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Dr. Shereene Idriss is a board-certified dermatologist and expert in facial rejuvenation, Clinical Instructor in Dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, the Dermatologic Society of Greater New York, and the Women’s Dermatologic Society.
Somehow, with all of those accomplishments taking up her time, she has also managed to create the #PillowtalkDerm series on YouTube and Instagram, which covers a wide range of skin care and beauty topics, from How to Use Retinol to The Best Face Cleansers for All Skin Types — and more!
We sat down with the good doctor to talk self-care, debunking skin care myths, and the best products you can use to pamper your skin on a budget.
"If you're somebody with sensitive skin and you need a soap, look no further than Dove Sensitive Skin Beauty Bar Soap," recommends Idriss. "It's a fragrance-free soap, hypoallergenic." With ¼ moisturizing cream and mild cleansers, Dove helps your skin maintain its natural moisture while leaving skin softer, smoother and more radiant-looking versus ordinary soap.
"The reason I think this one is great is because it is truly fragrance-free," says the doc. "Fragrance-free is not the same as unscented." Sensitive skin tends to react to fragrances and chemicals, so always opt for totally fragrance-free!
"When it comes to retinol, I love this guy by L'oreal," shares the dermatologist, referring to the L'oreal Revitalift Retinol Serum. "It is a pure retinol at 0.3 percent." Dr. Idriss explains that percentages can sometimes be misleading: A product may be marked as being higher in percentage of retinol, but the ingredients tell a different story. So always check the back of the bottle! Pure retinol works faster versus retinol derivatives and complexes that may appear to add to the percentage of retinol in a given product.
L'oreal Revitalift Retinol Serum is dermatologist-validated for visible results: reducing wrinkles (even deep ones) while smoothing texture and moisturizing. It's also formulated with soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin, and is fragrance-, silicone- and paraben-free for all those with sensitive skin.
You may know the Mighty Patch brand from their stellar hydrocolloid pimple patches — well, say hello to their brand-new, revolutionary nose strips! "These are made up of a hydrocolloid material, which is a water-loving material that is going to draw up all that gunk from your pores," explains Idriss. "If you have an event coming up and you want to clear it all out, then I say use this one." These strips are clinically tested to reduce the appearance of pimples, pores and oil in just 6-8 hours, and the Mighty Patch strip turns white as the gunk comes out, so you can actually see that it’s working.
How do they compare to standard, blackhead-yanking pore strips? Idriss reveals, "These are not to be confused with the classic pore strip, which you leave on for ten minutes and then [rip] off your nose, leaving behind open, dilated pores that are more likely to full up again over time and get bigger if you keep doing it."
Are you breaking out under your mask? Have no fear: Dr. Idriss is here! She recommends the assistance of the Tower 28 Beauty SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray, which she says she uses "several times a day" under her mask to eliminate bacterial buildup.
And it's not just for masking up! "If you have eczema, or psoriasis, or any sort of inflammatory issue where your skin barrier is disrupted, this can really help to clear your skin," says Idriss. The SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray is a simple but effective three-ingredient daily treatment spray to soothe stressed-out skin and reduce the appearance of redness, so you can always feel confident in your skin.
"[This is] the one that everyone likes to hate on," shares Dr. Idriss with a laugh, "but cosmetic-grade mineral oil is very different than what you're getting from what you're filling up in your car." She continues, "For all of those out there with an inflamed skin barrier, who are prone to having dry eczematous patches on your faces, do not be scared to utilize [Vaseline] as your number-one source to help protect your skin barrier."
So what can your grandma's favorite petroleum jelly do to take care of your skin? Turns out, a lot! "It can be used as the last step of your skin care routine, especially at night, to seal in everything that you've applied." Not only that, but it reduces the appearance of fine, dry lines; helps protect minor cuts, scrapes, and burns; and even protects skin from windburn and chapping.
Dr. Idriss sums it up well: "I think this guy should be a staple in everybody's skin care closet!"
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