The Essentials With Dr. Shereene Idriss: Skincare Misinformation, K-Dramas and Avoiding Baggage Claim

TikTok's viral dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss turned to social media to share her expertise, and ended up founding her own dermatology practice and skincare line along the way.

Dr. Shereene Idriss is TikTok’s favorite dermatologist.

Social media isn’t exactly short on skincare advice (or any kind of advice for that matter). But when you want an expert’s take on laser treatments or the efficacy of collagen supplements without actually having to book an appointment with your dermatologist, you may have found yourself on Dr. Shereene Idriss’ Tiktok (or Instagram or YouTube) page. Over the past six years, the board-certified dermatologist has amassed a following of over a million with her informative posts on all things skincare that feel more like a conversation with your girlfriend—you know, if you have a dermatologist with their own New York City-based practice and skincare line in your contacts list.

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“There was no approach or strategy, I just started answering people’s questions from my bed,” Dr. Idriss tells Observer of how her informal social media chats started in 2018. “Very honestly, I was kind of depressed. I had been fired, and I had just had a baby, and I wanted to help people because I was hearing these repeated complaints from patients that were not based on factual information.” That casual, tell-it-like-it-is approach (Idriss is more likely to be broadcasting live from her bathroom than she is from the exam room) not only brought Idriss a dedicated following on social media, but led to an eponymous skincare line, too.

But while her social media success may have come serendipitously, Idriss’ career in dermatology is something she began working towards in high school, when she was accepted to the seven-year BA/MD program at George Washington University. After finalizing her training in Boston, Idriss moved to New York City, where she began practicing as a dermatologist at Union Square Dermatology before venturing out on her own. “Having my own practice was always in my cards, and then Covid happened, and I was thinking, if I don’t start my office now, when am I going to start?” 

Idriss Dermatology officially opened in midtown Manhattan in September 2021, with celebrity patients that have reportedly included Emily Ratajkowski, Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser.

Dr. Shereene Idriss.

“I wanted to create a world that felt safe not just for the patients, but also for the providers,” she says of the driving force behind her work. She takes a similar approach to her Dr. Idriss Skincare line, where the focus is on solving issues for the masses that she most commonly sees in-office among her patients (and that she experiences herself). “I do cosmetics all day where people come in asking me for Botox or fillers, but when I look at their faces, it’s the color that’s really off,” she explains. “If you focus on your skin tone, you can really fake it by 80 percent.” To treat those hyperpigmentation issues at home, Idriss started with the Major Fade serum, moisturizer and mask, which are powered by tried-and-true ingredients like vitamin C, kojic acid and niacinamide, and were put to the test on her own melasma. 

An arnica-based roller designed to de-puff eyes and speed up the recovery of post-injectable bruising and swelling came next. And most recently, Idriss introduced a one-and-done cleanser born out of her own frustration with double-cleansing. “Washing your face and putting your glasses on, only to see that you didn’t do it well and there’s makeup on your towel, is the most annoying thing in the world,” she says. Enter the Soft Wash, a cushiony gel cleanser that melts away light makeup but doesn’t strip your skin or, most importantly to  Idriss, burn your eyes. 

As for what’s next, Idriss gets uncharacteristically quiet when asked about any new products she’s working on. “I don’t know how to tease, I’ll just end up telling you what it is,” she laughs. But given her emphatic loyalty to all things suncare—including her Bluestone Sunshield UV visor—here’s hoping we get a Dr. Idriss Skincare sunscreen next. Ahead, Idriss shares her current essentials with Observer, from her favorite coffee in the city to her newfound love for Pilates.

The Depuffer is her go-to in the morning.

Morning skincare routine: 

I’m going to sound like I’m only promoting my stuff, but before I even get out of bed, I use the Depuffer around my eyes when I wake up. That works within five to 10 minutes, so then when I shower, I just wash my face with water. By the time I get out of the shower, the redness has started to come down around my eyes, and I use the Hyper Serum, the Active Seal Moisturizer for vitamin C and then sunscreen.

Her wellness routine:

It was nonexistent up until February, but since then, I’ve been doing Pilates twice a week at 6:30 in the morning. I found somebody who can come to my house early because otherwise, I won’t drag myself there. But I’m very proud of myself for doing it, and I’m seeing a difference in how I feel. And then I want to start meditating over the summer again—I go through phases where I do it every day for three months.

New York City favorites: 

I feel like I’m on the lame train because I have two little kids, but for coffee, my friend has several shops around the city called Le Cafe Coffee. I hate when coffee is overly sweet, but everything there is perfectly sweetened. And then I stumbled into this restaurant called Ambra in the West Village. The food is excellent, and it’s such a nice little cozy corner restaurant.

What she’s reading:

Danny Meyer wrote a book called Setting the Table, which is a great hospitality book for the service industry, but it has life lessons in it that can be applied to any business that you’re running. I re-read it recently because I have the new staff members who read it as an introduction.

What she’s binge-watching:

A K-drama on Netflix called Queen of Hearts. It’s so good. These K-dramas just pull at your emotions, and they really know how to suck you in. And because I watch it in Korean and I don’t speak Korean, I have to read the subtitles, so I can’t get distracted. If you haven’t watched one, start with Crash Landing on You—although I feel bad for you because once you start with this, nothing is going to be as good.

Dr. Idriss now has her own practice and skincare line.

Favorite vacation spot:

I like any place that’s remote and that gives you time and space to think and just be in the moment. We went to Bhutan in 2016, and I’m obsessed. I loved everything about the country; the topography, the culture, the people, the colors.

What she’s traveling with: 

I always carry on. I’m impatient as anything for short-term things, so if you told me to wait after a long flight at baggage claim, that’s my version of torture. I’ve been carrying my Tumi bag for almost nine years. It kind of looks beat up, but I know exactly how to pack it and how heavy it is. I take the Depuffer with me everywhere—it’s especially amazing on a long flight—and then I always take Flonase because I have really bad allergies, and if I’m going somewhere sunny, my UV visor.

The one thing in her wardrobe she refuses to part with:

I have a striped sweatshirt from Alice & Olivia that is sparkly and has all the colors on it. It’s probably been more than 15 years that I’ve had it, and I still wear it—I’ve worn it through postpartum stages where it did not fit me and I’ve worn it through stages where I’ve looked better, and it’s followed me along the way.

The Essentials With Dr. Shereene Idriss: Skincare Misinformation, K-Dramas and Avoiding Baggage Claim