Can Differin Help Hyperpigmentation

Differin And Hyperpigmentation: The Cure?

Differin is known to work wonders on those suffering from acne breakouts, and bumps, and even prevents new acne from forming. But does it help with hyperpigmentation? The answer is a very mid yes.

Over time, the treatment does also gradually fade hyperpigmentation on the skin. Users of Differin Gel have shared that they are happy with their skin after using it. Their acne clears up, and they finally see results compared to other products they have tried.

The effects of Differin on hyperpigmentation are mild at best, so it would be a good idea to explore other options to treat dark spots on the face. Many other products work much better if dark spots and hyperpigmentation are your major concern.

Differin has also released its Dark Spot Correcting Serum, which targets the issue of hyperpigmentation more directly. It has received many positive reviews, claiming that users have seen a difference in their skin after using the product within just three days. 

The serum has also worked well for lightening acne scars and even freckles. While the key ingredient Adapalene in Differin Gel is what makes it work, Hydroquinone is the active ingredient found in Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum. It may help discoloration fade away within days, not months.

What Is Hyperpigmentation?

Hyperpigmentation is the medical term used to describe darker spots or patches on the skin. While commonly found on the face, it can also show in other areas, like the hands and arms. The pigment size can range anywhere from tiny dots to large patches. 

There is no rhyme or reason for the size of the patches, but hyperpigmentation may result from several factors, including sun damage, acne scarring, and hormone fluctuations. Where the skin is darker, there is excess melanin produced.

The shades of pigment can range from light to dark and everything in between. These patches frequently appear on the forehead and cheeks but can occur anywhere on the face.

Melasma is a common form of hyperpigmentation caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy or from sun exposure. Melasma is usually found in women and can often clear up after pregnancy or when a woman stops taking birth control pills, although it doesn’t always go away on its own. 

Women often turn to over-the-counter skin creams to help combat this problem. Excess melasma on the face can cause one to become self-conscious due to having a “mask” on their face.

Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation, also known as PIH, is another type of bothersome hyperpigmentation. It occurs following a skin injury or other kind of inflammation and leaves the skin darkened and discolored after the area has healed. 

PIH arises equally in both men and women and all skin types but more frequently affects people of color and darker skin tones. The spots appear as flat areas of discoloration, ranging in color from pink to red, black, or brown, depending on the skin tone and the depth of the blemish. PIH is the most common reason why those with darker skin tones seek the help of a dermatologist.

The root cause of PIH is the increase in melanin production. Once a blemish or injury (squeezing a pimple, for example) causes the skin to become inflamed, this triggers the melanin-producing cells to release excess pigment granules known as melanosomes. 

Sun exposure can also further aggravate the affected areas, making them darker and prolonging their time to fade away. In addition to other treatments, limiting your time spent in the sun can help your skin recover more quickly from the blemishes brought on by PIH. Skin treatments such as dermabrasion and chemical peels can also trigger the effects of the condition.

What Is Differin?

Differin Gel is a topical medication used to prevent and treat acne on the skin. It is known to decrease the severity of acne pimple breakouts and promote their healing. 

Differin’s active ingredient Adapalene is a type of retinoid that decreases swelling and inflammation and hinders the growth of new acne cells. It increases cellular turnover and helps to naturally exfoliate surface skin, unblock pores, and reduce blackhead formation. 

Adapalene can cause acne to appear worse while it is in use since it works on treating the pimples from inside the skin. It is recommended to be applied daily to achieve desired results and takes eight to 12 weeks to see positive changes to the skin’s appearance. Since the skin absorbs the medication, pregnant women should not use Differin, harming their unborn baby. New mothers should also avoid it if they are breastfeeding.

Like with any product, there are a few side effects of using Differin, so you will have to decide for yourself if they are worth it for you. Some of these side effects include skin redness, irritation, dryness, itching, scaling, mild burning or stinging sensation. 

These are to be expected upon the use of the product but are not cause for alarm. But you should tell your doctor if you experience the following: intense burning sensation, eye redness and watering (conjunctivitis), eyelid swelling, or skin discoloration.

While a mild reduction in hyperpigmentation is a side effect of using Differin, it is not a primary treatment for the condition. Differin’s primary purpose is to treat acne but not hyperpigmentation.

Dermatologists highly recommended Differin for the treatment of acne and it was once only available by prescription. In 2016, the FDA approved Differin for over-the-counter use and is currently available at almost any local drugstore.

Should I Use Differin for Treating Dark Spots/Hyperpigmentation?

You could likely see some reduction in hyperpigmentation after using Differin, but you will not be able to get rid of all of it using Differin alone. This is because Differin treats inflammation from within the skin, and hyperpigmentation is an issue that mainly occurs on the surface skin cells. 

A better option for treating hyperpigmentation is to combine Differin with another hyperpigmentation product to achieve maximum results. Products containing hydroquinone are great for this and come in various lightening creams and serums. 

