I just got back from a day at the beach in our small Spanish town and thought it the perfect time to describe my routine for a day of fun in the sun and give a few tips for optimizing your skincare for when you’re likely to catch a few rays.

The first staple in my sun defense arsenal is not a skincare product at all, but rather a big, floppy hat. Frankly, you can do just as well with a baseball cap, I just happen to find big hats a tad more glamorous, plus, as a practical consideration, they protect not just my face, but also my neck and shoulders. Whatever hat you use, do make sure it has a wide brim or a decent-sized bill if you want it to provide sufficient sun protection.

My big 'ole hat

My big ‘ole hat

I think it’s hugely important to use an antioxidant face oil when getting ready for sun exposure. The oil will help your sunscreen glide on easier, but, more importantly, it will offer natural SPF and will help your skin fight the more damaging effects of sunlight. I use Yüli’s Liquid Courage: an antioxidant powerhouse and, for my money, one of the greatest all-around face oils and one that would work wonders for a majority of skin types. My staple in the warmer months, it’s light, makes my skin glow and has a pleasant herbal scent. More than anything though, it’s this oil’s ingredients that make it a favorite: it’s chock-full of antioxidants and its sophisticated formula makes me feel that my skin is protected even if I happen to forget my sunscreen.

Aside from Liquid Courage, there are any number of high-quality face oils that offer the protection and benefits of antioxidants. La Bella Figura’s Daily Elements Defense Oil and Laurel Skin’s Antioxidant Serum are both excellent choices with sophisticated, skin-protecting formulae (it’s right there in their names!) and both happen to be cheaper than Liquid Courage. Sadly for me, both of these oils contain essential oils that make them less than ideal from a scent profile standpoint. Daily Elements Defense contains jasmine and Laurel Skin rose and sandalwood (dreaded by me and beloved by everyone else), but please don’t let my olfactory issues turn you off, as they are both fabulous (and my nose is a freak).

If you don’t have an antioxidant oil and don’t feel like switching from a current favorite, you could simply add an antioxidant booster to your existing facial oil or cream. I know that Odacité offers concentrated serums that showcase targeted ingredients and which can be added to existing products to increase their effectiveness. Its Blueberry JasmineWild Carrotand Acai Rose serums all star ingredients that offer strong antioxidant benefits. Graydon’s The Serum is a concentrate of several berry oils, some of which contain a natural SPF, and can be used on its own or mixed with existing products. It’s worth noting that Graydon happens to be the most economical product of the bunch by far. Not having tried any of the Odacité products nor the Graydon serum I can’t speak to anything other than their ingredients (and stellar reputation in the green community), but will make sure to review them as soon as I get the chance.

As I have mentioned in another post, my favorite sunblock by far is Suntegrity’s Face Sunscreen and Primer . I find its texture to be as close as perfect in a natural sunblock and the citrusy smell is simply intoxicating. For the body, I tend to stick to kids’ sunscreens because they often have gentler formulae and are a bit cheaper than the adult versions. I have been using Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen (the unscented formula) and I quite like it, though it is in no way clear (Sun Protection Factor 30, Ghostface Factor  50) and I find it a little dry and difficult to spread. When I plan to spend any amount of time in the water, I stick with Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF. Although I find it far too heavy for the face, boy, does this baby stay on! This is the sunscreen for surfers and merpeople: my son and I spent the day at a water park (i.e. he was almost fully submerged in water for hours on end) and I only reapplied out of sense of duty, because I could actually see the water getting repelled by the sunscreen and sliding off him, like he was a happy little seal.

It is worth noting that although I am religious about sun protection for my face, I am fairly laissez faire about it when it comes to my body. It’s not laziness though: I happen to have a Vitamin D deficiency, so when I do get the rare occasion to not be covered up from head to toe and/or spend the bulk of the day indoors, I like to get some sun on my skin. I try to protect the easily-burnt areas like my shoulders, neck and back, but I don’t go to crazy slathering myself head-to-toe or reapplying religiously. Of course, I am not exactly pale and I would be much more careful if I had a higher risk of getting a sunburn.

The final product in my list of beach must-haves is a facial spray. It is less of a necessity than a pleasure: it’s nice to feel a cooling spray on a hot, salty face. I like the One Love Organics Vitamin D Mist because it’s gorgeously hydrating and nourishing, comes in a smaller bottle than my other sprays, is all-around terrific and because the name seems entirely fitting. That said, you could save your fancy facial sprays for your regular skincare routine and simply use a spring water atomizer, like the one by Avene, especially since all you really need is something to remove salt water or chlorine from your face and to cool you down.

I hope you are all enjoying your summer! And remember: all you really need for a great day at the beach is some sun, some water and some friends. Oh and a sand bucket. Everyone needs a bucket.

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