Busting those breakouts just got even easier

By Lauren Mazzo
Updated: July 12, 2016
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You may remember Differin as the acne cream that got you through the toughest years of your awkward phase (thank you magical dermatology gods). But up until now, it's taken a prescription from a doctor just to get your hands on it.

If your acne is surfacing again, you can now get some Differin back in your life without taking a trip to the derm. The FDA just approved Differin Gel 0.1% to be sold over-the-counter, becoming the first in a class of drugs known as retinoids to be made available without a prescription.

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that are used very commonly by dermatologists to treat acne and wrinkles, says Mona Gohara, M.D. associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. "Retinoids increase collagen production and decrease collagen breakdown," she says. Which is one reason why they're considered the gold standard of anti-aging products. "But many OTC formulations aren't that powerful and have less of an effect."

That's why the availability of retinoid-based Differin Gel "marks a new beginning," says Gohara. (FYI, using retinol is just one of the important skin care habits to start in your 20s.)

There's one thing to note before you go grab this magical anti-aging, acne-busting gel: the FDA recommends that women who are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding should ask a doctor before use; some retinoids have been shown to cause birth defects (though there's been no evidence of this when using Differin Gel). And if you're not into trying one of these strong retinoids for your adult acne, pregnant or not, you can try one of these alternative treatments to nix your skin spots.



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