Ava Shamban M.D., a renowned board-certified dermatologist, is a true skin visionary, clinician, author, anti-aging expert, and rejuvenation proponent. She is the founder and director of AVA MD Dermatology and SKIN FIVE by AVA MD medical spas in Southern California.
In 2006, she established the Santa Monica-based ATS Research Clinic where she oversees trials for Allergan, Evolus, Merz, Galderma, and others engaged in the pipeline of future treatments, products, technologies, and protocols. In 2020, she launched The Box by Dr. Ava, the first dermatologist-curated seasonal subscription skincare box to ensure people everywhere have access to healthy, beautiful skin.
PRiME is for the ageless generation of women who don’t dress, think, or act like women in previous generations. With that, we try to seek out women who make a difference in the world around them. Women that are trailblazers in their life or industry, oftentimes breaking the glass ceiling and forging ahead. Women to Watch is an opportunity to recognize some of those women. We’re hoping to learn more about them, their experiences, and any advice or guidance they have for the rest of us Prime Women. Today we spotlight Dr. Ava Shamban, creator of The Box by Dr. Ava.
Prime Women: How has your extensive medical research informed your clinical work?
Dr. Ava: At the beginning of my training, I started in basic science research. I was examining the expression of the collagen and the elastin gene. Collagen and elastin are the two main proteins that are in the skin, collagen makes up 70% of the skin and elastin only 2%, and they’re both integral to the plumpness, SnapBack, and overall quality of the skin. I would start from scratch, drawing blood from patients, isolating DNA by hand. In this way, I could examine the underpinnings of different inherited diseases of their skin.
My beginnings were as a basic science researcher, but I evolved into a clinical investigator. Basically, every one of the cosmetic products that we use today, from Botox to Dysport, to Xeomin to some newer products that are coming, as well as Restylane and Juvederm and something called RAJ, all of these products I have participated in trials that led to their FDA approval and use in a clinical setting. Having the opportunity to evaluate these products from the get-go has influenced my practice in the best possible way.
PW: Why should Prime Women use medical-grade skincare products that are only available through a dermatologist?
Dr. Ava: We all know that the quality of the food that we eat depends heavily on the nutrients, and by the same token, the quality of the skincare depends on the quality of the ingredients.
There’s so much skincare out there now – it’s so confusing. So the question arises, well, who should I trust when I’m trying to pick a skincare line or a skincare regimen for my skin? Should I trust the influencer? Shall I trust the skincare person at the counter at Sephora or one of the department stores or online?
You have celebrities endorsing different lines, you have actors, you have facialists, you have nurses, you have all kinds of people who are like, this is the best thing ever – but you don’t really know what the background of the product is, you really don’t… And so, for me, as a physician-scientist, I wanted to understand exactly how these products were going to work in different people’s skin.
When you purchase products from a dermatologist, not only are you getting a customized routine tailored to your specific needs, but you’re also getting medical-grade products that are formulated with higher concentrations of active ingredients. Unlike certain products you might find in Sephora or on Amazon, medical-grade skincare products are researched, vetted, and cleared for patient use. This thorough examination process enables these products to be tested for both safety and efficacy. These formulations and delivery systems mean those superstar ingredients actually affect the skin, thereby tackling the core issues of whatever skin condition you’re struggling with.
The more powerful a product, the more likely it is to be dermatologist-dispensed.
The reality is medical-grade skincare products might cost more upfront, but they add far more value to your skin routine overall. Plus, because medical-grade products are stronger, you only need to use them a little each time.
Remember, your skin is the largest organ! Investing in it is well worth it.
For those that can’t make it into the dermatology office, The Box by Dr. Ava offers the perfect solution. The same dermatologist-dispensed products are delivered straight to your door. No appointment is necessary!
PW: The Box by Dr. Ava is the first and only dermatologist-curated subscription box. What are the advantages of this approach to skincare?
Dr. Ava: A combination of outstanding dermatologist curated skincare, convenience, a skincare community, and the ability to develop good habits!
It’s so important to get into a good habit with your skincare regimen. We already know from scientific research that developing a habit takes 66 repetitions. If you apply your skincare twice a day for about a month, you get to 60-ish. Start today. In The Box by Dr. Ava, we give you a full-sized product so that you can have at least those 60 applications.
