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Adapalene Review – The Affordable Secret to Clear Skin?

Hello, lovely readers!

In this post, I detailed my experience using adapalene to clear my stubborn, hormonal acne over a three-month period. I have also included one photo for every month to showcase my progress. I hope you enjoy reading my review! Remember, everyone’s skin is different, and what works or doesn’t work for me might be the opposite for you.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve dealt with inflammatory acne most of your life and are more than ready for a change. Before I get into the review, here’s a little background on my skin, the products I’ve used in the past, and what adapalene is.

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Disclaimer: I am not a dermatologist or medical professional and am in no way giving medical advice. This is simply detailing my experience using adapalene. In addition, some of the products in this article are affiliate links, and I may receive a percentage of the sale to support my blog. The product I used for this review is the Efficlar Adapalene Treatment 0.1%  by La Roche Posay.

Since 2019, my skin has been covered in cystic acne caused by an over-production of androgens (AKA hormonal acne). I’ve tried everything my dermatologist could throw at me (Spironolactone, Tretinoin, Winlevi, Aczone, Acanya, Benzaclin, an array of oral antibiotics, and more) to no avail. I even got a second and third opinion, but no one could help me. I also tried over-the-counter products, like AHAs, BHAs, and various PMS supplements, but the results were temporary, and the acne kept forming.

At this point, I felt hopeless. I thought I was doomed to have painful spots covering the lower half of my face. That was until I found La Roche Posay’s Efficlar Adapalene 0.1% treatment, a conveniently OTC retinoid.

What is adapalene?

Adapalene is a topical retinoid that helps to clear and prevent acne by increasing the skin cell turnover rate (AKA getting the crap out of clogged pores). Although clinically proven to be more gentle than traditional retinoids, like Tretinoin, adapalene can first, in some people, cause dryness, peeling, and irritation, known as retinization, during the first month. After the retinization stage comes what I call The Great Purge.

During the purging stage, all the acne, oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria from deep inside the skin come to the surface. This may sound scary, but it lasts only about a month or two.

After the purging stage, most of the acne should be gone, and you are usually left with baby-soft skin. Some post-acne scarring may linger; however, retinoids heal the skin faster by accelerating the skin cell turnover process. This is why peeling and flaking may occur in the beginning.

My skincare routine during the 3-month period:



I will also keep taking my Spironolactone twice daily, which I have been taking for ten years.


The photos were taken on the same side of my face to show accurate progress.

Month 1: Retinization

Month one progress photo

Since I already have dry, sensitive skin, I used the “sandwiching technique” to prevent some of this from happening. The sandwiching method states to use a light moisturizer after cleansing, wait for it to absorb into the skin fully, apply the retinoid, wait ten minutes, and then apply a heavy moisturizer to lock it all in. In addition, I started using the adapalene twice weekly for the first two weeks.

After about a week of use, I noticed my skin becoming more sensitive and dry, and I couldn’t wear foundation because it burned. This was very hard because I felt insecure about how red my face looked. However, I ultimately accepted it and wore my acne with pride.

Luckily, after week two, the redness and irritation almost entirely resolved, and I could return to my regular routine. Weeks three and four were terrific, as I could see my acne and overall skin texture improving.

Month 2: The Great Purge

Month two progress photo

After month one came to the purging stage, which lasted about a month and a half. Reading horror stories about purging from adapalene was why it took me so long to try it, especially after my four months of hell with Retin-A Micro in 2018. However, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. A few cystic blemishes popped up once or twice a week, but they were small and only lasted a few days – a huge improvement from blemishes lasting well over a week. They weren’t as painful, and the hyperpigmentation faded faster.

Another bonus was that nearly all of my comedonal acne is gone! That was a massive relief, as not even AHAs could clear them up. To sum up, I’m thrilled with where my skin is at, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. On to month three!

Month 3: Acne Starting to Clear

Month three progress photo

During my third month, I noticed that my comedonal acne was gone, and my cystic acne blemishes were popping up only when I was about to start my cycle. Not only was I getting fewer spots, but they were also less painful and healed after a few days, a vast improvement. My post-acne scarring is also starting to fade! I am very hopeful for more progress.

Final Thoughts

After trying many products without results, I am blown away by how this affordable treatment improved my acne. Although it did not completely clear my skin in the three-month period, I can tell that it has the potential to do so in months to come. I highly recommend it to anyone struggling with acne.

Leave your thoughts in the comments below! I will happily answer any questions about my experience and offer advice. In addition, let me know if you’d like me to review other beauty products. I’m always up for suggestions!

As always, I love my lovely readers!

For more on beauty, read Maintain Your Hair Color at Home with This Easy DIY.


Lauren Hochman

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Lauren Hochman
Lauren Hochman

Lauren Hochman is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lifestyle on a Budget and THE TEEN RUNWAY. She has over a decade of experience giving women advice through her writing. When she isn’t at her laptop, you can find her exploring Texas with her fiancé, Alex, and dog, Mr. Cantaloupe.

Find me on: Web | Instagram


  1. April 27, 2023 / 5:17 pm

    Your post about La Roche-Posay Adapalene is awesome. I love how you included your personal experience with the product and your before-and-after photos. It’s so helpful to see real results.

    • April 27, 2023 / 8:38 pm

      Hi, Carol! Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you found my review helpful. xx, Lauren 🙂

  2. April 27, 2023 / 5:16 pm

    Your review of La Roche-Posay Adapalene is super helpful! I’ve been looking for a new acne treatment and your review makes me want to try this one out. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • April 27, 2023 / 8:41 pm

      Hi, Jenny! You’re very welcome, and thank you for the kind words! I love hearing feedback from my readers. I hope you enjoy the product as much as I did! xx, Lauren 🙂

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