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Dr. Alexandra Zeitany

#LiveBright: Youthful Sun-Safe Skin Q&A with Dr. Alexandra Zeitany

In honor of Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we are continuing our #LiveBright campaign to share sun safety tips, positivity and, of course, our original prints. We are collaborating with leaders in the sun safe community throughout the month to bring further awareness to skin cancer beyond sun protective clothing & swimwear.

Cabana Life is passionate about sun protection, and to give you the best information, we reached out to experts in the field, our favorite dermatologists! We are so excited to feature Dr. Alexandra Zeitany. She is a Board Certified Dermatologist at Davie Dermatology. Follow along at @botox.and.bubbly for more tips from Dr. Zeitany. You can find her practice @daviedermatology on Instagram and @daviederm on Facebook. Read below to learn Dr. Zeitany's tips on Youthful Sun-Safe Skin.

What are your recommended treatments for sun spots, or to reverse sun damage?

Of course, seeing your board certified dermatologist is the first step to confirm that what you're seeing really is sun damage and not something more sinister (like skin cancer).

Then my number one recommendation is sunscreen on your face and neck every day. Look for broad spectrum protection with an SPF of at least 30. I also like tinted products as these block out blue light from our devices which is linked to photo-aging. If you don’t do this, you might as well forget the rest.

Other over the counter products I like for skin brightening are Vitamin C serums and azelaic and kojic acid. Your dermatologist will also have recommendations for prescription strength treatments and in office procedures to reverse your sun damage.

I spent my childhood tanning. How can I improve & protect my skin now?

My summer job growing up was lifeguarding at our local pool, so even dermatologists haven’t had perfect sun protective behavior their whole lives!

I tell my patients, changing your habits will benefit your skin’s appearance and health, regardless of when you start. The best thing you can do is wear sunscreen year round, regardless of the weather. Try to plan your outdoor activities when the sun’s rays are less intense (before 10AM and after 4PM). And opt for sun protective UPF clothing when you can, this provides more consistent, reliable protection than sunscreen.

Aside from sun protection, adding a retinol into your skincare routine (as long as you aren't pregnant) can also help improve your skin quality.

Is it true 90% of aging is caused by sun exposure?

It’s difficult to put an exact number on this, but it’s true that a majority of skin aging is caused by sun exposure. I love being outdoors and I think most of us have cherished our time outside even more with Covid. So I don’t expect my patients to avoid the sun altogether, that isn’t practical (or fun). But we can significantly reduce the amount of damage caused by the sun’s rays with a few simple, sun protective behaviors. This not only slows aging, it also decreases our risk of skin cancer.

How do UVA rays contribute skin aging?

UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin where your collagen and elastin fibers live. These give your skin its youthful tautness and elasticity. UV radiation damages these proteins, leading to sagging of your skin and wrinkles.

What is a good skin care routine for people concerned about UV damage or prevention?

It sounds boring, but really the best investment you can make in your skin is a good sunscreen.

This is a staple for all my patients' skin care routines. I have patients layer sunscreen over an antioxidant serum every morning on their face and neck. At night, I like to incorporate a retinol into their routine (as long as they aren’t pregnant).

During the winter, I often combine this with a prescription strength bleaching cream to help reverse any UV damage they've accumulated throughout the year. A good over the counter substitute for this is azelaic acid, which is also pregnancy and lactation safe. 

Does sunscreen prevent skin aging?

Yes! Broad spectrum sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB radiation. UVA rays damage your skin’s collagen and elastin, leading to loose, sagging skin and wrinkles. UVB rays cause sun spots (and skin cancer) by damaging the DNA of your skin cells. If you can block out this radiation with sunscreen, you can significantly slow the signs of aging on your skin.

What forms of sun protection do you recommend? 

My motto is the best sun protection is the one you will actually use, and that varies person to person. But I do tell my patients that sunscreen is really the third line of defense. First, seek shade whenever you can. Then, use hats, sunglasses, and UPF clothing. THEN cover any exposed skin with sunscreen.

What do you do to protect your skin from the sun?

Being a dermatologist, I often joke that I’m a vampire. But when you treat skin cancer all day, you know the sun’s harmful rays are no joke!

I wear sunscreen on my face every day and I reapply with a powder sunscreen before getting in the car or going outside. When I’m outside for long periods of time, I step it up even more. I try to plan my activities when the sun’s rays are less intense (before 10AM, or after 4PM). I stay in the shade when I can and I always wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, and UPF clothing.

Remember, vampires don't just have milky white skin and avoid the sun, they don't age either!

What is the most important advice you give to your patients regarding aging and sun protection?

When we’re young, we feel invincible. But once you have damage from the sun’s harmful rays (like sunspots and wrinkles) they can be difficult to reverse. So do yourself a favor and start protecting your skin from the sun early.

 Woman wearing Cabana Life Aruba Blue Maxi Dress

Photo via : @botox.and.bubbly

We hope these tips remind you to stay sun-safe, and love the skin you're in!

For more Dermatologist Q&A's look out for our next #LiveBright blog & follow along on our Instagram.

And if you want to add sun protection to your wardrobe check out our new arrivals for all things sun safe & stylish.