Update 2: Skin Experiment – Using Differin for Wrinkles

The experiment continues! This update has been long time coming. Let’s see what progress has been made, shall we?

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Hey, this update is almost 6 months late! What happened to the 3-month update?

Did I mention that life happened? I finally got a new job after 6 months of being unemployed. I was trying to readjust my sleeping schedule to get used to being back in the 9-to-5 crowd, but couldn’t seem to get into the swing of life again. It turns out I was also dealing with some major low energy issues that sapped me of any will or desire to do anything beyond the absolutely necessary.

As a result, I didn’t write any blog posts, didn’t post much on Facebook or Instagram, didn’t practice Bellydancing, didn’t really put on makeup much. I just didn’t have the energy to do ANYTHING.

I seem to be getting the low energy issue under control now, and am feeling more like myself again. But enough about all that stuff. You want answers!

First up, changes in how I applied Differin.

If you’re interested in reading about this experiment from the beginning, you can read the first post here, and the second post here.

Differin Gel, OTC strength, Small and large tube comparison, Differin for wrinkles, adapalene, Differin acne treatment
OTC-strength Differin gel come in two sizes at most retailers. For about $15 you can get the small, 0.5 ounce size. For about $30 you can get the large, 1.5 ounce size. Honestly, the large tube is the better deal. You basically get three times as much product for twice the price of the small tube.

When I restarted this experiment, I decided to jump in with both feet. I applied over-the-counter (OTC) strength Differin (almost) every morning. I say almost, because I’m not perfect. Some days, I don’t wash my face. Those are usually also the days I’m not going anywhere, so I don’t put on real clothes or brush my hair either.

Even though I was using Differin everyday instead of every other day, I did not experience an initial breakout like I did when I originally started this experiment.

Recently, I was on the Differin website and was reading about proper application. I have since changed up when I apply Differin. For the last few weeks I have been applying Differin after I wash my face at night. If I am not running too late for my weeknight bedtime, I try to give the Differin about 30 minutes to work its magic on my face and neck before moving on to the rest of my skin care.

Second, what am I using in addition to Differin?

I am still dermaplaning my face once every week or two. Although, if I am dermaplaning, I won’t use Differin that night. The reason is that dermaplaning is a physical exfoliation, and Differin causes some chemical exfoliation, and the two together can be too much exfoliation in one sitting.

Skincare, skincare products, Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner, Cosrx Two In One Poreless Power Liquid, Benton BHA and Aloe Toner, The Ordinary, Elizvecca Witch Piggy Hell Pore Hylauronic Acid Serum, CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion, Cosrx, L’Oréal Revalift Eye, Glactomyces 95, Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion
Here’s a snapshot of most of the skincare I’m using along with Differin on a daily basis. Keep in mind this is not all of my skincare. This is just what I’m using most often lately.

I also use acids in conjunction with Differin, but I try not to use both on the same night. Acids are a form of chemical exfoliation, just like Differin, and I’m trying not to over exfoliate. If your skin is not sensitive, you can use AHA’s (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids) and BHA’s (Beta-Hydroxy Acids) in conjunction with OTC-strength Differin, although I would recommend using the acids and Differin on different days.

I prefer to use AHA’s at night to give them more time to work. So once or twice a week I may use a serum or mask with AHA’s in it. I use a hydrating toner with BHA in it every day, twice a day, to no ill effect. Despite being quite fair, my skin is not sensitive and tolerates most treatments well.

I also make sure to use a moisturizer with ceramides at night. Plain old CeraVe Moisturizing Lotion is a good choice. It’s too heavy for me for day time use, but it’s nice for nighttime.

In the mornings, I will either wash my face with a low-pH foaming cleanser, or use cotton pads and micellar water to freshen my skin. Next is a hydrating toner, then my BHA toner. I might put on a serum or two. Then a light moisturizer followed by sunscreen. (Always remember to put on your sunscreen!)

Results: Inconclusive

I would like to tell you that after 6 months I can see a big difference in my skin and my wrinkles and pores are becoming non-existent. However, that is not the case.

Side-by-side selfies, Differin for wrinkles, skin experiment, front view
So here’s a comparison of my face from November 2018 side-by-side with my face from March 2019. I’ve been using Differin almost everyday since my first update post. These photos represent about 5-6 months of use. I’m not sure I see a whole lot of improvement.

