Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid With Differin? A Power Couple for Acne and Anti-aging

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If you love to mix and match, you’ll agree that your skin does not completely tolerate all combinations. For this reason, dermatologists recommend that you pair products like Differin with a moisturizing ingredient like hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid with Differin makes a good pair which helps to protect your skin from the drying effect of retinoids. Also, it enhances the delivery of both ingredients and yields remarkable results.

This duo works well to fight acne and as an anti-aging treatment. Ahead, this article details what Differin and hyaluronic acid do for your skin and how you can use them together to reap benefits.

What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do?

Hyaluronic acid is a readily available skincare ingredient that is very mild and tolerable for every skin type. Other skincare acids are exfoliating. Hyaluronic acid, on the other hand, is rather hydrating. It is a natural skin acid and as such rarely offends any skin type.

Hyaluronic acid helps your skin attract water molecules from the atmosphere to the outer layer of your skin. It retains moisture in the layers of your skin and plumps your skin on the outside.

Moreover, this natural acid creates an extra layer of protection over your skin to prevent trans epidermal water loss which can lead to dehydration and consequent skin scaling and the development of fine lines and wrinkles.

In addition, hyaluronic acid makes a good ingredient for an anti-aging routine. Whether as a topical treatment, oral treatment, or hyaluronic acid injection, it fills up the fine lines and wrinkles on your skin. As a result, your skin plumps back to youthfulness.

Hyaluronic acid helps in acne treatment too. It improves your natural barrier, preventing the penetration of irritants that may cause inflamed acne. As a moisture-replenishing ingredient, it helps to regulate oil levels and keep sebum production in check.

Naturally, it is very soothing, absorbs quickly into your skin, and gives your skin a dewy finish in split seconds after application.

What Does Differin Do?

Differin is an OTC treatment available as gels or foams. It contains adapalene, a retinoid, the only retinoid available in OTC prescription strength. Adapalene was first created to treat acne and its related problems.

Over time, its use has extended to treating signs of aging. Adapalene is more tolerable when compared to other retinoids like tretinoin, under the brand name Retin-A. And this tolerance range includes people with sensitive skin.

Furthermore, the topical application of Differin helps to unclog your pores and make acne management effective. It is known to address acne from the roots through its comedolytic action on your pores and the debris that clogs them.

Differin increases cell turnover, a process necessary for cell regeneration. When some cells are unable to shed and continue the regeneration process, this can lead to clogged pores and the onset of acne.

The topical application of Differin helps these cells to shed off and stimulate the regeneration of healthier cells. Consequently, it nips the acne-forming process in the bud and makes your skin inhabitable for bacteria growth.

Additionally, this cell regeneration process is good for improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. More so, it enhances collagen synthesis and promotes skin elasticity. Overall, it improves the texture and appearance of your skin.

Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid and Differin Together?

Yes, you can. Differin/adapalene can dry out your skin upon application. This is a common downside with retinoids. However, you can salvage your skin by introducing hyaluronic acid into your routine.

Although Differin is comparably milder when compared to other retinoids, it does not leave out the retinization process.

Retinization is the stage where your skin tries to adapt to retinoids. And this is preceded by redness, itching, dryness and sometimes purging with a rash or acne breakouts.

While your skin goes through this process, you must use a moisturizer like hyaluronic acid to lower the concentrations of adapalene and reduce the itching and redness.

Also, hyaluronic acid will increase the rate of penetration of adapalene while it makes it more tolerable for your skin. More so, it keeps your skin hydrated; a perfect condition for your skin to reap the benefits of skincare.

Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid With Differin for Acne Treatment?

Differin was originally formulated as an acne-fighting treatment. Therefore, you can use it with hyaluronic acid for your acne skincare routine. Differin (adapalene) is highly comedolytic. It unclogs your pores and strategically prevents future breakouts.

Clearing the pores is a natural drying process for the skin. This is where hyaluronic acid comes in to soothe your skin in the process.

Not using a moisturizer after applying a retinoid can throw your skin off balance and create a vicious cycle of dryness and breakouts (what you intended to treat).

Differin plus hyaluronic acid’s moisture boost will encourage the cell regeneration process by stimulating your skin to produce new cells which is a vital step to preventing acne.

In addition, both products will help to fade acne scars and even your skin tone with a brighter complexion.

The anti-inflammatory property of adapalene synergizes with the moisture retention capacity of hyaluronic acid to soothe inflamed acne areas and calm skin redness.

Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid With Differin to Treat Aging?

Retinoids have a reputation for combating signs of aging and rejuvenating your skin. And hyaluronic acid, the blameless acid, uses moisture to smoothen out fine lines and facial wrinkles.

