En Route to Bangkok

November 5, 2013

Right now, I’m on my way to Thailand to do a series of lectures on everything from beauty to the best injectable techniques for physicians all around the world. I love teaching and lecturing because it keeps me at the top of my game.  Plus, meeting my dermatology colleagues and peers is as inspiring as it is informative. I love seeing the different approaches and techniques and there’s always more to learn.

One of my favorite things in the world is to see the world.  Travel is in my soul; learning about cultures and traditions makes me feel alive.  One of the perks of my job is that lecturing internationally has taken me to six continents so far (and I’m going to the seventh, Antarctica, in December!).

I’ve been to Thailand quite a lot and have always had a superb time.  The people are terrific and the food, oh, be still my beating heart!  In L.A. where I live, the Thai restaurants are plentiful and the food is great.  But in Thailand, it’s truly extraordinary whether it’s a food stall in a market to the fanciest restaurant.  ‘Tom Yam Goong’ is one of my favorite dishes, you must try it. 


And Thai architecture (there’s practically a temple on every corner) is literally out of this world.

OK here’s a great takeaway skin care tip for those making a getaway.  Airplane travel can be really punishing on your skin because it sucks out all the moisture and leaves it seriously dehydrated.  And, sad but true, you do get some radiation in the air.  What I do is use an antioxidant serum under a heavy moisturizer and re-apply both every two hours on both my face and my hands.  And if it’s daytime and the blinds are up, I put at least an SPF30 on top of that.

Off to Bangkok! See you when I get back.



Eyes Open to Concealers

September 10, 2013

My last posting on eye revivers segues naturally into one on eye concealers.  Concealers offer correction where you need it, play up the beauty of your eyes and can add definition to your brows.  A few things to remember:


When sampling concealer colors, it’s important to coordinate with your skin’s natural pigment and your foundation.  So when testing, try to look at them the under the harshest light possible or get an expert to help. The wrong color can actually make flaws look more obvious, make you look like a raccoon or, the polar opposite, make you look like you’ve got a serious case of ‘sunglasses tan.

If you’re a serious beauty consumer, it’s not unusual to have a ‘wardrobe’ of several concealers depending on if you’re covering. Highlighting for emphasis or your skin pigment changes with the seasons.


Concealers are designed to used around the eye (the technical term is  peri-orbitally.)  Some also work well on the eyelids, others don’t.

Using concealers around the eye requires a light touch.  Apply too much with too heavy a hand and you’ll find your lines and bags looking even worse than with nothing.

Since many concealers – whether in pencil, wand or stick form – can be used all over the face, for safety’s sake please reserve ones to use only on your eyes.  You don’t want to be using the same instrument in the eye area as you do on the rest of your face, particularly if you have active acne or cold sores.  Explain the dangers of both.

You must not ever use concealing spot treatments for acne anywhere near your eyes.  Ever.

Eye primers aren’t technically concealers though they perform many of the same functions.  These can do a splendid job of intensifying the pigment strength, preventing creasing and boosting the lasting power of eye shadow.  But because they work like microscopic spackling, primers seal the pores to deliver that wonderfully luxe, oil-free super smooth surface for the makeup.  Unfortunately for some, this can cause the formation of millia, hard little whiteheads, on the eyelids which will require a professional dermatologist or ophthalmologist to remove with an electric needle called a hyfrecator.  A laser will work too but that can be very expensive.  Therefore, if you have even slightly oily eyelids or are prone to clogged pores, I suggest saving the eye primers for special occasions.

Just as with eye revivers, I’ve gathered a list of AVA MD staff concealer favorites.  By no means are these the only quality ones out there; indeed, it’s an embarrassment of riches.  Here are both high-end and budget-friendly variations:




