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.
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October 5, 2020
No funcionó para mi

Durante julio comence un tratamiento contra el acné (leve a moderado), la dermatologa me recetó 100mg de doxicilina por día, y un tratamiento tópico de adapleno 0,1%, 3 veces por semanas.  Al principio sentía que si me estaba funcionando, de hecho redujo la inflamación de mis lesiones.  el primer mes me llene de granos gigantes, eran muy dolorosos y mi piel estaba muy sensible, pensé que estaba en la fase de purga, de la que la mayoría de las personas hablaban. sin importar seguí con el tratamiento y mi piel se puso aun peor. Ya en el segundo mes comence a tener dolores de estomago y se hicieron mas frecuentes, mi piel seguia igual, se supone que el tratamiento era por 3 meses, ya cumpli los tres meses pero no veo ninguna mejora, de hecho siento que me dejo peor mi piel en comparación a como estaba en el inicio. 

Es verdad que ya casi a los 3 meses mi rostro estaba mejor en comparación al mes 1 o el mes 2, pero siguen saliendome granos y tengo un montón de hiperpigmentación, de verdad solo usenlo si su acne ya es moderado a severo, porque a mi que tenía acné leve me empeoró el estado de mi piel. Ahora creo que empezaré el tratamiento con isotretionina, asi que espero que eso sea mucho mejor que este antiguo tratamiento 

January 13, 2020
Prefer the Epidue (Adapalene + BP) But not a cure

One of my worst IB on this product when I first tried it. I remember seeing nodules pop up not knowing about IB and was thinking what is going on. It's a really slow burner. I think you are best getting the one with benzoyl peroxide which will be more beneficial for your initial break out and if you clear then go back to the retinoid alone. Epiduo did clear my skins for around 6 months but it came back as it always does. After long use it will probably reduce acne as it keeps your skin turning over preventing blocked pores but depending on how sever your acne is it probably won't be a solution on its own. Retinoids are also great long term products to use as it promotes collagen growth and helps pigmentation etc so I would really like to re introduce but I am really scared of IB.

June 9, 2019
Takes Time

To get the main points out of the way, this product is best suited for light to moderate acne, and it takes many weeks to see improvement. This is kind of the "first defense" a derm will suggest if you're starting out seeking treatments, as it is generally well-tolerated and not too harsh (although there are some side effects). 

Time. Time is a huge factor. This is not like benzoyl peroxide as this product needs to be used consistently, preferably on a daily basis (at least for 6 weeks, then you can adjust). During that time, yes your skin MAY purge (see an increase in legions), but really it depends on your skin (my skin has always tolerated the product well enough to not go haywire when its being used but again, everybody is different) 

Another possible side effect, one that even my skin still battles with is the dryness. I think if you have thicker or non-dry skin you will probably be fine. But for those with a bit more on the sensitive brittle side you absolutely need a good sturdy moisturizer that goes on at night and during the day (in addition to hydrating from the inside). 

Ultimately, this product DOES help, and even if the acne itself doesnt go down 100% you will notice things like glowing skin and smoother skin (this product makes the dull layers shed). 

But alas, know that if youre going to give this a shot, you have to look at it in the long run, because things may get a bit worse in the beginning. And again, this is not a miracle treatment and it really is best for those with some light superficial acne types. 


December 29, 2018
Week 1 adapalene

I have clear skin during in my teens; however,  things fucked up when I reached my 20s. I have cyclic acne. When I say cyclic,  I get acne every one or 2 years and they seem to be getting stronger averytime they hit my face.  They are in the form of open and closed comodones,  but they appear in my entire face which is kinda bothering.  And I pick,  that's the main problem.  Can't help it. I'm currently hating myself right now.  After nine years of constant battle with acne,  here I am again, covered with blackheads and hyperpigmentations. I recently went to my dermatologist and she prescribed me with Klenzit-CMS.  Its .1 adapalene and 1% clindamycin.  This worked for me before; however,  I stopped using it thinking that I have finally outgrown my acne.  I was wrong. Anyway,  she also prescribed me with a toner called dermskin which is a salycilic acid toner and a soap which I prefer not to use because it contains coconut oil.  Coconut oil has a very bad reputation in clogging pores, so I'm very much afraid to use it.  

