Can You Use Differin with Retinol Products?

Can You Use Differin with Retinol Products?

By now you are all aware of how much we love retinol and the plethora of benefits it has on the skin. But there is another ingredient you may or may not have heard of before and that’s differin. This is an ingredient that has gained a well-deserved, adoring fan club, from skincare users to skincare experts. Differin is one of the most potent forms of retinoid, with it being available by prescription only formulations. You understand that this ingredient packs a bit of a punch and is used to target all manner of skin concerns, from cystic acne to body acne.

So, you may be thinking, surely using differin and retinol will make a powerful duo that will work on improving skin clarity and reducing any signs of premature ageing, from fine lines and wrinkles to loss of elasticity.

What is differin?

Differin in a form of retinoid that is formulated into prescription only products. With the fact it is one of the most potent retinol products it is always advisable to take your time when adding it into your evening routine. Here are some of the main benefits you can expect when using differin in your routine.

  • It is an effective ingredient to help prevent blemishes by combating the bacteria that causes breakouts.
  • Combats existing blemishes resulting in them becoming reduced and less frequent.
  • Potent anti-ageing ingredient that can increase the skin cell turnover revealing fresh, new skin underneath.
  • Has a slightly different chemical structure that other retinoids meaning it is known for being less irritating.
  • Works in the lower layers of the skin to boost collagen and elastin production.
  • Helps target hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone.

What is retinol?

Retinol is a form of vitamin A and is often found in over-the-counter formulations. Having said that it does come in a variety of strengths and can also be found in medical grade skincare products. The main difference between retinol and retinoid is the fact that the latter is only available through prescription only. Here are some examples of benefits you will see when using retinol.

  • Prevents fine lines and wrinkles developing and becoming more noticeable.
  • Brightens the overall complexion.
  • Targets any uneven texture giving you a smoother skin surface.
  • Regulates the skin helping it to reduce blemishes and breakouts
  • Fades hyperpigmentation, dark spots, sun damage, and age spots giving you an even looking complexion.
  • Works in the lower layers of the skin improving signs of skin sagging by boosting the collagen production.

What products should not be used with differin gel?

As effective as differin is, it is also known for not playing nicely with certain other skincare ingredients. The ingredients you should avoid using with differin are.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid
  • Beta Hydroxy Acids, such as salicylic acid
  • Astringent Toners and other drying agents

These are mainly chemical exfoliants which often work on the outer layers of the skin, with some penetrating further into the skin. By using exfoliating ingredients with a form of retinoid will be too much exfoliation and will lead to reactions, such as dry, irritated, flaking skin. To avoid these, it’s best to follow your differin product with hydrating formulations, particularly those that contain hyaluronic acid, niacinamide and other nourishing ingredients, such as vitamin E.

Can I use differin with retinol products?

Not really, mainly because retinol and differin are very similar ingredients. Both are a form of retinoid that just vary with the strength of potency. If you use both together with the idea of seeing quicker results, you may be surprised to find the opposite occurs. With both retinol and differin increasing the skin cell turnover your skin will become dry, uncomfortable, tight, red, with areas of flaky patches. It will also become stripped of the vital oil and water levels needed to keep the barrier at its healthiest state leading to it kick starting an over production of sebum (the natural oil found in the skin). This will result in a flare-up in breakouts and an imbalance in the skin making it oilier.

Is differin stronger than retinol?

Yes, it can be, this is because differin is a prescription only ingredient meaning its level of potency will be considerably higher than some retinol found in over-the-counter products. It is often considered best if you are wanting to start introducing a form of retinoid to your everyday skincare routine, that you can start with an OTC or medical grade product containing a percentage of 0.5%. Once your skin has built some tolerance you will then be able to increase the percentage. It is important to remember that no matter which formula you choose to add to your regime, you must introduce it slowly and in the correct way to avoid any excessive irritation and flare-up to the skin.

Can I use differin if I don’t have acne?

Yes, you can. Although differin is highly effective at combating blemishes, this is not the only benefit of using differin on the face. With its ability to increase skin cell turnover you will find it is able to reduce any signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles. It is also able to combat uneven skin tone and fade age spots, acne scarring, hyperpigmentation, and sun damage. Those are just a couple of examples of the benefits of using differin, bearing in mind that you must use it as instructed and only apply it to the skin once a day during your evening routine. Applying it more than once a day will not increase the chances of seeing faster results but will lead to irritation and negative reactions.

Is retinoid and retinol the same?

They are similar, the main difference is the fact that retinoids are often found in prescription products as they tend to be more potent. As for retinol, this is thought to be a weaker version and formulas are found in over-the-counter products. Just a word of caution, whichever form you decide to use, ensure you have consulted with your GP or dermatologist to find the best product you and your skin will love. If you are wanting to find out more about whether retinoid and retinol are the same, check out our dedicated blog post.

I hope that has answered some of your questions about using differin and retinol products together, don’t forget if you have any questions come and find us on Instagram.


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