If you're one of Dr. Muneeb Shah's 16 million followers on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube, you probably know how easy it is to go into a spiral watching his videos. By day, Dr. Shah is a dermatology resident physician. He shows up on social media at night and on weekends to educate and entertain the public with skin-focused content.
When he's not reacting to viral skincare videos and trends, Dr. Shah debunks beauty myths and shares prevention and treatment tips with his curious followers. We caught up with Dr. Shah to learn more about his philosophy on skincare and his favorite dermatologist-approved products. Ahead, find five skincare lessons we learned.
The Secret to Radiant Skin is Simpler Than You Think
With the multitude of options available to us, it can be challenging to decide what products to use and how to use them. Dr. Shah notes that all the available options can be overwhelming and lead to choice paralysis. "I truly think that skincare is way too confusing," he says. Still, despite the crowded market, Dr. Shah says a comprehensive routine boils down to three things: "Cleanse, treat and protect the skin," he says. According to Dr. Shah, the treatment step is meant to target your unique concerns like acne, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
Lastly, layering products that protect the skin, like moisturizers and sunscreen, are highly recommended by Dr. Shah. "Have a three to four-step skincare routine that will target your concerns and be deliberate about your choices," says Dr. Shah. "After a few months, you will see improvement." Dr. Shah notes to avoid over-cleansing, over-exfoliating and using skincare that damages or strips the skin barrier. "For example, microneedling is great, but it's pointless if you're not wearing sunscreen," he says.
Suncare Is Critical For Skin Health
A glowing, radiant complexion is usually the motivation behind many skincare routines, but Dr. Shah stresses the importance of looking beyond aesthetics. "A disservice in social media and dermatology is that we don't show the full scope of what dermatology is doing," says Dr. Shah. "My practice is 50% cancer surgery, and so much of what I'm seeing is from not wearing sunscreen," he adds. Skin cancer is the most common cancer globally and in the United States, and one in five Americans will develop skin cancer by the age of 70.
It's why Dr. Shah says, whether your motivation is flawless skin (or not) sunscreen should be the one step you don't skip out on. "For the goal of preventing cancer, use sunscreen and sun protection," says Dr. Shah. This includes reapplying sunscreen every two hours while outdoors, wearing wide-brim hats, and seeking shade when appropriate. In addition to skin self-exams, Dr. Shah recommends seeing a dermatologist annually for skin checks so they can evaluate your skin for suspicious moles.
According to Dr. Shah, the easiest way to build a daily sunscreen habit is to keep it simple and find a formula you'd love to wear every day. Dr. Shah's favorite sunscreen for a dewy glow is EltaMD UV Restore SPF 40 ($39). Other good options are Supergoop Unseen SPF40 ($44), Black Girl Sunscreen SPF30 ($16), and CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen Face Sheer Tint SPF30 ($17).
Retinol Is Worth Considering
Retinol is an ingredient that dermatologists love. Still, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding it on social media. Dr. Shah says retinol is great for hyperpigmentation, acne, and collagen. While retinoic acid has tons of research that support its efficacy, Dr. Shah says it's one caveat is that it can take a while to work. "It takes two to three months to see an improvement in acne and three to six months for pigmentation and wrinkles," he says. "Stick with it because the data suggests it works, and you just need to give it time."
Dr. Shah says that Tretinoin is one product he uses consistently, and the vitamin A derivative is usually available by prescription and is used to treat chronic acne. Dr. Shah suggested options like Kiehl's Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptides ($62) or CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum ($20) if you're looking for an over the counter option.
You Can Never Have Too Much Skincare Education
Dr. Shah says that having knowledgeable and credible medical professionals on social media has been transformative. "It's giving people the education they need to make better healthcare and skincare decisions," he says. "That information was not readily accessible before."
There is a profound impact of a dermatologist on TikTok providing skincare education, and Dr. Shah says that it's helping people make better decisions. "The duet feature [on TikTok] helps correct misinformation and hold people accountable," he says. "The blend of dermatologists, aestheticians, and nurse injectors creating content also helps paint a holistic picture of skincare, and everyone needs to be there for it all to work."
The Derm-Approved Products He's Loving
With a world of products at his disposal, I was eager to learn about the ones Dr. Shah thinks are truly worth it. In the eye cream department (which happens to be one of my favorites), he spoke highly of Biossance Squalane + Marine Algae Eye Cream ($54). "Nothing is truly a miracle, but it is brightening, non-irritating, and helps with depuffing and fine lines," he says. Dr. Shah also recommends Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($60) for people experienced with retinol. Dr. Shah says CeraVe Cream-to-Foam Hydrating Cleanser ($15) is a staple that is friendly for most skin types, and if you're opting for an over-the-counter vitamin C, his go-to is Paula's Choice C15 Vitamin Super Booster ($52).