Topical Retinoid
1910 Reviews
Topical Retinoid
Based on All Available Studies
Strength of Evidence
Topical Retinoid
Side Effects
Topical Retinoid’s Real World Take
This topical retinoid medication provides partial relief at higher prescription dosages, but don’t look for complete clearing. Relatively affordable and comes with less side effects than tretinoin, the other affordable topical retinoid. As a bonus, it improves the look of skin and reduces fine lines and wrinkles a bit too.
Topical Retinoid
How to Get It
Adapalene is available in strengths up to 0.3% by prescription. Have a dermatologist? Make an appointment to get this medication. Don't have a dermatologist? See The American Academy of Dermatology Physician Database to find one. Adapalene is also available over-the-counter in 0.1% strength. Here are some places you can find it online.
Read All About Adapalene
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Used Adapalene? Rate It:

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April 10, 2018
Cleared my hormonal acne, almost completely
I had typical acne in different spots on my face throughout my teenage years, but then I turned 20 and my whole face broke out and just got worse and worse and hurt and seemingly nothing worked. I was forced to go from never wearing makeup to learning how to cover extremely textured skin, that didnt really look better anyways. I finally got around to seeing a dermatologist and she told me the same thing everyone else would tell me, that it was a hormonal issue and nothing was going to fix my problem besides going to see an ob/gyn and getting on birth control. However, she told me to get this cream off of amazon in the mean time. I felt hopeful because it was recommended by a professional and not just that guy on the corner who never had bad skin but thinks he knows how to clear it up. Also, she told me it used to be perscription-only. So i tried it. First month and a half- I didnt see too much improvement. Month and a half to 2nd and a half month (she told me it would take awhile to kick in and I still felt hopeful because it was professionally recommended)- my face broke out worse than it had in a long time and I was feeling hopeless and ready to give up. Around the 3 1/2-4th month my skin was completely cleared up. Those little tiny bumps that make your skin look awful but never become full zits or go away, they were gone. Nothing was left besides my scars, but, with a little makeup, i felt 100% better and so much more confident. Now, it has been about 8 months since I started this. I only break out around that time of the month, and when I do, its only one or two moderate break outs. I am so thankful for this product and the dermatologist that recommended it to me, especially because i probably wouldve never run into it otherwise. Definitely check it out
April 9, 2018
My differin experience
I started using differin in july 2017 I had pretty bad acne. After trying everything with no results I decided to try differin at first I didn't see any results and after reading alot allot of reviews about sticking with it I decided to. It wasn't until i added the differin sensitive benzoyl peroxide wash and there moisturizer that my face started clearing up I also started taking just regular hair skin and nail vitamins. And my face is clear of breakouts 8 months later. I still get some minor breakouts around my time of month but they go away by the time its over. My acne type is extremely stubborn with sensitive skin and any face wash while using differin burned my skin even there ph wash. I defiantly recommend differin if differin itself doesn't work try adding in there benzoyl peroxide wash(it's formulated for differin user with sensitive skin) and there moisturizer.
March 19, 2018
hey guys :)) please take the time to read! i am a teenager and I have been using diferin for six months now. i can remember going on this site and feeling like it did not help anybody, everybody seemed to be having the same issues that I had- my acne was worse than it had ever been. :( no, I would probably not recommend starting diferin if your acne is not that bad to begin with, because it will get a lot worse during the "purging" phase. but if you are already using it, my advice is stick with it!! it will get better!!!!! in fact, i do not have a single pimple on my face right now (but I still have redness left from the treatment). if you already have the bad acne, just stick it out I know it is so hard and it can be so embarassing but no one pays as much attention to your skin as you do ❤❤ you got this guys! another recommendation, make sure you moisturize so it does not over dry your skin, as that produces more acne. hope this helped
March 14, 2018
Differin is a NIGHTMARE.
Differin is a NIGHTMARE. I knew it would make my skin worse at first, but it never got better. Improvement in 8-12 weeks? Hardly. I finally gave up after 20. 20 weeks of suffering all for NOTHING. My face is worse than it ever was in 56 years. I'm sorry I didn't quit it sooner. It's been a month since I stopped and my face is still a mess. Previously, I only had a few pimples here and there, but this stuff has destroyed my skin. When others tell you "Be patient!" don't listen. Just because it worked for them doesn't mean it will work for you. Don't suffer and hide in your house for 5+ months like I've had to. Huge pimples, clusters of them, and peeling so badly, my face bleeds. And makeup only makes it worse. Best advice I can give is DON'T USE THIS or you will regret it.
February 13, 2018
Didn't do anything... :(
I've used it daily at night for two months. I have inflammed, red pimples that are scattered near my temples and both of my cheeks, and I dab a small amount on the affected areas. After two months, I'd have scars from pimples I got 2-3 weeks ago. Some new ones always pops up, and I can never prevent them from coming up. I can't say that the Differin did anything to my skin though--it didn't speed up the healing process, nor make my acne bad. I'm still going to keep using it, to see what will happen in maybe 6 or so months.
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1 user(s) found this helpful

