June 21, 2011 | by Steve Fox
Protecting your skin from the sun

Taylor Dibe, a Rehoboth Beach lifeguard, uses zinc oxide to protect his skin from the sun’s damaging rays. (Blade photo by Steve Fox)

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — For most of us, sun worshipping is a weekend activity that requires a little sunscreen to avoid a burn.

But for those whose summer jobs involve spending all day in the sun, a safe skincare regimen is a must. We spoke last weekend to lifeguards and outdoor bartenders in Rehoboth Beach, Del., about their approach to protecting their skin from the sun’s potentially damaging rays.

Daily exposure to the sun allows for production of Vitamin D. Vitamin D allows us to develop stronger bones and maintain a healthy immune system. But too much exposure to the sun can put you at a higher risk for damaging your skin and developing skin cancer.

This leads to a bit of a conundrum. Do you sit under an umbrella all day and avoid damaging your skin, but miss out on the healthy benefits of Vitamin D? Or could the desire for golden brown skin outweigh the risks?

Kim Richardson of Milford, Del., is a Rehoboth Beach lifeguard. Richardson has a practical way of approaching her skin-care regimen for those long shifts up on the chair. She washes her face twice a day and uses Neutrogena SPF 45 for her face and Coppertone Sport SPF 30 for her body. Her partner-in-crime on the lifeguard chair, Taylor Dibe of Wilmington, Del., has also learned from his experiences as a lifeguard.

“My nose always peels when I just use regular sunscreen,” he says.

So he covers his nose and the base of his eyes in turquoise zinc oxide — a slightly modern update to the iconic image of a lifeguard with white zinc oxide on his nose.

The lifeguards are setting a good example for skincare in Rehoboth. But not everyone is quite as attuned to the need for sunscreen. We talked to two employees at Aqua Grill on Baltimore Avenue who take a more laid back approach to skincare.

Kyle Scott, of Dover, Del., is a bouncer at the popular bar and restaurant and Josh Buchness of Rehoboth Beach is a bartender there. These guys make money while half-naked. Protecting their assets should be important to them. When asked about his skin care practices, Scott stated that he simply washes with soap and takes showers. What about SPF? Nope. Scott says matter-of-factly, “I usually get burned once real bad and then, that’s it.” This is clearly the laissez-faire approach to skincare.

Buchness seems to realize the value of a great tan and offered an unorthodox recipe for achieving that extra-browned look.

“I usually use Diet Coke and baby oil together, baste in the sun, get some color,” he said.

Diet Coke and baby oil? That approach conjures images of Kramer from “Seinfeld” rubbing butter on his body and baking in the sun. Like many other things in life that seemingly make us feel good but certainly can have negative side effects, your daily sun exposure is best enjoyed in moderation.

To minimize damage to your skin, experts recommend avoiding exposure during the peak hours of noon to 2 p.m.; applying sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or excessive sweating; and wearing hats and sitting in the shade. It’s also important to remember that sunscreen prevents burns, but it does not prevent cancer. For more information on safe tanning and the facts about skin cancer and melanoma, visit skincancer.org/tanning.

 

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