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:

Choose from 1 to 5 stars
May 28, 2023
Ruined skin barrier
I used Differin 0.1% (sandwich method, pea-sized amount) and it ruined my skin barrier. My skin was extremely dry and painful and it did not help my acne.
This Was Helpful

1 user(s) found this helpful

September 20, 2018
Week 8 using Differin-still purging
My skin has never been even close to as horrendous as it is currently, on week 8 of using Differin gel. Derm told me to push through a few more weeks, as it should start to improve any day now. But my current review of Differin is that it's the worst thing ever and has ruined my entire face and skin. Hopefully, that changes soon.
This Was Helpful

1 user(s) found this helpful

August 29, 2018
Im allergic to it. Meh
Didnt work for me. Broke out in hives and scratchy neck even though I didnt apply it there. Apparently Im allergic to differin. Time to change derms again...
June 30, 2018
Psychosis, dry eyes, closure bone plates
Title says it all, don't use any Vitamin A derived products when there's other alternatives out there (e.g. benzoylperoxide). I took this for 2-3 years during my adolescence and my body feels as if I've taken accutane.
May 31, 2018
Did nothing
Didn't help me at all :( Was even on it for 6 months.
May 23, 2018
Very emotional
Before I started Differin I had moderate acne on my forehead . I tried everything !! Nothing worked! My dermatologist decided to prescribe me differin. My first week of differin , I was breaking out. I thought that was normal because it was a common side effect. But then every week it kept getting worse. I gave this gel 3 MONTHS and NOTHING HAS IMPROVED. It just made my skin worse.
May 17, 2018
Didn't Help Me :(
This didn't improve my acne, and I have oily skin. I wouldn't recommend this product to anyone. I used this for over 3+ months along with the other steps.
May 2, 2018
sadly doesn't work!
I have moderate acne around my t zone, mostly focused on my forehead and I was recommended this by my GP. I was given 3 months to use this product and if it didn't work I have to go back. Safe to say I've got another appointment booked! My skin had no change and has just progressively gotten worse :(
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.
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).

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.