The Pros and Cons of "the Medfluencer"

Let’s talk about the good, bad, and the ugly of skincare advice on social media. Is it valid to take advice from skincare experts, and what does “skincare expert” even mean? What is the difference between a skincare expert and a “medfluencer?” In this blog, we’ll also talk about how “medfluencers” became popular and the pros and cons of them.  

What is a medfluencer? 

Medfluencers are medical professionals who leverage social media to share information and redefine what it means to be an authority in health communication. Skincare experts are professionals or non-professionals in the beauty industry who share their knowledge.


When did Medfluencers start becoming popular?

During Covid, a few medical professionals went online to explain the impact of the pandemic, and they became very popular. The primary reason these medical experts became so popular was because viewers felt connected with them. During a time when the public did not know who to trust, people truly gravitated toward medfluencers 

And as the government was reacting slowly and healthcare systems became overwhelmed, we found comfort in doctors on social media who were explaining how to deal with COVID-19. Baiscally, it soothed our worries, and many agree that this began the foundation of trust for medfluencers. 

To the public, medfluencers felt like a middleground between a friend and an authority. They were present on our social media timelines during quarantine and provided us with a comforting connection that was also educational. 

What are the pros of medfluencers?

During the pandemic,  social media use also increased. A Harris Poll survey was conducted between late March and early May, and it showed that between 46 percent and 51 percent of U.S. adults were using social media more since the outbreak began (Harris Poll 2020). In addition, TheNew York Times reported that Facebook use was up 27 percent and YouTube visits were up 15.3 percent.

With the increased prevalence of social media still remaining post covid, skincare information and health education has become even more accessible.

Accessibility is a positive for things like representation, equity, and self-care. In fact, social media has revolutionized ideas around intentional self-care.

While there are definitely growing concerns about TikTok trends and social media’s impact on mental health, social media also morphed into an empowering space where people can find support and become apart of online wellness communities organized by medical professionals. 

What are the cons of Medfluencers?


The blurred lines of medical specialties 

In 2020, Jeffrey VanWingen, a doctor who runs a private family practice in western Michigan wanted to help the public in 2020. So, he made a video called, “PSA: Grocery Shopping Tips in COVID-19.” 

However, VanWingen was not an epidemiologist nor a food safety expert, but he did know sterile techniques that he believed could help people keep the coronavirus from coming into their homes along with their groceries. The video actually gained 25 million views and counting. But, on some points, the video was misleading. 

And when we look at social media today, you’ll often see physicians following this trend and commenting or giving advice about other topics they are not specialized in. For example, a doctor might comment on the effect of a certain skin condition even though they are not a dermatologist. Of course, there is a baseline of knowledge that all doctors have, but when you address something outside of your specialty, it can be easy to generalize and overlook caveats or important details that viewers need to know. 

And of course, it’s social media. So, many people will take misleading information and run with it, potentially making it into something that’s not even remotely close to the truth. 


With the advent of the medfluencer, people often go to social media to self-diagnose. They might feel as though they are receiving medical advice. Similarly, they might feel less inclined to visit a doctor.

However, self-diagnosing can be very bad and dangerous. If self-diagnosis happens incorrectly, which is common, you might pursue incorrect treatment or even harmful home remedies. You might also delay seeing a doctor which can affect “prognosis,” how the condition will progress and its curability. 

Self-diagnosing can also lead to harmful trends that don’t even have a clear treatment objective because the disease or condition has not been properly identified. 

The pitfalls of condensed information

Ultimately, the most accurate and effective information isn’t always packaged or optimized in a way that is appealing and entertaining to the public. On the other hand, consultations from doctors offer a customized approach that is informed about the patient’s life and health history. 

Even if you’re a physician, when medical information is condensed into a 1-minute and 30-second reel or even a 20-minute YouTube video, important medical information can lose its meaning. Moreover, certain parameters and contextual evidence might be neglected.

While watching a FAQs video from a doctor online can be very beneficial, a person should always visit a physician if they have a health issue or concern. Moreover, truly learning about certain conditions often requires extensive research, and social media doesn’t always acknowledge this.

Nevertheless, social media has been a wonderful and revolutionary tool in advancing the accessibility of health education. It’s just important to acknowledge these things as we progress with it.