The year was 2014: the World Cup was taking place in Brazil, the Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom and a world-halting pandemic was the stuff of Hollywood scripts.
It was also the year that Dr Pimple Popper posted her first viral video of a blackhead extraction and you could say the rest was history, but Dr Sandra Lee didn’t stop there. The board certified dermatologist has amassed a following of 4.2 million fans that watch with gruesome awe as she embarks on the most satisfying spot squeezing. It’s not for the squeamish.
With 6.7 million YouTube subscribers, a worldwide digital audience of 20 million and a TLC show Dr Pimple Popper under her belt, it seems only natural that she’s launched her own skincare label - SLMD Skincare.
Led by the desire to democratise dermatology, the line is now available this side of the pond. She has channelled her years of expertise into a strong and accessible line-up of products so that no matter who you are, you can make the most of a specialist’s knowledge of skin and the ingredients that it needs with targeted solutions.
We caught up with Dr Sandra Lee aka Dr Pimple Popper to find out her favourite things.
What does 2021 look like at present for you?
We are so close to having things go back to the way they were pre-pandemic! Well, they will likely never be quite the same, but I’m so thankful to see that we are moving in a very positive direction and we are almost fully open up at the office and in southern California. We closed the office and had to halt TV production for a couple months during the early days of the pandemic, but thankfully we are now making big moves toward getting things back to “normal”. My kids will likely not return to school until September which is the start of the new school year, but everyone is healthy and safe and for this, I am so thankful.
So now there really is a flurry of activity - prepping for my SLMD Skincare launch in the UK, working closely with my team because there are so many new SLMD products we are launching in the US concurrently. We are actively casting and filming for our new season of Dr Pimple Popper on TLC and Discovery Plus, I am continuing to see my patients at my private practice in Southern California, continuing to be active on my social media channels, especially Tiktok which I just started during the pandemic and is now approaching 10 million subscribers! Most importantly, I’m trying to be the best dermatologist, mom, wife, friend, and human that I can be - I always try to focus on the positive!
Can you walk us through your new range?
Yes! So I’ve curated products and systems that are really going to provide solutions to common skin conditions we all experience like facial blemishes, body blemishes, rough, dry, bumpy, keratosis pilaris-prone, dry, and thirsty skin. My products bridge the gap for those unable to visit me or another dermatologist in the office and are overwhelmed by the confusing and cluttered skin care aisle at the store.
What is the hero item in your new range?
My personal three heroes are Salicylic Acid Cleanser - great for blemish-prone skin and for those just looking to minimize the look of pores and keep them unclogged, Skin Drink - it’s made with Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane which are super moisturizing ingredients, also used in injectables and fillers, because they really fill in those nooks and crannies, and leave your skin feeling glowy and fuller, and Retinol Serum - retinol (derivative of Vitamin A) is is the tried and true anti-ageing ingredient and I recommend that everyone incorporate it in their routine. Retinol Serum will help encourage skin cell turnover, bring fresh skin to the surface, keep your pores unclogged, and will help give you that even textured, skin glow we’re all after.
What are your must-have pimple popping tools?
What you usually see in my videos on social media is my comedone extractor - a small metal instrument with two loops that surrounds a blemish with pressure, to push all of the contents out of the clogged pore! This should only be used on blemishes very superficial to the surface of the skin, to minimize post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is time to stop if you no longer see any blemish contents, and certainly if you only see blood. If they aren’t extracting, don’t persist and stop immediately.
What are your pimple popping commandments?
Sterilise the area and be sure to have clean tools, hands, and environment.
You’ll want to make sure you wash your face before with warm water, or better yet, take a steamy shower, to really open up the pores.
Use your fingers or a comedone extractor as I most often use in my videos, to place pressure on the skin immediately surrounding the whitehead, to push the contents out. If using fingers, increase traction by wrapping clean tissue paper around the fingers applying pressure.
A whitehead or blackhead should come out pretty easily if it is ready, but if the blemish is not popping, there’s definitely a time to give up because forcing it and continually pushing and squeezing will only irritate your skin cause increased swelling, redness, and pain, and certainly increase your risk for local infection and scarring. See a dermatologist or skin care professional to help you get these extracted.
To finish, I would recommend applying a treatment like sulfur lotion or a topical corticosteroid, cool compress if desired, and just try to leave the area alone.
What is your current skincare routine?
I keep my skincare routine pretty simple -- I wash my face with my SLMD Salicylic Acid Cleanser.
Then, I’ll gently pat my face dry with a towel, emphasis on PAT! so I don’t irritate my skin and get any microtears.
Then I’ll use Skin Drink -I like this serum when my skin is feeling particularly parched - it’s a great hydrator and is particularly effective on damp skin.
I do light makeup - if I’m wearing a mask all day, only on the top half of my face to keep that skin underneath the mask clean and decrease the chances of my pores clogging.
I’ll mattify my skin and protect it with my mineral-powdered sunscreen, UV Bounce, unfortunately only available in the US, for now!
Then I’ll apply Aquaphor Healing Ointment to my lips to keep them from getting chapped.
And finally I’ll apply Eucerin Original Healing Hand Creme to my hands which have been especially dry since I’ve been washing them so much for a year!!
What are your tips to combat maskne?
If you can - avoid wearing makeup or heavy topical products on the skin that your mask covers! No one will see that area when you are wearing your mask and wearing less makeup/products means that your mask will get less dirty, and this will minimize the risk of breakouts.
Have an exfoliating anti-acne cleansing/spray wipe on you so you can cleanse your face between errands / in the car / etc! Anything like these with AHA’s + BHA’s are an easy way to clean your face + clear away any dirt or debris that may have built up on it.
Wash your mask as often as you change your underwear - that’s a great way to remember to change it and clean it often.