Why I’m Not a Fan of Differin Being Available OTC

In July 2016 The FDA approved the use of Differin 0.1% gel for over the counter use in persons 12 and older for the treatment of acne. It works by affecting the growth of cells and decreasing swelling and inflammation. Differin (adapalene) is a retinoid, which is a vitamin A derivative. Retinol, retinyl palmitate which are Vitamin A derivatives are on Beautycounter’s Never List with our stance that it is “a nutrient that may damage DNA and speed the growth of skin tumors when used topically. Found in: moisturizer, anti-aging skincare.” You will oftentimes find retinyl palmitate in sunscreens to reduce the signs of aging. Now that seems counter intuitive.

When you look up this information you will find varying information and stances from the FDA, stating that the studies that were done were not strong enough to prove that it can cause harm and on the other side you have the Environmental Working Group stating that the studies show there may be harm and that more studies need to be done. We are always doing the best we can and there really isn’t enough information out there to convince me that retinol based ingredients are safe enough for me to want to use them especially when it comes to possible sun exposure as is the case with sunscreens and Differin. When I was prescribing this medication there was a lot of education that went with it in terms of sun sensitivity making sure patients would be diligent about sunscreen and one of the common side effects is that it causes skin irritation and redness.

According to the press release, “Overall, results from the consumer studies showed that consumers can understand the information on the OTC label, appropriately select whether the product is right for them, and use the product appropriately.” I know I would get a lot of questions regarding OTC medications and that consumers aren’t always good about reading the label and using the medications as indicated.

I always want to provide you with information so you can choose the safest options for you and your families if that is something you wish to do. In the case of this medication when you find it on the shelf, know that sunscreen is extremely important and try to find a safer sunscreen that doesn’t contain oxybenzone or retinyl palmitate. As always, I’m here to answer any questions you might have.



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