Beach makeup used to be reserved for matrons who wouldn’t go near the water for fear of wrecking their beehive hairdos and immaculately penciled eyebrows. Now that makeup is softer and more beach-friendly, you don’t have to fear it when going for a swim or lounging on the sand. If you’re lucky enough to have clear skin, long dark lashes and lush lips already, great — you probably don’t need anything but your sunscreen to look gorgeous. However, if you feel the need for a little extra on your face even when you’re wearing a bikini, go for it.
Apply sunscreen first. Sunscreen needs time to set to become fully effective, so use it as you would a moisturizer and smooth it on your skin at least 20 minutes before you plan to be in the sun. By putting your sunscreen on before the rest of your makeup, you’ll give it time to reach maximum protection before you hit the beach.
Wear sheer makeup. Opaque makeup almost invariably looks chalky and unnatural in direct sunlight, especially when your skin’s dewy with seawater. Sheer blush and lip stains look like a natural flush. Some lip balms have a touch of color as well as sunscreen, and those are an excellent choice for a day at the beach.
Swap tinted moisturizer for concealer. Applying thick, creamy concealer to a blemish will only draw attention to it at the beach. Instead, dot on a tinted moisturizer that’s has some sheerness and apply it only where you feel you need it. Tap the area to blend the makeup instead of swiping or rubbing to avoid removing any of your sunscreen.
Use a light touch. This is not the occasion for trying out the latest trend toward strong eyes and lips. Pick one feature to accentuate, apply minimal makeup and blend everything well. Sharply defined lines that look dramatic and elegant for a dressy evening look harsh under the summer sun.
Choose waterproof makeup — and test it. Not every waterproof mascara is completely smudge-proof, and not every brand can stand up to chlorinated pool water or the briny deep. Give your makeup a trial run to see how waterproof it truly is before you wear it for a day at the beach. Raccoon eyes aren’t a good look for anyone except a raccoon.
Swap eyeliner for eyeshadow. Oil-based eyeliners can melt and smudge, so get a smoky eye with a dusting of your favorite eyeshadow in an arc at your upper lash line. Skip lining lower lids entirely for a poolside or beach look; it won’t last for half an hour before mutating into dark circles.
Matte is best. The slight sparkle that your favorite blush imparts at night becomes a full-on glare in bright sunlight. Save shimmer for metallic nail polish when you’re in the sun and keep the sparkle away from your face.
Avoid sticky lip gloss. You really don’t want to be picking sand, dust and strands of your own ponytail out of your lip gloss every few minutes. Go with a sturdy, waxy balm or a lip stain instead.
Don’t sweat it. Beach makeup won’t be flawless; you’ll sweat some of it off and the rest of it will fade. That’s okay, though. Airbrushed perfection is for magazines, and you’re there to have fun at the beach, not for a photo shoot. Relax and enjoy your vacation!