How to Use Differin for Wrinkles: A Guide to the Anti-aging Boon

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Differin, a brand name for adapalene, was popularly known for clearing acne and preventing future breakouts. Differin is currently listed as an OTC treatment for wrinkles, fine lines, and dull skin that aging comes with.

Of all retinoids, Differin gel is a boon to any anti-aging routine. Dermatologists have lauded its high tolerance range, availability, and cost-effectiveness.  

Dr. Mohiba Tareen, a board-certified dermatologist says, “Differin is a fantastic anti-aging product as it stimulates collagen production by cells in our dermis (the deeper layer of the skin). This is what helps with fine lines and overall skin thickness”.

Read on to see how you should use Differin to get rid of facial wrinkles and plump your skin back to its youth.

1. Cleanse Your Face

Every skincare routine begins with cleansing. Besides, the ingredients are only more effective if they can penetrate a clean canvas. Post-bathe (AM or PM), use a mild, foaming cleanser to clean your face of residues of makeup, oil, dirt, and even your face soap.

Your facial cleanser should not dry your skin because differin does not go well with drying skincare products. Then, allow the cleanser to absorb into your skin until your face is dry again.

Do not exfoliate your face after cleansing. The differin gel can cause irritations on the skin that have been treated with chemical exfoliators.

2. Apply Differin to Facial Wrinkles

Here’s the main deal. You only need a thin layer of differin (it is that effective). Take a pea-sized dollop of differin gel onto your palm and use your fingertips to apply. Gently spread the gel to cover your face with a thin film of gel.

Most importantly, when you apply, avoid getting differin gel into your eyes and mouth. This is because the areas get easily irritated by adapalene. Also, do not apply adapalene over broken, sunburned, and eczema skin.

After application, do not rinse off the differin gel. Instead, allow it to dry before you go on to use serum or moisturizer. And try not to touch the areas of your face where you applied the gel to.

3. Apply Face Serum

When you are sure the gel has dried, apply face serum to hydrate your skin. However, there are certain serums you should not apply over differin. For instance, you should not use a serum that contains glycolic acid or salicylic acid.

Retinol or hyaluronic acid serum works well with adapalene. So, after applying differin to facial wrinkles, apply a hydrating face serum all over your face. This will lock in moisture and replenish your skin.

4. Moisturize Your Face

Every skin condition looks better with moisture. Because adapalene can be drying, you need a moisture boost. Moreover, the moisturizer will help to seal the ingredients and boost their action.

Layer a face moisturizer and focus on the facial wrinkles that you have treated with differin gel. If you’re using differin as part of your morning skincare routine, layer on an SPF. This is to protect your skin from the photosensitivity that differin may cause.

What Is Differin for Wrinkles Good For?

Differin gel for wrinkles contains adapalene, an OTC retinoid. It increases cell turnover and smoothens out fine lines and wrinkles.

Adapalene makes a better option for topical use compared to tretinoin, which although could be more powerful, can be too harsh for the skin.

While using differin gel for wrinkles, it’s not likely to cause skin breakouts. Its anti-inflammatory properties help it to soothe your skin while you’re using it.

The differin gel improves the appearance of your skin and makes it glow even before you see improvement in wrinkles and fine lines.

Differin gel stimulates collagen synthesis and improves the elasticity of your skin. It treats wrinkles even in sensitive skin areas like your eye area.

How Often Should You Use Differin for Wrinkles?

Use differin gel to treat wrinkles once every day, either during your morning or evening skincare routine. If you notice skin redness or any other form of irritation, you may cut down on daily use.

Start with applying differin once or twice a week. This is because of the irritation adapalene may cause in the first few days to weeks of usage. Also, it may excessively dry out your skin. However, when you can tolerate this compound, you should use it every day.

In addition, you should continue to use it for up to 12 months for better skin results.

What Products Should You Not Use With Differin for Wrinkles?

When using adapalene, you should not use products that contain chemical exfoliators like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide. Also, you should not use products that can dry out your skin before and after applying differin gels.

Although these products can increase cell turnover, they can also cause skin irritations. Even worse, they can make your skin break out with acne and other blemishes.

