6 Beach Bag Essentials to Avoid Sun Damage

If I’m honest, I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed when I got into skin care and learned that the sun is one of the primary causes of premature aging and skin damage.

I’ll always be nostalgic about my days as a teenager spent laying out trying to darkest tan and blondest hair possible, but today I do everything in my power to prevent sun damage, freckles, tanning, and darkening skin.

Longer days and more intense sun are just around the corner, so whether you’re looking for sun damage prevention essentials for the beach or wanting to avoid signs of aging in the spring and summer, these should help.

1. Acne-Safe Face Sunscreen

My two favorite face sunscreens are by Elta MD and Zo Skin Health. The Elta comes clear or tinted and is more affordable. The Zo option is more luxurious—it almost has a silky texture—and works beautifully as a makeup primer or CC cream, which is why it’s more expensive. With either, I always get SPF 30 or higher. David and I share the Elta MD on vacation for cost savings, and I save the Zo sunscreen for nicer outings or early outdoor dinners.

2. Waterproof Body Sunscreen

I tend to spend about 50% of my time on vacation being active, whether that’s snorkeling, exercising, jet skiing, or doing excursions away from the resort. I love this waterproof sunscreen for all of those. It stays on for a relatively long time in the water, smells good, applies evenly, and doesn’t burn at all, even if you’ve recently shaved.

3. Lip Balm

My lips have never been sunburned, but I know that many women struggle with this! I use Caudalie’s lip conditioner (no SPF) to keep them hydrated, but if you need a balm with an SPF, I recommend Supergoop! or Sun Bum.

4. A (Very) Large Hat

Sometimes I’ll allow my body to get a light tan just for fun, but I don’t make the same compromise with my face. When I’m on the beach, bike riding, on a boat—anywhere with sun exposure—I’m wearing a hat that covers my face and decolette/shoulders. I have this affordable Amazon visor (easy to roll for travel) and this oversized sun hat from Abercrombie—both work great!

5. Oversized Sunglasses

Similar to a hat, a pair of oversized sunnies adds another layer of protection against the sun (which can cause fine lines/crows feet as well as damage to the eyes themselves). I wear this Amazon pair (Celine dupes) on the beach.

6. Vitamin C Serum

Vitamin C is pretty magical in that it not only prevents more sun damage and hyper-pigmentation (freckles/spots), it corrects it at the same time. I use the Zo Skin Health 10% Vitamin C serum morning and night for brighter, more even skin, especially on vacation


More Beach Skin Routine Tips

  • I try to keep myself near or underneath an umbrella most of the day—you’ll still get indirect sun from the rays bouncing off the water and sand, but it’s not quite as intense.
  • I’ll use this body self-tanner and this face self-tanner before vacation so I don’t need to worry about looking too pale.
  • If we’re taking walks on the beach, biking, or my shoulders start to feel a little warm, I’ll throw on an open-knit sweater to give my skin a break.
  • AHAs and retnoids/retinols increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so I try to par back on those one week out from a beach vacation, and I greatly reduce their frequency as summer nears.

I hope you found this helpful! Keeping my skin protected is a top priority for me on vacation, but I also want to make sure I’m enjoying myself as much as possible. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments or on Instagram! xo!