Differin's Daily Cleanser Cleared My Acne Without Stripping My Skin

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Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

What We Like
  • Not overly drying

  • Cleans skin

  • Affordable

  • Developed with dermatologists

What We Don't Like
  • Can cause irritation

  • Must be followed by moisturizer

Differin's Daily Deep Cleanser can help clear acne-prone skin—even if it’s sensitive—without drying skin or costing too much.


Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser

Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

We purchased Differin's Daily Deep Cleanser so our writer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.

Benzoyl peroxide is a well-known ingredient to anyone who’s tried product after product to clear acne as a teenager (myself included). More than 10 years later, I’ve mostly abandoned the ingredient—it gives me flashbacks to high school and bleached pillowcases, three-step skincare routines, and too oily skin. 

But because benzoyl peroxide still reigns as a top acne-fighting ingredient—and the breakouts on my jawline persist—I was excited to see if I’d written off the powerhouse ingredient too early. Enter, Differin's Daily Deep Cleanser. It's an acne-clearing face wash formulated with BP that's designed for sensitive skin. My curiosity was peaked. Could this cleanser actually clear my breakouts without wreaking havoc on my skin? Read on to discover my results.

Differin's Daily Deep Cleanser

Best for: Sensitive, acne-prone skin

Uses: Clearing acne

Potential allergens: None

Active ingredients: Benzoyl peroxide

Byrdie Clean?: Yes

Price: Around $14

About the brand: Differin, best known for its FDA-approved adapalene gel, offers a line of skincare products that target acne.

About My Skin: Prone to breakouts 

Right before I started testing the Differin Daily Deep Cleanser, I broke out in a few of the worst pimples I’ve had in months. I also had some stubborn blackheads on my nose and peppered across my cheeks that weren’t going away no matter how much I tried to coax them out. 

I was interested to see if a cleanser specifically designed for breakouts could clear them because, despite my acne-prone skin, I don’t use many products specifically designed for acne. While I occasionally use Differin’s flagship product, the adapalene gel, as well as exfoliating toners like the Biologique Recherche Lotion P50, I mostly focus on supporting my skin’s health with moisturizers and serums. 

Products, such as those with benzoyl peroxide, that can dry skin scare me—I’ve found my skin behaves much better when I keep it hydrated, and the drying ingredients combined with drier areas had me worried the cleanser would do more harm than good. To combat this, I followed up each application of the cleanser with First Aid or Topicals Like Butter if my skin needed extra moisture.

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

The Feel: Clean skin without flakes or tightness 

The cleanser is best applied to an already wet face and then massaged into the skin for about 20 to 30 seconds. It feels foamy and slick going on and has little to no scent. After I rinsed it off, my skin felt clean but not overly dry or tight. Moisturizer is a must, though. I’ve found that if I forget to put on moisturizer or massage the cleanser into my skin for too long, that too-tight feeling creeps up on me.

I wouldn’t rely on this cleanser to remove makeup on its own, instead, double cleanse to remove makeup and then use the Differin cleanser on bare skin so its ingredients can penetrate the skin without makeup or dirt in the way. 

Ingredients: Strength without irritation

Benzoyl peroxide is the star ingredient in this cleanser and is actually FDA approved for acne. Benzoyl peroxide prevents and clears acne through a few different methods. It unclogs pores by exfoliating skin to remove dead skin cells and built-up sebum, both of which can cause pimples. It also kills P. acnes, an acne-causing bacteria.

Why not just slather your face in BP then? This is a case of too much of a good thing. Benzoyl peroxide can be incredibly drying, and in some cases, this can make acne worse, like if you start to destroy your skin’s acid mantle. 

After I rinsed it off, my skin felt clean but not overly dry or tight.

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser attempts to remedy this with a 5% benzoyl peroxide concentration, which, according to the brand, has the effectiveness of a 10% formulation so users can get the benefits without the irritation. 

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
Byrdie / Joline Buscemi 

The Results: Clearer skin and less blackheads

I used the cleanser once a day for about a week, and during that time I didn’t experience any new breakouts, and the ones I already had seemed to clear up quicker than usual. But my favorite thing about the cleanser is the way it made those hard-to-remove blackheads disappear. After using many other pore-clearing—and expensive—products, the Differin Daily Deep Cleanser was the one that finally removed the clogged pores on my cheeks and some of the perennial dots on my nose. 

After a week of use, my skin feels slightly drier than usual but not to a degree that makes it flaky or uncomfortable. The cleanser can be used up to three times daily and some skin types may be able to work up to this, but my recommendation is to take it slow and watch how your skin reacts first.

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser has a 5% benzoyl peroxide concentration, which, according to the brand, has the effectiveness of a 10% formulation so users can get the benefits without irritation. 

While I’d written off benzoyl peroxide long ago—and was notably skeptical that it would actually work for me—I now plan to incorporate the Differin Daily Deep Cleanser into my routine and start to use it whenever my skin needs a boost of acne-fighting ingredients. 

Differin Daily Deep Cleanser
 Byrdie / Joline Buscemi

The Value: Affordable

This cleanser is listed at $14 but you can find it on sale for around $10. While similar cleansers are available for cheaper, paying a bit more for the Differin name and formulation seems worth it here. Plus, the 4-ounce bottle should last at least a month or two depending on how often it’s used. 

Similar Products: Lots to choose from

CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser ($15): This cleanser generally is priced between $10 and $15 depending on where you buy it from. It has a slightly bigger bottle than the Differin cleanser, so you’ll get more for your money with this CeraVe cleanser. The ingredients list on this cleanser is longer than Differin's, too. On top of the 4% benzoyl peroxide, it also has ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide to keep skin hydrated.

Glytone Acne BPO Clearing Cleanser ($38): The Glytone wash is a splurge at $38, but the bottle is larger and the addition of shea butter means it won’t dry skin as much as other options. It uses 4.5% encapsulated benzoyl peroxide to treat the skin.

Final Verdict

Don’t discount the basicness of Differin's Daily Deep Cleanser—there’s a reason benzoyl peroxide continues to be a go-to acne-fighting ingredient. This formulation is not only affordable but is powerful enough to clear skin without drying it out.


  • Product Name Daily Deep Cleanser
  • Product Brand Differin
  • SKU 302994606009
  • Price $14.00
  • Weight 4 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Water, benzoyl peroxide, carbomer, glycerin, lauryl methacrylate/glycol dimethacrylate crosspolymer, sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, sodium hydroxide

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