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Style > Beauty

An Update on my Differin Journey

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

One of my first articles was on my skincare journey with acne. To recap, I’ve been suffering from acne flare-ups for almost a year now. I’m lucky enough that I’ve only suffered from acne for a year, but it’s taken a lot out of me. I had no idea what was causing my skin to act up all of a sudden. Part of me thought it was from wearing a mask, but another part of me knew that my skin would never react in such an extreme way, and I lost a lot of confidence because of it. Having clear skin was something I never thought twice about because it was all I’d ever known, and I definitely took it for granted. I stumbled upon Differin back in August, an over-the-counter retinoid with adapalene and often one of the first treatments prescribed by dermatologists.

I thought my skin was slowly coming back from months of acne, but as I started my second tube of Differin, I felt stuck. My skin was still in a constant cycle of flaring up, starting to heal, then flaring up again. At this point, I had bought new cleansers, moisturizers and serums that people swore by, but I still felt like my skin was at the same place as it was before. I was so sick of spending money on products that didn’t help, so I decided to just schedule an appointment with a dermatologist who knew way more than I did, so I could save money and time spent researching the best products.

I went to a dermatologist located in Gainesville back in November, and she immediately gave me a solution like she’d done this a hundred times (she probably had). I was prescribed two products: AceZone Gel to use in the morning and Retin-A Micro to use at night. Acezone is an antibacterial topical that breaks down bacteria in the skin while calming inflammation. Retin-A Micro, on the other hand, is a tretinoin used to speed up cell turnover and bring new cells to the surface to help with scarring, similar to Differin. My most common side effects were sensitive skin and extreme dryness. Make sure when using strong medication to put on sunscreen if you plan on going outside. I made the mistake of sitting outside to get some sun one morning after applying AceZone under my moisturizer, thinking I’d be fine, and instantly regretted it when my face began to burn. It’s also crucial to avoid your mouth and eye areas because I often wake up with rashes in those areas if I’m not careful when applying. Another tip is to use a mild cleanser and moisturizer with no added ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide because they’ll only worsen the sensitivity and dryness. Keeping your other skincare products simple is best.

Now the part you’ve been waiting for: results. I went through the same purge I did with Differin, where the products worked to bring the bacteria to the surface of my skin, causing my breakouts to worsen. Once the purge was over, my skin was showing very similar results as Differin: better, but not great. I noticed that my acne would flare up one week, then begin to heal, and right as I thought it was getting better, I’d break out again. This cycle still continues to this day which can get extremely frustrating.

Back in February, a month before I started breaking out, I went off the pill (that’s a whole other story in and of itself). When it was time to visit my endocrinologist in December, I told her that I’d been experiencing constant acne that wouldn’t go away, and she told me the fluctuation in hormones after getting off the pill was definitely a contributing factor. It all clicked. Part of me thought this was the case, but another part of me thought I was just going through acne as an adult like many do. She told me to keep using the products and if things didn’t get better in a few months, she’d switch my pill to one that’s designed to treat acne. Then came January, where it was time to follow-up with my dermatologist, and to be honest, she caught me in a moment when my skin was healing. My skin was doing great that week, so great to the point where I thought it was actually going to stay that way—she did, too. She told me to keep using the products until I felt confident that my skin could do without, and that we’d only see each other again if I got worse.

Then, I had the option to either switch my pill or go back to the dermatologist. After trying so many products in the past year, over-the-counter and prescribed, I decided to switch pills. As of when I’m writing this, my new pill starts tomorrow, so who knows what the future holds for my skin! (Hopefully, only positive things.)

UF Class of 2021. Journalism & women's studies. Viviana Moreno is a writer and online creative dedicated to exuding warmth and promoting inclusivity. She creates content that fuels truth and curiosity through her contributions to publications that seek to empower and inform primarily college-aged individuals.