The difference is clear.

Differin® Gel has the first active ingredient in the over-the-counter acne category in over 30 years: adapalene 0.1%.

This is a first. As the only advancement in over-the-counter acne treatment ingredients for over three decades, Differin Gel for clearing and preventing acne also represents a milestone for adult acne sufferers. It contains the first FDA-approved, prescription-strength, retinoid acne treatment available without a prescription.

All Differin products: Differin Daily Deep Cleanser, Differin Gentle Cleanser, Differin Gel, Differin Soothing Moisturizer, Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30

of young adults with acne wish they could find an acne medication that really works1


of young adults with acne believe prescription acne medications work better than non-prescription medications1

Those with acne want a different approach — we call it the Differin approach. Unlike a spot treatment that’s used only when needed, Differin Gel works when applied to the entire face once daily, to help prevent breakouts before they start. For the best experience, it should be used as part of a daily skincare routine of powerful-yet-gentle products, including a Gentle Cleanser, a Soothing Moisturizer and an Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30.

But that’s not all that makes Differin so...different.

Adapalene uniquely provides treatment benefits that are ideal for adult skin.2

Differin Gel, which contains adapalene, is shown in studies to have superior tolerability compared to other prescription retinoid products not containing adapalene.

Adapalene has a unique mechanism of action. Retinoids are believed to be beneficial because of their ability to affect the various proliferative and inflammatory mediators involved in acne. Retinoids act through retinoid acid receptors (RARs) to regulate the proliferation and differentiation of epidermal cells that are critical to acne pathogenesis.

It’s no wonder that adapalene has been prescribed by
dermatologists to over 40 million people globally.

Adapalene is an innovative retinoid that makes a real difference.3

Adapalene, the topical retinoid contained in Differin Gel, has a unique chemical structure with treatment benefits for adults suffering from acne.

Differin Gel (adapalene 0.1%): Adapalene chemical structure

Retinoids in the past, such as tretinoin, showed molecular instability when exposed to factors such as daylight.2 The incorporation of naphthoic acid aromatic rings provides adapalene with stability to both light and oxygen.2,4

Benefits of adapalene include:

Regulating skin cell turnover to keep pores from clogging
Acting as an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce acne redness and swelling at the source
Restoring skin tone and texture by clearing acne

In five original pivotal studies, adapalene was shown to provide treatment benefits ideal for adult skin:

  • Proven efficacy3
  • Safe and well-tolerated2,3
  • Minimal cutaneous irritation compared to tretinoin2,3
A dermatologist’s perspective

How is adapalene different from other retinoids?

Retinoids, such as adapalene...are ready to go once you put them on the skin.
Dr. Adam Friedman


Are there any side effects?

Differin Gel is a safe and effective treatment. It has superior tolerability compared to other retinoid acne formulations not containing adapalene. Common side effects include dryness, redness, irritation and burning/stinging. These symptoms usually peak at the 2- to 4-week mark before subsiding.

Differin Gel should not be used in conjunction with products containing alpha hydroxy, salicylic or glycol acids, which may worsen irritation. Irritation may occur if using more than one topical acne product at a time.

See more FAQ
  1. Multi-sponsor Surveys, Inc. 2016 Gallup Study of the Market for Acne Products Among Young Adults. Accessed 12/15/17.
  2. Czernielewski J, Michel S, Bouclier M, Baker M, Hensby C. Adapalene biochemistry and the evolution of a new topical retinoid for treatment of acne. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2001;15(suppl 3):5-12.
  3. Data on file. Galderma Laboratories, L.P.
  4. Weiss JS, Shavin JS. Adapalene for the treatment of acne vulgaris. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998;39(2, pt 3):S50-S54.