Get the latest issue
It’s Good Housekeeping’s 17th anniversary, and mommies, it’s your month, too! Enjoy meaty reads on everything relevant to you—from deliciously simple cake recipes to stories of compassion during Pope Francis’s visit.
All ready for your trip to the beach? You've decided on all the details of your vacation save for one: does the makeup truly make the beach bunny?
It doesn't matter if you're off to a seaside resort with the girls and boys you see for happy hour, or the significant other, or even good ol' mom and dad—a vacation is definitely an opportunity for to strut your royal fabness or even to be a relaxed and more adventurous version of yourself. We know half the fun is getting the garb and the shoes, but when you're done with that, do consider the entire look. That boils down to a single simple question—will your getaway gear contain your beauty arsenal?
The answer to that depends on the person. Some people say yes to makeup—as long as it's done right. Others say no, that sunscreen is all you need for your face once you hit the sand dunes. Check out these arguments for each side to help you decide which team you're on:
NO MAKEUP—JUST SUNBLOCK!
Beach time is break time—from everything!
You've declared this a vacation, and you want to shed your high-maintenance reputation! So leave that makeup bag behind, along with your styling tools. If you're feeling extra daring, do away with the need to make everything match. Just make sure your outfits are cool and casual, not sloppy. You want to forget your responsibilities, not your style.
There are better things to do with your time.
If you feel trapped by a need to always have a full face, then by all means, let it go! It's not called a vacation for nothing. Use the extra hour or so you gain sans makeup rituals to have a longer meal, a more relaxed conversation or even more sleep. Just remember the sunscreen—trust us on the sunscreen because it’s absolutely essential. If you’re not sure which product to use, why not check our article on sunscreen products for beach and everyday use? You might find that you like the natural look so much that you'll start showing up to work, bare-faced and—wait for it—with air-dried hair! Or you may not, and you may actually be thankful for that extra hour you take preparing in the morning—just think of it as a daily fun indulgence than the prerequisite war paint ceremony.
It isn’t appropriate for beach activities—or the heat.
The beach isn't necessarily cruelty-free to cosmetics. The extreme temperatures usually stretch the limits of your makeup and go beyond what the manufacturers had in mind. You could always argue that makeup was designed for klieg lights and the strong artificial lighting of the stage, television, and film—but remember, the stage requires that your face be readable from the last row, and there's always someone waiting in the wings to touch up the slightest sign of shine or meltdown. If you take on the retouching duties yourself, that's time away from swimming, beach soccer/volleyball, and all the other things you went on vacation for in the first place.
GO, GO, BEACH MAKEUP!
You're prettier and more confident.
If makeup helps you feel more confident, then by all means bring it on! But consider what the balmy sea air and the strong sun can do to your daily cosmetics' formulations (for more information, check out the Female Network article on summer makeup tips), and be prepared to deal with that. The only melting you should be feeling should only come from the shake you're holding, from seeing that hot guy flash you a smile, or from engaging in a little lip-locking with your honey.
Here are some things to remember when putting on your face before heading out to the beach:
Use a tinted moisturizer instead of foundation. If you use foundation to even out your skin, consider a tinted moisturizer. They're lighter and better suited to the weather. The plus to this is they usually contain SPF (which is always good), apart from giving you more moisture. Your skin can easily get dehydrated in the intense heat. Remember that reapplying frequently is more crucial than higher values—SPF 15 can suffice if reapplied religiously. For more on sunscreen, check out Female Network’s SPF guide.
Use a concealer to hid blemishes. Spots getting you down? Consider just using concealer and a light dusting of loose powder to set the concealer, even out your skin, and most happily, absorb excess oil. You may not need to do your whole face. The operative word is light dusting! Feel free to explore translucent mineral powders, but be aware that flash photography may reflect a whitish cast.
Contemplate your skin type. Seaside conditions can bring out the worst in your skin—the harsh heat ups the oilies and the brisk cold night air can dry out your skin. Consider which effects are most likely to manifest on your skin and choose your products accordingly. Creams, gels, mousse, and stain formulations are fantastic if you need the extra moisturizing, while powder formulations are great if you need something to absorb excess oil. If a product makes claims to being waterproof, by all means try it out! Just remember that a light hand and a lot of blending and buffing will keep you looking natural.
Color is fun!
If your inner diva is restrained by the corporate environment, then a vacation is the perfect time for getting your groove back. Take advantage of summer's characteristically bright and punchy colors, and leave the neutrals and midtones at home—let them give way to greens, blues, and violets, and consider bright pinks, corals, even orange! The hues and tints you choose should be guided by your skin color, so ask your favorite makeup artists for their suggestions. Don't forget the metallics—golds, silvers, coppers and bronze.
Be a beach goddess and revel in your fabulous deified self with our quick color guide:
Line your eyes. If you're not sure how to use these loud pops of color, you can ease in through the eyeliner route. Just make sure to seal liner in with an eyeshadow in the same shade or color family or a translucent setting powder; apply with a pencil or detail brush so they don't get hopelessly smudged. Try limiting the application to your upper lid to avoid raccoon eyes (candy-colored Ophelia is not a good look, especially so near a large body of water).
Glam it up—but not too much! If you're brave enough to take on the entire lid, work with a base to avoid creasing, but curb the urge to go up to your eyebrow—think boardwalk, not catwalk.
Focus! With all things bright and beautiful, focus is not just a battle—it's the entire war. So pick a feature to play up, and balance it out by keeping everything else neutral. Opt for a bronzer or a nude lipstick which both look great on tanned skin.
Pucker up! Go ahead and try that fabulous shade of fuschia pink lipstick or that idiosyncratic mauve as an adventurous makeup choice. Just top it off with a balm that is both moisturizing and has SPF. Your lips do burn.
It gives you a sun-kissed look without the tan.
Even if you're a fan of whitening products, you can't spend your vacation hiding under an umbrella. You're on the beach, after all, and a tan is the thing. Yet you know that sun exposure is bad for you. So what's a girl to do?
Reach for the bronzer. You can bust out the one with shimmer since that is sun-kissed at its finest. Use it like a blush, and make sure you get a shade and finish that suits you. A bronzer, like a rosy flush, should brighten your face. If you go dull or gray, your bronzer may be too muddy. Apply it the way you would blush, except go higher on your cheekbones—remember, you're mimicking how the sun will grace your skin. So bronze the cheekbones, the bridge of the nose, and the brow bone. If you're extra adventurous, top it off with a gold-ish highlight. You might like it so much, you'll go back to rocking your hot tamale morena self even under the city lights!
Even with all these tips and tricks, remember that there are no hard and fast rules. It's really up to you how you want to play this. So do what you came to do at the beach and just have fun—worry not if that flush on your cheeks is the sun's touch or something straight out of a pan.
(White bikini photo by Paolo Pineda; black bikini photo by Jay Yao)