Skincare has been a constant struggle for me for as long as I can remember. Acne hit me pretty hard in my teenage years, went away for a while in my early 20’s and is now back to haunt me. Before we get into what I do to my face every night, here’s a little background on what my skin is like. In a nutshell- I have very oily, acne prone skin and giant pores. The older I get the more it’s starting to turn from mega super oily to being oily combination. Last year my mild adult acne took a drastic turn for the worse and I started trying everything under the sun (and in Sephora) to make it go away! Before I get started on the details of my Differin routine I want to make sure you know that I am in no way a skincare expert. I do a little bit of research before trying products but I mainly make it up as I go along. If you’re struggling or questioning your current routine, it’s best to ask your dermatologist.
When I was about 14 years old my dad took me to the dermatologist to seek treatment for my gross face. She looked at my skin and prescribed me two things, and antibiotic pill thing (no, I have no idea what it was) and Differin. She handed me the prescriptions and said “the pill will treat everything from within and make it go away. The Differin will treat the acne and blackheads but it will make it worse before it gets better”. So me, being the smartest teen in the world, decided to only take the pill because who wants their acne to get WORSE?! I wasn’t messing with that.
Fast forward to now. My acne was getting progressively worse and nothing I tried fixed the issue. Then I saw a commercial for Differin, remembered my old dermatologist and purchased it off Amazon. At this point I had tried a number drugstore and high end products that yielded mixed results and figured that something I had been prescribed once had to work for me.
I had a pretty hard time searching for results and information on how to use this new product. But I was able to take the best of what I did find and work it into my skincare routine in order to jumpstart my acne healing process. So if you’re curious about how I’ve included Differin into my nightly skincare routine, keep reading!
STEP ONE || So the first and arguably one of the most important steps in my routine is taking my makeup off. If I used heavy eye makeup I’ll take that off first using the Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover. I honestly don’t like waterproof makeup, but this remover is the greatest one I’ve ever tried! Next I take off my face makeup using a cleansing oil. I first heard about cleansing oil from my Sephora Play subscription. Basically this double cleansing just makes sure your skin is super duper clean. I’ve been using the Boscia Makeup Breakup Cleansing Oil for about a year and I love it. At first I was worried that using an oil on my skin would make me break out like crazy but it hasn’t at all! It’s not overly greasy and when you rinse it off your makeup is all gone and you skin feels so clean.
STEP TWO || Next comes the cleanser. Right now I’m using a basic CeraVe cleanser. Nothing fancy here but it fit the ‘no salicylic acid’ requirements that come with using the Differin gel. It’s a decent cleanser. My skin feels clean and smooth after using it and that’s all I need.
STEP THREE || The next thing I do is use toner. I’ve read some mixed reports on people saying that you don’t really need a toner or that toners can be overly drying for your skin. But I like it, so whatever. Right now I’m using this Origins Age Defense Treatment Lotion. The bottle is giant and it has lasted me so long and I’m not even halfway through it. The best part is that it doesn’t leave my face feeling all tight, which I enjoy. Also- I’m not even sure that this counts as a toner because it doesn’t say “toner” in the title. But like I said before, I’m no expert.
STEP FOUR || Now here is where my routine changes a little. Knowing that starting a new acne medication can sometimes be harsh on skin I decided to use a buffer before applying the medication. Basically after cleansing and toning I’d apply a thin layer of my moisturizer, then apply my eye cream and finally add my Differin on top. I used the added moisturizer layer everyday for a week, then moved on to using the moisturizer every other day before stopping it all together and just going all in with the Differin after finishing step 3 and applying eye cream.
Now my skin isn’t sensitive at all so I didn’t have an issue starting right off with every day use. But if your skin is even the slightest bit sensitive I would start every other day. But like I said before, I’m no expert.
You only need a tiny, itty bitty little bit of Differin to cover your face. I use a drop about the size of my pinky nail (about half a pea sized amount). I always start with less, then if I need more I can add to it.
I take that small amount and dot it on my forehead, the far side of each cheek and my chin and then blend the dots together until my skin feels dry.
DON’T FORGET TO WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER APPLYING! The last thing you need is this stuff in your eyes…
Now, I know you’re reading this kind of questioning the eye cream before Differin step. I do it because I want to keep the product out of my eyes. I read somewhere that it was important to protect all the ‘holes’ in your face (eyes, nostrils and lips) from the medication and I didn’t want to take chances finding out why. So before I apply my Differin gel I moisturize with my eye cream and use my lip mask.
ALL DONE! || And that’s it! Sometimes I finish up with my favorite moisturizer, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the day. My experience with Differin has been a bit of a challenge at times but so far so good! Because I wanted to do my best to keep this post from being crazy incredibly long, I’m turning my Differin experience into a two part mini series. So check back for my full review and results! And you can read my most recent Differin update after almost 8 months of use here.