Perfect Skin Secrets from the Red Carpet Dermatologist

Alle Connell


If there’s one thing we’re always chasing in our beauty-loving lives, it’s perfect skin. No matter peerless our complexions are, we’re always looking to improve them just that little bit more.

And if you want to talk perfect skin, Dr. Ava Shamban is definitely the woman to see. Not only is she a board-certified Harvard grad and Assistant Clinical professor of Clinical Dermatology at UCLA, she’s also written an amazing book and hosts her own web series, Dr. Ava Says. Oh, and did we mention she’s also THE doctor to the stars? Yeah, they don’t call her “the red carpet dermatologist” for nothing.

We sat down with Dr. Shamban and got her to spill all her secrets for a perfect complexion. And get ready, because these are totally amazing.

Routine and Prevention.

Though having a dermatologist you trust in your life is crucial, Dr. Ava says that amazing skin starts with the things we do every day.

“What’s better—going to the gym once a week and doing a huge workout, or doing ten pushups, ten sit-ups, and so forth every morning?” she asks. “It’s so much easier to play the game of maintenance than to try to catch up, or undo a problem.”

The best way to do this? Having a daily skincare routine that fits into your life. “Never skip the basics: Cleanser, sunscreen in the morning, moisturizer, and something active at night—whether it’s an antioxidant, peptide, retinol, or a combination of all three,” Dr. Shamban advises. “You should do this so regularly that it becomes second nature!”

But it isn’t just about lotions and potions: the way you treat your entire body will show up in your complexion. “When you’re taking care of your skin, you want the whole package: nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress management,” she says. Preventing skin problems is far easier than treating them, and being match-fit in body and mind is the best way to go about that.

And the one product you absolutely need to have to ensure gorgeous skin? Sunscreen. “Sun protection is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING,” says Dr. Ava. “The way you protect your skin today will absolutely affect how it looks in the future.”

At-Home Treatments.

There are also special treatments you can do at home that can do wonders for your skin. Think of these as more of an occasional spa experience than something you do every day.

“Some of the lower energy machines—your Clarisonics, microdermabrasion kits, even low frequency lasers—can be really beneficial,” Dr. Shamban says, adding that if you’re in doubt about how often to use these products, you should consult your dermatologist.

But when it comes to at home treatments, microneedling is her favorite thing. “We do this in the office a lot!” she says. “Don’t poke SO hard into the skin. Be gentle, and then you put an active product on top—like an antioxidant—and you’ll get better penetration.”

“It’s not something you do every night. Everything in moderation, depending on your skin.”

And of course, microneedling isn’t for everyone. “If your skin is really sensitive, or if you have acne or rosacea, then don’t do it!” says Dr. Shamban.

Fixing Issues.

Adult onset acne—the kind that leaves nasty scars—is something Dr Ava sees a lot of. If it’s happened to you, you’re not alone; the ADA estimates that 40% of adults have acne scarring. Five years ago, your only option to get rid of these were hardcore peels, lasers or dermabrasion, but now we’ve entered a brave new world of injectable treatments.

Bellafill is maybe the coolest of these. “It’s tiny little plastic beads that are suspended in collagen,” Dr. Shamban tells us. “It’s FDA approved for the treatment of smile lines, and most recently for acne scars. Bellafill is injected under the scars’ indentation to lift it up.”

You may need a few rounds depending on the severity of your scars, but you should see improvements after a couple treatments. And the best part? “No downtime!” says Dr. Ava. You walk in, get the filler, and walk out—no recovery required.

Red Carpet Secrets.

With the Oscars only a couple of days away, we’d be remiss if we didn’t ask the Red Carpet Dermatologist herself ALL about the skin routines of the stars. And Dr. Shamban definitely knows about this, having started preparing her celebrity clients for awards season back in January.

“You can’t just prepare the face,” she says. “For an event like this, you have to prepare the whole body—neck, chest, arms, back, hands, even ankles, all have to look as good as your face.”

So what’s the most effective dermatological recipe for red carpet glamour? The radiofrequency treatment. “It gives this instant tissue tightening look, and there’s no downtime. Then we’ll use a little bit of filler”—she’s careful to emphasis that less is definitely more here—“to give the skin some plumpness. We do some very light peels, which freshens the complexion. And then we have people use A LOT of moisturizer!”

But it’s not all inpatient treatments. Dr. Ava also has her famous clients do simple complexion-improving exercises at home—and she shared these secrets exclusively with us.

“I tell them to go an exercise class,” she says. “If you get the blood flowing, you get that really pretty flush, then the skin plumps up and looks so good.”

You don’t have to kill yourself at spin class, either, says Dr. Shamban. “March in place for five to ten minutes, do a couple downward dogs, then run an ice cube all over your face.” Follow this up with lots of moisturizer on top for maximum red carpet readiness—we all know that when it comes to HD cameras, less makeup is definitely more.

Love yourself.

But Dr. Ava’s biggest red carpet beauty secret? Loving yourself the way you are right now.

“I think there is something to be said for really enjoying the age you’re at and NOT being so self-critical,” she says. “If you’re thinking “Oh, I hate this, I hate that,” about your face, no matter what happens in the dermatologist’s office, you’re not going to be happy. I feel that embracing the way you look regardless of treatments is so important.”

And while it’s great to take inspiration from the perfected glamourpusses in Hollywood, Dr. Shamban doesn’t want people to straight up copy the features (or fillers) of their favorite celebrities.

“You always want to look like a first rate version of yourself,” she says. “Not a second rate version of someone else.”

Truly words to live by.

Read more: Still Battling Acne? It Could Be Rosacea.