Beauty and the Beach

Beauty and the Beach

Working on the basis that if we don’t get an English summer then many of you will still be headed somewhere warm, I thought I’d address the challenges of looking gorgeous in hot weather.

The problem with summer make-up, frankly, is keeping it where you put it. Sun, sea, towels (and yes, sweat) can be a challenge whether you’re in St.-Trop or (on a good day) St. Ives. So there’s excellent news for mermaids: it really is possible to emerge from the deep looking like Ursula Andress, not a giant panda. It’s a question of seeking out the right formulations – and using some insider know-how.

New ‘transfer-resist’ technology is transforming the way make-up stays put. Most so-called ‘long-lasting’ make-up is designed to survive a dunking. On some make-up labels, meanwhile, you’ll see the words ‘waterproof’ – and on others, ‘water-resistant’. So what’s the difference? Think of watches: with a waterproof watch, you can dive deep without harming it – but a water-resistant watch can only be dunked quickly, or it’ll be affected. So: waterproof make-up can withstand underwater swimming – while water-resistant make-up will stay intact during exercise, if your face gets splashed, or if you perspire.

It’s best to try to streamline summer make-up to the basics. Most of us know the three products that make the most difference to our faces – and rather than slap on a full ‘face’, stick to those. (In sunshine, less is definitely more. If you try your tried-and-tested, fine-for-gloomy-England foundation/powder/heavy make-up approach beneath glaring sunlight, you’ll look more panto dame than supermodel.) Blondes, for instance, can usually get away with waterproof mascara, brow colour, cream blush – plus maybe concealer or foundation, to even out skintone, if you’re prone to red veins. Having my brows made up makes all the difference to me, as a blonde: I go from ‘where’s Jo?’ to ‘there’s Jo!’ in a flash.

Brunettes can usually skip mascara but need blush and a lip gloss, and maybe a sweep of bronzer to even out skin. Redheads should opt eyeliner pencil and mascara, for emphasis – and pencils can double up for defining brows, too. (Add a slick of lip gloss, too.) Anyone who suffers from break-outs, meanwhile, needs a concealer that will stay put come shine and (tropical) rain: look for the words ‘long-lasting’ on the packaging.

But first things first: your skin – your make-up’s ‘canvas’ – must, must, must be protected. Today, many daily moisturisers have an optimum level of sun protection built in – avoiding the need to ‘layer’ moisturiser and then sun cream onto the face, which can be the cause of summer breakouts. Personally I’m a massive fan of two high SPF facial moisturisers: Innovative Skincare Extreme Protect SPF30, and my mate Kathy Phillips’s This Works In Transit Skin Defence. they both pack an SPF30 yet are imperceptible on the skin. Ideally, apply your SPF and then wait 10-15 minutes for it to sink in before doing the rest of your make-up, though.

Many complexions can get away without any kind of base, after a couple of days of being kissed by the sun. (Or some fake tan.) If you still feel you need to ‘cover up’, your best bet is carefully-blended concealer, applied only where you have imperfections such as broken veins or blemishes. Sara Raeburn advises that the secret of perfect camouflage, ‘is to choose one shade darker of concealer than usual, for holidays’.

If you must wear foundation, apply it with a much lighter touch than you would back home. Resist the temptation to powder your face, meanwhile, to avoid a giveaway ‘caked’ look. Instead, blot, blot, blot whenever skin gets shiny. ‘Peel a Kleenex so that you’ve just one layer of tissue, lay it on the skin, press and remove,’ advises Sara Raeburn. (It’s a tip you can repeat later in the day, whenever the T-zone gets sweaty or oily.

After a couple of days you’ll find you’re naturally glowing – making blusher superfluous to requirements. (Till then, if you feel you’re looking exhausted and pale, a dab of lipstick blended into cheeks looks more natural than blusher – and lasts well, too.)

The latest liquid-to-powder eyeshadows are perfect for the beach: they glide on easily as a cream, and then evaporate to leave a long-lasting powder colour. (Stick to neutral shades, bronzes or shimmers, though, rather than rainbow colours.) You may well find that you can get away with eyeliner alone, though to avoid the risk of smudging, try a waterproof liner.

Blondes and redheads, alternatively, might also consider eyelash/eyebrow dyeing – but do go to a reputable salon (never have it done by a haircolourist); to find one near you, contact BABTAC (the national training organisation for the beauty industry/01452-421114), or visit (I can personally confirm how important this is, having once suffered a painfully blocked tearduct after a botched eyelash dyeing session.)

The skin on the lips, meanwhile, is the thinnest on the body – and ultra-vulnerable. The Holy Grail is a lipstick that’s sheer – yet offers some sun protection, and stays put. Glossy lipsticks tend to contain more oil, though, so will wear off more quickly than matte ones – but that’s a summer beauty compromise worth making if you want a gorgeously dewy-lipped look. (I like Lanolips in all weathers: it seems almost to ‘grip’ the lips.)

Last but not least? Perfectly polished toenails and fingernails are essential summer accessories, in my book – but did you know that spending time in water can loosen the layers of nail polish, making it prone to peeling. (Tip: don’t submerge nails in a bath on the day you’ve been manicured or pedicured, if you want it to last.)

So, now? Let the sunshine in. (Is anyone up there listening, please…???)


  • Ideally, keep lipsticks, make-up pencils and especially nail varnish in the mini-bar – pencils are less likely to break if they’re cold, and lipsticks, glosses and nail varnish won’t go gooey.
  • Store your moisturiser in the fridge, too – nothing feels better on hot skin than a soothing, cool cream…
  • Sara Raeburn believes that the perfect summer make-up actually begins with skin. ‘This is the time of year to book a facial, if you can, to have your pores cleansed and dry, flaky patches of skin exfoliated away,’ she advises. ‘It’s no good slapping on extra moisture, thinking it will cure dry skin, if it can’t penetrate because of the dead layers sitting on top.’


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