About FIGS V.I.P.s (Very Important Professionals)
From launching international non-profit organizations to bringing new life into the world, medical professionals are making a difference in the lives of their patients across the globe. Every month, FIGS celebrates the people behind these feats and shares their stories with our community.
Name: Dr. Ava Shamban
Affiliation: AVA, MD
Location: Beverly Hills, CA
What do you love the most about your job? The people! And the healing and the ability to make people feel better. I also like the creativity behind it. Medicine is an art and a science. You need a certain amount of information and skill, but to treat an individual is the art. You need to understand the science so you know if you’ll need a laser, injectable, oral or topical medicine, but how you put it together is where the alchemy, the magic, happens.
What do you love about dermatology? I’ve done a lot of acne treatment over the years, from regular to scarring acne - just acne that you hate looking at when you’re in high school. It’s difficult to not have clear skin or to have scarred skin because people immediately assume that your hygiene is bad, that you’re not washing your face, or that you’re a drug addict. There are all these negative associations. I was the dermatologist on the show Extreme Makeover, so my part of the extreme makeover was treating people who had acne. From that I learned a lot about treating facial and back acne under a time crunch because the producers had to do style and fashion shoots only after two weeks. I figured out how to make the treatments work faster. Recently I had an experience on the Steve Harvey Show with a high school student whose acne was so bad and inflamed that he was bleeding. When he was gearing up to play football, his coach told him he couldn’t play because he was bleeding. So we cleared him up and now he’s back on the team. After both shows I got a lots of encouraging mail from people and questions about how I treated various dermatological issues. It led me to want to do something more. I am currently planning on developing something more mobile for local high schools to reach students who can’t afford dermatology care or don’t know that some of these solutions that are available. It’s something that is really important to me.
What are you most proud of as it relates your career? I have three kids. I’m very proud of them and raising them has been a tremendous experience. As it related to my medical profession, the ability to give people the gift of beautiful clear skin helps their self-esteem so much. My most fulfilling achievement is to clear their face up so they can restart their life or have a life that is different from the one they had before. You can’t hide your face, especially if you’re a male. There’s nowhere to hide. Your face is your calling card. The other thing I’m very proud of is that I have 45 employees, 44 which are female. Most of them are the primary breadwinners of their family, and I’m very proud of that that I’ve been able to provide employment opportunities and benefits.
What made you decide to launch your own skincare line? My line came out of the realization that people like instant results. During my experience on Extreme Makeover, I found that if you bump up the concentrations and frequency of the right active ingredients, you’ll get accelerated results in a shorter amount of time. Americans seem to have an attraction to seeing results within two weeks. From crash diets to exercise regiments, people want to see results right away. I wanted to do the same thing for the skin, so I came up with this idea for a radical departure from what was out there for accelerated results in two weeks.
In a pinch, what skincare product can you create from things you have at home? In my book Heal Your Skin, I have a whole section on homemade recipes. Depending on what your issue is, from oily acne-prone skin to dry, overstressed skin, you can create various masks, toners, and moisturizers at home. If you have oily skin, you are going to need a more astringent base and a mask that’s more drying along with anti-inflammatories. So you’d just open up your refrigerator and pantry and start taking oatmeal, yogurt, honey, avocado and berries. That gets you your antioxidants, alpha hydroxy acids, and anti-inflammatories.
What’s one piece of advice you can share from your book “Heal Your Skin?” The tagline of the book is “Life happens. It doesn’t have to show on your skin.” You need to treat your skin like a fine, expensive art. Let’s say you owned a Van Gogh or the Mona Lisa. What are you going to do with Mona Lisa? Are you going to lay her out in the sun? Let the sun bake her and not protect her? Treat your skin the way you’d treat art. Follow a regular skin care routine with sunscreen in the morning and something healing at night, whether it’s an antioxidant or retinoid, or both.
What do you do to unwind outside of work? I’m athletic. I like to swim, hike, and ski. Los Angeles is great for that. I also love the arts. I like to go to the theater and movies. When I can, I read. I used to read more than I do now. Now I do it like we all do, read a little bit of this, a little bit of that.
Anything else that you would like to share with the FIGS community? I think we’re in the middle of a huge transition in the way that we live and communicate. The type of work you’re doing is wonderful. Every century, our community gets bigger and bigger, and now we’re a global community. The more we take care of each other, the better off we’ll all be.
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