Dr. Shereene Idriss Gives Us the Brutal Truth About Skincare Myths


Alec Kugler

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The world of beauty can be hard to navigate at times, especially with all of the millions of products, wacky TikTok beauty trends, and self-proclaimed experts out there. Which is why it’s important to have an actual skin expert to guide us through. Enter Dr. Shereene Idriss, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology in NYC. Dr. Idriss is also famous for her #PillowtalkDerm series on Instagram, where she shares her knowledge of all things skin through a refreshing, no BS approach. 


In the newest episode of our podcast, Who What Wear With Hillary Kerr, Dr. Idriss talks about the problem with beauty marketing claims and gives us the scoop on slugging and TikTok’s love affair with Vaseline, as well as whether or not jade rollers actually work. Keep scrolling for eye-opening excerpts from our conversation with Dr. Idriss, then tune into the Who What Wear podcast to get schooled on all the skincare myths and truths you’ve been wondering about.


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I'm curious, in your perspective, what do you see right now, whether it's in mainstream beauty or skincare marketing, or even in content, that you feel is a big myth that needs to be busted for everyone? 

Personally, I think the way claims are made are such bullshit. It's extremely frustrating being an expert in the field and knowing stuff about how claims are made. It's antiquated; it doesn't make sense, and it absolutely kills me as a consumer as well. Because when you read these huffy puffy claims, like “helps reduce inflammation”—because they can't say that it's treating rosacea or redness, so as a consumer you have to decipher what inflammation means. It's extremely confusing. And I think the laws are really, really old and need to be redone, especially within the beauty industry. I think it's further perpetuating this sort of mysticism around the beauty industry and the mystery and the confusion around it because people cannot be direct in the claims they want to make. So, I think the claims are probably the biggest thing that bothers me. There are a lot of brands out there that further perpetuate the confusion around it by promising false hopes and dreams through their claims, because they're, quote, unquote, considered cosmetics. And so that kills me. And I think what I tried to do through Pillow Talk is really try to shed some light on these claims so people can be better and more educated consumers. 

Let's talk about jade rollers because I feel like that's another one where you turn on social media and you just see someone rolling away. How do you feel about them?

 Jade rollers had merit at a certain place in time, like hundreds of years ago. They're version point one, but we're in 2022. And we're still stuck at version point one. The merit of a jade roller is that it's giving you lymphatic circulation, we're always going to have lymphatic fluid as human beings that needs to be circulated. So there's always going to have merit there. But you could use a very cold spoon. I always promote the cold spoon over the jade roller. I just wished the jade roller, and this may or may not be another hint, had not just a physical element to it like a mechanical element, but was delivering something with an active that is helping to promote what it's trying to do. Because on its own it looks cool, but it's 2022. Can we not step it up a notch or two?

Everyone who's at all interested in skincare on TikTok talks about Vaseline. What are your thoughts on it?

 Well, I'm happy it's finally being picked up more. I've been singing the praises of Vaseline for years, as has every other dermatologist on earth. But I'm glad that the younger generation is finally picking up on the merits of Vaseline because it's one of the best, if not the best, occlusive on the market that is really going to help minimize water loss from your skin, and really help you hold on to moisture and hydration. If your skin barrier is inflamed and irritated and you're red, not red because you have rosacea, but because you're inflamed and you have a broken skin barrier, it's one of the best things to help heal your skin barrier. So Vaseline has my vote, I love it.



Slugging is another thing that gets discussed constantly. Can you explain it to anyone who isn't familiar as well as your thoughts on it?

 Basically the definition of slugging is that you're putting on a very thick occlusive all over your face, and you're doing that really to help restore and heal your skin barrier and to hold on to hydration. I don't know why slugging became a word but it caught on and it's a good sound bite. So think of a snail that has mucus and you're putting that mucus all over your face, people use Vaseline for that. It's something that I absolutely love. I think it is a great way to repair your skin barrier. My one issue with slugging for say is that it's not necessarily for everyone. Like if you are very oily, or acne prone, or have underlying skin issues that have not been dealt with, you may not want to necessarily slug as it might make things a little bit worse for you.

For more skincare tips, follow Dr. Idriss on Instagram and TikTok @shereeneidriss. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. Next up, check out our previous episode featuring actress Sadie Sink. 

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