How to Think Like a Dermatologist


Everywhere you look you see beautiful people with flawless skin. If you’re like me, you wonder how, what, where and why they have such gorgeous skin—especially if you know that one or two of these beautiful people have  lifestyles that may, in a word, be skin-challenging. 

It doesn’t help that every time you log on to your computer you see an ad for the newest skin cream that “definitely” erases wrinkles. Promises, promises, promises.  Plus, it seems like you need a degree in biophysics to decipher all the new ingredients that are appearing daily in the latest lotions and potions.

I’ve tried them all, I’ve researched the ingredients, and I’ve prepared enough celebrities for the red carpet that I know secrets and shortcuts to flawless skin. After raising three sons, working in my dermatology office, and traveling as an international lecturer, I’ve got the inside skinny on skin. Whether you’ve got acne, wrinkles, red spots, or are just exhausted, tune in here for real bona-fide dermatologist advice to make sure that wear and tear of a busy life doesn’t show on your epidermis.

The good news is that the industry is on your side. Skin care in general is headed for better, more effective treatments that are targeted to specific issues. Think about it: all those executives at the beauty companies are aging and they want to look younger longer, too. And, of course, looking younger begins with beautiful skin, so, there’s a lot of money being devoted to R &D so we can all look our best.  

In this continuing series, I’ll give you tips and insight on how to think like a dermatologist. You will learn what’s hot and what’s not, office procedures, new creams, new ingredients, and new at-home skin devices.  Plus, I will  recommend cheap alternatives to products and treatments that you can do yourself at home, including recipes for skin care made from what’s in your fridge and pantry. And, finally, we will talk: “Prevention!” I’ll give you advice on how to look better than you feel so you can feel better.

So, let’s kick off with a few basic guidelines:

  • Wear sunscreen every day. You’ll never get sick of this advice. Sun damage is not a pretty sight. Think wrinkles, loss of elasticity, pigmentation and dryness; and in some cases, it can be downright deadly. Get a broad Spectrum UVA/UVB product with an SPF of 30 or above. Use it. And do not leave your home without it!
  • Use a retinoid at night. Want to prevent wrinkles and other signs of premature aging? This vitamin-A derivative is your clinically proven friend.
  • Eat a diet filled with fruits and vegetables. You are what you eat, so why not nibble your way to beautiful skin?  Pack in the antioxidants to fight free radicals and prevent inflammation.  Science says:  it will make a difference.
  • Build a pyramid of skin care that forms the building blocks for you as you age. Start practicing good habits in your 20’s; like eating right, exercising, and using sunscreen;  add more in your 30’s, like regular exfoliation and applying antioxidants, and so on. As you get older, keep building on those healthy habits you’ve already adopted. A consistent, quality skin care regimen is the single best step you can take to maintain youthful, healthy skin.

Dr. Ava Shamban is a scientist, author, business owner, and supermom of three best known for her on-air expertise on “Extreme Makeover” or “The Doctors.”  She is the Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the UCLA-Geffen School of Medicine, and recently published  “Heal Your Skin: The Breakthrough Plan for Renewal.” Her mantra? “Life happens. It doesn’t have to show on your skin.” Follow her on Twitter at @DrAvaMD or tune in for more tips on YouTube at DrAvaMD.