Summer lends itself to a loosening of sorts…relaxed beauty routines…fewer pieces clothing…lowered inhibition. We all just feel a little sexier in the summer, no? (NO?! Have a few glasses of rosé and get back to me.)
While you’re drinking, let’s talk getting glam for the beach. As much as most of us enjoy going au natural, who doesn’t want to channel a little Brigitte Bardot every now and again, am I right? It’s just fun.
Now, I take what I call the Frank Lloyd Wright approach to beauty: appearance should reflect the surroundings. Summer beauty, especially beach makeup, is meant to look organic, even if it’s completely contrived. We all know that the beating sun and salty air gives us bronzy skin and textured hair. That’s why thick foundation, heavily contoured cheeks, and dark burgundy lips just don’t make sense on the beach, so I’m not going to talk about those.
Instead, here are some of my favorites to keep you looking fantastic all summer long:
Skin, Scents and Self-Tanner, or what I like to think of as “body makeup”
It’s no secret that being tanner makes you look a little slimmer and gives a great pre-beach glow, if that’s what you’re into (I am). The secret is finding a formula that makes you look radiant and not like the Snooki of yore .
For my fair to light-medium skinned girls, this is where Kiehl’s self-tanner for face and body comes in. It’s a super moisturizing white lotion that’s basically odorless, and it doesn’t break you out. Or at least it doesn’t break me out, and I have pretty sensitive skin. Like I can’t even wear most liquid foundations. So if you’re like me, this product is great! Just slather it on! And like regular lotions, even though you can’t see exactly where you’re putting it, it’s so moisturizing that you’ll be able to feel any spots you missed. So even if you throw it on haphazardly, as I’m wont to do, you won’t be streaky. It’s basically perfect.
For my medium to darker skinned girls, Tan Towels are the way to go. It’s a super easy application. You just fling the package open and rub the towel all over your naked body with abandon. You use the towel until it’s dry, then open another packet and repeat. Tan Towels come in half or full towels. I typically use the half-towels, which are about the size of a small washcloth, and I go through about two half-towels per application. It’s all about personal preference, but I don’t like to go super dark that often, so the ten-pack of half-towels is perfect for me.
For anyone who either prefers drugstore or a more ubiquitous solution, the old standby, L’Oreal Sublime Bronze Tinted Self-Tanning Lotion (it comes in medium or deep) is the way to go.
Of course, you’ll want to shave and exfoliate before self-tanning, but even if you don’t self-tan, exfoliated skin just absorbs lotion better and looks more radiant. My favorite is Bliss Blood Orange + White Pepper Sugar Scrub, which smells as delicious as it sounds. If you can’t imagine this scent, think a sweeter grapefruit with a hit of spice. You really feel the granules but it’s also moisturizing. I hate rough, dry scrubs, but I still want to feel like the thing is working, so this was made for me, and nothing leaves my skin silkier.
After you leave the beach, up your afterglow with a little Nars Monol Body Glow . I say “after” because you’re not going to want to wear oils on the beach at all, so as not to burn, and there’s also no sun protection here. I like to add a little to legs, arms, and collarbones so I glisten like one of those perfume ad models. And I think it just smells gorgeous.
And speaking of summertime scents, it doesn’t get more quintessential than Beach by Bobbi Brown. It’s my childhood growing up at the shore and my college in a beach town in a bottle. My other favorite scent, in the same vein as Beach but with a bit more sophistication, is Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne.
So, I’m a big proponent of no foundation at the beach, and if you’ve already self-tanned, you really don’t need it. Instead, opt for using concealer just on areas you want to cover. And since we’re at the beach, we’ll want to use a waterproof formula. The best I’ve tried is the Lancôme Effacernes Waterproof Protective Undereye Concealer, which I also use on other areas of my face that need a little love.
But if you must wear foundation, try (a light coating of) MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation , Tarte Amazonian clay BB Illuminating moisturizer , or the classic Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (as a bonus, Tarte has SPF 15 and Laura Mercier has SPF 20, but neither is waterproof). Just remember, the goal here is to let your skin look like… well, skin. (I’m sorry, I just think obvious foundation on a sweltering day looks streaky and like one has melt-y face and that makes me cringe! But that’s just me. You do you!) Moving on!
I suppose if you’re wearing foundation, you’ll want to add color to your cheeks. And since powders can get cakey in the heat, they really have no place at the beach. Instead, try Tarte Cheek Stain. It’s not waterproof, but Becca Beach Tint is, and it doubles as a tint for lips and cheeks. But I must say, I feel the same way about blush on the beach as I do foundation.
What I’m saying is, I love just a clean face with defined eyes, brows and soft lips. So let’s talk about all that next.
