This $15 Retinol on Amazon Helped Even Out My Complexion, and I Can't Stop Buying It

Acne treatments aren’t the sexiest thing in the world to talk about — most people would rather check out a new mascara or fancy serum — but when one works as well as the Differin Gel Adapalene Acne Treatment, I can’t help but sing its praises from the rooftops. It’s affordable, it’s fast-acting, it’s easy to buy, and, most importantly, it works.

I started experiencing hormonal acne shortly after my 21st birthday. When I finally went to a dermatologist for help I was prescribed spironolactone (my savior) and prescription-grade retinol. The oral medication worked like a charm; the prescription-grade retinol, while it cleared up my acne, wrecked my face in other ways. I stuck with it for about a year before throwing the tube out and swearing off retinol entirely.

Then, I discovered the Differin Gel Adapalene Acne Treatment ($15). I kept seeing articles about it everywhere and industry friends couldn’t stop talking about its efficacy. Considering it was available for free two-day shipping with my Prime account on Amazon, I figured it was worth a try. That was a little over a year ago, and I haven’t stopped using it since.

I know you’ve probably heard beauty editors say it a million times, but: I rarely buy beauty products. However, there are a few rare occasions where I do whip out my credit card for a skin, body, hair, or makeup product. I gladly buy myself a refill of this Differin Gel every time I’m running low, which happens about every month and a half.

The Differin Adapalene Gel is very different from the prescription topical I was given. It’s much gentler, for starters. While I still went through an adjustment period as my skin got used to the powerful vitamin A derivative — which usually causes some purging, dryness, flakiness, or slight redness — it’s was much more tolerable for me. The gel texture is very lightweight and a little bit (about a pea-size) is easily blended onto the entire face.

Because my skin type is a combination of dry and oily but leans toward the drier side, I like to sandwich the gel between two hydrating products. After cleansing and toning, I apply a hyaluronic acid serum (right now I’m obsessed with the Dr. Zenovia Skincare Hyaluronic Acid + Peptide Serum ($72)), then I apply a thin layer of the adapalene gel. After the gel dries down, which occurs in a matter of seconds, I layer on a moisturizer (currently, I’m using the Dr. Barbara Sturm Super Anti-Aging Face Cream ($360)).

It only took about a month for my skin to get used to and now, I use it every night with zero irritation. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the Differin Acne Treatment and the Differin Acne Treatment alone cleared up my acne because that’s not the case — the spironolactone prescription had a large hand in that, but I can tell you the gel has helped brighten and even-out my complexion to the point that you can hardly tell I ever experienced those hormonal breakouts to begin with.


My Skin After Using the Differin Adapalene Acne Gel For Over a Year

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