A long time ago, during a period known as the The Late ‘80s, I would spend the better part of Spring doing step aerobics and baking in a tanning bed.
By June I felt ready to take on my acid green Body Glove bathing suit. a one piece engineering marvel made from neoprene, which is basically industrial strength Spanx. The best part was the adjustable cleavage zipper, a feature I think is long overdue for a comeback.
The summer weekends that followed included my best friend Beth, a mix tape heavy on Jody Watley, Bananarama and The Cure (for dealing with ennui), the Jersey Shore and boys. All we needed was a full face of make-up and big hair that crested like a tidal wave and we were ready to go.
We would spend most of the day people watching behind the affected gaze of our sunglasses, while we lay on our towels like beached mermaids slathered in Hawaiian Tropic SPF 6. One hand would have a sweaty grip on contraband White Mountain Coolers, disguised in repurposed Diet Coke cans, while the other would hold a soggy magazine.
My favorite part of the beach was the ocean, but Beth and I made a pact never to get wet again after we learned the hard way that Sebastian Ultra Hold turns to rubber cement when it comes into contact with salt water.
Flash forward to today, and summer equals play whether it’s boogie boarding, watching fireworks, savoring fresh off the grill corn on the cob, tossing a Frisbee around or enjoying a melon colored sunset with something better than a White Mountain Cooler.
I like to think that today all of these magical moments are enjoyed without a second thought to my looks, but when I look at my pasty thighs which haven’t seen the sun or treadmill in way to long, I realize a set of coping strategies are in order.
So I present, my evolved, tried and true recipe for how to look reasonably presentable in hot weather so you can have fun without over-thinking the details.
1. Self Tanner
A topic for another time, but I’ve tried just about every self tanner under the sun. Most make me smell like baking bread or turn my skin orange, but think I’ve finally nailed it here.
For the face I use Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta self tanning pads and for the body nothing beats St. Tropez self tanning mousse, but the trick is to get their spongy applicator glove. It’s only $6 and makes a world of difference. No Oompa Loompa, I promise.
2. UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum Sunscreen of SPF 50+
Here’s where I get serious and double up. I’m always worried a moisturizer with SPF in it isn’t enough for hard core summer, so I layer on La Roche Posy Anthelios SPF 60 Ultra Light Fluid.
On top of that, I dust myself off with Color Science SPF 50 mineral sunscreen. It’s great for touching up every 2 hours on heavy sun days.
3. A wide brimmed sun hat.
No, that adorable Panama hat won’t cut and don’t even think about a baseball cap. If you’re out in the sun and devoted to protecting your skin, you need a wide brimmed hat. Otherwise, you’ll get sun spots on only one part of your face, yuck.
My favorite is from Eric Javitz. They’re obscenely expensive, but they’re squishable and stay on my pin sized head when the wind blows.
4. Prescription Sunglasses
Bar none, the best accessories investment I’ve ever made, especially since my eyesight started to dim after my 40th birthday. I look chic, they hide everything and prevents crows feet, but the best part is….wait for it….I can SEE.
My frames are Robert Marc, from a few years ago (see above).
5. The perfect beach cover-up.
Since I hate my arms and my tummy can ebb and flow depending on how hard I’ve been hitting gluten, this airy and chic pop over is the perfect alternative to the tank top.
But here’s the secret to not looking pregnant or dumpy: you have to wear it with something skinny on the bottom like short shorts (my favorite), toothpick jeans or nothing but your swimsuit.
I sometimes wear a bikini top underneath and keep it loose and open. This tricks people into thinking you’re bikini ready whether you are or not (like me).
6. Sperry gold top siders or Haviaanas
Every passing birthday renders my heel height lower and lower in my off hours, but Gold Sperry Top siders come to the rescue and give me wings to play hard, run errands and not look terrible doing it.
7. UV Gel Pedicure.
Er, I know there’s a lot of question about just how healthy UV gel actually is for your nails (not to mention the mini tanning beds your digits cook in to harden the gel), but I can’t resist the appeal of a chip free 4 weeks on my toes, especially when they’re doing double duty