Dealing with the side effects of adapalene (Differen gel, Epiduo gel) and dry, sensitive skin


So in the past few months I’ve had a few scary moments with my skin. At the end of last year, I had a run in with some major acne which was bringing me quite down. So my Dermatologist started me on the Yasmin pill and Epiduo gel (this is a combination of benzoyl peroxide and adapalene which is a retinoid). The Yasmin pill actually did wonders on my skin just after two months of use, however I got some really bad side effects from using the Epiduo. Differin is another weaker adapalene based gel which my Dermatologist prescribed to me due to the side effects I was experiencing from Epiduo. However, regardless of how little I used of the both these topical treatments, I got some horrible side effects which were in fact worse than the original acne.

Basically they made my skin incredibly painful, raw (imagine the worst sun burn possible), dry and sensitive. I think I also got an allergic reaction which made my eyes incredibly puffed up. It was not a pretty sight to say the least and it actually stopped me from leaving the house for two days. Trust me if you’ve experienced this skin reaction before, you’ll definitely be able to relate- it is one of the most horrible sensations as very few things help. I’m just going to talk about a few things which did give me some relief- they won’t fix your skin woes but they will definitely speed up the recovery process and reduce the pain slightly.



The problem with this particular skin reaction is that your skin becomes sensitive to pretty much every skin product (including the most expensive in your stash) even the ones that claim to be for sensitive skin. I found that the Cetaphil products (available here) were the only products that my skin could tolerate and they didn’t cause any burning on application. They are really gentle on the skin and can adequately clean and moisturise.

The Body Shop Camomile silky cleansing oil  


This cleansing oil is also very gentle and the good thing about this is that it moisturises your skin at the same time and doesn’t strip the skin off its essential oils. It’s also very good for removing make up. This is available here.

Some Natural Remedies 


These remedies are particularly good for de-puffing your eyes but also for providing relief to burning skin. Tea has amazing anti-irritant properties and can reduce inflammation around your eyes. For this, just dip any two teabags of your choice (I’m just slightly obsessed with camomile at the moment :P)  into hot water for a couple of minutes and then put them over your eyelids for around 10-15 mins with a cloth over the top. You can put the teabags in the fridge for 5 minutes before putting them over your eyes for some extra relief.


This may seem a bit strange, but putting the back of a really cold teaspoon underneath your eyes is a great way to de-puff. The shape of the spoon is also perfect for that area of the face. It can also increase absorption of your eye cream so I highly recommend this. So start putting your spoons in the fridge!

I hope this post is helpful to anyone suffering from really sensitive skin at the moment. I promise that things do get better- you just need to give your skin some time to heal. Avoid putting on layers of make up over all the raw patches as frankly your make up will just look flaky and aggravate your skin even more. Stick to small amounts of concealer. I find that using a bright lip colour actually deters from the skin quite a lot (my personal choice right now is Clinique Chubby Stick intense in Grandest Grape (buy here). Also remember at the end of the day you are not defined by your skin so try not to feel to self conscious about it- the less you notice it, the less other people will.

Please leave any comments below if you have any product recommendations 🙂


4 thoughts on “Dealing with the side effects of adapalene (Differen gel, Epiduo gel) and dry, sensitive skin

  1. I was just prescribed epiduo for my acne , and i was doing a bit of research on it before i actually started, and this was really helpful, im a lot more intimidated though right now , could you outline how and when you applied moisturisers after the epiduo administration to prevent skin from drying out

    • Hi Salma,
      Thanks for your comment! Don’t be intimidated- i think i got a particularly bad reaction, most people are generally ok with it. In terms applying moisturiser- i used to have some moisturiser with me at all times and whenever i could feel my skin getting actively dry, I would apply some (you can never apply too much moisturiser). So I would apply it 5-6 times a day at least. Everyone’s skin is different so it really just depends on how dry your skin gets. Hope that helps!!

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