Dermalogica   Total Eye Care SPF 15 • $45

Neutrogena  3-in-1 Concealer For Eyes Broad Spectrum SPF 20 • $8.99



Yves Saint Laurent   Touche Éclat Radiant Touch • $40

L’Oréal   Magic Lumi Highlighter • $12.95



Vincent Longo  Illumina Concealer Pencil • $32.50

L’Oréal  True Match Super-Blendable Crayon Concealer • $8.99



Laura Mercier  Eye Basics • $24

e.l.f.  Studio Under Eye Concealer & Highlighter • $3



Bobbi Brown  Creamy Concealer Kit • $34

Essence  Match 2 Cover! Cream Concealer • $3.49



Urban Decay   Eyeshadow Primer Potion • $19

e.l.f.  Studio Eye Primer & Linder Sealer • $3



Eye Revivers

July 24, 2013

As a dermatologist I can tell you the one thing that nearly everyone asks about is eye revivers . . . eye cream, gels, serums etc.  What I’ve done is gathered a list of favored eye care products from our staff of amazing skin care experts here at AVA MD along with a couple of my own too.  I’m listing products easy to attain and pocketbook friendly as well.


What you’re looking for is something featuring caffeine.  Caffeine provides the eye area with a diuretic effect, draining excess fluids. Eye rollers are a great way to go because you get a little gentle massage action as you apply.  Here’s what we suggest:

  • Clinique 'All About Eyes Serum' De-Puffing Eye Massage $28

  • Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti-Puff Eye Roller  $13

Wrinkles, crinkles, and sagging:

Line-lifting hero ingredients include retinols and peptides that stimulate collagen production to firm up tissue and help soften crow’s feet.  Here’s what we suggest:

  • Kinerase Extreme Eye Lift $95

  • Roc Retinol Correxion Sensitive Eye Cream  $24

Dark circles:

For dark circles, you want ingredients such as green tea and antioxidants like Vitamin C or Vitamin K to strengthen the micro-capillaries under the surface.  Here’s what we suggest:

  • Revision Skincare Teamine Eye Complex   $68

  • Neutrogena Healthy Skin Eye Cream  $11


If your eyes are a priority and you can afford the investment, there’s no other product that offers the same eye reviving WOW as the Clarisonic Opal.  The sonic infusion accelerates the serum’s ability to firm, smooth and hydrate.

Please keep in mind that it is rare that one product can solve all your problems together.  So feel free to alternate your eye products on subsequent nights.  That said, give your products at least five weeks to two months before making your conclusions as to how well they work.  No matter what product you use for whatever condition you’re treating, it always takes at least that long for your skin to catch up with your good habits.  Happy eye reviving!


This is Your Skin at Rest

June 14, 2013

During Hollywood’s studio era, glamorous women of a certain age would get their facelifts on the QT in Beverly Hills then hightail it down to Palm Springs to recover on the sly.  Four months later they would emerge, like butterflies from chrysalises, looking miraculously ‘well rested.’

It’s no secret that you’re not going to be able to maintain a beautiful complexion (or your overall health, for that matter) without being well rested, and that means getting adequate sleep.   Easier said than done, I can attest to this personally.  For working women, between overscheduling on the one hand and insomnia on the other, sleep gets sacrificed more often than not.  But the tough truth is: Old skin looks tired and tired skin looks old.

Physiologically, the skin has a lot to do during the day including metabolism, fending off UV radiation, protecting the body from pathogens and regulating body temperature.  But once asleep, the skin does its most significant repair work including production of collagen and elastin, the skin’s connective tissue responsible for firmness, tone and elasticity.  Plus, at night the skin’s protective barrier is more permeable which means it is more receptive to healing, rejuvenating skincare ingredients reaching maximum penetration to do their work.

If you’re like me, you look to vacations to try and make up some of the sleep loss.  What a luxury it is to let your body decide when to fall asleep and when to wake up.  I love that it only takes a few days the system’s own circadian rhythms to reassert themselves (that’s assuming, of course, you’re not drinking too much or partying too hard which can throw the whole thing off.)  This is your body’s own truth, telling you exactly how much sleep you really need.  What if you could take this insight and make it work back in your real life?

Is it possible to make the commitment to your skin, your health, your mental acuity, your physical stamina and your emotional well being by making sleep a priority?  It’s up to you.  Initially, it’s going to take self-discipline. It’s going to mean sticking to a schedule and resisting the siren’s call of getting ‘just one more thing’ done before you hit the hay (a big factor in sleep deprivation.)  In the beginning, going to bed at an earlier hour is going to be difficult but stick with it. 