The other important part of The Box is that when you join The Box by Dr. Ava, you are joining a community. You have access to myself, to my staff, to a community where you can talk about your concerns, and you can say, “Hey, this didn’t work for my skin,” or “This is irritating,” or “I’ve got this problem, what can I do?”. We can schedule a tele-aesthetic visit; there are all kinds of benefits there. It’s hard to get in to see a dermatologist. And you may not have that access depending on where you live. With The Box by Dr. Ava, you’re getting in the door.
As part of The Box by Dr. Ava community, we provide you with so much education that you basically get an honorary degree in skincare. Knowledge enables more intelligent choices in every aspect of your life; the more you know, the more control you have.
If you are confused about your skin, The Box by Dr. Ava is here to help – join the community. Get some answers. Let us know. Together, amazing skin is possible.
PW: What inspired you to launch Box by Dr. Ava when you did, November 2020? Was the decision at all influenced by the pandemic?
Dr. Ava: During the first four weeks of the pandemic, my medical team and I virtually treated 300+ patients while our physical offices were shut down. The pandemic showed me how many MORE patients I could see by connecting virtually and made me realize that people want to speak with a dermatologist but don’t always have time to come in for an appointment and multiple follow-ups. I watched how this crazy experience changed how we communicate. It gave me perspective on how I want to take care of all patients seeking guidance, including those with aesthetic/skin needs who live in a different state than I do. There are many beauty box offerings on the market, but none curated by a dermatologist. The Box By Dr. Ava fills a marketplace gap, especially for consumers living in “derm deserts.” Good skin should be accessible to everyone, everywhere.
PW: The Box by Dr. Ava delivers three to five curated products or treatments each quarter. What mix of products and services can subscribers expect in each box?
Dr. Ava: Every product in The Box By Dr. Ava is selected to support different skin issues. When it comes to ingredients, we look for products that contain high-quality ‘holy grail’ ingredients, and I only include solutions that I would share with both my inner circle and patients.
I am also dedicated to providing only full-sized products in these boxes. I don’t think sample sizes give consumers enough time to really experience a product or see it take effect. I firmly believe in every product I curate for The Box, so I want subscribers to love them and watch them truly take effect.
We unveiled The Box By Dr. Ava over the holidays when many parts of the US were in various phases of lockdown. Our launch box, HEROES Box By Dr. Ava, gave subscribers two skincare solutions and one treatment:
- TIZO3 by TIZO pure mineral sunscreen offers a sun protection factor of 40 with a sheer tint and matte finish. Wear alone or as a skin-perfecting makeup primer. (valued at $41.99)
- SK Under Skin Precious Elixir – U.SK Under Skin’s revitalizing line features a specific purified growth factor and peptides carried by precious metals or gemstone nanoparticles to boost collagen and elastin, firm the skin and reduce signs of aging (valued at $149).
- truSculpt flex – One session of truSculpt flex, with Multi-Directional Stimulation (MDS) that helps build, strengthen and tone your abs, glutes, and thighs. truSculpt flex targets specific muscle groups to replicate intensified crunches, squats, and twisting actions without hitting the gym. (valued up to $750)
Our subscriber community is vocal, and we are constantly connecting with them through direct response, Facebook, Instagram, and Clubhouse. We learned that a variety of skin care options that can be enjoyed from home is important to our subscriber base, which led us away from in-office treatments for Q2 and Q3.
We heard them and came back with The Box by Dr. Ava Spring 21 offering ($600 value for $250):
- MySkinBuddy – a revolutionary facial device for a clearer complexion and brighter skin tone, valued at $300
- Restorsea Therapeutic Neck Decolletage Treatment for firmer, more evenly toned skin, valued at $150
- Theraderm NuPeel – naturally exfoliate skin cells to promote glowing, radiant skin, valued at $30
- Aforé CBD Effusive Mist – a first-of-its-kind antioxidant-packed CBD facial toning mist which hydrates, calms, and cools the skin, valued at $50
- Tiege Hanley Kit (Wash Body Bar, Scrub Body Bar, Lip) for soft and smooth skin, valued at $25.50
- Tiege Hanley Level One Skin Care (voucher) to smoothen, hydrate, and protect the skin, valued at $43.99
Our spring box really helped us boost our subscribers, and we used the Q2 feedback to amplify offerings in our Q3 Box, which we unveiled back in mid-June 2021. The Box by Dr. Ava Summer Skincare Box valued at over $550 includes:
- AnteAGE® Home Microneedling System – Maximize the regenerative power of microneedling. Stem cell growth factors and hyaluronic acid found in this solution enhance your skin’s healing response, restoring a natural, youthful glow.