This is my routine:


 Papaya soap

Dermskin toner


Papaya Soap

Dermskin toner



Development so far:

Day 1: This is also the day after extraction so my face has a lot of scars which will eventually fade. I have a lot of blackheads and whiteheads,  and one under the skin pimple.  Hyperpigmentations due to picking are still very prominent. General feeling: very frustrated. 

Week 1: I noticed that my open and closed comodones increased,  maybe due to purging.  I popped two pimples which resulted to PIH. I know,  I hate my self for doing that.  I still have a lot of hyperpigmentation,  and there are 3 underthe skin pimples. One in my forehead and two in my left cheek.  Ican say that there is zero to little improvement but I'm optimistic because I believe that my skin is in the purging process. General feeling: still very frustrated. 


I'll be posting my weekly update. My second week will be on Jan 2. I'm hoping for the best. 

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
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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March 14, 2018
March 14, 2018
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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May 16, 2017
Its not bad
I used adapalene for about a month and honest opinions worked FINE. My acne did go away, but an occasional pimple showed up here and there. My scarring looked faded, but the problem is as soon as I stopped using this product, my face broke out, BUT not as bad as it did before. Therefore, good for temporary fixes and decrease of acne
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July 20, 2017
try using this product every other night over a moisturizer. i was recommended cerave daily moisturizer by a dermatologist and it works fantastic. it has ceramides in it that help rebuild the skin barrier function. people who suffer with acne have been shown to have weakened skin barrier function, allowing harmful bacteria to enter the pores and cause infection. without a healthy skin barrier, we are doomed for breakouts and inflammation.
January 12, 2017
On Week 7, Acne Much worse
Currently on my 7th week using this, my acne is much worse than before i started, i know its expected to get worse before it gets better, but i'm loosing motivation, going to give it another few weeks before i give up on it, even got a cyst on my face which I have never gotten before, really hoping i see a change in the next couple of weeks
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June 13, 2017
has it gotten any better since?
October 5, 2016
Okay guys hi!! So I am writing this regarding my experience to try and help anyone suffering with acne who has been prescribed differin by a doctor or derm. So, little background, I have tried almost everything under the sun, I have closed commodones, pustules, blackheads and bumps typically under the skin. Sometimes cystic acne as well, not just your usual whitehead above the skin due to oiliness or menstrual cycle what have you. I was prescribed differin by my dermatologist along with a oral medication at the time, it seemed that differin worked for a couple days and then old issues just came back and it really didn't do anything for me whatsoever. Really bummed considering I had JUST purchased the medication ( wasn't too expensive because most insurance covers a majority of the cost) but I had a full bottle left still. So, my boyfriend struggles with acne as well, nothing serious, he just has extremely oily skin which if he would just wash and moisturize regularly ( doesn't really care to, go figure) he would probably have perfect skin. One night, seeing me do all my 30 min skin care regimen he asked me to put something on his face to make his acne go away, I figured well sh*t I still have this full bottle of prescription acne medication ( I KNOW IT WASNT PRESCRIBED TO HIM AND THIS ISNT RECOMMENDED) but I wanted to do an experiment to see if this stuff actually works on any acne at all ( remember his isn't under the skin, not cystic) Just above the skin white heads easily extracted, I used this on him every night for a few days and his skin looks AMAZING!!! It really does work but IN MY OPINION only on the above the skin pimples, not people who suffer from cystic or a lot of bumps and blackheads. I really hope this helps someone as when I was prescribed I was looking for any info on whether or not this would work for me, thank you for reading!!!
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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.