The Best Countdown-to-the-Beach Skincare Routine
Looking for the ultimate beach skincare routine? You’ve found it! Today we’re going to tell you everything you need to know to totally transform your skin over the course of a few months, eliminating dryness, dullness and imperfections for your most glowing, beach-ready skin ever. And of course, we’ll also be talking beach safety (i.e. sunscreen), but first, here’s how to start prepping your skin long before the sun hits it…
3 months before: time to target cellulite and stretch marks
Alongside bacne, cellulite and stretch marks are often two of the biggest hangups people have when it comes to summertime dressing a.k.a. flaunting way more of our skin in public than we ever normally would. The good news is, you can do something about them. The bad news is, there’s no miracle overnight cure for either.
The results from anti-cellulite products and stretch mark or scar treatments build over time, so start using these products as early as possible if these ‘flaws’ are likely to make you feel self-conscious in your swimwear. We particularly love the NuFace NuBody toning device for minimizing cellulite, and remember, while many stretch mark treatments are aimed at new moms (such as the Mama Mio Goodye Stretch Marks), they still work even if yours aren’t due to pregnancy!
A good-to-know tip: only reading this a week before your vacation? For cellulite, look for a product with caffeine such as the Dr. Brandt Cellusculpt cream, which will deliver an instant – albeit only temporary – reduction in dimples by tautening the skin.
1-2 weeks before: exfoliation
Haven’t treated your skin to a nice, exfoliating scrub for a while? There’s no better time to start than right now! Exfoliating your skin sloughs away the dead cells which are making it look dull and feel rough, plus stimulates skin cell turnover for a smoother, more radiant-looking new you. It can even help to reduce body acne.
While your skin will likely feel softer immediately after a gentle scrub, it’ll take a few repetitions to see the full effects so be sure to start a week or two ahead of your beach trip. Better still, make it a permanent part of your body care routine – exfoliating 2-3 times per week ensures you’ll have smooth, glowing skin year round, and who doesn’t want that?
1-2 days before: faux tan
One of our top beach safety tips for those of you who love to look bronzed? Fake tan! If you arrive to the beach already tanned and glowing, you’ll be less tempted to skimp on the sunscreen or spend too long sunbathing to try to build up your tan.
A day or two before your beach outing is the perfect time to apply a fake tan; any earlier than that and it may already have begun to fade. Exfoliate your skin the day before to reduce streakiness (smooth skin = smooth application) and right before applying, lightly moisturize any dry areas such as elbows and knees to prevent them soaking up more color than the rest of you.
The morning before: hydration and moisturization
You can exfoliate and self-tan all you like, but if your skin is dry, it won’t be glowing! Plus, you’re about to expose it to the drying heat of the sun and the skin-stripping effects of salty water (or a chlorinated pool), so get ahead of the game by ensuring it’s extra hydrated and moisturized before you head outdoors.
Try a two-layer approach: begin with a hydrating formula (we’re mega fans of iS Clinical Body Complex, which contains hyaluronic acid to hold onto water), then apply a moisturizer on top which will create a barrier, sealing this water in. Good, barrier-forming ingredients to look out for in a body moisturizer are ceramides, botanical oils (e.g. coconut oil or avocado oil), and botanical butters such as shea butter.
It’s a good idea to pack a hydrating mist in your beach bag too so you can top back up throughout the day as needed. We recommend Derma E Hydrating Mist because you can use it on your body and face, and rather than messing up your makeup, it’ll actually help to set it.
15 minutes before: sunscreen
If you only put one product from this entire article on your skin this summer, let it be sunscreen! We don’t need to tell you that sunburn or, worse, skin cancer is no one’s idea of a fabulous vacation souvenir. And neither are wrinkles or age spots. A sunscreen protects your skin from all of the above, allowing you to enjoy the beach and the summer sunshine responsibly. Just remember to apply it at least 15 minutes before sun exposure so it has time to take effect.
Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Tinted Sunscreen is a great, budget-friendly sunscreen for women who want a little skin enhancement without needing to wear makeup to the beach. Do want to wear makeup? A sunscreen setting spray such as the Coola Classic Makeup Setting Spray helps to prevent it melting under the summer sun while also providing UV protection. A stick format meanwhile is an excellent sunscreen for men and women alike who frequently find themselves with sandy hands, and hence need a sunscreen they can rub in ‘hands free’. We like Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Stick.
Specifically looking for sunscreen that doesn’t burn eyes when you apply it to your cheeks, and which won’t irritate delicate skin types? The best facial sunscreen for sensitive skin is, in our opinion, the Glo Solar Shade sunscreen which has zero fragrances or dyes.
Oh, and if you’re planning to swim, or just know you’ll be sweating buckets, be sure to pick a waterproof sunscreen such as MISSHA Water Proof Sun Milk, which can be used on the face and body (and at 70ml, is a great travel sunscreen that can go through airport security in your hand luggage). Even if your sunscreen is waterproof however, it’s still a sensible idea to reapply it after bathing, after drying off with a towel, and just generally every couple of hours. Once in the morning is not enough!
It’s also important to apply sunscreen to every part of your skin that is exposed – don’t forget about areas such as your hands, feet, ears, and so on. And while we’re on the topic of beach safety tips, remember that even with sunscreen on, doctors and dermatologists recommend you avoid the sun during the hottest hours of the day. So if you care about your skin (and, you know, not getting skin cancer), cover up with a kaftan, hat and giant sunglasses when the sun is at its highest, or just stay in the shade.
After sun exposure: more hydration and moisturization
Keep that beautiful glow going into the evening by repeating these steps from earlier, to replenish all of the water your skin has lost.
You can use your regular body lotions and creams, but if your skin feels especially parched, you may be better off choosing targeted after sun skincare products. These are formulated to not only hydrate (a lot!) but also cool, calm and repair your skin. If you’re feeling a little baked, aloe vera is a particularly soothing ingredient your skin will thank you for. If you got burnt burnt, using after sun products also helps to prevent or lessen peeling.
Final beach safety tips: skincare to avoid
We’ve told you everything you should put on your skin as part of a beach skincare routine. But there are also a few ingredients you should steer clear of shortly before you go.
Whether it’s at home or at the salon, avoid using anything which contains retinol (vitamin A) or AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid and lactic acid) since these will temporarily make your skin more sensitive to sun damage. Especially the high-strength acids used in professional skin peels! If you’re going for a facial and aren’t sure what the ingredients are, just ask your skincare technician about when you can go back in the sun and any precautions you may need to take.
Another ingredient to watch out for is hydroquinone, used for lightening skin discoloration. It works by blocking melanin production, and since melanin is what naturally protects your skin from the sun, this can leave you more susceptible than usual to UV radiation.
--For more summer, winter, and general year-round skincare tips, check out our other blog posts! We’ve written in-depth guides on dry vs. oily skincare routines, how to properly exfoliate your body from top to bottom, and much, much more.