Women's Health

Queen of Pop

We've all heard that the whole only-teenagersget- acne thing is a big ol’ myth. But here’s the shocker: Adults are now the majority of acne patients! And two-thirds of those adults are female. This might explain the wild popularity of Dr. Pimple Popper, a.k.a. Sandra Lee, M.D., a dermatologist in Upland, California.

Since October 2014, Lee’s been bringing acne to the forefront with her viral videos, and last year she launched an acnefocused skin-care line, SLMD. But she didn’t set out to become famous for popping pimples. “It started with showing people what I do, like surgeries, skin cancer, and acne,” she says. “There was a noticeable jump in interest when I posted a blackhead video.” She did a little more digging and discovered Reddit’s Popping subreddit, an online community of people who enjoy watching (and posting) videos of pimples and cysts being burst. That’s when Lee realized that people love this stuff.

There’s actually a scientific explanation for it. Watching goo spew from someone’s face is gross, but it can also be sort of satisfying. “There’s some kind of relief by proxy,” says Dean McKay, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Fordham University in New York City who studies disgust. “If you see a pimple on someone’s face and it gets popped, it’s an opportunity to pimple gets popped.” Plus, these videos show skin being cleansed (in a really dramatic fashion). That leaves you, the viewer, with a sense of purity, says McKay, which can both feel gratifying and alleviate stress.

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