Let me say this and say it loud:  You have a right to your rest.  Nothing and no one are being served by you denying yourself this fundamental physical essential. You do not get extra points at the end of it all because you have stumbled through your life only half-awake.

So mull this over and sleep on it. The payoffs are huge and from that perspective, life (and your skin) will look pretty good. 


Quick Change Artist

May 15, 2013

Transitioning from a work duckling into a social butterfly…fast!

If you’re anything like me, a lot of times you don’t have the luxury of running home to bathe and change clothes for a big night out or social event.  We usually have to make-do in the cramped quarters of bathroom at work to make our magical changeover.

Much too often, we go out directly from work. Two things are important to remember.  First, you always want to be prepared–plan your outfit the night before (don’t forget accessories and heels). Second, you have to think maximum portability and functionality, so anything that is a 2-in-1 is definitely a plus and basic clothing pieces that can be spiced-up. This means leaving your liquids, powders, and brushes at home and really focusing on the necessities. Following the proper steps are key:

Step 1 – Sterilize the field.  Make sure to sanitize your hands and the counter you will be utilizing before spreading out your tools.

Step 2 – Touch-up your canvas. Pat down your face with a rejuvenating towelette. Brush your teeth with a pre-loaded portable toothbrush and then before rinsing, gently brush your lips too to exfoliate them.

Step 3 – Trouble shoot.  If there’s a rogue blemish, whatever you do, DO NOT pick it. Grab an ice cube and hold on the spot for 60 seconds to help take down some of the redness. 

Step 4 – Step up the makeup. Remember, fluorescent bathroom lights are going to make your makeup look more garish than it actually is, so don’t fret!  Darken your eye shadow to a nice pewter color, add your power red lipstick, and dab-on an evening fragrance onto the neck area and wrists.

Step 5 – Slip into sexy. Let your hair down from that usual office ponytail and let it fall naturally.  Un-do the top button of your blouse and slip out of those business loafers into some sassy heels. Then add the final touches- statement jewelry; whether it is a bold necklace, wacky bracelet or fun ring…Wa-la! You are all ready for a night on the town.

You’ll get better and better at this as you go along, practice makes perfect.  Remember, a crowded schedule happens but it doesn’t have to show up on your skin.






Skin-Fabulous Foods

March 22, 2013

Good (and good for you) recipes from ‘Girls’ Night In’


We’ve just completed a fun video for my web series, Ask Ava, called Girls’ Night In (http://youtu.be/fJqOMo8WXrM) where I introduce a subject very dear to my heart: Skin-Fabulous Foods. What’s it take to be Skin-Fabulous?  Quite simply, it must be a food item or a recipe that has significant benefits for the health and beauty of the skin while at the same time being absolutely delicious!

In this and future blogs, I’ll be posting about my favorite Skin-Fabulous foods for your delectation. As the body’s packaging, your skin is the exterior reflection as to what’s going on with your system on the inside.  It follows then that when it comes to your skin, you are indeed very much what you eat.


So let’s start with my favorite new Skin-Fabulous snack food blends.



In a large mixing bowl, mix together

2 c chocolate kale chips broken into walnut-size chunks (either Just Pure Foods’ Cocoa Kale Chips or Kale Krunch’s Chockalet Chip)

½ c walnuts

½ c almonds

½ c dried cranberries (or raisins, dried blueberries or dried cherries)

1 c dried or dehydrated pears

Save the leftover crumblies to sprinkle over plain Greek yogurt.


Skin-Fabulous because

Kale is one of the richest sources of lutein and contains beta- carotene, which improves skin elasticity and firmness.

The cocoa derivative in dark chocolate helps reduce stress hormones, which means less collagen breakdown in the skin and fewer wrinkles.

Walnuts and almonds have essential fatty acids that are known to help reduce swelling and inflammation in the skin.

Dried cranberries, berries or cherries help to reduce the effect of free radicals and contain Vitamin E which supports the function of sunscreens to absorb UV radiation.

Dried/dehydrated pears are a good source of Vitamin C and copper which rejuvenates the skin and makes it glow.




