I have been using Differin Gel in a 0.1% for approximately 5 years. Throughout my life I have dealt with cystic acne. This type of acne gives a person deep, hard pimples that often causes scarring. I also deal with regular pimples and blackheads, but the cystic acne was definitely the worst. They were the most painful.
Perhaps the best thing I did for my skin was to start seeing a dermatologist when I was a teenager since none of the over-the-counter products I tried helped.
During treatment with a dermatologist, I tried a few prescription products which were ineffective and eventually went on Accutane. This medication cleared up my skin completely. It even eradicated my blackheads on my nose, which was amazing.
There were two downsides with Accutane: I had to go for regular blood tests to check certain levels in my liver. The other downside was the miraculous result was not permanent. A few years later, my skin began getting oily; the blackheads re-invaded my nose; and I started breaking out - although, it was less severe than when I was younger.
I started seeing a dermatologist again to gain control over my acne and she recommended an Rx cleanser and the topical, Differin Gel. I was a bit skeptical of topical treatments because of prior disappointments, but gave them a try. They have proven to be very effective in controlling the comedones on my skin.
The Differin does not control everything. I do break out minimally sometimes, but my skin is so much clearer than if I was using nothing or some other product. Also, I find it does not clear away pimples immediately like with a "spot product." It tends to control how much acne makes it to the surface, but it doesn't make a pimple vanish. Additionally, it has not reduced or eliminated my blackeads. Those suckers are really hard to banish!
Differin is a retinoid product, so I was hoping it would reduce some fine lines I have on my forehead while fighting acne. I have not found it to be effective in that respect. Yet I think the medication makes my skin look brighter.