You should use Differin gel before moisturizer to treat acne in your skincare routine.
However, if you have sensitive skin, you can apply a a thin layer moisturizer before you apply Differin gel to reduce skin irritation. Then, apply moisturizer again after applying Differin.
This method is known as the “Sandwich Method”. Studies show moisturizer increases acne treatment adherence because helps reduce irritation as your skin adapts to Differin gel.
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about how to apply Differin gel.
Differin Gel Overview
Differin gel is a dermatologist recommended retinoid also known as adapalene. It is the only FDA approved retinoid that is available over the counter.
Benefits of Differin Gel
Topical retinoids like Differin gel are great for:
Clearing up clogged pores
Increasing skin cell turnover
Differin gel, also known as the retinoid adapalene, is a great acne treatment addition to your nightly skincare routine. Plus, it’s available over the counter and can be used on your entire face for reduced acne benefits.
Who is Differin gel good for?
Differin is stronger than other acne treatments you can find other counter. Therefore, this prescription fighting retinoid is not a spot treatment and works best for mild to moderate acne.
However, if you have severe acne, you’re better off seeing a dermatologist for a prescription for tretinoin.
Do I use Differin gel before or after moisturizer?
You should use Differin gel before moisturizer just like other topical acne medications. By applying moisturizer, you will reduce your chances of skin flaking or skin irritation.
This is especially important for people with dry skin, dehydrated skin, or sensitive skin.
When you use a moisturizer, you replenish your skin’s natural texture with fatty acids and help lock in moisture to keep your skin hydrated.
Good moisturizing skin care products also help fight new acne and prevent future breakouts by controlling excess oil production.
How to Use Differin Gel
Differin gel is a powerful OTC active ingredient and effective acne treatment. Here’s how to use it safely:
Wash your face with a gentle cleanser
Apply a pea sized amount of Differin gel
Wait a few minutes for the Differin gel to absorb
Moisturize your entire face with the best moisturizer to use with Differin
Both La Roche Posay and Differin make versions of adapalene.
How to Apply Differin
If you’re new to skin care with prescription retinoids or have a sensitive skin type, you’ll want to apply Differin to dry skin.
However, if you want to increase the potency of your Differin gel, you can apply it to damp skin (not exactly wet skin).
Apply a pea sized amount in a thin layer over your entire face. Remember, Differin gel is not a spot treatment.
Caution with Differin Gel
Make sure you’re wearing sunscreen during the day to protect yourself from excess sun exposure. An active ingredient like a retinoid will increase your photosensitity to UV light, so you’re most likely to burn quickly.
Remember, a tinted moisturizer will not replace sunscreen.
Alternatives to Differin Gel
There are both prescription and over the counter alternatives to Differin gel, including:
Retin A: prescription strength retinoid
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs)
Beta hydroxy acids (BHAs)
Retin A, also known as tretinoin, is used to treat acne approved by the FDA. It can also:
Turn over dead skin cells
Fight fine lines and wrinkles
Even out skin tone and skin texture
If your primary concern is aging skin instead of acne, tretinoin is a better option for your skin than adapalene.
While it’s a phenomenal anti-aging ingredient to add to your skincare routine, you unfortunately cannot get it over the counter. However, it will leave you glowing!
AHAs, like glycolic acids, are great skincare products for evening out skin’s texture and fighting acne. Plus you can get AHAs over the counter!
And yes, you have to use a moisturizer afterwards.
BHAs (Salicylic Acid)
A good BHA skincare product like a salicylic acid toner can clear up acne causing clogs and prevent acne in just a few weeks. You do have to use a moisturizer afterwards too though!
You can also find an exfoliating cleanser with BHAs like the CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser as an alternative to a gentle cleanser.
Benzoyl peroxide is one of my favorite acne treatments. However, it can be quite drying, so you have to use a moisturizer with BP.
Start with something more gentle, like 2.5% BP instead of 10% though.
Frequently Asked Questions
You use Differin gel before moisturizer.
Yes, you can put moisturizer over Differin.
Retinoids are an effective treatment, but they don’t work immediately. You’re likely to see results in a few weeks up to 3 months.
To avoid skin irritation, you really should use a moisturizer after Differin gel.