Despite amassing millions of YouTube and Instagram followers for her extreme extraction videos, Dr. Sandra Lee — more commonly referred to as Dr. Pimple Popper — has no skin in the game when it comes to promoting fancy products and dropping thousands of dollars on a routine.
The board-certified dermatologist rose quickly to viral sensation status when she first posted a blackhead extraction video in 2015. Now she has a show on TLC, a new book and a skin care line that she told HuffPost was formulated for people who “can’t see a dermatologist.”
But when it comes to caring for her own skin, she’s way more casual about the whole thing than you might expect.
HuffPost recently sat down with Lee to talk about what she considers the most important product in a skin care routine, the ingredient to look out for and what happens to her patients after their blemishes are removed.
Skin care product options can be overwhelming and overpriced. What’s the most crucial item for a person on a budget to have in their routine?
You don’t need a lot of money. Sunscreen is the most important thing, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money on soap and cleansers ― things like that.
That’s not what the skin care industry would like us to believe.
It’s a billion-dollar industry for a reason. People are looking for answers, so people in the industry use that to their advantage to get people to buy things. But so much has to do with genes. I have patients who look unbelievable in their 60s and they say, ‘Oh, it’s because I drink a glass of wine’ ― it has so much to do with the type of skin you’re born with.
Do you think anything is really worth the hype?
I think using retinol [which can treat dark spots, prevent wrinkles and acne, to name a few things] is really important. It’s something we have in one of our products, which are at more of a clinical grade.
What does your skin care routine look like?
I’m probably worse than the average dermatologist. I don’t do much. Some people go into the field because they’re infatuated with skin and skin products, things like that ― I like performing surgeries. So I probably don’t take as good care of my face and skin as I should.
“Sunscreen is the most important thing, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money on soap and cleansers ― things like that.”
When I don’t have foundation on, I could probably spot little brown spots and things which I know I could take care of, but also, I don’t like pain so I don’t want to have to go through a procedure.
I think it’s amazing after watching your videos to hear that you don’t like pain.
That’s why I’m so careful with my patients!
For those of us who are guilty of self-inflicted pain via at-home popping, what’s the best way to prevent scarring?
Well, first of all, oftentimes when people pop pimples, they get post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, which can cause brown spots or redness that is technically not a scar ― it’s going to fade. It just can take a while, sometimes a few months.
Is there anything we can do to speed up the process?
Stay out of the sun and try your best not to squeeze. The more you inflame, the longer you’ll have post-inflammatory [hyperpigmentation].
What are some of the main reasons you find that people’s blemishes get to the point where they need to come on your show?
It just happens! I don’t blame them; life gets away from you. They can’t see a doctor or they see one and the doctor says, “Don’t worry about it” ― they’re scared of what it is or they’re scared of pain. Skin is made of billions of cells, and something can just happen. They’re all common occurrences and are not life-threatening, which is the problem, because then insurance doesn’t always pay for them so things can get out of control.
When you are working on one of those bigger blemishes, we usually don’t see what happens after it comes out on social media. Does that hole heal on its own?
When something leaves a big hole, we’re going to stitch that up ― unless they want their own little coin purse in their skin, which is doubtful [laughs].