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Makeup at the beach: For some, it's an oxymoron, and for others, it's a necessity. I happen to fall in the latter category. Call me crazy, but I happen to like wearing makeup, and that doesn't change when I find myself surrounded by sand and sea.
But wearing makeup oceanside can be tricky. After all, you're battling the elements: UV rays, intense sweating, and salt water (if you're brave enough). The best beach makeup strikes a delicate balance between looking natural, while at the same time staying fiercely sweat-resistant and waterproof. Liquid liner and full contour have no place at the beach, and neither do fragile formulas.
According to celebrity makeup artist Fiona Stiles, cream and gel products make for the best beach makeup because they allow for a more natural finish and are easier to retouch. "The key is not to overdo it," Stiles reminded us when she stopped by the Byrdie HQ for a waterproof makeup tutorial. "There's a lot of makeup happening in the world right now, but that plus humidity, plus 90-degree temperatures—not good. Keep it minimal, and let your skin show."
Meet the Expert
Fiona Stiles is an L.A.-based makeup artist whose clients include Gwyneth Paltrow, Natalie Portman, and Gabrielle Union. Her work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and ELLE magazines.
Keep scrolling for the best beach products that won't smudge during some fun in the sun.
Instead of a traditional silicone-like primer that sits on top of the skin, this blurring product is packed with hyaluronic acid, so it hydrates the skin while minimizing pores. (Aka, it's a primer for primer haters). Stiles loves the product because it's lightweight and works especially well for those prone to dryness around the nose, cheeks, and forehead. All in all, it's the perfect way to prep your skin for a day of sweating in the sun.
This tinted SPF is a favorite of contributing writer Victoria, who's a fan of its dual-purpose and natural ingredients. "Putting on SPF is a total non-negotiable, but I also hate adding an extra step to my routine," she says. "It's for this reason that I swear by foundations and tinted moisturizers with SPF built right in." This product is ideal for beach days, as its "all-natural formula offers just the right amount of tint to blur any imperfections." What's more? "It never budges."
It's a rare day that I leave the house without at least a small dab of concealer under the eyes and to spot-cover any blemishes. But a beach day requires a special, stay-put formula, and this one does the trick. The coverage is full and totally budge-free (in other words, they call it "lock-it" for a reason). It also lasts 24 hours and doesn't crease or smudge throughout the day.
A long-lasting lip and cheek tint is the star of any great beach makeup look. "I'm all for multitasking products to begin with, and I'm a huge fan of Ilia's plant-based, long-wearing formulas," says Victoria. "This peachy shade gives my cheeks and lips a natural-looking flush and just melts into my skin—but it also lasts, which is notable, considering most makeup just slides off my face in these steamy temps."
We know, we know—we said creams and gels were better for the beach. But if you're a bronzer addict, this vegan and cruelty-free pick deserves a spot in your beach bag. First off, it's matte, making it ideal for a subtle contour. (Just lightly dust the product under each cheekbone and around the hairline to look like you've been laying out all summer). And the best part? It's waterproof, so you don't suddenly sweat off your faux glow.
The unique "pudding" texture of this product is what pulls you in, but its versatility and long wear make it worth the purchase. Pat the product onto your lids as an eyeshadow, or use a brush to smudge it into your lash line for a more defined look. The formula is super long-lasting, crease-resistant, and offers truly buildable pigment.
Stiles recommends using the product as a bronzer. Just use for your fingers to blend it underneath the cheekbones and along the hairline for a soft, 60-second contour.
A budge-proof, waterproof eyeliner that applies super creamy? We had yet to find one until this pencil by Urban Decay, which goes on like butter and stays in place on our eyelids all day. For an afternoon at the beach, simply smudge this stuff into your upper lash line or top waterline for a subtly defined look.
This version has everything you love about the original formula but with the added waterproof protection. No round of Marco Polo or Sharks and Minnows could dissolve this stuff from your lashes, but when it comes time to remove it, try Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover ($32).
No Byrdie editor would be caught dead at the beach without a face mist in her bag. And this is currently one of our favorite makeup setting sprays. Spritz your face after you've finished your makeup to set it in place for up to 12 hours; then use the product throughout the day to cool and hydrate your skin and refresh your makeup.