TikTok’s Most Followed Dermatologist Weighs in on Double Cleansing and Skin Minimalism

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Dr Muneeb Shah (@dermdoctor) is the most followed dermatologist on TikTok, currently boasting 18.1 million followers. This means he not only knows the secrets to achieving clear, healthy skin, but also what’s trending on the platform — rightfully so, and wrongfully too.

We had the chance to sit down with Dr Shah as part of the launch of CeraVe Advanced Repair Balm ($14.99) in Australia this month. We asked him for his take on TikTok skincare trends, and whether specific ingredients and skincare practices work. Are they going viral for the right reasons, or are they a waste of your time?

“I think that’s [what’s] interesting about TikTok,” he says of the platform’s ability to bring skincare secrets to the masses. “A lot of the secrets that were traditionally whispered in the dermatology offices … were really only accessible to people who were able to see dermatologists on a regular basis.”

One example? CeraVe, a drugstore brand Dr Shah says was a best-kept dermatologist secret. It was one of the only brands American dermatologists would talk to their patients about and, through that, it grew a strong consumer base.

@dermdoctor Duet this with your CeraVe Skincare Routine! #CeraVe #CeraVePartner #SkincareRoutine #DermDoctor #Skincare ♬ Bedtime Groove – CeraVe ft. Matatama

“Then, randomly in 2020, it starts going viral on TikTok,” Dr Shah says. “I’m like, ‘Well, this is like the least sexy brand to go viral on social media’. And it’s the same thing with tretinoin [medication to treat mild, moderate, and severe acne]. This boring ingredient from the 1970s starts going viral. But I think these things go viral because they truly work.”

Dr Shah says he’s seeing the TikTok and Instagram Reel algorithm pushing these un-sexy but effective, dermatologist-secret products and ingredients to users who wouldn’t otherwise have known about them.

“Tretinoin is the GOAT when it comes to ingredients for anti-aging,” Dr Shah says. “I think tretinoin is a phenomenal ingredient. Pretty much anyone who is in their 30s or above who started to form fine lines and wrinkles, as long as they’re not pregnant, should consider using tretinoin.”

Another TikTok skincare trend is double cleansing, first with an oil-based cleanser and again with a water-based cleanser. Dr Shah says he sees it as a trend people are doing because everyone else is doing it. It can be a great practice, but for specific circumstances — not always.

“If you’re somebody who wears heavy makeup, waterproof sunscreen or mascara every day, I think double cleansing is one of the best things you can do for your skin,” he says. “Use an oil-based or balm-based cleanser to dissolve that sunscreen or makeup and then follow with a water-based cleanser.”

But for people who wear light makeup or easy-to-wash-off sunscreen, simply washing with one cleanser is enough. He mentions one study that looked at people who double-cleansed and people who didn’t and those who had double-cleansed actually had worse acne.

“Now, we don’t know whether or not they had worse acne and they were double cleansing, as a result of that,” he says. “So, we don’t know, like chicken or egg, which came first, because it was an observational study, but double cleansing doesn’t always mean your skin will be better.”

Finally, TikTok trend, skin minimalism, which sees you accepting your skin as it is and being mindful of your skincare routine. What’s Dr Shah’s take? He says he’s long embraced it. Good cleansers, moisturisers and sunscreen are the foundation of any great skincare routine. His routine is never usually more than three steps.

“You really can’t achieve great skin even with in-office procedures, unless you’re doing that foundational part of your skincare routine,” he says.

“To me, great skincare products are fragrance-free and are helping to restore and protect your skin barrier. In general, a lot of people overuse the wrong ingredients, and it actually makes their skin much worse.”

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