When my dermatologist prescribed Differin gel aka Adapalene, I thought, “Awesome! I’ll just put this on my face, and ‘Voila’ — I would be acne free.” I was incredibly wrong!
After two nights of applying Adapalene on my face, I began to break-out with cystic acne, my skin became super sensitive, burned when I splashed my face with water, and the skin on my face began to peel. After experiencing these negative side effects, I did some research on the manufacturer’s website, WebMD, Google, Instagram, Youtube, etc. So, I want to share with you what I learned…
How does Differin Gel/Adapalene work?
Differin gel/adapalene is a type of synthetic retinoid. It is one of the mildest forms available. Retinoids help your skin slough off (or desquamate) dead skin cells at a more normal rate. Sloughing aka exfoliating your dead skin cells is beneficial in that the dead skin cells don’t bind together and clog your pores. When your pores aka oil ducts are clogged, you get acne! In general, retinoids, due to the sloughing off of your dead skin cells, have anti-acne and anti-aging benefits.
- USE AT NIGHTTIME. Only use the gel in the evening as part of your night time regimen.
- PEA-SIZE IS ALL YOU NEED. Use only a PEA-SIZE amount for your ENTIRE face. I like to squeeze out a pea-size onto my index finger, and then, lightly dab a little on both cheeks, chin, nose and forehead. Then, I spread it out evenly onto my face.
- START SLOWLY. Begin by using the gel every other night or every two nights for at least a week. Then, after a couple weeks, or when you skin starts to adapt, begin to slowly use it every night.
- AFTER APPLYING THE GEL, WAIT. Wait an hour after applying the gel to apply your serum and moisturizer. Generally, you are supposed to put on the gel as the first layer, before your serum or moisturizer. You are supposed to wait an hour so that the gel can be absorbed into the skin uninterrupted. However, if you have SENSITIVE skin, see number 5.
- BUFFER. Buffering allows the gel to work less aggressively. If your skin is extremely sensitive, you can put other layers of products to lessen the effects of the gel. For example, in my early weeks of using the gel, I liked to put on my evening facial serum, then my evening moisturizer, then gel. Note: Serums and moisturizers should be put on at least 20 minutes after washing your face. Washing your face disrupts the protective barriers on your skin, and so it is best to allow your face to return to status quo. Other ways to buffer: A) Mix the gel with your moisturizer or serum, and then, apply. B) If you put the gel on as your first layer, put the serum or moisturizer on right away instead of waiting an hour.
- PURGING IS A NORMAL SIDE-EFFECT. Worsening of your acne aka purging is normal, but if you want to minimize purging, start off using the gel slowly. If you do purge, don’t pick at your pimples!! Let nature do its course, even if it looks terrible!
- AVOID THE SUN AND SUNLAMPS. If you are going to be in the sun, use a high SPF broad spectrum sunscreen. I like to use Neutrogena Healthy Defense SPF 50+.
- NO WAXING. Avoid waxing in areas you use the gel, e.g. your entire face. Try threading instead 🙂
- AVOID HARSH TOPICALS. Avoid potentially irritating topical products, like medicated or abrasive soaps and cleansers and products with high concentrations of astringents or alcohol. For example, cleansers with tea tree oil should not be used in combination with Differin gel. Be careful when using other products containing sulfur, resorcinol, or salicylic acid. Unless your face has adapted to a particular retinoid, in this case, Differin gel, it is best to not use the gel in conjunction with salicylic acid, AHA, BHA, etc.
- DIFFERNIN GEL MAKES YOUR FACE SENSITIVE. Avoid extreme weather conditions, like high winds or extreme cold to minimize irritation.
- DON’T STOP USING! Once you see results, you must continue to use Differin gel in order to continue seeing results and avoid future breakout.
- BE PATIENT! It takes at least a couple months to start notice results.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Please let me know how Differin gel or adapalene worked for you!
Ms. Healthy Face