This Drugstore Gel Is the Only Skincare Product That Keeps My Acne Under Control

It's less than $15.

Welcome to Game Changers, a weekly series in which we reveal the holy-grail beauty products we’re loving now—the ones that saved our hair, cleared our skin, and, in some way, changed our lives.

My love for the Differin Adapalene Gel is unparalleled. I’ve written about the drugstore acne treatment for years and recommend it to anyone who will listen. Some people even think Differin sponsors me to promote this. (For the record, the brand doesn’t, but I am open to all opportunities.)

I’ve had acne ever since I hit puberty, and despite having tried hundreds of products over the years (yes, hundreds), there has yet to be a product that gives me clear skin like this does. So if you’re like me and constantly battling to keep breakouts in check, this is the product for you. Here’s why.   

1. Adapalene is an FDA-approved topical retinoid. 

The hero ingredient in this acne treatment is adapalene, which is an FDA-approved retinoid to treat breakouts. “Adapalene has been shown to normalize skin cell turnover to allow for decreased comedone formation, reduced clogging of pores, and increased exfoliation,” says dermatologist Y. Claire Chang, M.D. “Retinoids like adapalene also have anti-inflammatory properties to suppress the underlying inflammatory response stimulated by ruptured follicles and P. acnes.”

2. The Differin Adapalene Gel treats all types of acne. 

differin adapalene gel review

Shop it! $14.99,

Dr. Chang says this acne treatment can be used for both non-inflammatory acne, like blackheads and whiteheads, and inflammatory ones, like papules and cysts. This is why adapalene stands out from other known acne-fighting ingredients that usually only treat one or two types of blemishes. 

“For example, salicylic acid helps to remove dead skin cells to reduce comedone formation, while topical antibiotics are more apt at treating inflammatory lesions,” she says. “Adapalene is synergistic, so it can be combined with other acne medications for increased efficacy.”

3. All you need is a thin layer of the Differin Adapalene Gel across your face to see results.

The product has a thin consistency that doesn’t feel heavy, it easily seeps into my skin, and it’s effective. I notice that the size and redness of even my deepest pimples decrease after a couple of days. Many people use it as a spot treatment, but I like to apply it all over my face since I’ve found that it smooths out my skin’s texture.

However, Dr. Chang says that adapalene can be drying, so if you don’t want your skin to lose moisture, you should avoid using it with other drying ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs), and benzoyl peroxide. She also says that people with sensitive skin should use this gel every other day until their skin adjusts to it. 

I cannot recommend this product enough. If you’re looking for a low-cost acne treatment that really works, I’d suggest trying the Differin Adapalene Gel. Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

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