Gross-out humor has always had a reputation as a niche market, but don’t tell that to Sandra Lee. The dermatologist who’s become known as “Dr. Pimple Popper” has parlayed her strong hands and even stronger stomach into a small fortune. Sandra Lee’s estimated net worth is 8 million as of 2022.
That’s a lot of money for popping zits, cysts and blackheads, so let’s take a look at how we got here, pimple-wise.
Lee has had an interesting journey that combines medical skills, stunning good looks and savvy market knowledge, and she’s been able to take advantage of the advantageous breaks that life has thrown her way.
She was born in Flushing, Queens in New York, which is hardly a silver-spoon area. Her parents are both of Chinese heritage with other Asian nationalities thrown into the mix, and her father is actually a retired dermatologist.
As Lee tells the story, her unique craft actually sprang from desperation to at least some extent. She began posting videos to YouTube in 2010, but it was in 2015 that Lee began to notice that her unique fans had an interest in skin extractions.
She became Dr. Pimple Popper in 2018, and the show immediately took off. As unsightly as the videos and televised sebum blasts were, they also had an irresistible rubbernecking quality to them that quickly expanded her audience exponentially.
Gross-outs aside, the most interesting thing about Lee’s approach is the financial side. She claims to take no money for her role on the show, instead relying on revenue from her YouTube channel, which does serious business indeed.
The numbers tell the story. Lee has over seven million subscribers, and her videos generate an estimated billion-plus views on a cumulative basis. They all run ads, naturally, and it is the revenue from those ads that represent the core of her business. She makes approximately $6,000 per day in YouTube ad revenue, which adds up to a cool $2 million a year.
And of course Lee is a practicing dermatologist, after all, so she’s not exactly hurting salary-wise, either. Estimates put her salary in the range of $260,000-400,000 annually, which is a nice side hustle compared to her income as a celebrity zit blaster.
Interestingly, Lee takes a low-key financial approach to seeing patients, too. Her fees are remarkably low, and for some patients who represent potential show candidates she’ll actually do her unique work for free providing they let her video the, um, proceedings.
Needless to say, a life spent endlessly popping zits might seem like a gross existence, but Lee is moving up in the world, celebrity-wise. She’s just come out with a new line of skin-care products, and she also has a “university” in which she recommends various home dermatology treatments.
Fortunately for Lee, there’s nothing gross about her personal life. She’s married to another dermatologist, Dr. Jeffrey Rebish, whom she met during med school at Drexel during her Philly days. They’re also business partners living in LA and raising a family, and it will doubtless be fascinating when their two SoCal sons become teenagers who inevitably start sprouting zits.