What is Differin? Differin is the registered name of an American gel product whose active ingredient is an adapalene (specifically 0.1%). Adapalenes are third generation retinoids, which are based on Vitamin A. Vitamin A has an effect on epithelial cell growth.
How does Differin work? It is different to a lot of other topical treatments as it goes very deep into the pores and regulates skin cell turnover. This reduces the number of spots that develop since cells can't build up in pores. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect, so you feel more comfortable during the day. It therefore clears up existing spots as well as prevents more acne.
How do you get and use Differin? It is one of the only over-the-counter retinoids, and used to clear mild-to-moderate acne. You should use it once day, usually before going to bed, and skipping days can set you back on the treatment regime. In the first weeks, you may see more redness and dryness due to the retinisation of your skin, which means your skin is just getting used to the gel. Weeks 6-10 are when the results should be appearing on your skin. The main side effect is sensitivity to direct sunlight.
This is an extra update 2 weeks after the milestone 'week 10' for Differin. I'm currently on a residential summer camp job so I'm spending time in the sun and am not in control of what I eat or the cleanliness of my bedsheets. Taking this into account, as well as the working hours and how much sleep I'm getting, I'm still quite happy with my skin. I'm glad I went on Differin because it took my skin from 10 to 4, which is massive progress. However, the final 4 to totally clear skin is bothering me.
Still, there are no cysts, or massive pustules which really irritate my skin or look terrible. It's just the remaining scars, small whiteheads and discolouration which make it look a lot worse than it actually is. However, I do not think Differin addresses this particularly, so I will have to look elsewhere for this solution.
On the whole, I am happy with my Differin results, but understand it may be hard for people to undergo the purging phase. Even I was faltering! However, as topical treatments go, I have to say it's minimal work for a very important result - to stop the worst kind of acne appearing and scarring my cheeks.
WEEK 10 (Sorry there was no Week 9, I was busy with my gradaution week!)
Expectations 1) This is the final week for the programme! CLEAR SKIN!
Reality 1) Alright, so I'm very happy with my results! It's not perfectly clear, but I wasn't expecting that since my acne was pretty bad. However, I haven't had cystic acne for the last few weeks (a MASSIVE plus), the only spots I have are small whiteheads, my skin is a lot smoother, clearer and only scars remain. Who would have thought it! During my purge phase, I was so worried and anxious about it clearing but here we are! My usual pre-menstrual acne outbreak hasn't come back either! What is this magic?
Expectations 1) My skin follows the post-6 week trajectory to clearing up! It's been said that 10 weeks is how many you need to have it work completely and we're nearing that so let's see.
Thoughts 1) Sometimes whiteheads pop up, but they are manageable and none cyst-like before treatment or during the purge phase. I can live with one a week I think, as that is an improvement. 2) A major improvement I've noticed is that irritating my skin (I admit it - I pick or push blackheads) does not seem to create new spots! This is good! 3) My face is 85% clear. Most spots are outgoing and the first new thing I've had in the last week arose yesterday. 4) I have been getting more sleep and seeing as my degree is basically done, so I also have no more stress. This could be helping for sure.
Hopes 1) Improvements? What? Who would have thought 5 weeks ago? Please let it continue!
Expectations 1) Okay we're getting into the home stretch for this cream - apparently after 6 weeks is when people are seeing results, so there had better be results!
Thoughts 1) For sure, I haven't had a round of breakouts this time. Just a few spots here and there which resolve themselves for the most part. The cheeks are much more inactive which is great! 2) Spots appear on my bottom lip and on my forehead which is unusual for my acne patterns. 3) From far away, my face looks a lot better, and even when you run your hands over my cheeks, they're a lot smoother which I love. 4) However, upon much closer inspection, there are plenty of scars and blackheads and those sorts of issues instead of inflammatory pimples. 5) This could be because my period has started so many hormonal spots have died down. I have also been to a national park these few days so perhaps the cleaner air has helped me out loads.
Hopes 1) Please keep up this trend! Even if it is a surface level cleaning rather than a full clean-out of my skin, that'd be better than acne continuing to break out!
Thoughts 1) I forgot my cleanser when I was visiting a friend for four days, and my acne really broke out like crazy. However, just before that, I was already on the verge of a big breakout all over my cheek and on my chin, new areas for my acne now. 2) As soon as I got back and used my cleanser and did my weekly exfoliation, it got much better. Much much better. However, the breakout area is larger than it usually is so that hurts. 3) In the evenings, I no longer moisturise before the Differin as it doesn't dry my skin out as much any more, and I want results. OVERALL - acne has died down but is on my jawline more which is not something it usually does.
Expectations 1) The cysts will die down in a cycle as before.
Thoughts 1) They haven't. There are at least 5 very deep skin cysts developing on my right cheek, as well as a few whiteheads (including on my nose crease) and one on my usually clear left cheek. 2) Once again, disproportionately on my right cheek! It's so hard to hide! 3) All my usual tricks to bring them down - exfoliate, rehydrate, blackhead remover serum, etc. haven't worked!
Hopes 1) Why aren't they clearing up? Why?? 2) Again, trying to count my blessings - at least the Differin doesn't itch or sting any more!
Expectations 1) Skin follows the trend from week 3 by smoothening up and clearing up. 2) I've switched cleansers because my last one run out. Hopefully this won't do anything?
