I can’t explain to you why I have developed an obsession over my skin. Maybe it’s because I’ve been grappling with bouts of depression for over 10  years that creates an ebb and flow of dysphoria concerning my appearance. Or, it could be me seeking to create a healthier relationship with how I see myself. My priority is loving myself. Honestly, truly; and that means that no matter what people say I need or don’t need, I know that *I* need to like and feel comfortable with what I see in the mirror. Chocolate chip cookies may be the most popular, yummiest cookie in the world but that doesn’t mean I want my face looking like it. So I was shook when I discovered that I was suffering for so long with adult acne when I didn’t have to.

About a year or two ago, I made a decision to work on physical image and I knew it was a process that I wanted to undertake holistically. See, I already know I am somewhat attractive, even if I don’t necessarily photograph well. I also knew that I didn’t need to care about anyone else’s opinion about it or what I did to achieve the results I wanted. As a 33 year old woman, my experiences with women has taught me that people will say anything to undermine your successes or your beauty. It doesn’t matter though, I am tired of being humble. I want perfect skin, a fit and trim body, and money in my bank account. So focusing on my skin was the first thing I felt I could have control over. Also, I have ADHD so when I get obsessed over something, everything else falls by the wayside. It’s okay. I know myself.

Or, it could be me seeking to create a healthier relationship with how I see myself. My priority is loving myself. Honestly, truly;

It’s also the reason that I have probably wasted so much money on trying products. Look, there is like a new product that comes out every season and brands have gotten smart with the public relations so they now pay people to leave positive reviews. Even more so, genes and diet play such a huge factor that no product one the market is not going to give your perfect skin overnight. I had to do research and find a regimen that would work for me and the sacrifices I was willing to make. After all, I was getting tired of all the products that didn’t work for me languishing in my bathroom. I had a regimen in place and bought products with ingredients that addressed certain skin concerns. A glycolic cleanser, lactic acid serums, night cream and my benzoyl peroxide sorta kept acne at bay, but the way my hormones set up and this melanin responds I would still be left with blemishes.

It wasn’t until I was on Twitter when one of the estheticians I follow mentioned a product that is now my holy grail. Even still I overlooked what she was saying because I was busy chasing the newest hot product in Sephora. Someone should seriously write about how esthetics has become the new luxury that women chase. Oh well, I’m fully plugged in though. My spending on these products just isn’t sustainable and I’m sure if you are reading this you might feel the same way. I’ve proven I would could and would buy the expensive serum from Sephora but I needed results and I wasn’t trying to wait months and waste money to get them if I could spend the same amount upfront and get them sooner.

Adding retinol to your skincare routine is the one thing everyone agrees is vital to anti-aging. Differin gel is one over the counter product that helps achieve clear skin and address aging.

My skin issues were mainly acne, and the hyperpigmentation that it leaves behind (hence the cookie reference) and Clean & Clear wasn’t getting me there consistently, nor was $60 product from Sephora alone. Mainly, when I did my research folks was just selling me another $60 retinol product. However, the good sisters from r/tretinoin on Reddit gave me the lowdown on what was necessary to streamline my regimen and they showed me that I didn’t need to waste my time or money messing with retinol; go get the real deal: Retin-A. Basically Retin-A is the prescription strength version of a group of  topical vitamin A derivatives called retinoids, and they are the gold standard in antiaging skincare. Retinols are basically the weaker version of the retinoids and are what’s in the over the counter skincare products you find at the drugstore or places like Sephora. The term retinoid usually refers to stronger, prescription level drugs like Tretinoin (the generic name for Retin-A), tazarotene, and adapalene. Both retinols and retinoids boost cell turnover, smooth fine lines, even out skin tone and age spots, and improve skin elasticity for a more youthful glow. However, retinol being weaker it takes more time to see results.

As an older woman, I decided to opt for the more powerful product. So after doing all my research on the different types of retinoids, and going through the reddit forum I stumbled across a comment from a user suggesting Differin gel, my new HOLY GRAIL PRODUCT! The comment was in response to a person asking whether they should opt for certain product since they knew all over the counter retinols weren’t as strong as retinoids but they still wanted antiaging & acne reducing benefits without dealing with the hardcore purge that came with tretinoin. Pretty much my same issues.

Adapalene, the generic name for Differin, is one of the prescription strength retinoids that is now available over the counter. Let me tell you, the results were almost instantaneous for me. My skin is clearer, waaaaaay less pimples and now I can fully focus on fading the scars that they left behind. I’ve been able to simplify my skincare regimen and my skin looks luminous. Apparently retinoids are mainly for reducing wrinkles but they also address acne better than any other product on the market right now. I think many dermatologists are reluctant to suggest these first is because retinoids can be irritating before your skin gets used to it. What many users refer to the purge, is basically the term that is used to describe the acne that comes to the surface while using retinoids and many say it gets bad before it gets better and that it is just a part of the process. While tretinoin is the main one that causes the purge, some users have reported some purging with the slightly different retinoid formulas of tazarotene and adapalene. I’ve been using adapalene (Differin gel) for about two weeks and so far no such purge, just clear skin.

I think I’m seeing good results because I am adding it to my daily routine after using strong acids like AHA and doing chemical peels that prepped my skin and cleared out any underlying acne that was waiting to erupt. Though I am noticing sensitivity and dryness, which are side effects, I am not peeling. Again, I think that is because I had a chemical peel about a week and a half before I began using Differin gel. I apply the gel nightly, after I cleanse my skin and use a moisturizing toner like this one. Then after the gel I moisturize using a night cream with peptides. I’m obsessed with this moisturizer from Drunk Elephant.  

I still cannot believe I let myself suffer for so long. I admit, when I watch the commercials about Differin gel I didn’t think it was for me because they only show teens in their commercials. The truth is many grown women past the age of thirty are dealing with adult acne, many of whom are on birth control trying to control it. After discovering chemical peels and Differin gel, I’d recommend them to anyone looking to fast track to clear skin.

Products to Add to Your Anti Acne/Anti Aging Routine

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer
Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer, $68 Sephora
Differin Gel Adapalene Gel 0.1%
Differin Gel Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, $12 Amazon
The Inkey List Retinol Anti-Aging Serum, $9.99 Sephora