I think that there is some minor improvement in my lines and wrinkles with OTC-strength Differin. I feel like Differin helps to keep my pores clean so they look slightly smaller. Even in my mid-40’s, I do still get small breakouts. Differin helps to keep my skin pimple-free, so using Differin is definitely not a waste of time or money for me because I do get an immediate benefit.

Side-by-side selfies, Differin for wrinkles, skin experiment, right side view
Another photo, this time of the right side of my face. I’m not sure I see a big difference in the before and after shots, do you?

Using OTC-strength Differin for wrinkles is a long-term commitment. This is not a quick fix. If you’re looking for something that is going to make a big difference in the texture of your skin in a short amount of time, this is not it. There are probably more effective products you can use for this purpose and get more immediate results.

Side-by-side selfies, Differin for wrinkles, skin experiment, left side view
Here’s the left side before and after shots. None of these shots are flattering, but that’s not what I was going for.

Yeah, but is Differin worth it?

If, like me, you’re a grown-ass woman who still gets breakouts from time to time, OTC strength Differin is definitely worth your time and money. If you use it consistently and long-term, you may experience some wrinkle reducing benefits as well.

I am going to keep this skin experiment going. I will try to put up another update in about 3 to 6 months.

Are you currently using OTC Differin for spots or wrinkles? What kind of results are you seeing? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!

8 thoughts on “Update 2: Skin Experiment – Using Differin for Wrinkles”

  1. I’ve been using Differin 0.1% for antiaging for about a month and a half now, after my dermatologist recommended it as a starter retinoid cream. Not really long enough to see a huge effect I don’t think but I have noticed that the rough texture I had on my temples next to my eyes has reduced. I did have a bit of a breakout for a few weeks after starting but that seems to have calmed down a bit. I’m hoping that with continued use I’ll see same reduction in the darker age/sun damage spots I have. Fingers crossed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience using OTC-strength Differin! Also, given that your dermatologist recommended it as a starter Retinoid, it’s good to know that I’m on the right track using Differin for wrinkles.

      I wouldn’t say that I haven’t seen any improvement in my wrinkles and texture at all. I have noticed a slight improvement, especially in the skin texture on top of my cheek bones around my eyes. It’s just a very slow and subtle process. I don’t think the difference is pronounced enough to really show in the photos, either.

      As I mentioned, this is definitely a long-term treatment. Keep with it! Also, try to take photos for comparison to document your Differin journey. I’m sure you will see results.


  2. There is a noticeable improvement in the overall texture of your skin, which is fairly significant, and a little improvement in the nasal-labial folds. There isn’t any improvement in fine lines because you do not have any. Your skin also looks a little less red, but retinoids really can’t do anything for those small broken blood vessels around your nose. Honestly, only lasers work for that. Overall though, seems pretty good to me 🙂


    1. Thanks! I’m glad you can see improvement in my skin. I think I don’t really notice it that much because I see my skin everyday. I am sticking with the OTC-strength Differin because it’s affordable and I like that it keeps my skin pretty clear. And redness I can cover with makeup. Lasers are definitely not in my budget.


  3. I really appreciated how you documented your differin journey and that you took the initiative to include pictures— respect. When you mentioned you had a period of time where you were tired and a bit sluggish maybe more than usual, maybe you should get your hormones tested to make sure your levels are where they should be at. You know as we get older those dreaded hormones like to play games with us causing breakouts and mood swings, fatigue, and blasé. I’m not a doctor but I just went through something similar and HRT made me feel like myself again. If you are ever interested in checking your hormone levels, I know mintrx.com sells an at-home test kit if you interested. Congrats on the new job!


    1. Thank you, Seana. I am still continuing to use the OTC Differin, although I did stop using it for a couple of months in February and March of this year. I just started using it again. Having to wear a mask at work for 8 to 10 hours a day is not doing my skin any favors. I’m hoping that the Differin will handle the maskne breakouts as well as the wrinkles.

      And thank you for the link to the hormone testing kit. You may be on to something with the hormones. I just turned 48, so there’s a good chance that the fatigue I’m feeling could be part of peri-menopause. (Yes, I said the M-word.) I find it interesting that there’s hardly any information about menopause online. Over half the population will experience menopause if they’re lucky enough to grow old, and yet hardly anyone talks about it.


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