Applying Clindamycin And Differin At The Same Time

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses how to apply clindamycin and Differin at the same time.

Feb 25, 2018

Dee asked

Is it okay to use clindamycin phosphate topical solution 1% on your forehead before putting on Differin at night? Or will they have a drug interaction?


Differin gel is a topical acne product classified as a retinoid. Retinoid medications help to prevent clogged pores by regulating the speed at which skin cells turnover. In other words, Differin helps to normalizes skin shedding in the hair follicle, which can help to clear existing acne and prevent acne from occurring. Differin can also act as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Clindamycin phosphate solution is a topical antibiotic that helps to eradicate bacteria causing acne such as P. acnes (propionibacterium acnes).

Both Differin and clindamycin are effective options to treat and prevent acne. Unfortunately, both are associated with skin irritaiton, burning and stinging. These side effects can make it difficult to apply more than one acne product at a time if you have been prescribed both.

Below, we discuss some strategies for applying Differin and clindamycin at the same time.

Applying Differin And Clindamycin Together

Both Differin and clindamycin topical products are associated with the following side effects:

  • Burning of the skin
  • Skin irritation
  • Redness
  • Skin peeling

Differin is most often used only once daily, generally at bedtime.

 If you are using clindamycin once daily as well, it is recommended to:

  • Apply clindamycin in the morning
  • Apply Differin in the evening before bedtime

Applying both products at separate times of the day will greatly reduce skin irriration from both products.

Of the two products (clindamycin and Differin), Differin tends to be more irritating. Following these directions can greatly reduce skin irritation with Differin:

  • Gently wash your face with a non-medicated, non-fragrence soap or non-soap cleanser. It is important to avoid applying medications before Differin as this will increase irritation.
  • Wait 30 minutes for Differin to become dried. At this point, a moisturizer may be applied. It is important that the moisturizer is applied after the Differin has been applied and dried.

If Differin and clindamycin are prescribed to be applied at the same time (e.g. both at night), it is recommended to wait at least 30 minutes between applications. There is no recommendation regarding which medication to apply first, but generally if Differin is applied first, and then clindamycin, skin irritation may be reduced.


  • If possible, apply Differin and clindamycin at different times of the time. Differin should be applied in the evening and clindamycin can be applied in the morning.
  • After Differin has been applied, wait 30 minutes, then apply a moisturizer to lessen skin irritation.
  • If clindamycin and Differin are to be applied at the same time, apply Differin first and then clindamycin 30 minutes later.

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