Differin Gel Review

About Differin Gel

Differin Gel Review

Differin Gel is an over-the-counter medicinal treatment targeting acne at the cellular level to eliminate it more effectively.

Featured in magazines like Allure and Brides, Differin Gel is an FDA-approved approach to treating acne-prone skin. In this Differin Gel review, we’ll take a look at the brand’s products, ratings, and promotions to see if the brand lives up to the hype.

Overview of Differin Gel

Differin Gel Review

Established in 1981 and headquartered in Switzerland, Galderma is an umbrella company that makes many skincare brands like Differin, and is now owned by a group of private investors. 

With their special formulation approved by the FDA since 2016, the brand has been operating for almost 20 years in creating products for teens and adults with acne-prone skin. 

Of course, even with their long history, there are always pros and cons to any skincare product and brand, so we’ll take an in-depth look to provide some transparency around what they have to offer.


  • Inexpensive 
  • Available at retailers like Target, Amazon, CVS Pharmacy, and Walmart 
  • Membership program for exclusive news, promotions
  • Dermatologist recommended 
  • Available without prescription 
  • Coupons available to use at any retail store or website selling Differin Gel products 


  • Doesn’t sell or ship products through website directly 
  • Prices not listed on site unless checking out through a retailer 
  • Designed for adults and young adults only 
  • Side effects may occur with as a result of usage
  • Not ideal for anyone with sensitive skin
  • Full ingredient list not available to view online 
Differin Gel Review

Acne is one of the most common problems people face on a daily basis. And teenagers aren’t the only ones who have to bear the brunt of those nasty spots! Unfortunately, adult acne has become more universal as time goes on. But Differin Gel sets itself apart with their formulation so we’ll go deep into how it might work for you. 

Differin Gel Review

The first of its kind to be approved by the FDA for the past 5 years, the brand boasts a one-of-a-kind formulation where the special ingredient is adapalene. But what is that exactly? This Differin Gel review will try to simplify the terminology so you can understand how it works.

Designed for your skin, adapalene is a retinoid which is a chemical compound derived from vitamin A and regulates cell growth. It should come as no surprise that most Differin Gel products contain adapalene as its primary ingredient.

More importantly, retinoids are generally the key ingredient in many acne products, especially prescription treatments. Differin Gel receiving FDA approval for their formulation means it’s safe to use without a doctor or dermatologist’s prescription. 

Differin Gel products also don’t contain fragrance and are non-comedogenic. In simple terms, comedogenic measures whether the active ingredients have the likelihood to clog your pores. Since Differin Gel is non-comedogenic, the ingredients won’t interfere with the necessary processes to heal acne. This is crucial especially if you suffer from cystic acne. 

Let’s look at a few bestsellers, breaking down the ingredients and abilities behind each product.

Differin Gel Review

It’s the original product that put the company on the map, even winning Allure’s seal of approval. Although not explicitly stated, Differin Gel is essentially a moisturizer that’s applied after cleansing, but it can also be used as a spot treatment to tackle the odd pimple here and there. 

As an acne treatment with 0.1% adapalene gel, it helps prevent the appearance of blemishes, whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. The retinoid also works to protect against outside factors and will help restore the skin, improving texture and create a more balanced tone. 

The active ingredient in the formula is adapalene, with inactive ingredients to create the gel-like consistency and preservatives like parabens to extend shelf life. If you’ve used other acne treatments, you might have noticed a certain percentage of harsher ingredients which tends to sting or burn the face. Even at 0.1%, adapalene is extremely strong so peeling may happen. 

If you are thinking about purchasing Differin Gel as an acne treatment you have two options: 

  • Tube (15g which lasts about a month)
  • Pump (45g which lasts about three months)

And though you aren’t able to purchase Differin through the brand’s website directly, you can purchase it at different retailers:

If you want to purchase the tube, it will cost: 

  • Target: $12
  • Walgreens: $16
  • Amazon: $15
  • CVS: $11

Or if you’re interested in purchasing the pump, it will cost:

  • Target: $32
  • Walgreens: $35 (this is currently sold out online)
  • Amazon: $28
  • CVS: $20

Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel Review

If Differin Gel is meant to be a daily moisturizer and spot treatment for acne skin, then the Differin Resurfacing Scar Gel is a post acne treatment to help with scarring and any blemishes that may appear once the pimples have reduced.

Once acne begins to lessen and slowly disappear, you might notice there are issues with skin texture and unevenness at first touch. That’s when the Resurfacing Scar Gel comes in.

