Going back to basics this week with a review I’ve been thinking about for a couple weeks now. First off, I’m very lucky to not suffer from severe acne, but even though I love beauty and am passionate about skincare I, too, get some pret-tay painful, under-the-skin hormonal acne every once in a while.
I picked up a tube of Differin gel at Target a few weeks ago curious if it would work out for me, and it’s a love-hate situation…
As I said above I’ve never had bad acne, unlike my brother who had all-over-the-face cystic acne throughout high school. When I was little I figured that’s just what happens to your skin when you get older, and I remember being so interested in the products in the bathroom. I was around 6 or 7 when I first tried my brother’s Noxema cleanser, and booooooy did it sting. I was like six with absolute baby skin, I should not have been using Noxema whatsoever, but there I was unscrewing the jar. I probably didn’t even have enough dirt in my face from the last six years to clean all that it was pulling out of my face.
I haven’t touched Noxema cleanser since.
I have, however, been dealing with some adult acne later that has been making me feel incredibly insecure. Instead of trying a bunch of different serums to prevent acne I thought I’d face it head on and get something strong, then maybe deal with balancing my hormones later.
Why I started using it: My hormonal acne was getting frustrating. It had gotten to the point where I was embarrassed to go to work because I had huge, ugly pimples near my mouth and lower cheek. I hated speaking up in meetings, and it honestly felt like it was affecting my day to day, and when you look at it standing back – my career.
Like I said, I have never had acne. Throughout college I, of course, had the occasional period pimple, and a couple of shit, I forgot to wash my face because I was so drunk nights, but for the most part I was very serious about my skin starting around 2013. I’ve never really had to think too hard about using products that didn’t break me out. I also never had super sensitive skin, and have been pretty aggressive with my acids the last couple of years.
First week: This is when I started to see a little bit of a difference, it didn’t completely stop the breakouts, I actually had a bad breakout the same week I started using it, but I kept going with it. Within the week the breakouts just started to become a lot less noticeable, and less painful. It was more about it being less painful than anything else that made me know it was starting to work. Side note: I am very bad about touching my chin, I hold my chin a lot at work at my desk, in meetings, while looking down at the phones and tablets I work with every day. It’s not good at all.
Lately, I’ve been using it every night on my chin, and sometimes I’ll dot it on some of my other pimples if I don’t see them going away any time soon aka around my cheekbones where I put highlighter or the random forehead bump. I love that the product is fragrance-free and gentle, I don’t feel intense stinging like all my other acne products.
Two weeks: After about two weeks I was loving the results of noticeably less acne, but I could see, and feel, that it was starting to dry out my face in a good way. It wasn’t until the end of week two, maybe even the beginning of week 3 that I noticed how intensely dry my chin was getting. I had been using it nightly so I figured I just needed to add a shit ton more hydration to my morning and nightly routine. Even though I was hydrating it had gotten to the point where it was so dry that it was hard for me to use concealer on my chin anymore because I could see the skin peeling.
Thee weeks: Dude, ow.
My skin hurts. I don’t know what else to say. I
have had combination skin, and usually didn’t have too many dry spots. It feels like this has changed my skin completely. My skin is mostly normal, but dehydrated, so I remember picking up Viche Hyaluronic Acid at the same time as the Differin gel. I had been wanting to fix the texture on my forehead at the same time and I knew that anything acne related would be a bit drying so I thought it was a win-win. I love this stuff, fragrance-free, dries fast, and it sweet and simple – hydrating.
Then came my biggest problem – a morning Matt surprised me with a Sunday date. He told me to get ready because we were going to coffee and lunch. Obviously, I knew I had to look cute, so ya girl was putting on a full face of makeup for the first time in like two months. I did my foundation and concealer and realized I didn’t put my contacts in, and whenever I don’t put them in before foundation and concealer I end up with tears running down my face. I decided I would just remove the makeup I had put on and start over. I was in no rush, and was in a treat yo’ self mood so I was happy to be spending time doing my makeup. I grabbed a Kirkland face wipe and wiped my whole face.
Holy shit. Holy. Shit. HOLY SHIT.
My face burned so bad, it brought me right back to six year old K10. I’m in my pink bathroom scooping an excessive amount of cleanser out of that blue jar before my brother could find out. I immediately washed my face with my most gentle cleanser, and slapped on some Fresh Youth Lotus Preserve Rescue Mask – burned again. I was on the verge of tears at this point. I rinsed the Fresh mask off immediately, and lathered up with my trusted and true Jet Lag Mask. This burned for maybe one minute, but after that I was finally on the road to a cool-down. Wow.
I should have know that the Differin was drying out my face too much because I had reached where I was using my Summer Friday’s Jet Lag Mask as my every night moisturizer. I mean, I looooove my jet lag mask, I love, love it, but I try to ration. I try to only use it 3-4x a week MAX. I’m already two tubes in, so I gotta chill. As I write this I’m slathered up in it because my face hurts so badly.
Is it worth it? For me, I don’t think so. I’m going to try and only use it once or twice a week and not every night because I clearly went overboard. The week after feeling like my face burned off I still haven’t touched it. I’m too scared it’s going to fry my face.
Clearly, even though I was only using it on a small amount on a section of my face it must work much more effectively because it’s a prescription. If you have outrageously oily skin I’d say give it a try, but go slow. Don’t be like me holding the bathroom counter swearing because it’s burning so badly. I think I aged my skin by five years doing this experiment – don’t be like me, guys.
If you have very sensitive, dry skin I think you can still use this, but start with once and week and see how your skin does. I’ve realized, as I dip my feet in the acne product pool, that going slow is the best route of attack.
© all photos are my own