- BIÂN Beauty Tinted Daily Sunscreen SPF 30+ – A hydrating sunscreen with natural tint doubles as a light primer and provides all-day oil control plus age-defying antioxidant benefits.
- ERASA XEP 30 – Inspired in nature, this cutting-edge wrinkle-reducing skincare technology features a biomimetic neuropeptide that helps relax deep lines and wrinkles, boost firmness and refine skin texture.
- ESUM The Perfect Brow Kit – This professional set includes a retractable pencil, precision scissors, slant tip tweezer, and brow grooming brush that work together to make shaping brows easy. This waterproof formula will stay in place and is also vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. Available in three shades, Blonde, Brunette, and Ebony, to fit anyone and everyone.
- Jenny Patinkin Skin Smoothing Trio – Dermaplaning is a safe and effective way to exfoliate dead skin cells, remove peach fuzz and enhance product performance. The Skin Smoothing Trio tool is the kinder, gentler, and more eco-friendly cousin of a razor. ● PHILIP B. Peppermint Avocado Shampoo – One of Philip B.’s most acclaimed products, this shampoo is formulated with crisp peppermint and nourishing avocado oil to create a tingly-cooling sensation that invigorates the scalp and senses while clearing away scalp oils and product residue for bouncy, gleaming hair.
- The AEDITOR by AEDIT – “Try on” popular cosmetic procedures (including rhinoplasty, lip filler, brow lift, and more) and instantly visualize medically accurate results with this patented 3D Aesthetic Simulator available exclusively in the AEDIT iOS app.
- VI DERM BEAUTY Vitamin C Brightening Concentrate – Infused with the most advanced form of Vitamin C, this serum helps alleviate free radical damage and discoloration while preventing UV damage by boosting sunscreen and shielding cells from harmful UVA/UVB rays.
PW: Why did you decide to offer an affiliate program for The Box by Dr. Ava subscription service?
Dr. Ava: We developed an affiliate program to develop marketing content that supports our program growth and engagement and builds relationships with our affiliate partners and publishers. If publishers and/or influencers talk about us, we want to give back to them and curate a symbiotic relationship that benefits us both.
PW: What would you say are the three best strategies for Prime Women to maintain youthful-looking, healthy skin?
Dr. Ava: Sunscreen 365 – anywhere above or below the towel must be covered daily, even when working from home. Outside and in the more intensive sun, double down on sunscreen every 90 minutes with 30 SPF and add a hat or sun-protective clothing.
Eliminate most or all simple sugars from your diet
- Focus on natural fruit sugars in the diet but limited amounts
- Look for low glycemic foods
- Introduce a natural, raw high percentage dark chocolate as a treat over other sugary sweets
- Know where to find hidden sugars and read labels
- Limit alcohol. Change out Vodka made from potatoes or high sugar wine for a Vodka made from grapes [like Ciroc] with a low concentration and never add sugared mixers.
Don’t even pick up a cigarette, let alone a pack!
Sleep is essential, we have all know that, and it’s also true for your skin which repairs itself while you sleep.
PW: What skincare products should every Prime Woman include in her daily regimen?
Dr. Ava: As a general statement, the better your skincare and your consistency in following a routine… the better your skin quality will be. Like any lifestyle choice, from fitness to nutrition, the more devoted you are to the routine, the better the results.
For many, too many steps ultimately lead to not doing anything. If that describes you, break it down to what is most important and keep it simple, good skin will follow. Start with washing your face. It may sound obvious, but it is essential to clear away all that has accumulated on your skin during the day. After that, I suggest letting your skin’s condition dictate the product you use. Keep in mind it may change from night to night. Once you have established a routine, it may be time to consider adding another step.
