A top dermatologist answers all of our answers about Differin

By Jillian Ruffo
Updated December 20, 2016 05:59 PM
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Finding an acne medication that actually works is a challenge — and without a dermatologist on hand, the struggle can be even harder. But now, Differin Gel, a leading prescription acne medication, has become is available over-the-counter — and while it won’t be on shelves until January, you can already get it online at Walgreens.

According to a statement from Galderma, “This approval makes Differin Gel the first and only OTC acne product containing a full prescription-strength retinoid. It also marks the first new, FDA-approved active ingredient to be introduced to the OTC acne category in over three decades.”

Which means there’s a good chance ditching acne is about to get a lot easier. So in order to learn more, we tapped Manhattan dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe to fill us in on everything we need to know about the product. See her answers, below.

Who should use Differin?
Anyone 12 and up who suffers from mild to moderate acne.

What does it do?
Adapalene – the acne-fighting retinoid that Differin contains – treats redness and inflammation associated with acne and helps prevent pimples, blackheads, and clogged pores before they occur. “It will help regulate skin turnover to help keep pores from clogging, act as an anti-inflammatory to reduce redness and swelling and will restore skin tone and texture,” explains Dr. Bowe.

How should you use it?
She recommends applying it used once daily, on the entire face. “It’s best used after cleansing the skin with a mild, non-drying cleanser, and should be applied in a thin layer to a clean, dry face. You can then apply moisturizer and SPF. And It’s important to note that applying more than directed will not provide faster or better results, and it is recommended to continue the use of Differin Gel even after the skin looks clear to help prevent future breakouts.”

Is this formula the exact same as what used to be prescribed?
According to Dr. Bowe, yes. “To my knowledge, it’s the exact same medicine I used to prescribe in my office!”

Are you happy that Differin is available over-the-counter now?
“I used to prescribe this all the time for acne, and I think it’s so great that it’s the first time we have a prescription strength retinoid in an OTC,” she says.

Will you try it? Sound off below.