This Differin gel review found the key ingredients in this miracle resurfacing gel to be seaberry oil, to soothe irritated skin; kollaren, a peptide needed for firmer skin; and bakuchiol, which helps bring new skin to the surface. 

Unlike the original gel meant for everyday, the Resurfacing Scar Gel contains peptides as its leading ingredient. Peptides are amino acids that make up collagen and elastin for your skin. If you want smooth skin after banishing your breakouts, then you need to incorporate products with peptides into your daily skin routine. 

The major downside of this product is it only comes in a 1 fl oz option that could easily be finished within 2 weeks, if used on a daily basis. You’ll be going through tubes of this quite frequently in the long term if your skin takes longer to heal and rejuvenate.

As you can’t purchase off of Differin’s website, there are retailers you can buy from instead:

  • Target: $20 (currently out of stock online)
  • CVS: $23
  • Walmart: $20 (currently out of stock online)

Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum Review

Serums contain active ingredients that are essential for skin brightening or, in this case, the reduction of blemishes. With its high concentration and absorption rate, they’re the perfect middle step after cleansing and before moisturizing. 

If you’ve been picking at your blemishes (don’t!), you’ll most likely end up with dark spots and scars. The Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum is a post-acne treatment that addresses dark spots and hyperpigmentation that occurs due to acne. 

This serum’s primary active ingredient is niacinamide, and has 4% of the compound in the gel. Niacinamide aids in lightening those pesky spots that just won’t leave! The other main ingredient is sea buckthorn berry oil which helps calm the skin down. The unfortunate thing about this gel is the size. At 1 fl oz, it won’t last you long, especially for those really stubborn scars. 

Since the texture of the Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum is a gel, it’s much lighter and suggested for day and night. This Differin Gel review suggests doing a patch test on your arm is recommended before using it on your face.

You can find the Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum at the following retailers:

  • Target: $19
  • Walgreens: $23 (currently out of stock online)
  • CVS: $25
  • Walmart: $19 (currently out of stock online)

Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30 Review

Hot weather and oily skin tend to not be the best of friends. If you find your shiny skin is even signaling ships to port, then the Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30 might just be the answer to your problems.  

Sunscreens or moisturizers with SPF tend to cause more problems, aka more breakouts, while trying to protect you from UVA/UVB damage. Sounds like a big headache, right? Well, this moisturizer with SPF 30 will make sure your skin is guarded without clogging pores in the process. 

Although this is a gel formula, the finish is matte. Shine, begone! On top of that, the oleosome technology the Differin gel moisturizer uses does two things: there is little irritation and it provides you with much-needed moisture. 

To purchase the Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer, you can find it at the following retailers:

  • Target: $10 (currently out of stock online)
  • Walgreens: $13
  • Amazon: $10
  • CVS: $14
  • Walmart: $10

Differin Soothing Moisturizer Review

For anyone who suffers from the drying ingredients in acne treatments, especially the strong elements in the Differin Gel, the brand has heard your cries of help! If you typically have dry or sensitive skin, perhaps the Differin Soothing Moisturizer might be the balm for your problems. 

This 4 fl oz moisturizer can be used alongside Differin Gel to help prevent the dryness that typically occurs or on its own. Its balanced pH level means the chemical components of this moisturizer won’t leave you with that intense burning sensation, unlike a lot of other acne treatments.

No core ingredient is mentioned but the brand lists the product as formulated without adapalene, lanolin, and salicylic acid. In addition to this, the Soothing Moisturizer isn’t listed as free from fragrance so if you have any allergies, then it would be best to consult a dermatologist for further information before trying.

The Differin Soothing moisturizer is available at the following retailers online:

  • Target: $9
  • Walgreens: $10
  • Amazon: $9

Who Is Differin Gel For? 

Differin Gel Review

Differin Gel is to be used by young adults, from 12 years old and up. If you’re unsure whether to start using Differin Gel, you can also approach your doctor, pharmacist, or dermatologist if you’re unsure whether their products can help your skin.

Comparison: Differin Gel vs. Dermatix

Differin Gel Review

Now that we’ve gone through the bestselling products for Differin, this Differin Gel review will take a look at one of their competitors: Dermatix. 

Dermatix, like Differin, is a gel-based treatment but is designed to target scarring, especially those formed from surgery, a result of physical trauma, and burns.

Though the two gels are identical in terms of texture, Dermatix isn’t necessarily used for the face alone. It’s a treatment for the whole body since it does not treat acne. If you consult a dermatologist for acne scarring, then Dermatrix may be able to combat it but it will not address acne prone issues.

