Experts say Differin dramatically improves acne, especially when combined with other topical treatments, namely benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Differin is a prescription-strength retinoid, which critics say causes milder side effects than other prescription treatments. Researchers say Differin is more tolerable than other retinoids, tretinoin (Retin-A, Renova) and tazarotene (Tazorac). All retinoids can cause mild side effects, such as burning, peeling and redness of skin, but experts agree that these effects tend to diminish with continued use. Reviewers say that while Differin is effective on all types of acne, those with mild cases may see similar results by simply using an over-the-counter treatment such as Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment (*Est. $7 for 2 oz.) or Proactiv Solution 3-Step System (*Est. $20).
We found the best reviews for Differin in various Dermatology Times articles, in which scientific studies are cited about the effectiveness of Differin and other retinoids. Paula Begoun also provides useful information on her website, CosmeticsCop.com, where she recommends Differin and other retinoids based on the science behind them. Good Housekeeping does not rate or compare products, but it does recommend various acne treatments for several different age groups. Reviews posted at Acne.org provide insight into consumer opinion.
1. Dermatology Times
This article cites a study that shows that topical retinoid adapalene gel 0.1 percent (Differin, Galderma) hastens the clearing of acne lesions when used in combination with one or more topical and/or oral treatments. The study involved nearly 2,000 patients and took place over a 12-week period.
Review: "Real-World" Acne Study Documents Benefit of Retinoid-Based Combo TX, Cheryl Guttman, June 2006
2. Dermatology Times
This article documents the results of a study that compared adapalene 0.1 percent, tazarotene 0.1 percent and a combination of the two retinoid treatments. While results show that there is no difference in effectiveness among the three treatments, adapalene proves to be the least irritating.
Review: Reaching for a Retinoid? Less May be More, Karen Donley-Hayes, April 2007
Paula Begoun cites scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of retinoids in the treatment of acne. She says the reactions of each patient will vary, and she points out that many patients tend to apply too much to their skin, which she says will not provide better or faster results but "will very likely cause more-pronounced side effects."
Review: Prescription Retinoids: Which One to Use?, Paula Begoun
4. Good Housekeeping
The editors of Good Housekeeping recommend prescription-strength retinoids for the treatment of adult acne, but they suggest that Retin-A may be too harsh for adult skin. They say women in their 30s suffer from hormonal breakouts but are less tolerant of harsh treatments. Editors suggest Differin cream as an alternative because it is less irritating.
Review: Beautiful Skin at Any Age, Editors of Good Housekeeping
Consumers posting to Acne.org claim that Differin is very effective at treating acne. While a handful did not see any results, the majority seem pleased. Some complain that it is on the expensive side and that it caused minor irritations, but most suggest that given enough time, the treatment is very effective at diminishing blemishes and scars caused by acne.
Review: Adapalene (Differin) Reviews, Contributors to Acne.org