearer, healthier complexion.  As one Acne.org review states, Differin “Makes my skin as close to perfect as it has ever been!”