3 Months on Differin: My Full Thoughts


 I decided to give differin a try after I heard it recommended so often for treating cystic, hormonal acne, especially for people who've tried other over the counter actives such as benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid without much luck which is exactly my situation. I've had acne since I was pretty young and severe, cystic, hormonal acne since I was about sixteen so over five years. It's definitely improved over the years but I still was breaking out on my cheeks everyone month in at least a few deep stubborn cysts and I really wanted to find a long term solution to treating my skin.

Differin is a retinoid so it works quite differently than other acne treatments. It works by adjusting the rate at which cell turnover occurs on your skin so that your pores are less likely to become clogged. Because of this, you have to use it daily and you have to use it all over your whole face (not as a spot treatment), and it takes time to see results. Retinoids can also cause what is known as retinization which is the period of time during which your skin is adjusting to the retinoid and people experience everything from an increase in breakouts, to dry skin and peeling, while some people don't experience side effects. Everyones skin is different and responds differently to actives. One of the coolest things about differin is is clinically proven to be effective for acne and was just recently made available over the counter. I picked my tube up at my local Wallgreens. 

Early in my experience with differin I definitely struggled through some of those effects of retinization. My acne didn't necessarily worsen but I did get a tremendous amount of peeling and dehydrated skin, especially around my mouth and eyes. My skin also became extremely sensitized during this time. I'd highly recommend early in your differin journey to just stick to a very simple routine and not use any other actives. Even now after a few months of use my skin does not respond well to combining differin with other actives, but more on that later. 

Differin has definitely made a huge difference in my acne. HUGE. Nothing has ever made such a big difference in my skin, actually. The main place where my breakouts occurred is on my right lower cheek. I have not broken out there since starting differin at all which is just mind blowing. I have broken out along my jaw line, my upper left cheek, and a bit around my eyebrows but until recently they have all been whiteheads that have disappeared quickly and not left a scar which is again amazing. I have recently gotten a couple of cysts on my upper lip and upper left cheek but I believe due to the location of them and the ingredients in a product that I'm using that it is a particular product and I've discontinued use of that product so we'll see. Overall though the difference in the frequency and severity of my breakouts is enough for me to consider this product a real winner. 

I will be continuing to use differin daily at night for a while longer, and only incorporating my other actives (AHA's, BHA's and vitamin C) during the day. For me, I always get a reaction when I use those other actives with differin and I don't want to reduce the frequency of differin because it's been so effective. I think my skin just in general doesn't respond as well to very frequent chemical exfoliation so I will probably incorporate those other actives 3-4 times a week, rather than pushing my skin and over exfoliating. I've also discontinued use of all physical exfoliants. My biggest next chapter in my skincare journey will be further figuring out how and when to incorporate these other actives and which work for me so expect future posts on that and I will also continue to update you on my differin journey as well!