Are you wasting money on that expensive moisturiser? Dermatologist to the stars Dr Ava Shamban tells us which ingredients we need to splurge on and where we can save in our skin care regime.



When looking to purchase a product, don’t look at the price tag as much as the ingredients it contains. There are plenty of affordable products that are ‘rich’ in ingredients, and many more expensive brands that are heavy on fillers and controversial preservatives and have the active ingredients way down at the bottom of the list.

Don’t be fooled by pretty packaging or hefty price tags; read what’s inside that beautiful bottle. A key ingredient to look for in a good moisturiser is hyaluronic acid, which has excellent moisturising properties. It’s hygroscopic (readily absorbing water), and the molecule absorbs about 1,000 times its own weight in H20. Hyaloronic acid’s quick and effective hydrating action helps keep collagen and elastin moist and functioning, which helps keep skin looking supple and youthful.

A good moisturiser also needs to seal and protect, or it will not ‘moisturise’ effectively. Natural or synthetic ceramides will help to maintain and restore skin barrier function. Finally, your moisturiser should contain effective antioxidants, which act as anti-inflammatories. Inflammation can generate free radicals and accelerate the ageing process. A readily absorbed anti-inflammatory (such as vitamins A, C and E; grape seed oil and green tea) can reduce skin damage at a cellular level and actually help to stimulate cell growth.


Again, it’s not a matter of money, but ingredients. The most important product in your skincare regimen is your sun protection. UV radiation is the number one culprit behind the signs of premature ageing and also has a direct link to skin cancer. Make sure you use a broad spectrum product (both UVA and UVB protection) with an SPF of at least 30. For maximum stability and effectiveness, choose a sun protection product that combines both physical (e.g. zinc oxide) and chemical ingredients (e.g. avobenzone/octocrylene), and re-apply every two to three hours –  more often if exercising and/or swimming.

If you have acne-prone skin, make sure your formula is oil-free, and non-comedogenic. If choosing a physical sunscreen or a formula that contains both physical and chemical actives, zinc oxide may be better tolerated than titanium dioxide. (Titanium dioxide can cause breakouts in some folks, especially those who also react negatively to mineral make-up).

If you have sensitive skin, choose an oil-free, non-comedogenic formula. Try to avoid spray-on formulas, as many contain alcohol, which may irritate sensitive skin. In addition, avoid formulas with perfumes and dyes.  Mexoryl SX – an effective active used in many chemical formulations – can also cause irritation. If your skin does not tolerate chemical or combination formulas, choose a zinc oxide-based physical formula. These days you can find these in both micronised and powder forms, which will usually work for even highly sensitive skin types.

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