The Differin Acne Treatment (£28) is by far the best over-the-counter acne treatment according to many dermatologists. The catch? It's only available by prescription in the UK, but if you're suffering with your breakouts, it might be worth a visit to a dermatologist or GP office to get one.
"Differin targets multiple causative factors for acne and can even help lighten pigmented acne scars. Differin is most effective when applied in a thin layer over the entire affected area, rather than spot treating, so it can prevent new breakouts as well as treat those that are already visible." — dermatologist Jennifer Peterson, DO, FAAD
"Retinoids are one of the best acne treatments, backed by years and years of scientific studies. I highly recommend Differin Gel, it is less potent than prescription-strength retinoids so patients with sensitive skin tolerate it better. I love Differin (and other retinoids) as they not only treat acne, but they can help with the dark spots seen after acne lesions clear. Also, retinoids have anti-ageing properties — what more can you ask for in an acne cream?" — dermatologist Charlotte Birnbaum, MD
"Differin is a retinoid, so it's great at clearing clogged pores and blackheads, which are oftentimes the nidus for formation of inflammatory bumps and pustules." — dermatologist Susan Bard, MD
"As a result [of Differin being a prescription treatment previously], it has been extensively studied and found to be great for acne. Not only that, compared to many prescription retinoids, it is gentler on the skin so it's easier to tolerate, especially if you're just starting out. Retinoids are great for acne prevention by helping to regulate skin turnover to prevent pores from getting clogged, so it can be especially helpful for whiteheads and blackheads." — dermatologist Marisa Garshick, MD
"One of my favourite OTC acne treatments is the Differin gel. It is an excellent choice for both papular acne as well as blackheads and whiteheads. It also helps control the oiliness of the skin, making it an excellent option as a starter medication for treating acne." — dermatologist Jennifer Kitchin, MD, FAAD
"Differin gel is one of the best treatments for whiteheads and blackheads, not to mention enlarged pores and wrinkles. I caution my patients to start three times a week and build up as tolerated." — dermatologist Kathryn Dempsey, MD
"Use Differin as a whole face (not spot) treatment, preferably but not exclusively in the evenings. Don't use Differin at the same time as a benzoyl peroxide treatment, which is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory." — dermatologist Stephanie Daniel, MD