2 c kale cheese chips (which do not, in fact, contain any cheese btw) broken into walnut-size chunks (either Kale Krunch’s Quite Cheezy or KK’s Cheezy Chipotle)

1 c walnuts or almonds

½ c dried cranberries or raisins

Save the leftover crumblies to sprinkle over baked yams or sweet potatoes.


Skin-Fabulous because

Raisins are loaded with potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron which will nourish the skin.


For those who are allergic to nuts or suffer from inflammatory conditions such as rosacea, cold sores or herpes that may be exacerbated by nuts’ high arginine content:



In a large mixing bowl, mix together

2 c chocolate kale chips broken into walnut-size chunk (either Just Pure Foods’ Cocoa Kale Chips or Kale Krunch’s Chockalet Chip)

½ c walnuts or almonds

½ c dried cranberries (or raisins, dried blueberries or dried cherries)

1 c dried or dehydrated pears or apples

½ c dark chocolate chips


Save the leftover crumblies to sprinkle over plain Greek yogurt.



2 c kale cheese chips (which do not, in fact, contain any cheese btw) broken into walnut-size chunks (either Kale Krunch’s Quite Cheezy or KK’s Cheezy Chipotle)

1 c dried or dehydrated apples

1 c sweet potato or yam fries slowly overcooked until dry and chewy then broken into bite-sized pieces


Save the leftover crumblies to sprinkle over baked yams or sweet potatoes.


Skin-Fabulous because

Sweet potato and yams have high levels of Vitamin A and beta-carotene which are essential for promoting anti-aging and collagen production.

Dried/dehydrated apples have antioxidant compounds called phenols that provide UV-B protection, making your skin more resistant to damage from the sun.


Notes:  Dehydrated foods are preferable to dried foods because they usually contain less sugar. Both are high in fiber which is great. Don’t overdue it on the dried cranberries because they do contain added sugar or sweetener (as versus raisins which do not.)



Here’s a topical treat fresh from the kitchen:

½ c of egg whites

½ c of lemon juice

½ banana

15 grapes


Topically Skin-Fabulous because

Egg-Whites help ward off wrinkles and potentially tighten sagging skin with vitamins and minerals, such as selenium and the B complex vitamin.

Lemon Juice contains Vitamin C, citric acid, and B vitamins, which assists in detoxifying the skin as well as lightening and brightening. 

Bananas are rich in Vitamin A, B and E which works as an anti-aging agent.

Grapes contain phytonutrients that are essential for skin health because of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Dr. Shamban on BeautyLish.com

January 3, 2013

Check out my new blog, Skin and Tonic on  BeautyLish.com .  Hear what I have to say about keeping your skin looking great after the holidays. 

Holidays have come and gone. The sequined dress is at the dry cleaners. The poofy slippers are on the feet. And, if you’re not passed out on the sofa clicking through reruns of Madmen, wondering how they party so hard and still look so chic, chances are you’re looking in the mirror thinking, sheesh! What in the heck just happened to my skin?

Fun times, unfortunately, can have their price. But with a little effort, you can look as cute as Megan Draper does after a bender. Or at least, almost. Here’s how to get back your pre-holiday glow.  

Holiday Skin Symptom: Puffy Eyes From Partying

  1. Get back on your sleep schedule. Safeguard your rest, and learn how to say no! 

  2. Use an eye cream! Try a formula preferably with caffeine and/or Vitamin K, AHA’s, Vitamin C to reduce dark circles and puffiness. Keep the eye cream in the fridge to further bring down the poof.

  3. Sleep on your back. This prevents fluid collection in the face and under your eyes.

  4. Try some DIY remedies. There are the tried and true—cucumbers and tea bags—but here’s a few additional eye-savers to try for quick relief: ground ginger and honey, aloe, moist coffee grounds, turmeric and honey, avocado slices, and/or pineapple slices. To read more click here.

Fruitcake on Your Face

December 27, 2012

Fruitcake on Your Face

Take this least-wanted of holiday gifts and turn it into a thing of beauty.

Chances are, this seasonal concoction doesn’t do much for you in its baked and sliced form.  But some of the ingredients you might find in it, in their pre-fruitcake state, can do wonders for your skin.

Grape Cleanser

The Great Grape:  Grapes are chock full of polyphenols, which have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  In addition, research has shown that grape skin and seeds are a great source of OPCs (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins), which promote production of collagen and elastin fibers.

