You've been looking forward to hitting the beach through all of the chilly, rainy winter months. Looking chic and sunkissed while you're lounging, however, takes a little bit of work. Shake off those winter blahs and perk up your look for beach weather. You'll feel great, and you may even get a little bit of attention, when you look good at the beach.
1 Start with a good shave, waxing or hair removal cream. Remember that grooming that you've neglected over the winter? Remove that growth from your legs, armpits and bikini area before you do anything else.
"The low-grade friction from shaving stimulates collagen production and smoothes the skin. That's one of the reasons men typically have far fewer wrinkles than women do," says Kenneth Beer, M.D., a dermatologist based in West Palm Beach, Florida. The key qualifier: low-grade friction. Researchers have found that as little as a quarter of shaving debris can be hair; the remainder is sloughed-off skin cells. A rough cut removes cells that aren't ready for eviction, causing irritation, says Dr. Beer. Your job is to ensure a smooth transaction. Here's how.
Take Your Time It's always best to shave in the shower or right after you step out—the heat opens your pores and loosens your beard. A 2007 study in the Journal of Materials Science revealed that moistened hairs require 30 percent less blade force to cut than dry ones do. Minutes matter here: Stubble (and the skin beneath it) needs at least 3 to 4 minutes to absorb moisture. Less pressure means less pulling, which can reduce agitation of the hair follicle and create a cleaner cut along the middle of the hair. That translates to fewer ingrown hairs.
Lube Up A preshave oil does more than just help the blade glide across the skin. The lube helps plump up dead skin cells with moisture, pushing them away from the face and leaving them exposed for cutting. That means smoother skin, fewer ingrown hairs, less razor burn, and a closer shave. A few drops of preshave oil is all it takes. Prepping with a hot washcloth on your face can further prepare your skin and hair.
Brush Your Beard Stop slapping on shaving cream with your fingers and switch to a shaving brush. Circular motion raises the hairs and exfoliates. "Shaving with a brush is the easiest and fastest way to prepare your skin and facial hair for a close and painless shave," says Danielle Malka, founder of the grooming retailer E Shave. You make lather instantly as you swirl the brush against your face, lifting beard hair off the skin. "Leave the cream on for 30 to 45 seconds and your beard will come off far easier," says Russ Studivant, owner of the Friendly Barber Shop in Carboro, North Carolina.
Work the Angles For an especially close shave, go with the grain, then lather up again and mow gently against or across your whisker weft.
Close Up Shop Finish with a hydrating postshave cream to protect pores and provide a more nurturing environment for the rebuilding process beneath. Think of it as greasing the union contractors.
2 Get gorgeous skin. You know that some sunbathing will give you back your summer glow, but you don't want to make your seasonal beach debut looking pasty.
Zap any acne or blemishes with a salicylic acid cream. Don't forget to treat your back and other hard-to-reach areas.
Treat yourself to a salon spray tan or apply a good self-tanning treatment at home to tide you over until the sun's rays take effect.
Exfoliate your skin and moisturize it to get rid of winter dryness before you apply a tanning treatment. Your skin will be healthier, and your tan won't look streaky and spotty.
Use a moisturizer with retinol to attack fine lines and to fight the aging effects caused by UV rays.
Drink a lot of water and take a daily multivitamin. Staying hydrated and nourished will keep your skin looking its best.
3 Go for a manicure and a pedicure before you head for the beach. You'll need flawless feet and gorgeous hands to go with that new bathing suit that you want to rock. Choose an eye-catching polish in coral or turquoise to put yourself in a summer frame of mind.
4 Choose natural-looking makeup. Play up your long lashes with waterproof mascara or even eyelash dye. Choose a tinted lip balm that's at least SPF 15, and trade thick foundation for a tinted moisturizer with sun protection.
5 Create an effortlessly chic hairstyle.
Invest in a high-quality haircut to get rid of split ends. Talk to your stylist about the best ways to eliminate frizz, and consider getting some sun-kissed highlights to give your hair a healthy glow.
Loosely curl your hair so that it tumbles over your shoulders. Also, invest in a cute hair clip or headband if you want to keep your hair back and out of your face.
Wash all of the salt out of your hair when your beach day is done. Choose a moisturizing shampoo and a deep conditioner to keep your hair lustrous.
6 Spend some money on an amazing bathing suit. If you're insecure about how you look, choose a suit that cinches in your tummy, tames your large bust or tones down your thighs.
Choose a color that looks great with your complexion and hair color. You can also pick a strong pattern to distract from figure flaws.
Remember that rocking a bathing suit is a confidence game. Hold your head up, walk with good posture and put some swing in your hips as you stroll along in the sand.
7 Assemble your accessories. These can include a beach bag, a cute swimsuit cover, some killer sunglasses, a comfy beach towel, gorgeous flip-flops and a tent or umbrella for some shade.
Don't hesitate to enjoy some sports while you're trying to look fabulous. Bring a volleyball or a Frisbee so that you can have some fun in the sun.
Keep jewelry minimal. A thin gold chain can add some shimmer without creating visual clutter.
You also need to be entertained while you sunbathe, so bring along a good book or some tunes. Pack some nutritious snacks and water bottles as well.
8 Strike a sexy pose. Don't throw your chest out or do the obvious "bend and snap." Instead, while lazing on the beach, tanning or reading a book, prop yourself on your elbows and watch the ocean. When you chat with a friend, occasionally brush your hair from your face. Or casually bend your knee, which will instantly give you a toned look.
9 Never forget sunscreen. All of your effort to look fabulous will be wasted if your skin is burned and peeling.