When it comes to skin care, few people have been more visible than Dr. Sandra Lee—aka Dr. Pimple Popper—over the past few years. A board-certified dermatologist in Southern California, Lee decided to start sharing some of the procedures from her practice on Instagram back in 2015 before starting a YouTube channel after that. (Yes, her videos are the ones of blackhead extractions you can’t stop watching.)
From extractions to dissections of lipomas and cysts to Botox, keloid removals and ear surgeries, Lee shows it all (with her patients’ consent, of course) and in the process has racked up 3.1 million YouTube subscribers, 2.6 million Instagram followers, and 2 million Facebook fans. She now has her own show on TLC and a skin care line but found time to answer a few skin-related questions for SheKnows readers.
To start with, the bad news: according to Lee, there’s no magic fix for better skin. Instead, she says that having a consistent skin care routine is the key to improving skin.
“A common belief is that there are miracle products that are going to get rid of acne or wrinkles overnight, and though there are some very effective ingredients, products and treatments available, the key to improving and maintaining great skin is consistency,” she tells SheKnows.
So, what does she recommend? Start with washing your face twice a day, using skin treatments (to treat current and prevent future breakouts), keeping skin moisturized and, of course, plenty of SPF are all important things to remember.
Read on for more tips from Dr. Pimple Popper herself.
1. Your Skin is Connected to Your Overall Health
It should come as no surprise that there is a link between how the skin on our face looks and our general health.
“I think when we don’t eat or sleep well, this is reflected in our skin and our overall health,” Lee explains. “Our immune system is often not at its strongest, and we are more prone to getting sick and probably also more susceptible to skin conditions that our immune system would normally fight off.”
There are plenty of reasons to want to live a healthier existence—good skin would just be a bonus.
“I think many of us have seen that when we feel our best, we look our best too!” she says. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen a person who is physically very ill and noticed that their skin looks fantastic. It all works hand in hand.”
2. What Actually Causes Breakouts
“When it comes to acne, there are a lot of factors that can cause us to break out beyond simply not washing our face,” Lee says. “Genetics, hormones, sweat and even certain hair care products can cause breakouts on the face. Every case of acne is different and usually has more than one of these factors involved.”
3. Don’t Forget Your Neck
We can’t forget the skin that’s not on our faces, Lee says.
“A good tip is to bring your skin care down to your neck and décolletage area—these areas are often forgotten but are just as important to care for,” she explains.
4. Pick Products With the Right Ingredients
If there’s one thing Lee wishes her patients would stop doing immediately, it’s choosing skin care products without the ingredients that are known to fight pimples.
“While I am not against alternative remedies or skin care solutions in the fight against pimples, I do like to stick to—and recommend—ingredients I know will work, such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid [and] sulfur,” Lee says, noting that all these can be found in her SLMD formulas.
Lee says that she also concentrates on educating people and ensures they understand why these active ingredients work on acne and what type of acne each specifically can target. “Then people are more likely to choose the right acne products, use them correctly and, of course, see results,” she adds.
5. Don’t Fall for These Myths
And now, for the lightning round. We asked Lee to dispel a few skin care myths, so here are some of her most frequently asked questions:
Does eating oily foods make you break out?
“This is false,” Lee says. “Greasy foods only make you break out if you were to rub it on your skin! Eating these oily foods does not increase your skin’s oil production, which is one of the causes of acne. Dairy does correlate with acne, however, because excess dairy can trigger hormonal changes in our body. This promotes inflammation and increases our skin’s production of oil and sebum.”
Will having dirty skin cause pimples?
“Dirt won’t make you break out unless it stays on the skin, mixes with sweat and irritates your skin, which can then clog pores to form pimples,” Lee explains.
Does washing your face several times a day clear up breakouts?
“Washing your face twice a day is important for unclogging pores,” she notes. “But washing your face too frequently can actually irritate your skin, especially when you have acne. Scrubbing your skin too often or too aggressively increases redness and flakiness and irritates the papules and pustules that are already present on your skin.”
Is it true that spending time in the sun will clear up my zits?
“Yes, it’s true that sun exposure can, in the short term, clear up your skin somewhat, and this is because sunlight is a mild anti-inflammatory agent,” Lee says. “In fact, it has been used to treat other inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.”
She also notes that temporarily, the sun may dry out some pimples and make you feel like it’s helping your acne.
“However, the long-term consequences of sun exposure makes this all not worth it,” Lee says. “There is definite increased risk of skin cancer and premature aging with chronic sun exposure. The sun also darkens existing pigmentation (those pesky dark spots), so make sure to always wear SPF when leaving the house!”
Originally posted on SheKnows.