Differin Dark Spot Correcting Serum is an excellent product to try on hyperpigmentation. It uses 2% hydroquinone to gently lighten acne marks, dark spots, and blotches on the face.

Another contender in removing hyperpigmentation seems to be Good Molecules Discoloration Correcting Serum. It contains tranexamic acid and niacinamide to do its job of fading dark spots. These two ingredients work together to improve skin texture while targeting skin discoloration and promoting clear skin tone. 

Tranexamic acid has is commonly used to treat heavy periods. Still, it has proved helpful for treating hyperpigmentation since it inhibits melanin production and, over time, fades existing dark spots.

Vitamin C

The use of vitamin C is also one of much interest when it comes to treating hyperpigmentation. While this vitamin does work to block the enzyme that is essential to melanin formation, it works best to slowly fade dark spots of hyperpigmentation as long as the skin stays directly out of the sun, along with the use of sunscreen. 

An additional benefit to vitamin C is that when applied to the skin regularly, it can help promote new collagen growth while also protecting existing collagen from further damage. You will, however, want to exercise caution when using vitamin C in combination with other acidic skincare products. This could lead to skin irritation, something nobody wants.

Another method called vitamin C iontophoresis takes the use of vitamin C to the next level. This treatment uses controlled electrical charges to infuse vitamin C molecules into the skin. It’s particularly effective because simply applying vitamin C to the face topically only allows a small amount of it to penetrate the skin. In clinical studies, this method improves the appearance of hyperpigmented areas. 

Overall, vitamin C proves to reduce dark spots significantly, but experts say more research is still needed to determine how well it works.


Niacinamide is another trending skincare product for the treatment of hyperpigmentation. But did you also know that it’s a form of vitamin B3? 

Though initially used in tightening skin and shrinking the appearance to large pores, niacinamide is surprising us with its other hidden talents. There are confirmed studies that reveal that niacinamide not only significantly decreased hyperpigmentation but increased the lightness of skin tone after four weeks. Since it functions as an antioxidant, it counteracts oxidative stress caused by environmental damage. It is in foods like eggs, green vegetables, beans, milk, and fish.

When purchased as a skincare product, it comes in 2% and 5% strengths. It is ideal to start with a 2% product if you have sensitive skin. Unlike other skin supplements and treatments, niacinamide is uniquely compatible with a wide range of products, including vitamin C, peptides, retinol, BHA’s, and other antioxidants. It supports the skin barrier’s function, which helps the skin produce its ceramides and retain its moisture. It also provides several other skin benefits, including fine lines and wrinkles and increased collagen production. 

Kojic Acid

Kojic acid is a chemical found in mushrooms, one that is controversially used in treating hyperpigmented skin. It is sometimes used in beauty products to lighten the skin. People use it in powder or bar soap from treating scars, dark spots, and sun damage. Similar to other depigmenting products, kojic acid works to prevent the production of melanin in the skin.

It is commonly used in lotions, creams, and serums. Kojic acid offers a wide range of benefits, including reducing scars, decreasing facial melasma, skin lightening, and treatment of fungal infections.

Currently, there are mixed views on the use of kojic acid. Some studies in mice suggest that kojic acid is linked to tumor growth when administered in high concentrations. This data has not been confirmed in human use since the acid is slowly absorbed. 

It is recommended that kojic acid be diluted to no more than 4%, with additional recommendations to be used at one to two percent to reduce the chance of skin irritation. Mixing it directly into creams and lotions is also not recommended. 

Since melanin helps protect skin from UV rays, those using kojic acid are more likely to develop a sunburn, as well as contact dermatitis. With so many comparable products on the market, those with sensitive skin may choose to steer clear of kojic acid altogether.

The Bottom Line With Differin For Hyperpigmentation

There are quite a few unique products on the market for treating hyperpigmentation. If treating hyperpigmentation is your primary goal, using Differin Gel may not be the best option since its effects on hyperpigmentation are mild. However, they do also make a serum that targets hyperpigmentation specifically. Using products that contain hydroquinone, vitamin C, and niacinamide will yield you better results and contain “melanin blockers”, making them quite effective.

Products containing vitamin C will also offer other benefits and can also provide overall improved texture and luminosity to the skin. But exercise caution with mixing topical vitamin C with other products and avoid sun exposure while averting skin irritation.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 and offers many benefits to skin health. It’s also an antioxidant and can counteract environmental damage. Since it is a natural nutrient found in many whole foods, it is a safe and favorable option for treating hyperpigmentation and evening skin tone.

Kojic acid is something relatively new to the skincare scene and is receiving mixed reviews. There are some concerns that high concentrations could lead to illness, so that more research may be needed. For this reason, you may want to consider other products before turning to ones that contain kojic acid. Those with sensitive skin may wish to avoid it altogether.