Sun-Kissed Not Sunburnt: Beach Skin and Hair Care
Ah, the beach.
There’s nothing like a day wiled away on an exotic, sandy beach, preferably one fringed with palm trees. It’s bliss to have nothing to do but sip a cocktail, lie back on your towel reading a good book and occasionally take a dip to cool off, gradually building a golden tan.
At least, that’s the image I have in my head when I imagine myself on the beach.
And sometimes it is as idyllic as that. But too many times in the past have I arrived back at my hotel in the evening only to realize that I should have spent more time slathering myself in sunscreen than gazing dreamily at the horizon.
I don’t know about you, but I always find I burn the first time I’m on the beach every year after a long winter spent deprived of sun, sea and sand.
It’s not just that I’m super white, although that does, without doubt, have quite a lot to do with it. It’s that having been away from the beach for so long, I forget just how deceptive the sun can be.
If it’s a little cloudy or there’s a chill in the wind, or it’s still early in the year, I convince myself I don’t need a sunscreen with such a high factor, or that I don’t need to wear a hat.
My worst burns have been when it’s only 20 degrees and breezy. I’ve settled down for a nap convinced that my skin is perfectly safe. Wrong.
Over the years, however, I have learned a thing or two about how to protect my skin and hair from the ravages of the sun, salt and wind. So, here are my top tips for keeping yourself safe whilst still enjoying the sunshine.
Let’s kick off with hair care.
Easy tips for beach hair care
- Wear a hat, or put it in a plait
The sun doesn’t have the same dramatic effect on your hair as it does in your skin. But it still damages it, especially if it’s colored or already damaged.
The wind is an issue on the beach too, as your hair ends up tangled. That means you end up damaging your hair even more when you later take a brush to it. Save yourself the battle of detangling by keeping it safely plaited or tucked away under a hat.
- Don’t wet your hair too often
By all means, dive into the sea or that inviting swimming pool head first, just don’t do it too many times a day. Constant wetting and drying is a lot for your hair to deal with. Both chlorine and salt water can damage your hair when absorbed into the follicles.
I always like to take a quick freshwater shower before diving in. That way, my hair absorbs that and is less vulnerable to the ravages of the ocean or the pool.
- Apply some after sun for your hair
It’s not just your skin that needs some special care at the end of the day. When you’re back at the hotel, why not coat your hair in coconut oil and then wrap it up whilst you relax with a book? Wash it out thoroughly before you head out for the evening. That can help to combat any damage done that day.
If you feel like it, you can even apply coconut oil on the beach during the day to act as a barrier between your hair and the elements.
Now, let’s turn our attention to skin care on the beach. After all, a bad hair day isn’t the end of the world, but a nasty sunburn can really ruin your holiday, and skin cancer is no laughing matter.
Easy tips for beach skincare
- Choose a sun cream that’s kind to your skin and the environment
Before you head off on holiday, it’s time to invest in a decent sunscreen. Lots of commercial sunscreens are full of nasty chemicals that some scientists are starting to suggest might pose health risks, and harm the marine life that you’ll be sharing the ocean with.
Luckily, there are huge numbers of sunscreens on the market that are more natural. They’re generally more expensive, but it’s worth splashing out a little on something that could make or break your holiday.
I always find that sunscreens designed for the body make my face break out. Don’t forget to take one cream for your face and another for slathering onto the rest of you.
- Apply before you head to the beach, and reapply during the day
Once you’ve got your trusty sunscreen, make sure you’re applying it right. It’s always best to apply the first layer of sunscreen before you leave home. You’re more likely to do a more thorough job, and it gives it a chance to sink in before you expose your skin to the sun or dive into the water to cool off.
And then, once you’re there, you’ll need to do plenty of reapplying. The experts recommend you should reapply at least once every two hours. However, if you’ve taken a dip or are things are getting sweaty then you might need to top up a little more often.
If your swimsuit is wet then make sure you pay special attention to the exposed skin surrounding it. Sunscreen you apply there can easily be washed off without you realizing it, leaving you with uncomfortably-placed burns.
- Don’t forget your lips
A trusty lip balm with SPF in it can help keep your lips soft and smooth throughout your holiday. Burned lips are not a good look! Reapply whenever you reapply your sun cream.
- A hat doesn’t just protect your hair
We mentioned bringing along a hat for the sake of your hair, but it’s also vital to have a hat to keep your face as protected as possible. A wide-brimmed straw hat is a very stylish option. On the other hand, long-term travelers might prefer to invest in a nice cap that’s easy to pack and transport.
- Cover up as much as you can
Whilst lots of us like to get glowing tan when we’re spending time in the sunshine, having slightly darker skin for a few weeks isn’t worth the potential damage you could be doing to your skin.
Sunbathe in moderation by all means, but don’t go overboard. Bring along a kaftan or light cardigan that you can throw over your swimmers to avoid over-exposure, and consider bring a beach tent or umbrella with you so you have somewhere to retreat to.
- Make sure you stay hydrated
Being in the sun for long periods of time can dehydrate you, and that can mean your skin dries out. Drink plenty of water throughout your beach holiday to keep your skin supple.
- Exfoliate for an even tan
Before you hit the beach, make sure you’ve exfoliated to get rid of any dead skin that could leave you looking patchy. Don’t forget your knees and elbows!
- Take a nice cool shower
After you’ve spent the day on the beach make sure you rinse the salt and sand away with a cool shower. A hot shower can dry your skin out. It’s a good idea to get rid of any lingering sunscreen, too.
- If you’ve burned, turn to mother nature
The sad fact is that even if you follow all of the guidelines above, you could still get a sunburn. The sun is unpredictable, but every time you burn you should learn a bit more about how to take the best care of your skin.
After sun creams are all well and good, but I always turn to pure aloe vera gel to soothe any redness that’s appeared after a day at the beach. Reapply a few times a day to help stop your skin from peeling.
Gently does it
The trick with beach skin and hair care is to be kind to yourself. Don’t push the boundaries for the sake of that sun-kissed look, as you can easily end up going too far.
Enjoy the glorious sensation of the sun on your skin for its own sake and don’t worry too much about getting that elusive tan. Life’s too short to be sunburnt!