Dr. Ava Shamban Reveals The Secrets To Clear Summer Skin

Rachel Adler

Dermatologists are basically our skin Godsthey deliver us not only clear skin, but also all of the answers we need to fight pesky wrinkles, red spots and yes, acne. It’s even more convenient for us when the doctors we love write books spilling all of their knowledge and well-practiced secrets.

Dr. Ava Shamban, a cosmetic dermatologist and author of Heal Your Skin spoke with me about the inspiration behind her new book, how to go DIY with your face masks and how to keep your skin clear this summer.

First, lets talk about your new book. What’s it about and why did you choose to write it?
The book is called Heal Your Skin and it’s been a deeply personal project for me. It was inspired by my patients over the year that I’ve seen struggle in their lives due to being less confident because of their skin. So my goal has been to provide people with the freedom and to have clear and beautiful skin and over the years I’ve figured out how to do that, and I wanted to give people that through this book.

In your book you talk about the relationship between exercise, nutrition and healthy skin. How important is this trifecta when trying to look your best?
It would take me six hours a day to be in top shape! But, to be in reasonable shape you really need to dedicate at least 45 minutes a day. With better fitness you have better cardiovascular flow and it takes away the toxins to give you a glow and healthier skin. You can often see it in athletes and see the converse in people who are starving themselves.

You also delve into DIY remedies for skin care in your book. Is it safe to try DIY masks to battle skin problems rather than seeing a dermatologist, or is it something we should do in addition to a doctor?
You might need to do some drugstore remedies as well, but they’ve been used for centuries and it’s a myth that Cleopatra bathed in sour milk and the French court bathed in sour wine for the antioxidants. You can make a nice scrub using some honey, some yogurt and some berries mixed up with a hand blender. If you throw in some witch hazel which is a nice astringent that can be used as a good cleanser and that’s a good start. Some people have sensitive skin or eczema and do well on these DIY remedies.

One of my favorite DIY spot treatments contains a teaspoon of milk and a teaspoon of nutmeg mixed into a paste and applied to the spots that need it.

Many people are afraid to exfoliate as they view it as too harsh, or they end up doing it too often. What’s the right way to exfoliate without irritating your skin?
It depends on your skin typeif you have oily skin or you’re trying to shrink your pores of have brown pigment and you want to get the sebum off exfoliate everyday. If you have dry, sensitive skin you want to exfoliate once a week, and in that case choose your method wisely. For these people DIY’s are great, and the mask with yogurt, berry and honey can have cornmeal added to it to make a scrub that is a little gritter but still gentle.

Summertime can often lead to breakoutshow can we help our skin to fight the heat?
You basically want to use a nice antioxidant before you put your sunscreen on because some of the ultraviolet does penetrate through. The green tea extract or vitamin C are best, and put it on slightly damp or freshly cleansed and then put sunscreen on. In terms of breakouts in the humidity when you come in at the end of the day wash your face off to take off the oil and apply some treatmenta salicylic acid gel or paddon’t wait until you go to bed.

What can we do if we suddenly breakout and have a big event or job interview coming up?
That’s when you might want to see your doctor to get some cortisone injections or you can even take a low dose of oral cortisone a few days before a big event to clear your skin. That’s the fastest way, but if your doctor isn’t accessible use a spot treatment.

During the summer we also all question our sunscreen coverage. How high of an SPF do we need, and how often do we need to reapply?
The word on the street used to be SPF 15 is fine and then they decided that all you really need is SPF 25, but this was because when they test sunscreen they’re putting it on like frostingan inch thickbut then they did a study that they found that people who had the higher SPF had better UV protection, and bottom line is I totally agree with this study due to personal experience. Go for the higher SPF, go for something with UVA coverage because you have the opportunity to prevent premature photo damage and UVA rays don’t make you red but penetrate your skin and can chew it up. Products that cover UVA will say Mexoryl on them, such as L’Oreal and Neutrogena, or anything with Zinc or Titanium Oxide is good.

In terms of reapplication if you’re just going outside you’re probably fine for the whole day. If you’re going in and out of the water apply once you’re out of the water. Also, it’s nice to put sunscreen on first thing in the morning so it has the opportunity to soak in.