As the field of skincare technology continues to advance, more products are now available to treat acne and its resulting scars. Adapalene gel is one of the latest products to go to battle with acne.

What is Adapalene?

Adapalene is a retinoid that is used to treat mild and moderate forms of acne. Like other types of retinoids, adapalene works by increasing the rate in which cells turn over. By boosting this process, new and unblemished skin replaces the old skin more quickly. This cell turnover regulation also works by unclogging pores and stopping acne before it can take root. Adapalene is available both over the counter and in prescription form as the active ingredient in a few different acne medications.

How Adapalene Works:

As a super exfoliator, adapalene prevents the formation of comedones. Adapalene rapidly penetrates hair follicles, unclogging pores and stopping acne in its tracks. The ingredient also reduces inflammation. These properties work together to improve the overall appearance of the skin. Adapalene is available in gel form and is applied directly to affected skin.

Does Adapalene Gel Help Fade Acne Scars?

A recent clinical study has demonstrated that adapalene is also an effective treatment for existing atrophic acne scars. The study looked at the efficacy of adapalene in a concentration of 0.3 percent. The 24-week study concluded that the ingredient is effective at reducing the appearance of atrophic acne scars when used consistently.

Best Over the Counter Adapalene Products

Up until recently, topical retinoids were only available through prescription. However, the recent approval by the FDA of the retinoid adapalene as an OTC acne solution now makes it easier to treat pimples and the resulting scarring. A concentration of 0.1 percent is now available for OTC usage. Keep in mind that the study cited above did test a concentration of 0.3 percent. Here are two of the best OTC options that contain the active ingredient adapalene:

1. Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment

This popular treatment relies on the topical retinoid adapalene to speed the process of cell turnover. Pimples are also cleared up as a result of the decrease in skin inflammation. As the first OTC prescription-strength topical retinoid, the Differin gel is effective yet gentle. The product is applied in a thin layer all over the face or other areas of the skin that are prone to breakouts. By restoring the skin's natural texture and tone, Differin Adapalene Gel delivers clear and fresh skin.

See on Amazon

2. ProactivMD Adapalene Gel

This gel dives deep into the pores upon application, going to work in just five minutes. By treating acne at the cellular level, the ProactivMD Adapalene Gel restores the natural balance of the skin. This product treats a variety of acne such as blackheads, clogged pores, whiteheads, and other blemishes. The active ingredient adapalene is also effective when looking to reduce redness and irritation. This gel needs to be used in conjunction with a good sunscreen.

See on Amazon

How to Use Adapalene Gel on Acne Scars

Unlike many spot treatments on the market today, adapalene is for use all over areas of the skin that are at risk for acne. Because it is also used as a preventative measure, adapalene is for use on any area that is prone to developing blemishes. After thoroughly cleansing the skin, apply the adapalene gel and then follow this treatment with your preferred moisturizer. Because the product can dry out the skin, begin using it every other day and gradually decrease the time between applications. It is also recommended to use adapalene at night because it can increase sensitivity to the sun.

Other Tips for Dealing With Acne Scars

  1. Regular Cleansing and Exfoliation: The first line of defense against acne is a regular cleansing and exfoliation routine. Be sure to do your due diligence to select products suitable for your skin type.
  2. Do Not Pick at Skin: Although it can be tempting to try to squeeze your pimples, it is important to resist the urge to pick at your skin. Not only will this further irritate the blemishes, but you will also introduce harmful impurities to the surface of the skin.
  3. Daily Sunscreen Use: Being proactive about using sunscreen will prevent acne scars from appearing even more uneven and pronounced.
  4. Chemical Peels: This procedure uses a specially formulated acid mixture to peel away old layers of skin and reveal a fresher and less blemished new layer. Using a beta or alpha hydroxy acid, the process rapidly exfoliates the skin. Read more about chemical peels for acne scars.
  5. Consult with a Dermatologist: A professional dermatologist can help you to devise a skin care protocol specific to your individual needs. These trained experts will be able to prescribe the best treatment to suit your specific type of skin and issues. A face to face meeting with a dermatologist is better than any advice you could find online.

Take Before and After Pictures

The best way to measure the effectiveness of the gel is to take both before and after pictures for comparison purposes. These pictures are also helpful if you decide to consult the assistance of a dermatologist.


How long does it take to fade acne scars with adapalene gel?

The use of adapalene gel is not an overnight fix. Clinical studies have demonstrated that the gel is effective in reducing the appearance of acne scars after approximately 24 weeks of consistent use.