The majority of the collegiate world (and beyond) is currently celebrating spring break on a warm beach covered in sand... or counting down the days until they can hit the beach in the summertime, at least. In the midst of those fun, memory-making trips, sometimes the importance of following hair and skin care tips get shoved to the back burner in favor more exciting activities. While I'm not saying you have to spend all your time worrying about protecting your face, it could be permanently damaging to your hair and skin if you don't pay at least a little attention.
No matter if you're at the beach for three days, seven days, or a month (lucky you), sun damage is real and can affect your skin both in the long and short run. In the same manner, your hair and its follicles are prone to many damaging effects from the humidity and ocean. Let us not forget Monica's hair when the Friends took a vacation to Barbados. Poor girl was stuck inside, involved in a competitive game of ping pong against Mike. You don't want to be her.
With all that sun, sand, and salt water, there's a lot to consider when on the beach. If you really want to keep your routine in tip-top shape, there's a lot to consider before and after the beach as well. Not trying to put a damper on your relaxation time, but these simple steps could save you from returning home with painful sunburns and an emergency hair cut.
It's kinda hard to resist a spa day on vacations, especially if you're somewhere tropical that might offer inexpensive beach-side treatments. However, if you're determined to get your relaxation on, Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection in New York City actually recommends skipping facials on vacation, especially if it's your first one.
"For your first facial you want to choose a place that you can develop a relationship with," Vargas tells me in an interview. "Hotel spas can be fun in their own way, but I like when the client and the facialist can develop a relationship. It will lead to better results that way."
However, if your friends just won't let you bail, Vargas recommends avoiding deep peels or deep exfoliations. Since you're just meeting this person, she also recommends letting them know about any skin sensitivities you may have.
Indie Lee, an expert in organic beauty products, recommends moisturizing your face twice daily, or more if you have dry skin, using ingredients like hyaluronic acid.
"Make sure your moisturizer is really working for you and not just sitting on top of your skin as an occlusive. Drink plenty of water, remember it’s not just what you put on your body that keeps your skin moisturized," Lee tells me.
Hairstylist and co-founder of R + Co Howard McLaren also recommends waiting until after vacation to get a haircut, which we should all praise as one less thing to do before embarking! The one exception to this rule is if you get a short haircut that requires little maintenance. When you're on the beach, McLaren says it's a great time to experiment with hair and how it reacts to the sun and salt water.
You know you should absolutely be wearing SPF, right? Like, no excuses whatsoever? Dr. Tanzi of Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington D.C. reiterates that sunscreen is a must.
"And (you) have to apply quite a bit. But don’t forget the hat. (A hat) can look really cute on vacation, but it has to serve a purpose. Sunscreen only works so much," Dr. Tanzi told me in an interview.
She also recommends purchasing a sunscreen with zinc or titanium because they withstand sweat and tend to make people less greasy, which, let's all admit is an unfortunate side effect of sunscreen.
Along with drinking more water (because, duh, you're sweating more,) she recommends avoiding sunscreen or any beauty products provided by your condo or hotel room.
“Unless it’s a really really high-end place," Dr. Tanzi says. "Even then it’s not that great of an idea. Stick with your own products." Otherwise, your skin could freak the eff out. Bring the same makeup you use on a daily basis, adding a mineral powder or BB cream that includes SPF.
McLaren also recognizes that hotel rooms are not always stocked with the best shampoos or conditioners. He recommends packing your own in travel-sized containers or experimenting with samples you've been wanting to try.
"You get to see different textures. Even though we make products to create ocean and self sprays, being in the environment [you can] let your hair go a little bit natural. People spend a lot of time straightening hair but on vacation at the beach you really just want to let it down," McLaren says.
Even if you can skip the heavy styling, he still always recommends making sure your hair stays moisturized on the beach. While he says your skin gets nice and tight on vacation, our hair can pick up texture. It looks great, but that could mean your hair is losing its moisture.
If keeping moisture means your beach bag is overflowing, McLaren recommends sacrificing another hair product. He encourages his clients to play with their hair at the beach: Put it up in a topknot and see what happens when you take it down after getting in the ocean. Let the sun highlight it naturally. Make room for more clothes by leaving hair styling tools at home!
Oh, and if you're hitting the pool, don't forget a swim cap. Unfortunately, us especially blondes have a difficult time in pools, as the chlorine is quick to turn our hair green. Le sigh. McLaren says the right swim cap can actually look cool on blondes, and accent our bathing suits well. And if it means protecting the color of my hair, I'm willing to try it.
No matter how long we're on vacation, unfortunately the real world is always waiting for us. Sure, we get to make our friends jealous with our healthy tan and suddenly thicker hair, but we also have to make sure our hair and skin transition well back to our normal local weather.
The most important time to get a facial is actually after a vacation, according to Vargas. The damaging effects of the sun can really mess up your skin, so she recommends a deep clean to clear your pores from sunscreen, moisturizer, and dead cells. Follow it up with a green mask and you'll be ready to show off your sun-kissed face.
Lee also recommends incorporating products with coconut oil or jojoba oil into your daily routine when you get home because they both "hydrate and nourish skin, leaving you with a dewy glow that’s sure to highlight your new tan! Plus the smell of coconut oil always reminds me of tropical island vacations."
She also suggests immediately treating sun spots by using products with squalane oil, sandalwood, and aloe vera. If you don't have any of those handy, Lee says she has rubbed a fresh lemon on her face, then let it absorb for 30 minutes before washing it off. The acid literally fades sun spots.
If you're currently on vacation, don't let me know about it. But do make sure you follow these simple steps to avoid damaging your skin or your hair, and looking your ultimate best when you return!