Also, Dermatix is much pricier than Differin for the same 15g. The latter is roughly $10 for the original Differin Gel while Dermatix sells for $28 on Amazon.  

This Differin Gel review also found it hard to locate readily available retailers that stock Dermatix. In our opinion, Differin Gel is a much more accessible product. 

Differin Gel Reviews: What Do Customers Think?

Differin Gel Review

There are quite a lot of product reviews and customer feedback on Differin. With a 4.5/5 rating out of nearly 41,000 reviews, it’s an understatement that people are loving the brand’s products. 

The Amazon reviews are detailed, with customers sharing their skin journey with the brand. One customer writes, Differin has worked wonders for my hormonal acne I developed in my thirties. And it did take 12 weeks to really show a difference.” 

Another customer notes that her results were delayed but she persistently used Differin Gel in order to clear her acne, “After 30 years of cystic acne, this finally healed my skin…. It was drying me out like crazy so I gave up after using it for 1 month. My dermatologist told me to trust the process and push through the purge… now I’m ready to move to a higher %.”

One important thing about the product is a lot of buyers have recommended the Differin Gel be applied while your face is dry, and secondly, that it works best at night without environmental interference, makeup, or other facial products. 

This Differin Gel review always states that if you’re considering trying this product, it’s best to speak to your doctor or dermatologist to make sure it’s recommended for your skin. 

Is Differin Gel Worth It?

Differin Gel Review

There are significant improvements seen in the before and after photos featured on the brand’s website and photos by happy customers. However, many of those who saw a change and considered Differin Gel as a solution to acne mostly had the aid and guidance of a specialist.

Given the pricing for the brand, it is easily accessible for anyone who is currently dealing with acne or scarring from previous breakouts. Differin Gel is slated as an over-the-counter non-prescription treatment and is definitely worth a try.

Again, any skincare product is a choice but the side effects or reactions will vary so it’s best to proceed with caution and approach a dermatologist before using.

Differin Gel Promotions & Discounts 

Differin Gel Review

Differin Gel provides clipped coupons to be used at retailers when purchasing their products. The retailers themselves are free to add any eligible discounts or promotions of their own on any Differin Gel products so feel free to browse and settle on the best deal. 

Where to Buy Differin Gel

Differin Gel Review

Differin Gel is available at:

  • Amazon
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Walgreens


Differin Gel Review

Where is Differin Gel made? 

Differin Gel is produced and distributed by Galderma Laboratories in Fort Worth, TX.

What does Differin Gel do?

Differin Gel is meant to reduce and treat acne prone skin. The brand formulates products for post-acne skincare as well in order to eliminate scarring and hyperpigmentation.

Is Differin Gel only for your face? 

Yes, Differin Gel is specifically designed for the face but is also coming out with body care products as well, in a separate category of its own. 

How quickly does Differin work?

Differin products are stated to take effect immediately and results should occur within 2 weeks. However, this is also dependent on the individual, the severity of their acne, and how their skin reacts to Differin. It could even take up to a maximum of 12 weeks so results vary. 

The brand itself has also stated that in a clinical study, patients reported up to an 87% decrease in acne after 12 weeks of consistent use. All of the products listed within this Differin Gel review are meant for daily use. 

How do I use Differin Gel? 

As previously mentioned in this Differin Gel review, the gel is meant to be the third step of your skincare routine if you stick to the holy trinity of cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. If you incorporate the Dark Spot Correcting Serum or even the Soothing Moisturizer also mentioned, then your regime is going to be slightly different.

What can you not mix with Differin Gel? 

Vitamin C and glycolic acid should not be mixed with Differin Gel. Both ingredients are active and have the same tendency to dry out the skin due to their exfoliating properties. It’s best to avoid them unless you want your skin to resemble the Sahara desert! 

What is Differin Gel’s Shipping Policy?

Shipping policies are subject to the policies of the individual retailers and partners that sell Differin Gel products. As mentioned previously in this Differin Gel review, the brand does not allow purchases from their site or ship products direct to customers. 

What is Differin Gel’s Return Policy?

Return policies are subject to the policies of the individual retailers and partners that sell Differin Gel products. Again, the brand itself does not sell their goods through their website or ship products directly. 

How to Contact Differin Gel

There are two methods to contact Differin Gel (available for US residents only):

  1. Online contact form
  2. Phone: 1-866-735-4137 

You can only contact them by phone between 8 am and 5 pm CST. 

We know how important your skins health is, so explore your options for skincare with these top brands:

La Prairie

Erno Laszlo


Versed Skincare

NuFACE Skincare

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