15 dark grapes with seeds

1 teaspoon Olive Oil

1 tablespoon fine cornmeal

Use a blender to mix grapes (with skin and seeds) and olive oil.  Pour into a glass bowl and add cornmeal.  Stir until all ingredients are well combined.  Pour a small amount onto a wet washcloth and gently cleanse your face.  Rinse off with warm water. 

Apple, Oatmeal, and Honey Scrub

The Amazing Apple:  Apples are rich in vitamins A, B, and C and also contain malic acid, which helps the skin absorb these vitamins. Alpha-hydroxy acids found in apples help balance skin tone and exfoliate.


½ medium apple, cored, peeled and finely chopped (Braeburn and Red Delicious varieties have the greatest amount of beneficial ingredients for skin)

1 tablespoon oats (uncooked)

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons yogurt

1 teaspoon honey, warm


In a blender, grind the oats with the sunflower seeds.  Core, peel and finely chop the apple; add this to the blender mixture.  Pour into a glass bowl.  Mix with yogurt and honey.  Gently massage onto your face, neck, and/or chest.  Leave on for three minutes and then rinse off with warm water. 


Blueberry Mask


Incredible Blueberries:  Blueberries contain large amounts of Vitamin A and C, as well as other powerful anti-oxidants like Pycnogenol and  Anthocyanin that not only help repair damaged skin, but help reduce the inflammation reaction in the first place after exposure to UV rays.  Studies have found blueberries help stop collagen breakdown, stabilize the collagen matrix, work against oxidative stress, and improve microcirculation.


1/3 cup blueberries

2 tablespoons yogurt

1 tablespoon rice flour


Place the blueberries in a glass bowl and mash them with a fork.  Add other ingredients and mix well.  Spread on your face, neck, or chest.  Leave on for fifteen to twenty minutes. Rinse off with warm water. 


Follow with your favorite moisturizer and eye treatment and voila—fresh and rejuvenated skin!      

This Holiday Give the Gift of Beautiful Skin

December 24, 2012


By Ava Shamban, MD

December is the month of giving.  And now that you’ve gotten through your holiday shopping, you can concentrate on the important stuff—giving to yourself.    

Most of us think of a ‘gift’ as something we give to others. But if you want to be the MVP on any team—whether it’s the family front, the girlfriend  squad, or the best manager brigade —you’ve got to save some TLC for yours truly.  Keep yourself strong, and you can be a strength to others.

Appearance plays a huge role in self-esteem.    When we are excited about the way we look, this feeling supports an overall positive outlook, an outlook that says anything is possible.  So it’s not a matter of vanity to want beautiful skin.  It’s a right.

Stress, hormonal changes, environmental assaults – all of these can take a toll on skin.  But, just like in any relationship, you can take control—and choose to maintain or restore naturally glowing, healthy skin.  You can prevent premature signs of aging.  You can get rid of adult acne.  You can erase the damage that illness may cause.  Follow a nourishing skin care regimen; fight free radicals with fitness and diet; get rid of cigarettes and other destructive habits; take advantage of today’s highly advanced non-invasive procedures; and the sky’s the limit.  Amazing support is available.  All we need to do, is value ourselves enough to seek it.

Taking steps to keep skin looking healthy and naturally youthful isn’t selfish or egotistical –it’s one of the most giving things you can do. 

