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If you’re thinking about switching from Differin to tretinoin, there are a few things you should know. Tretinoin is a stronger retinoid, so it can be more effective at treating acne and wrinkles. However, it also comes with some potential side effects, like dryness and irritation. Here’s what you need to know before making the switch from Differin to tretinoin.
Differin Vs Tretinoin
Hang with me, cause this can get confusing. Both Differin and Tretinoin belong to a group called retinoids. “Retinoids” is simply an umbrella term for Vitamin A compounds and Vitamin A derivatives.
These compounds basically shed dead skin cells and help our skin cells rejuvenate faster.
Now, there are a lot of different types of natural and synthetic retinoids. Certain retinoids are available OTC, while others are prescription-only. Now let’s dive a littler deeper into the differences between tretinoin and Differin.
Retin-A is the brand name of the product, while tretinoin is the generic. Retin-A and tretinoin are the same thing.
Tretinoin (or Retin-A) is retinoic acid. The most effective and potent form of Vitamin A. The gold standard in anti-aging and acne. In fact, it’s about 20 times more potent than retinols!
Retin-A, or tretinoin, is typically prescribed to treat acne or to help with anti-aging. Retin-A is commonly prescribed for acne treatment, as it’s FDA approved to treat acne and not only can it help clear up the skin, but it also helps to fade acne scarring.
As mentioned above, retin-a is more potent and more effective then OTC retinol. This is because It does not have to be converted by the skin. Once it’s applied, it starts working. However, that does come at a price. Retin A is more irritating than OTC weaker forms of retinol.
Retin-A usually comes in either a cream or gel form and can range in strength. Most doctors will prescribe the lowest strength (0.025%) first and then increase the strength as needed (up to 0.1%).
Differin is the brand name of the product and the generic name is adapalene. Differin is a third generation, topical retinoid. It’s a synthetic form of Vitamin A and it’s also available OTC. It was originally prescription-only, but is now available in a lower concentration OTC.
Adapalene, or Differin, is a weaker Vitamin A compound than tretinoin. It’s not as potent or effective but also, not as irritating. Although it’s not as strong as tretinoin or Retin-A, there are some advantages to using Differin.
Differin is more stable, which means it can be used during the daytime, whereas tretinoin will degrade when exposed to sunlight. Differin can also be used with other acne medications like benzoyl peroxide, which tretinoin cannot be combined with.
Differin is also more suitable for sensitive skin, or those just starting out using retinoids. While both medications are FDA approved for acne, some may tolerate Differin better and not need a stronger retinoid like tretinoin or Retin-A.
So, what does this mean if you’re switching from Differin to tretinoin? Well, it means that you’ll be using a stronger, more effective product. It also means that you may experience more irritation and redness as your skin adjusts to the stronger retinoid. However, with the right tips, you’ll be able to transition to using tretinoin without too much discomfort.
Can I Switch Between Adapalene and Tretinoin?
So can you switch from Differin to tretinoin?
While both of them are retinoids and work very similarly, tretinoin is better for anti-aging and stimulating collagen. Whereas Differin or Adapalene is mainly just used for acne.
Many people who start using Differin or Adapalene eventually switch to tretinoin or Retin-A for its anti-aging effects and better results. Of course, they should never be used together and always used on alternate nights.
Can I Alternate Between Differin and Tretinoin?
Since tretinoin and Differin are a little different in terms of the benefits for the skin, many people wonder if you can use adapalene and retin-a on alternate nights. In theory, you get the best of both worlds! The powerful anti-aging effects of tretinoin and the less irritating and stable adapalene to fight acne and skin texture issues. Both of them combined can tackle pretty much any skin concern you may have.
You can alternate between Differin and Tretinoin, but you need to always use them on alternate nights and never use them together on the same day.
Do keep in mind that using both adapalene and Retin-A is a little redundant, as Retin-A is FDA approved for both acne and anti-aging. So you can tackle aging concerns and acne with just a single product instead of using (and paying for) two separate products.
Is Tretinoin Stronger Than Differin?
Yes, tretinoin is much stronger than Differin, which means that tretinoin is more effective, but it also means that it may cause more irritation as well. One study compared tretinoin vs differin for acne showed that both treatments were effective, but the tretinoin experienced more side effects than the Differin group.
While both tretinoin and Differin are FDA approved to treat acne and are both very effective acne treatments, studies show that tretinoin is more effective than Differin.
Related post: How To Transition From Retinol To Adapalene
How Do You Transition To Tretinoin?
If you’re wanting to make the switch from Differin to tretinoin, there are a few tips to make the adjustment period as smooth as possible.
The most important thing is to start slow and give your skin time to adjust to the stronger retinoid. Start by using tretinoin just once or twice a week and gradually increase usage as tolerated.
You can also “buffer” the tretinoin by applying moisturizer before applying tretinoin. This will help to “dilute” the tretinoin so it’s not as strong and it will help your skin slowly adjust without a ton of irritation and dryness.
- Start low – Start with the lowest strength available: 0.025% tretinoin and work your way up if needed
- Avoid harsh products – Switch to a gentle cleanser and avoid using harsh exfoliants or physical scrubs
- Use cream – The cream version will be more gentle on the skin and less irritating than the gel
- Start slow – Begin using tretinoin 1-2x a week and slowly work your way up to every other day or every day as tolerated by your skin
- Avoid other actives – During the adjustment phase, don’t use any other actives like vitamin c, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, etc
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize – Make sure to keep the skin hydrated and use a moisturizer both during the day and at night. You might even need to use a heavier moisturizer or occlusive to slug during the adjustment period
Another thing to keep in mind is that when you start to use a stronger, more effective retinoid, you are likely to experience what’s called a tretinoin purge. This is when you may experience more breakouts while the retinoid works to clear out your pores. Just stick with it and remember that it’s temporary, and soon you’ll see clearer and smoother skin!
Related post: How To Switch From Tretinoin To tazarotene
When To Switch From Differin To Tretinoin
If you’re contemplating making the switch from Differin to tretinoin, but aren’t sure if it’s the right time, consider your skin concerns and skincare goals.
If you find that you are starting to see some signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness, making to switch to tretinoin may be a good option for you as it can target those issues better than adapalene.
Or if you have acne or texture issues that just aren’t improving with Differin, switching to tretinoin can give you better results.
However, if you are happy with your skin, the switch may not be necessary! Differin is a great product that can effectively treat acne and improve skin texture, so stick with it if you are happy with the results. Not to mention, is more readily available since it’s now OTC whereas tretinoin is still prescription only and tends to be more expensive. Of course, there are always teledermatology services like Curology or Apostrophe that tend to be cheaper, especially if your insurance doesn’t cover tretinoin.
Related post: Can You Switch From Retinol To Tretinoin?
Switching From Differin To Tretinoin Wrap Up
Both tretinoin and Differin are incredible products that can target texture issues, acne and more. Although tretinoin has been shown to be more effective for acne and anti-aging, adapalene is still a great product and is the better choice for some people depending on their skin and skin concerns. But if you’re wanting to make the switch from Differin to tretinoin, there are a few tips to make the adjustment period smoother. Start slow, use a low concentration and make sure to use a really good moisturizer 2x daily.