Dermatologist and SLMD Skincare founder Sandra Lee, MD aka Dr. Pimple Popper

Dr. Pimple Popper Debunks 5 Skincare Myths

Just because it's viral, doesn't mean it's true. America's favorite dermatologist weighs in.


3 minute read

These days, it’s difficult to know who and what to believe when it comes to skin care. Google searches yield thousands of articles with contradictory information, while social media is packed with dubious skincare claims.

Your skin is the first thing you present to the world, so you want the most up-to-date (and accurate!) information available. That’s why it’s always best to rely on information backed by dermatologists like SLMD Skincare founder Sandra Lee, MD (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) to help separate skin facts from skin fiction.

Myth: Chemical exfoliants all do the same thing

Truth: Though all chemical exfoliants help slough off dead skin cells, they each have distinct properties that address slightly different skin concerns.

Selecting the right exfoliant depends on understanding these nuances to address specific skin needs effectively. Oftentimes, notes Dr. Lee, a carefully-formulated combination of exfoliants can maximize their benefits in one simple step.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Exfoliating Picks

Myth: You only need sunscreen when you’re in direct sunlight

Truth: If it’s daytime — even if the sun ISN'T shining — UV rays are actively filtering through the clouds. According to the American Academy of Dermatologists (AAD), up to 80% of UV rays from the sun can penetrate the clouds and reach your skin. Partly cloudy days are especially risky if you’re at the beach, in the pool, or near the snow, as these are all surfaces where light can reflect and bounce onto your skin.

“If there’s one thing I can convince you to do every single day, it’s to wear sunscreen. As a board-certified dermatologist, I see the damage that the environment can do to our skin, whether that’s in the form of premature aging or even cancer. I know that you may not like the way traditional sunscreen looks or feels on your skin, which makes applying it a challenge," says Dr. Lee.

The great news is that you don’t have to slather on a thick drugstore sunscreen to protect your skin these days. Look for lightweight formulas designed not to clog pores, or hybrid moisturizer/sunscreen products that make applying sunscreen quick and easy.

Myth: Those dark dots on your nose are “baby blackheads”

Truth: Maybe — but maybe not. Dark-looking pores might be a sign of acne, or they could be a normal, common condition called sebaceous filaments. We’ve gone in-depth about how to tell the difference, but here’s an overview:

  • Blackheads are a type of acne that forms when a plug of dead skin and oil clogs a pore. They are black, can grow, and are often raised.
  • Sebaceous filaments are normal skin structures that help wick oil to the surface. They range from white to brown and are tiny and flat.

According to Dr. Lee, the best way to treat both blackheads and sebaceous filaments is to incorporate pore-penetrating salicylic acid into your routine. This will help keep pores free of dead skin and sebum.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Pore-Clearing Picks

Myth: You shouldn’t moisturize if you have oily skin

Truth: Though it may sound counterintuitive to add moisture to skin that is already oily and acne-prone, having oily skin doesn’t mean your skin is hydrated. In fact, you can have a complexion that’s both oily and dry, and dry skin can actually make acne and breakouts much worse.

"There is some belief out there that if you have oily skin, you don’t need to or even shouldn’t moisturize. This is NOT true — ALL skin types need moisturizer.” says Dr. Lee. “However, if you have oily skin, you should be more selective about what moisturizer you’re using.”

If you have oily skin, avoid occlusive products like Vaseline and opt for lightweight, oil-free moisturizers that will let your skin breather. Look for humectants like hyaluronic acid and glycerin that hydrate by drawing water into your skin.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Top Moisturizers

Myth: Expensive skincare is always better

Truth: You don’t need to spend a fortune to take care of your skin. When searching for skincare, look for ingredients backed by research, ones that real dermatologists use to treat their patients. Actives like retinol, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and vitamin C have proven track records — and don’t cost half your paycheck.

“It is possible to find quality skincare ingredients in effective formulations at an affordable price,” Dr. Lee says. “This is one of the main reasons why I started my SLMD Skincare line.”


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