Six Gifts You Can Give  Your Skin This Holiday Season

  • A good daily skin care regimen, appropriate for your skin type, will build a great foundation for a youthful, glowing complexion.  Cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize and protect your skin from the sun.  The younger you start, the better.
  • Eat right and exercise.  Choose foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, drink plenty of water and get in your cardio.   These steps will fight free radicals and reduce inflammation, regulate hormone levels, promote skin cell turnover, and stimulate collagen.  Basically, exactly what you need to keep the signs of aging at bay.
  • If you want to keep skin healthy, read labels and know your ingredients.  It doesn’t matter how much that fancy cream costs – the potent active have to show up in the first third of the label for it to do any good.  Personally, I’m a big fan of retinoids – they are clinically proven to increase skin cell turnover, stimulate new collagen, increase moisture content, increase blood flow, and decrease wrinkles.  Other anti-aging actives to look out for include:  niacinamide, vitamins E and C, and other anti-oxidants; peptides; growth factors; and potent moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic and acid and ceramides.
  • A great way to get potent actives into your skin is to use do-it-yourself recipes, packed with anti-oxidants and beneficial enzymes like those you find in blueberries and pineapple.  And my book, Heal Your Skin, just happens to have a whole recipe list!
  • Your friendly neighborhood dermatologist can also give you a helping hand. In terms of prevention, one can start ‘baby botox’ (small amounts of neuromodulator injections) at the first signs of dynamic wrinkles, and hyaluronic acids injections (fillers), at the first sign of lost volume.  Regular facials to stimulate turnover and circulation are also a great idea.  Other than that, consistency and protection are your best bets for keeping those wrinkles at bay!
  • And, most importantly, put your best face forward.  Each one of us has unique, individual beauty.  Focus on looking and feeling the best you can in your own skin—don’t measure yourself against someone else.

Signature Feature

November 29, 2012





Signature Feature

Dr. Ava Shamban

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Who do you see? Are you aware of the most significant part of your face or body? Or of your own natural beauty?

Don’t Fix What’s Not Broke

It is a truly awful feeling to not feel comfortable in your own skin. But in my opinion, this ‘fix it’ thought process is all wrong. The way to feel positive about how we look is to focus on what’s great about ourselves, not to concentrate on what isn’t working, or—even worse—to try to look like someone we are not.

That’s why I developed the concept of ‘Signature Feature’—it’s a paradigm shift, a more positive approach to personalized aesthetics.

Because the key to true beauty, is looking like yourself.

Beauty is About You

We all have a Signature Feature. It’s our most beautiful aspect, tied to our personality—and it should always be highlighted in everything we do: from the way we apply our makeup, to how we dress, to the hairstyles we choose.

Signature Feature is the focal point of each individual’s look. Everyone has some part of their face that is striking and original. Whether it’s expressive eyes, or dramatic cheekbones, or a fabulous prima ballerina neck. At my practice, we help you determine what your Signature Feature is, and then highlight it—it’s how we help our patients put their ‘best face forward.’

I have specific tools I turn to that help me determine your Signature Feature. These include the ‘Blink’ factor—sometimes one feature pops out at first glance; universal aesthetics of beauty; and cultural aesthetics, as it’s important to make sure the face is at home in its world.

Tied to Your Persona

Next, we have to consider your character and personality. What’s your style? What’s your individual story?

I can’t stress enough the importance of persona in the Signature Feature equation. ‘Beauty comes from the inside’ is not an empty phrase. Take for example, funny girl Barbara Streisand. Her Signature Feature, without a doubt, is her nose. Her confident personality, stellar talent, celebration of ethnicity and individuality go hand and hand with this unconventional calling card. To ‘fix’ this feature would have violated a huge part of her identity, and who knows? Maybe her success. Did the bold and bigger-than-life feature build one of the world’s most successful actresses and singers? Did her personality develop to grow into her ‘signature?’ Or did she own it after the fact? Because appearance and self-esteem are so closely intertwined, it’s hard to really know.

Turn up the Volume

So once I have a conception of a person’s Signature Feature, I turn up its ‘volume’ and reduce the background noise to give the Signature Feature center stage. This step poses a challenge, since part of beauty lies in slight imperfection. But with experience, a balance can be struck. This is the step where smoothing acne scars, filling in a distracting deep wrinkle, or erasing a brown spot is crucial in order to highlight the essential and outstanding Signature Feature.

I’ve noticed that many times, people can’t see their own assets. Even if it’s as plain as the nose on their face. And it’s so important! Feeling beautiful is directly tied to how we feel about ourselves and about our own value. It makes us stronger and more able to withstand the upsets of everyday life, the turmoil and stress that we all experience. We know from many studies that there is a crystal clear relationship between your appearance and your self-esteem. By helping as many people as possible identify and proudly own their Signature Feature, I hope not only to help them realize their beauty—but enable them go forth into life with new-found self-confidence; I want everyone to be able say to themselves, Hey, good-looking! How was your day?

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