Eyes & Brows
I firmly believe that if nothing else, playing up your eyes is quickest way to transform into a bit of a sex kitten/70’s bombshell-hybrid. If that’s your thing. It’s mine!
And I think the easiest way to play up your eyes, aside from mascara, which I’ll get to in a minute, are eyelash extensions. You guys, let me tell you, this one time (long, long before I met my husband- hi, honey!) I was on a flight out of Miami. The only makeup I was wearing was eyelash extensions, and this guy next to me, who was a dead-ringer for Matthew McConaughey (circa How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days), totally hit on me the whole flight home. (And I know it was the eyelash extensions because I’m a freefall sleeper, you see, so without adequate eyelash curling and mascara-ing, my eyes are virtually non-existent because my eyelashes just get smooshed in my sleep.) My point is, eyelash extensions: do it. That being said, like everything else in life that’s delightful, there are risks, so you’ll want to make sure you’re going to a professional. You don’t want to be one of those horror stories. I’m not here to scare you- I’ve done eyelash extensions several times, and never had a negative experience. Just do your research and make sure your practitioner is properly licensed as required by your state.
Another of my favorite tricks is tinting. Again, you’ll want to make sure you go to a reputable esthetician, and make sure the esthetician gets the right colors for you. Because, let me tell you, my hair is blonde and my eyebrows are darker, and this one person dyed my eyebrows so dark that I looked like the poor man’s Khaleesi. It was dreadful. Anyway! Tinting lasts 2-3 weeks and (when it’s done properly) you wake up looking like you’re wearing makeup, which is fantastic. I go to licensed, experienced practitioners who use vegetable dye, and I’ve dyed my lashes and brows. But there are also all kinds of risks, of which you should be aware. Again, do your research and be well-informed – your eyes are nothing to play with!
Lastly, the easiest,most affordable (and safest!) way to define your eyes is with mascara. For waterproof glam that mimics false lashes, try Diorshow Waterproof Mascara or L’Oreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara in Carbon Black. If you prefer the more ingénue look, go with
If you’re into liner, like I am, or just want a little more definition because your eyes look too naked with just mascara, tightline with Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Eyeliner. (I typically tightline before mascara, but sometimes I do it after to fill in any tiny gaps.)
As for eyeshadow, I feel powders tend to get a bit cakey in the sun. So if you’re into shadow and can’t live without it, dab on a little Make Up For Ever Aqua Waterproof Cream Color. (I like “warm beige” or “golden copper” for the beach.) Or, I like to pat a couple of drops of bareMinerals Sheer Sun Serum Bronzer onto my eyelids or on my crease for subtle definition.
If you do nothing else to your face, groomed eyebrows are a must. They define your eyes and pull your whole look together. For some, just brushing is enough. I personally like to define my brows with Anastasia Beverly Hills Dip Brow Pomade then go over them with Make Up For Ever Aquabrow to soften the look. (I know I’ve been referring to Make Up For Ever a lot, but their waterproof products really are tops).
Because my lips feel the drying effects of the sun first, I am all about the lip balm. As an aside, if you’re keeping lip products with you at the beach, they’re going to melt a little, so unless you’re throwing your tube in the cooler, you may want to consider products that are already liquefied, like Benefit Cosmetics Posietint Cheek & Lip Stain or
YSL Baby Doll Kiss and Blush (which is matte and will give you a more “done” look, if that’s your thing).
But as I was saying, I’m partial to balms, and it doesn’t get better than Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with SPF 15. It’s the best – the tube lasts forever and your lips always feel plump and moisturized. And, if you want a bit of color, the Rosé shade looks like you just finished a piece of watermelon or a rocket pop. The hint of a slight red tint on your lips is perfect for summer. After sun, I love Rosebud Salve.
I could recommend some pretty lipsticks at this point, but they just seem so fussy in the summer. And let’s be honest, lipstick marks are just going to get left on your teeth from gnawing on that corn on the cob, or on your margarita glasses. Or on your summer fling. You know, wherevs. The point is, you just have to know when the day’s a waste of a good lipstick.
Obviously we need the signature tousled hair. If your hair is naturally thick and wavy like mine, just sleep on it, roughly brush it out the next morning, and liberally spray in a texturizing dry shampoo. I’ve raved about it before, but Sally Hershberger 24K Supreme Stylist Voluminous Dry Shampoo is my go-to. Then I just add a little Drybar Money Maker Flexible Hold Hairspray, which smells AH-ma-zing. Seriously, everywhere I go people ask me what I’m wearing that smells so good. And it really does.
And don’t forget to protect your hair from the sun. I like to spray some Bumble & Bumble oil heat/UV protective primer into my palms and rub it over my hair to protect my color from fading. (You can use it wet or dry, but I find if I use too much, my hair gets too oily, so I use it sparingly.)
Or, forget it all and just wear a cute hat!