There are an endless number of skincare books by dermatologists on the market. When I decide to purchase (or in this case I asked for this book as a birthday present so many thanks to my sister) yet another skincare book by a dermatologist I want to know that there is some different sort of content in the book that sets it apart from all the other books out there. In the case of Dr. Ava Shamban’s book – Heal Your Skin: The Breakthrough Plan for Renewal – what I found that was different, especially for a book intended for mainstream, public use, was the chapter about how to care for your skin during cancer treatment. After reading the book I also thought that this was the strongest chapter in the book overall.
This book is above all easy to read, written in accessible language, and has very concrete steps and suggestions about how to care for one’s skin. After the obligatory introduction about how the skin works Dr. Shamban gets down to business by talking about what damages the skin and how to stop those “skin enemies”. Chapter 4 of the book contains great introduction about how to build a skincare routine at home and really explains the basics of good skincare. Chapter 5 which deals with food, nutrition, and skincare does a fine job at helping readers figure out what to eat in order to stay healthy and have great skin.
The next four chapters in the book, six through nine, discuss specific life situations that impact the skin and how to care for your skin while dealing with or experiencing these situations or issues. The topics are: pregnancy, menopause, adult acne, and cancer treatment. Each chapter follows that same format: how the particular topic of the chapter affects your skin, how to heal your skin, skincare and treatment options, nutrition and fitness tips, and step by step skincare regimes. Dr. Shamban does not, for the most part, recommend specific products instead she gives readers a long list of ingredients to look for when searching for the right products for their skin. Each of these chapters really gets down to the nitty-gritty of these topics – explaining in detail about what to expect skin-wise when going through these life events or issues, why your skin behaves as it does in these situations, and how best to treat your skin. The information in each chapter is not only specific but valuable as well. Out of these four chapters I thought the one about caring for your skin while undergoing cancer treatment was the best (as I already mentioned above). Since I’ve studied the topic of oncology esthetics more in-depth I can definitely say that Dr. Shamban did a great job at getting the most important information across to the reader/patient in a clear and concise way. Her concrete advice will definitely help those undergoing cancer treatment.
Next the book has a chapter on fitness and skincare with actual fitness plans. Lastly a chapter with recipes for homemade skincare products (cleansers, scrubs, masks, etc.). I haven’t made any of the recipes yet, but I plan to in the future. The book even contains an appendix that breaks down three ingredient labels for products which is always helpful since trying to understand skincare products labels can be a challenge.
Truthfully I liked this book so I don’t have that much to say in the cons area of the this post. There were a few minor things that bothered me. Though Dr. Shamban does not in any way reach the levels hubris that Dr. Wu does in her skincare book (see my review of Dr. Wu’s book for more information about that) she does mention numerous times that she has many celebrity clients and that she was the dermatologist on the TV show “Extreme Makeover” (I should add that I used to watch that show because the makeovers, and who doesn’t love a good makeover, were jaw dropping though totally disturbing on a psychological level. But that’s a different topic for a different blog). I don’t understand the need to mention either of these facts more than once. I really could care less how many celebrity clients Dr. Shamban has. I’m interested in her knowledge and expertise.
The other thing that bothered me about the book was the in skincare regimen sections. There Dr. Shamban lists numerous ingredients to look for in skincare products and numerous ingredients to avoid. The lists are overwhelming. Only occasionally does she recommends specific products. The fact that she doesn’t recommend products doesn’t bother me per-say, it is the length of the list of ingredients that really irked me and also the fact that there is no explanation about why certain ingredients are ok and others are not. Personally I like explanations and would like to know why Dr. Shamban recommends certain ingredients but not others. And if there wasn’t room in the book to explain each ingredient maybe the list should have been shorter with explanations. I think just listing ingredients is a determent to readers since few people have the time or patience to research skincare ingredients or skincare products’ ingredient lists online or in a store. In the end I suspect that most readers will continue to use the same products they have always used because they will be overwhelmed with the task of determining for themselves if a product has the right ingredients in it or not.
Lastly, because two of the main topics of the book are pregnancy and menopause this book is really geared toward women and not men which is a shame since men are becoming more and more interested in proper skincare. It is too bad the book wasn’t more inclusive.
Bottom Line: I would actually recommend buying this book if you are looking for a good, basic skincare knowledge book to have at home as a guide and if you are a woman. If you want specific skincare product recommendations you are better off with a different book like Dr. Leslie Baumann’s The Skin Type Solution. (See my review of her book) I would recommend looking at Dr. Baumann’s book at the library or Barnes and Noble instead of purchasing it. If you are undergoing cancer treatment or know someone who is the chapter in this book that deals with skincare during cancer treatment will be invaluable for you or your loved one.
Image from whatshaute.com