Differin and hyaluronic acid work in tandem to communicate skin cell renewal by encouraging the synthesis of collagen. This protein promotes skin elasticity and helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The topical application of Differin gently exfoliates your skin and uncovers a more radiant and glowing complexion. During all these, hyaluronic acid hydrates your skin and prevents your effort with Differin from going south.

Also, while Differin is a safe option for the skin around your eyes area, you should take into account the tenderness and thinness of the skin around that area.

Hyaluronic acid soothes the skin around your eyes and prevents irritation which can be worse for your eye area.

Can You Layer Hyaluronic Acid With Differin?

Dermatologists advise that you should not use a retinoid without following up with a moisturizing agent. After applying Differin to the affected skin areas, you should apply hyaluronic acid immediately to counter its side effects.

Furthermore, the immediate application of hyaluronic acid will make the retinization process more bearable and lessen the skin purge. The moisture boost prevents your skin from being thrown off balance due to the drying effect of Differin.

Layering both products will simultaneously unclog your pores and keep your skin moisturized as it treats acne and its related issues.

Also, both ingredients help to rejuvenate your skin at the same time and banish the dull complexion that characterizes aging skin.

How to Use Hyaluronic Acid With Differin

  • Follow these steps to use hyaluronic acid with Differin to address your skin concerns:
  • Begin your routine by cleansing your face with a mild cleanser. Avoid exfoliating cleansers that will dry out your skin and cause excess irritation with Differin
  • Also, do not exfoliate your skin during or after cleansing
  • Follow up cleansing with toning (if you use a toner). Allow your face to dry before you move on to the next step
  • Take a pea-sized amount of Differin gel onto your palm and use your fingertips to apply the product
  • Apply Differin to your face and make a thin layer of the product over the affected areas. If you’re dealing with wrinkles, apply it to your undereye to treat undereye wrinkles.
  • Use a little at a time. With Differin, less is more
  • When you apply, do not rub it in with pressure. Avoid getting the product into your eyes or mouth
  • Differin is not a rinse-off product. So, you should allow it to absorb into your skin
  • Thereafter, pump out the serum and take about 5 drops in your palm
  • Gently tap the serum all over your face until it is evenly distributed
  • Allow the serum to absorb into your skin for about a minute before you apply hyaluronic acid moisturizer all over your face
  • Afterward, take a dollop of moisturizer that will give you even coverage and gently rub it all over your face
  • After moisturizer, apply eye cream to your undereye area to moisturize the skin there
  • Then, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to shield your skin from UV rays’ sensitivities which is another downside of using retinoids (especially during the day)
  • Do this once every day for at least six months for remarkable results

Are There Any Potential Side Effects?

You are least likely to experience any side effects from pairing Differin with hyaluronic acid because hyaluronic acid makes Differin bearable. However, if you apply them wrongly, you may experience some side effects.

For instance, when you apply Differin to damp skin or apply hyaluronic acid to dry skin, it can turn against your skin and render your efforts futile.


Should you apply hyaluronic acid before or after Differin?

Differin should be applied to your skin before you layer on hyaluronic acid to moisturize and soothe the area around your eyes.

Hyaluronic acid will create a protective layer over your skin to prevent moisture loss which can dry out your skin. Also, it will aid the penetration of Differin and enhance its effectiveness.

Can you use hyaluronic acid with Differin for the undereye area?

Yes, you can apply Differin to your undereye area with nothing to fear. It is mild and safe for the skin around your eye.

Nonetheless, you should be careful not to get the product in your eyes. In a situation where it happens, you should flush the area with clean, cool water. After applying Differin around your eyes, you should layer on eye cream to moisturize the skin around your eyes.

Does everyone purge on Differin?

Not everyone purges on Differin because tolerance varies with people and their skin types. But if you experience skin purge with Differin, it is not a cause for alarm unless it exceeds 4-6 weeks.

The purging process is called retinization. It is the period where your skin tries to adapt to the retinoid, adapalene. It may be characterized by redness, itching, or dryness.  

How often should you use Differin?

You should not use Differin more than once a day. While Differin is still new to your skin, you may not use it every day, once every other day will do for a start. It can come in your morning or evening routine.


Differin and hyaluronic acid are a powerful combination for treating skin issues like acne and aging skin. Differin is the only retinoid available in OTC strength without a prescription and the mildest retinoid. However, it still exudes the common downside of retinoids.

One way to bypass this is to pair Differin with a moisturizing ingredient like hyaluronic acid. Not only does it soothe your skin and prevent irritations, but it also enhances the penetration and effectiveness of Differin.

Differin is quite tolerable for all skin types including sensitive skin. To be safer, you may want to introduce Differin into your routine and to your skin slowly and in small concentrations until your skin perfectly tolerates it.

Most importantly, you must moisturize your skin afterward.

Thanks for reading.

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