March 14, 2018
March 14, 2018
January 21, 2018
Not worth it
Works good by increasing skin turnover but has far more sideeffects rather than benefits. Still recovering from redness and bad texture of skin.
January 21, 2018
My daughter has very bad acne. Her doctor told us about this product. We ran out to buy it. Followed the instructions. She has a rash on her face that's so bad and hurts it made her cry. Some teenagers have esteem issues with their bad skin but to add a rash on top of it. What's a mom to do when she's crying so because her face hurts and it feels like it's on fire.
January 31, 2018
This is a reaction the product itself, you probably used more than was needed. I was 15 when I started using this (17 now), and the results are incredible with long term use. Use less next time, less than a pea sized about. This isn't meant to be used on the entire face, just localized spots with acne.
February 9, 2018
Judging from your description, it sounds like your daughter had a chemical burn. I'm not sure if she was prescribed the .1% (the highest percentage) as is listed here, but she absolutely should not have been given such a high prescription. I completely understand your concern and unhappiness with the product, but I would suggest changing dermatologists. Again, I don't have the full story. But she should have been prescribed the lowest percentage--.01%--and given instructions to only use a dime sized amount mixed with a gentle moisturizer every other night on dry skin. I'm not sure what other products your daughter may be using, but it's also important not to use other intense products with Adapalene (no vitamin c, glycolic acid, salicylic acid).
January 9, 2018
No lo hagan. Tenía acné leve/moderado y al comenzar con esto empecé a tener acné quistico nodular. Espere los 3 meses pensando que era una purga y habia que ser paciente (dice que las primeras semanas puede haber exacerbación) pero cada vez peor. Me quedo el rostro lleno de manchas, acne quistico horrible :( Ahora tengo que arrancar tratamiento con accutane para ver si puedo mejorar el desastre que me dejo en la cara. No lo recomiendo para nada :(
December 27, 2017
Be Patient and Consistent!
I have been using Adapalene (0.1%) since the beginning of July. It has been a very SLOW AND GRADUAL Process. It is December, 2017, and I am now finally seeing and feeling the results. You must follow the directions. Apply a tiny amount, do not Slather this all over your face. I have had NO problems with drying or severe redness. I apply this every night, and I have super sensitive skin. I use a Clinique Moisturizer (yellow formula) right after I wash my face at night. Wait about 10-15 minutes, then apply the Adapalene. This will help tremendously. I am tolerating this very well, so I might request to increase it to the higher concentration if I ever go back to the Derm. You can also apply benzoyl peroxide (2.5%) with this or in the morning. If you add benzoyl peroxide to it, you have essentially created "epiduo." I occasionally apply benzoyl peroxide in the morning if I see something new. Hope this helps someone, HANG IN THERE!
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5 user(s) found this helpful

December 24, 2017
Useless product
Been using every night for 3 months and have seen NO improvements at all. My skin in used to the product and now has no reaction to it and never irritated my skin.
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2 user(s) found this helpful


Finding a Doctor

The right dermatologist can make a big difference to your patient experience and the success of your acne treatment plan. Here are the steps to find a dermatologist who is a good fit:

  1. Use the search feature on the American Academy of Dermatology website to look for board-certified dermatologists in your area, and filter the search results for doctors with a special interest in treating acne.
  2. Read online patient reviews of any dermatologists you are considering and ask people you know whether they have any experience with these dermatologists.
  3. Do your research and go to your first appointment with questions prepared.
  4. Listen to what your gut feeling tells you once you see a dermatologist in person. If you are not completely comfortable, try a different dermatologist.

Finding a Doctor

Only a select few plastic surgeons specialize in acne scar revision surgery. Be certain to find a provider who specializes in acne scar repair and who is passionate and experienced in this area.

Be sure to:

  • Look at before and after photos, the more the better, especially patients with similar scarring to your own.
  • Be realistic about results. Look for improvement, not a cure.

Questions to ask a potential scar revision specialist:

  • Are you board certified? Be certain that they are board certified.
  • How long have you been performing these procedures? Normally, the more experience the better, however, some younger surgeons may be more on top of the latest procedures.
  • Can I speak to some of your other patients? Ask for references for several patients who had similar scarring and speak to them about the process and their satisfaction with results.

Red flags:

  • Their story changes: As you discuss different treatment options, if they tend to change their mind easily, or agree with whatever you say, consider this a red flag. A confident, experienced surgeon will possess strong, unwavering opinions.
  • Your gut tells you "no": Trust your gut. If you just don't feel that the doctor is the right fit, trust that and move on. On the other hand, if you feel they are the perfect specialist for you, trust that feeling.