Instagram's Beloved #PillowTalkDerm Shares Her Go-To Skincare Products
Dr. Shereene Idriss uses two sunscreens every day.
Cleanse, moisturize, sleep, repeat—or not. From the 18-product maximalists to the one-and-done movers and shakers, everybody's skin care routine differs. In A.M. to P.M., we explore the morning and evening routines of people with different skin care concerns, from targeting acne to embracing vegan beauty.
Skin type: Dry
Skin concerns: Pigmentation
Growing up, Shereene Idriss, M.D., used to spend hours in the sun without sunscreen. Now, she's one of the leading dermatologists in the United States and uses two layers of sunscreen every day. Apart from being an incredible doctor to her patients, she's also made her expertise available to her 273,000 online followers through her #PillowTalkDerm series where she talks about different skincare ingredients, products, and tips. Not only that, but she's a total badass, too. (She raised over $290,000 on GoFundMe to help Lebanese people affected by the devastating explosions in Beirut last year.)
Dr. Idriss was also on our expert panel for our 2021 Beauty Crush Awards, where she helped recommend skincare products for varying skin concerns. Since skincare is so personal, though, we wanted to know what she uses on the day-to-day. Her routine has changed since the pandemic began, she explains, as now she wears a face mask for up to 10 hours a day when she's seeing patients and spends the rest of her time at home with her heater that dries up her already dry skin. Overall, she says she takes a very holistic approach to skin care. "I don't read the news, for example, because that stresses me out," she shares as one example. Here's how Dr. Idriss cares for her skin every day.
"The first thing I do in the morning is put a pillow over my head since I wake up to my children screaming," shares Dr. Idriss. "Once I get up and make sure they're okay, I'll go to the bathroom and wash my face with cold water—I find it helps de-puff my eyes."
After she reads some work e-mails and skims news headlines, she hops into the shower and cleanses her body with the Cetaphil Resotraderm Body Wash. "It's packed with ceramides, so they help lock in moisture, which is great for my dry skin," she shares. Then, once she's stepped out of the shower, she applies the SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF vitamin C serum to her face. "I like this one since it's geared toward people who get breakouts, and I've been getting more breakouts on the lower half of my face from wearing a mask all day," she says. Plus, she adds that it's great for evening out pigmentation.
Once her vitamin C serum has been absorbed, she applies Aveeno's Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer onto her face. "I typically use a heavier moisturizer in the winter, but because of the humidity caused by wearing a mask, I found that my skin was completely clogged and unnecessarily oily, so I switched to use a less occlusive moisturizer," Dr. Idriss says. "You moisturize based on your environment and climate, and now I don't require such a heavy moisturizer." She applies it mainly to her forehead, temples, upper cheeks, and frequently leaves her upper lip, chin, and nasal-labial folds moisturizer-free.
Next, she applies her first sunscreen. "I apply a layer of the SkinCeuticals Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 to my skin—it's super lightweight. Then, after I put on a little makeup, I use the Supergoop! Glow Screen SPF 40 as I really love the effect it gives off," she says, adding that since she doesn't wear foundation in her day-to-day that this SPF works to give her skin a healthy glow. "I know it's not doubling anything, but the Glow Screen gives my skin a nice glow and adds protection."
Dr. Idriss saves her active skincare ingredients for nighttime use. While she's always done this, she says her P.M. routine now starts right after she gets home from work. "I'm not going anywhere anymore," she explains. So, as soon as she gets home, she double cleanses her skin with Vanicream, making sure to get off both layers of sunscreen and any makeup she may have used that day. "I have white towels, so I can typically tell if there's still residual products on my face."
Dr. Idriss switches up her routine depending on the day and how often she's been using one type of active ingredient. Right now, she's using the L'Oréal ReivtaLift 10% Glycolic Acid Serum. "A little goes a long way and it absorbs really well," she says of this power exfoliator. "Your skin just looks so much smoother when you use it."
Next, she uses a prescription azelaic acid all over her upper face as it helps with irritation, evening out pigmentation, and brightening the skin. "Then, I use a little bit of hydroquinone, which is a prescription-strength brightening agent, and I put that on the top parts of my cheeks," she says. Dr. Idriss explains that she takes breaks from hydroquinone to keep her pigmentation at bay while also preventing her skin from developing ochronosis, a rare but potential side effect that's irreversible.
After, she will either moisturize and call it a night or proceed with a more elaborate routine with a retinol or retinoid. "I jump between the French A313 Retinol, which is relatively lightweight and gives you instant gratification. When you wake up the next morning, it looks like you put Spanx on your face—it's great," she shares. When she wants to be more serious, she'll use a prescription-strength retinol. She uses a retinol three to four times a week to keep her hyperpigmentation at bay, saying that consistency is key in skincare.
She doesn't always stick to her Aveeno moisturizer; sometimes she goes for something a little stronger. "If I've been at home all day with the heater on, I'll use the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume. It's so nourishing and calming, and my skin really holds onto the moisture without transferring onto [my] pillowcase or feeling oily or greasy."
Then, last but not least, hand cream. Since she's with patients most days and constantly applying hand sanitizer, having a moisture-rich hand cream is key. "I like the O'Keeffe's Working Hands Hand Cream and use it quite regularly; it works quite nicely," she shares. "I don't love using rich creams during the day because my hands get all slippery, but it's good for the nighttime."