Shoppers Say This $10 Gel Banishes Breakouts and Makes Skin "Look 15 Years Younger"

Featuring a dermatologist-approved ingredient.

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Shoppers Say This $10 Gel Banishes Breakouts and Makes Skin “Look 15 Years Younger”
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Of all the retinoids, retinol gets the most attention. But its sibling ingredient, adapalene, shouldn't be overlooked. If you thought retinol and retinoids were the same thing, and are now further confused by the introduction of adapalene, allow me to quickly explain.

Retinoids are a class of vitamin A-derived ingredients. When retinoids are talked about, it's usually in reference to prescription-strength products such as tretinoin. Meanwhile, retinol refers to the over-the-counter topical ingredient containing a lower concentration of retinoid. Adapalene sits somewhere in the middle — it's a third generation retinoid that "tends to be gentler" than other retinoids, Dr. Rachel Nazarian, board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group tells InStyle. "Only a small amount is needed, and it doesn't degrade in sunlight so it can be used either in the morning or evening." If you're surprised to be learning about a new retinoid, Dr. Nazarian says it's probably because "it was actually only available with a prescription not that long ago." These days, however, you can find the ingredient in over-the-counter products like the AcneFree .1% Adapalene Gel.

Acne Free Adapalene Gel 0.1%

Shop now: $10 (Originally $14);

Although all these ingredients are very similar and fall under the same umbrella, the gist is that adapalene is better suited for combatting acne, while retinol targets aging skin. Adapalene prevents the clogging of pores by speeding up cell turnover, has anti-inflammatory properties, exfoliates skin, and speeds up the healing process — which is probably why the AcneFree gel has over 4,500 five-star reviews.

"I'm a nurse and have been suffering from mask-associated acne since COVID-19 started," one shopper wrote. "The acne associated with wearing a mask for over 13 hours a shift and often re-wearing the same mask for days has been painful and cystic in nature… I started using a thin layer of [AcneFree Adapalene Gel] daily with a moisturizer and my acne is gone."

Another five-star shopper described their skin as looking "15 years younger" after using AcneFree Adapalene Gel for four months. "This has cleared the blackheads on my nose, eliminated a beginning zit overnight, and decreased my forehead wrinkles quite a bit. [My skin is] plump and smooth."

If the reviews have convinced you to try the topical gel for yourself, Dr. Nazarian cautions that "like other retinols and retinoids, it does make you a little more sensitive to burning, and it should always be accompanied by the use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen, minimum of SPF 30." And while adapalene "does have a tendency to be a little bit less irritating than traditional retinoids," you may still experience some side effects. Start with a patch test and work it in your routine slowly. "Use a small amount once or twice a week, and follow with moisturizer." If you increase your usage, "monitor skin for signs of overuse, such as redness, dryness, flaking, itching, or burning, as that's your sign to back off and decrease how often you're using it."

With that being said, Dr. Nazarian describes this ingredient as "worth the effort," and thousands of shoppers agree that Acne Free's Adapalene Gel is "life-changing." Head to Amazon to snag a tube for just $10.

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