The Botanical Beach Bag

It is beach time again, gals!

Actually, there was a time not too long ago when I avoided going to the beach entirely. I have fair skin that burns in a heartbeat, which can make it hard to stay out for an afternoon in the sun without turning red, crispy and miserable by the end of the day.

Once when I was 11 years old, I was burnt beyond belief while on a family beach vacation. This was back when no one really used sunscreen. They were the days of slathering on baby oil while laying on those weird, space-age reflective blankets (do any of you remember that?). I think the highest SPF available back then was around 4 or 6 and everything was marketed "for a dark, dark tan" - AKA sun damage.

I burned so bad on this vacation that I could hardly sit and peeled three times after we returned home. I think that was just about one of my last real trips to the beach. After that, I spent all of my summer days wandering the shaded woods or brooding in my bedroom listening to The Cure.

Then I had my daughters (and removed my black eyeliner - well, most of it anyway) and discovered that the beach is a blast again. But I knew that we needed to be a LOT safer in the sun than I had been growing up.

Even for those with gorgeous skin that tans easily, it is important to still protect yourself for a day in the sun. The suns rays still damage any skin below the surface, which shows up later as wrinkles and sun damaged skin. It is easier to prevent sun damage than it is to fix it down the road.

So what is a beach lover to do? Here is my go-to list of what I carry in our botanical beach bag (in addition to swimsuit, towel, snacks and trashy novel) to protect us - safely and naturally - from a day in the sun:

SUNBLOCK SPF30+

Two of our favorite natural sunblocks are Goddess Garden and 3rd Rock Sunblock. Both of these sunblocks protect skin effectively with zinc oxide, while also helping skin to repair itself with ingredients such as aloe, green tea and shea butter. They are great for those with super sensitive skin that might have issues (rashes, etc.) with other types of sun protection. Goddess Garden also makes a great formula just for the face.

SPF 15 LIP PROTECTION

Lips are a spot often forgotten on a day at the beach. Delicate lip tissues can be burnt faster than other areas of skin and they need to be protected. Choose a zinc-oxide based natural lip balm to give lips the protection they need. Check out healthy, non-toxic recommendations HERE.

DIY COOLING MIST

To cool yourself down, mix 1 part strong peppermint tea to 1 part aloe juice (available at your local natural foods store). Place in a spray bottle and chill before going to the beach (or if you have a cooler, keep it chilled on ice). Periodically mist your face and body to stay chill in the heat. This will also help to keep your skin from becoming too surface-dry from the sun. Just remember to mix a fresh batch each time you go to the beach since there are no preservatives. Alternatively, you can fill a 2 ounce bottle with 5 drops peppermint essential oil and top off with distilled water.

SUNGLASSES

Opt for the largest specs you can find with wraparound sides to give your peepers and the delicate skin around the eyes maximum protection. This thin-skinned area is often one of the first to show sun damage. On that topic, be sure to use sunscreen in this area. Along with the ears and lips, it is a body part that is often forgotten when applying sunscreen. Just don't get it in your eyeball.

FLOPPY HAT

To help keep the sun off of your face and bean. Many skin cancers happen on the scalp since it often goes unprotected from the sun. If you've ever had a part sunburn on your head, you know how bad that sucks, too.

LARGE SCARF

Having a large scarf in your bag can come in handy in a beach situation. You can use it as a wrap to protect your head, shoulders or any part of your body. You can use it as a beach blanket. You can also drape it between sticks from the beach stuck in the sand to fashion a makeshift cabana tent over your towel. Or you can wear it as a superhero cape, should you find that necessary.

WATER

We all know how important it is to stay continuously hydrated when out in the heat. Sip water throughout the day. If you are thirsty, you are already somewhat dehydrated.

A few miscellaneous tips:

  • Apply sunscreen at least 20-30 minutes BEFORE you go to the beach for maximum protection (although physical sunblocks with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide do provide immediate protection right when they are applied).
  • Hit the beach in the early morning or late afternoon, before or after the peak sun hours (10AM to 3PM).
  • Remember to reapply sunscreen products every 90 minutes or when you have been swimming or sweating heavily.
  • Don't rely on shady areas to provide complete protection - the sun will still find you.

Check out these other inspiring, handmade beach accessories to add to your beach bag - starfish barefoot sandals, round mandala beach towel and personalized floppy beach hat

Have a fun time at the beach! <3

What's in your beach bag?