Furthermore, while using differin gel to treat wrinkles, avoid too frequent and prolonged exposure to sunlight. Also, you should avoid tanning beds. UV rays’ contact with differin can aggravate and cause skin breakouts.

Additionally, stay away from facial hair removal waxes while using differin gel to treat wrinkles.

Can You Use Differin With Retinol for Wrinkles?

Yes, you can. Differin contains adapalene, which is a retinoid. And retinoids and retinol are forms of vitamin A. They both function as anti-aging treatments. 

Each of these vitamin A derivatives increases cell turnover and helps to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Therefore, it is safe to use skincare products like serums or moisturizers that contain retinol after the application of differin gel to wrinkles.

Who Should Not Use Differin?

Anyone below the age of 12 should not use differin. Also, already and intending pregnant women, and lactating mothers should stay away from differin. This is because the gel absorbs through and skin and may harm your unborn baby.

Moreover, people below the age of 12 have not developed a tolerance level for retinoids and do not yet need to treat facial wrinkles. If you have a medical history of skin conditions like eczema, you should consult a doctor before you use differin gel for wrinkles.

In addition, stay away from differin if you have allergies to vitamin A-related drugs. Also, people with sunburned skin, exfoliated skin, waxed and electrolyzed skin should not use differin until the skin has healed completely.

Is Using Differin for Facial Wrinkles Bad for You?

Differin gel contains a retinoid, adapalene, which is the most tolerable retinoid. It is safe for your skin unless you have skin issues like eczema. However, you may experience a slight discomfort like a burning sensation and skin redness after use.

This is just your skin trying to adapt to adapalene and it should last only 2-4 weeks. However, if the redness goes beyond four weeks, you should discontinue use and see a doctor.

Furthermore, this retinoid may be bad for you if you are a pregnant or lactating mother. Differin absorbs into the skin and may in turn affect your unborn baby.


Can you use differin gel for your undereye wrinkles?

Yes, you can. Differin gel works well for undereye wrinkles. After cleansing your face, apply a thin film of differin gel to your undereye and allow the gel to dry. Afterward, layer eye cream over the gel.

Eye cream is necessary because of the thin nature of the skin around your eye. Also, differin gel can cause a stinging sensation on that part of your skin. So, eye cream is the moisturizer that soothes your skin.

How long does it take for differin to work for wrinkles?

It takes an average of about 6-12 months before you notice a significant improvement in facial wrinkles. However, some persons may notice an improvement in the appearance of the wrinkles after 3-5 months.

But a few weeks into months of usage, you’ll notice that your skin looks more vibrant with a youthful glow.

When should you use differin gel for facial wrinkles?

The best time to use differin gel for wrinkles is at night. At this time of the day, you’re not exposed to sun rays that may cause skin sensitivities.

Adapalene is a retinoid and may make your skin photosensitive. Also, try to apply differin at the same time each day for better results and to become prompt with the application.

Why does differin make your face red?

You may experience redness on your face while you use differin to treat wrinkles because your skin is still trying to acclimatize with adapalene. This skin acclimatization is called retinization. And it should not be a cause for worry.

This phase occurs for about the first 2-4 weeks of using differin. It may come with a stinging or burning sensation, dryness, and skin scaling. Like earlier mentioned, it is not a cause for alarm. However, if redness continues after 4-6 weeks, discontinue the use of differin gel.


Differin gel was originally touted to treat acne and prevent future breakouts. Recent times have seen dermatologists recommend differin gel for facial wrinkles. This retinoid, adapalene, is available as an OTC treatment in local drugstores.

Adapalene could be quite sensitive with different skincare products. So, you must be very careful while you use it. However, it is suitable for every skin type. Before and after adapalene, you should not use products that reveal sensitive layers of your skin.

Topical application of differin gel for wrinkles is only effective when you use it as required. Adapalene can make your skin photosensitive when exposed to sun rays. Therefore, you should always layer SPF over the gel when you use it as part of your morning routine.

Most importantly, before you use differin gel, you should consult your doctor if you’re using any strong medication. Also, pregnant women should stay away from differin gel.

Thanks for reading.

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