Dr Pimple Popper’s life off-air – huge net worth to what really grosses her out
Sandra Lee's life changed for good in 2015, when one of her pimple popping videos went viral.
The California-based dermatologist had been posting clips to her YouTube channel since 2014, with her patients agreeing to appear on camera in exchange for a discounted fee or free treatment.
But she rocketed to fame when BuzzFeed compiled a reaction video to some of her grossest moments, and has since bagged herself her very own TV show on American network TLC. It's since had four seasons and is set for a fifth.
Her show has even pimple-popped up on Gogglebox.
Sandra has also just launched her series of skincare products in the UK – featuring everything from body scrub to facial cleanser.
She sat down with Daily Star to share some of the inside scoop on what it's really like as one of the world's most iconic skin doctors.
Huge net worth
Sandra is the first to admit that she's "amazed" by how far she's come from posting her first videos on YouTube. Each follows a fairly similar pattern – a patient visits Dr Pimple Popper for treatment of their various pimples, blackheads and cysts, and the audience gets to sit back and relax as gunge seeps out of their skin.
But things all changed in 2018, when she signed with TLC to start her own TV show.
"There have been a lot of different challenges, but the main thing for me from transitioning from my own thing on YouTube to this bigger network was giving control over to someone else," Sandra told Daily Star Online.
"On YouTube I am ultimately able to control everything that I put out there, and now I'm really trusting a production company and the network."
Sandra said her main concerns were that she wasn't doing anything to embarrass her patients – or her fellow dermatologists.
"My main concern is to not make a fool of my patients, not to make them feel embarrassed for what they have shown the world," she explained, adding: "They're the ones who have to be bravest here."
"I didn't want other dermatologists to go 'What is she doing, what is she making us look like?' I already have this name that's cartoonish, so I was worried about that from the get-go, but luckily it's been so wonderful. I'm so lucky, they make me look better than I am," Sandra laughed.
But the pay-off has definitely been worth it, as Sandra is now estimated to be worth an eye-watering $5million.
That isn't the best part, though, as she says her main achievement is being able to educate more people about skincare.
"Where would I ever have had the opportunity to launch a brand in the UK as a dermatologist in Southern California?" she queried. "It's because of this social media phenomenon. I'm so lucky that we get to be over here."
Sandra isn't the only dermatologist in the family.
Her dad may now be retired, but he established the family tradition and inspired his daughter along the way.
And the way he found out about his daughter's YouTube channel is the sweetest story.
"My dad knows all this [dermatology] stuff, he does all the same kind of stuff that I do," Sandra explained. "I told him, 'Dad, I had a video that went viral today, I have a YouTube channel!', because he didn't even know I had one, we don't really talk about this stuff."
"He was like 'What are you talking about, what kind of video is it?' So I told him it was about pimple popping, and he thought it was just the most ridiculous thing!" Sandra giggled.
"The very next day, he went to the Apple Store. He likes to do that in the mornings and have someone teach him things to do with his computer now that he's retired.
"He had this young woman who was helping him, and he said to her 'You know, I love to fly fish. I want to start uploading my fly fishing videos to YouTube, because my daughter has a YouTube channel'."
Sandra continued: "The woman told him, 'Oh my gosh, I have to show you my favourite YouTube channel'.
"And it was my channel, and she didn't know that was my dad!
"Dad came over that night for dinner, and put his hands on my shoulders and he said, 'Sandra, you will never have to wait in line at the Apple Store ever again'."
She says that her dad is "just as surprised" as she is that her YouTube channel blew up so much, but the touching story was "the biggest thing" for her.
Sandra and her husband actually first met at med school in Philadelphia.
"Sandra walked into the orientation room [at college] and right away I knew she was the one," Jeffrey told Refinery29.
She married fellow dermatologist Dr Jeffrey Rebish in 2000, and they have two sons together.
They took over Sandra’s dad’s practice and have run the business together ever since – and Sandra’s hubby has appeared on her show.
She often turns to him for a second opinion on tricky patients.
But Jeffrey says he has no intention of stealing Sandra’s limelight, continuing to the publication: "We have very different roles in the office. I’m definitely not a ‘pimple popper’. I’m the business guy, more behind the scenes."
Jeff handles the administrative side of the practice and sees his own patients, he explained, while his wife plumps people with Botox and fillers, as well as performing liposuction and eye lifts.
Asked whether a procedure has ever grossed her out, Sandra has a rather surprising answer.
"No, actually. I am more grossed out if you make me touch raw chicken breast with my hands."
She says it's important to make her patients feel comfortable while visiting: "We don't want to make them feel ashamed of what they have, because they're coming into my office in a very vulnerable position. As long as I have gloves and a splash-mask, I'm not grossed out.
"But I can't handle raw garlic with my hands and I can't handle raw meat!"
She added that, though she can talk about a cyst and the egg salad sandwich she's having for lunch, it doesn't quite work the other way around.
"People have made me pimple cupcakes," she divulged, laughing. "I have to close my eyes when I eat them because I can't imagine eating something that looks so much like a cyst."
If you ever needed some inspiration for your own skincare routine, Dr Pimple Popper is surely a great person to model it off.
But she insists her skincare routine is "pretty boring, actually".
"I try not to do too much to my skin, because it's more sensitive and it's dry, so I do skin cleansing at night," Sandra explained.
At night, Sandra will apply some of her Salicylic Acid Cleanser and her Skin Drink, which contains hyaluronic acid.
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"Making sure I have good moisturisation, and some anti-ageing and anti-oxidant kind of thing is important," she added. "But really, I keep it basic and cleanse my face and make sure it feels calm."
In the morning, Sandra says she does nothing more than rub the sleep from her eyes and maybe cleanse using some micellar water, as washing her face with water dries out her skin.
"I'll use my cleansing serum again and the hyaluronic acid drink, then I'll apply my makeup and I'm ready to go."
You can shop the SLMD Skincare range here
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