(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

LAS VEGAS – She came, she saw, she popped. And now Dr. Pimple Popper is becoming a cyst-sized mogul.

That’s because Sandra Lee, better known as her online persona, is the biggest skincare star on the Internet, having raked in over 2.6 billion views on YouTube for her pimple popping videos. Her viral videos, which many claim are “calming” and “soothing,” (“they put me right to bed at night,” says a friend to me), has led her to a new show on TLC, a book, an upcoming pimple-popping board game and her new skincare line, SLMD Skincare.

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“It’s been beyond what I could have ever imagined,” she tells us at CosmoProf, Las Vegas, the biggest beauty trade show in all of North America. We’re sitting inside her booth for SLMD Skincare, where there are plush pillows on a comfortable couch. The doctor – her perfectly highlighted hair, skin incredibly taut and body petite – is affable, warm, peppy. It’s no wonder the doctor, who has her own practice in Upland, CA, has become a sensation. She’s affable, provides sound education, and does so in a way that’s easy to understand.

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

“I’ve tricked people in a positive way into understanding things a little more,” she tells Very Good Light. “I want people to know what’s the difference between a pustule, a cyst, blackhead and people get to know a little more about what they can use.” This, in turn, she says, creates more confidence within people who can treat their own skin problems on their own.

“One of my staff says [the popped cyst] smells like Progressive Soup when it comes back spoiled.”

It’s also why she got into creating her own skincare line, SLMD Skincare. “When I started the YouTube channel it wasn’t about getting a TV show,” she explains. “It was about a skincare line. With it, we’re trying to find answers for people don’t have access to doctors. I want to use my influence to help people take control of their lives. They’re going online and reading they need to smear something like snail slime on their skin. With this line, we’re making people become more empowered with what products work for them.”

It’s no surprise, then, that the entire line debuted with all acne-related products. These range from salicylic acids, benzoyl peroxides, sulfurs and retinol, all ingredients that are over-the-counter and super effective at controlling breakouts. There’s even a glycolic acid body scrub that treats keratosis pilaris, aka “Chicken Skin.”

“Last week, we squeezed a pilar cyst and it squirted and got it in my mouth and the walls.”

Of course, using the products aren’t going to be an end all be all for those experiencing more serious skin issues. For enlarged cysts, massive bumps, among others, is when it’s time to go see a dermatologist like Dr. Lee. While these skin ailments might seem strange or even gross, Dr. Lee says she wants to normalize these different issues.

(Photo by David Yi/Very Good Light)

“I want people to know that you have this big bump but you’re not crazy or a wacko for having it,” she says. “We humanize skin ailments with the TLC show and my YouTube channel and hopefully show that it’s perfectly okay.”

And if you’re nervous about seeing a dermatologist about an embarrassing skin issue, Dr. Lee says not to be. For her and other doctors, they’ve seen it all.

“Last week, we squeezed a pilar cyst and it squirted and got it in my mouth and the walls,” she says without a flinch. “We get sprayed and don’t get grossed out – it’s more you’re shocked because it comes so suddenly.

It’s like camp fire when you get it in your hair. One of my staff says it smells like Progressive Soup when it comes back spoiled. It’s just wet, skin cells tucked somewhere for a long time and what that would smell like.”

Not for the feint of heart, that’s for sure. With so many lives she’s changing, pimples she’s popping, it’s no wonder Dr. Pimple Popper is more like an acne saint than anything else.
“I’m just glad that I get to represent my specialty and showing that we are more than pimple poppers, we do real surgeries and do things in real, positive ways,” she says. And with that, she’s off to her next surgery – and many, many more cyst squirts to come.