Thoughts 1) The skin did not clear up. 2) In fact, it is much worse. 3) After everything from the last breakout died down, every single other pore decided it was their turn to act up. I've got loads of cysts not coming to heads and my cheeks are very bumpy. My right cheek has always been worse and now the difference is pretty disproportionate. I've never been one to hide my acne even if I really hated it, but now I feel very embarrassed to walk around with how much I've got. I've even been getting some on my forehead and chin as well, which is very rare! 4) The really bad cysts have died down after a few days (quicker than usual), but I have a lot of small whiteheads now as well.
HOWEVER 4) Differin does reduce redness and the irritation once I've put it on. When I wake up in the morning, my skin is really great but it's during the day that the irritation and cysts build up. 5) I feel like it has been clearing up the blackheads on my nose though - an effect I did not know it had. 6) I used the same Moisture Bomb mask from Garnier again this week in hopes to repeat last week's success but it has made very few improvements.
Hope 1) After reading and seeing that it may be up to week 10 that I may see some results, I guess I must just be patient. But this breakout is awful. 2) HELP.
Thoughts 1) After my PMS-induced outbreak, there has been nothing new coming up! Just one whitehead which is miraculous! 2) Running my fingers over my cheeks, I have to say the skin there is now predominantly smooth. There usually is a lot of bumpiness from nodules deep under the skin but now, it feels like skin on any part of my face! My left cheek is mainly cleared up, just some hyperpigmentation that's waiting to go away after the last outbreak. On the right side, I have two cysts/nodules dying out. The right side definitely has more comadones but it's also a lot smoother. 3) You can see a difference on my face, and I'm loving it! 4) Dryness has stayed away and my skin is back to its oily routine. Note: I did use a Garnier Moisture Bomb tissue mask in charcoal with a mattifying finish. I highly recommend it because the serum is so hydrating, it's taken care of any sallowness or peeling! One 15 min session is a week's worth of serum.
Hopes 1) This trend just keeps going and I eventually become totally clear!
Thoughts 1) My skin is basically back to its normal balance - no peeling or itchiness and stinging any more! 2) I had a second flare up of acne all over my cheeks after the first purge - this time, with a lot more nodules and whiteheads. Not ideal, but they went away a lot more quickly than they usually would. It could be because I'm pre-menstrual (I have acne outbreaks a week before my period). All the acne makes my face uncomfortably warm, sore and flaky, and it's exacerbated because I'm coming up to my final exams and I'm quite stressed for them which contributes to the flare up.
Hopes 1) I hope this cycle of purging and dying down eventually will come to an end.
Overall, the face looks even worse but I'm still optimistic!
Expectations 1) I knew there was burning/tingling/dryness to be expected. 2) Also, there may be some purging? 3) But I also knew these side effects would go away after a few weeks.
Thoughts 1) For the first week, my skin was very dry, peeled and was easily irritated (I have sensitive skin anyway). Not a surprise, but not entirely pleasant. Thankfully, it was not evident on my face and my moisturiser works well. I have not used the moisturiser whenever I feel tight however, because I don't want to block my pores. 2) The purging definitely happened. Nodules popped up all over my face, and whiteheads near my ears and on my chin. I wasn't too worried because it seemed to be a common effect and also, the spots popped up in places I've had spots before, so this was also a good sign that I wasn't reacting badly to it. A good piece of advice is: if you get pimples in areas you usually don't, then drop that product! 3) I'm holding on for this outburst of spots to go away now. It died down after the purge, but like a bad sequel, it has returned.
Hopes 1) Skin gets used to its new state of dryness! 2) Purge eventually stops! 3) Side effects really do go away!
Overall, the face looks worse but the soul feels optimistic!
Introduction + Past Experiences I picked this retinoid because it was something attainable through my pharmacy and I was quite desperate for results. I have been using salicylic acid for years and even though we had some good moments, it never cured me. There was a breakthrough when a friend suggested (seeing as I had recently moved to a much drier climate), my acne could be the result of dry skin and recommended me the moisturiser I'm using now. It definitely improved my skin's texture, but hasn't been an improvement on the acne. Acne has been a part of my life since I was thirteen, and it's mainly concentrated on my cheeks. I have all the types of acne scars, as well as some hyper-pigmentation, nodules, cysts and comedones, as well as blackheads on my nose. However, despite how self-conscious I can feel about my appearance (especially when everyone around me seems to have clear skin!) I have never used makeup to cover it up. I am apprehensive about the supposed purging phase that is to come but I'm usually too busy to think about it.
How I'm using Differin As instructed, I'm using it once a day before bedtime after thoroughly cleansing my face. It's important to clean your hands before and after application. I spread a thin layer all over my face, even in areas that I don't usually break out because I have read it is a preventative cream. I don't use it on the creases of my nose however, because after the first day, I realised the skin was too thin and the stinging was too great.
Current routine: Morning: 1) Wash my face with Avène Eau Thermale Cleanance cleansing gel 2) Moisturise with Avène Eau Thermale Intense Rehydrating Serum
Once a Week: 1) Neutrogena Visibly Clear Correct & Perfect Complexion Scrub to exfoliate 2) Avène Eau Thermale Cleanance Expert for Blackheads when I need it 3) Garnier Moisture Bomb Charcoal tissue mask