Exfoliating is a great way to improve dull-looking skin by removing the outermost layer of dead skin cells, leaving your skin smooth and bright. I recommend using a small amount of a gentle exfoliant for about 30 to 60 seconds 2 or 3 times per week. Don’t go crazy and end up with raw spots. There is no need to use a cloth or sponge – your fingers work best, and when you are finished, simply remove them with warm water.
Key ingredients I recommend everyone include in their skincare routine include:
- Hyaluronic acid, which will bind moisture to our skin
- Antioxidants to help your skin recover from environmental stressors
- Retinol/retinoids increase cellular renewal and effectively encourage your skin to look and behave like its younger self.
Some of my tried and tested products in these categories include:
- SUN PROTECTION: TIZO3 pure mineral sunscreen offers a sun protection factor of 40 with a sheer tint and matte finish. I chose this formula to be a part of our first box because it offers physical broad-spectrum protection, is gentle enough on ALL skin, even the most sensitive skin, and is photostable, meaning it will not degrade in sunlight. It’s also FREE of chemical sunscreen filters, dyes, fragrances, oils, and preservatives and is Reef Friendly. It checks all the boxes for safety and efficacy.
- EXFOLIATION: Theraderm NuPeel Natural Enzyme Peel naturally exfoliates skin with papaya/papain enzymes and is packed with a number of botanical extracts like aloe, pineapple, grape seed, green tea leaf, and cucumber to gently remove dead skin cells and keep skin glowing. In the battle against stressed skin and premature aging, hydration is the key. Maintaining body hydration is critically important from the inside out, as the lack of water in the skin can lead to dryness, tightness, and flaking. Your overall tone and complexion may appear uneven, and fine lines become even more noticeable. Theraderm NuPeel, when used on the face, stimulates cellular turnover and creates a foundation for flawless makeup application. When used on the body, Theraderm NuPeel restores dry, damaged skin in challenging areas such as knees, heels, elbows, and hands. It works wonders on dry, irritated hands due to its rich botanical extracts like aloe, pineapple, grape seed, green tea leaf, and cucumber that all help to soothe the skin.
- ANTIOXIDANT PROTECTION: Aforé CBD Effusive Mist – A first-of-its-kind antioxidant facial mist, the CBD Effusive mist was formulated using 100 milligrams of CBD nano-emulsion. CBD’s natural anti-inflammatory properties work in concert with green tea, vitamin C, and witch hazel to calm and cool the skin, depuffing and easing redness. Additionally, this lightweight face mist hydrates the skin, providing an instant youthful glow. Use it on bare skin or to set and refresh makeup throughout the day. Toners help close pores and tighten cell gaps after cleansing. This reduces the penetration of impurities and environmental contaminants into the skin. It also serves to lock moisture into the skin, so use it often.
PW: What’s the most interesting experience or story you can share with the Prime Women audience about your time as a “celebrity dermatologist” who’s well-known from Extreme Makeover and other TV appearances?
Dr. Ava: The experience I had on Extreme Makeover as the resident dermatologist for all of the patients who came in for treatment was one of the most profound experiences of my career. Many of these people had literally been shunned and marginalized over the course of their lives because of their looks, acne scars or active acne, etc. I watched them transform into confident people, ready to tackle the world with a newfound sense of self.
The most remarkable person was probably someone who had been incarcerated for a decade for a murder that he didn’t commit. Even after his exoneration through DNA testing, his time in jail had affected his life adversely. After being treated by the Extreme Makeover team, he became a respected and welcome speaker on the speaker circuit.
PW: You wear several different hats, including celebrity dermatologist, practicing physician, and skincare entrepreneur. Which one do you enjoy most at this point in your career?
Dr. Ava: I love being a clinical physician and practicing dermatologist. Everything else has stemmed from my clinical training and love of helping people. To some people, and in my opinion, their skin is their most important asset. This is where I come in. I thrive on helping people feel beautiful and confident about how they present themselves to the world – whether it’s in my practice, through a TV show, or by bringing expert-curated skincare solutions to their doorsteps.