Few things make me feel prettier than a day spent lounging with friends at the beach. But I always forget about the next-day hangover (and it's got nothing to do with margaritas).
My skin ends up dotted with acne and parched. Happily, I've discovered ways to head off problems and keep my skin sundress-ready.
First off, prevent sunburn
That tomato-red color's not particularly attractive; ditto for the peeling. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends an SPF 30 that's broad spectrum, which protects against both UVA rays (the ones that cause aging) and UVB rays (the cause of sunburns). Experts say most of us don't use enough; put on a shot glass' worth and reapply often, especially if you've been in water. If you're one of those people who always ends up hanging out in the park for longer than planned, with no sunblock handy, carry a packet of SPF wipes. Try Dermalogica Solar Defense Wipes SPF 15. Bonus: No goop exploding in your bag all over your cell phone.
Beat that sunscreen ghost problem
Nothing feels less sexy than the Casper-like look you get from chalky sunscreens, a result of the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide they contain. You could go for a continuous-spray sunscreens instead, which are clear. Or try superlight lotions; cult favorite La Roche-Posay Anthelios Melt-In Sunscreen Milkhas SPF 60 and sinks right in. Skip swimmers' skin
Doing laps is great exercise, but salt and chlorine are drying. Gritty salt and sugar scrubs can be too harsh on skin that's gotten some sun. Switch to an enzyme exfoliator like AmorePacific Treatment Enzyme Peel or Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Peel, which gently dissolve dead skin cells instead of sloughing them off. Next, moisturize! Shea-butter creams can be too heavy and greasy in warm weather. Try a spritz-on kind like L'Occitane Almond Supple Skin Oil,a fine mist you don't even have to rub in.
Also avoid smelling like a pool
If your regular body wash isn't cutting it, try Kiehl's All-Sport Swimmer's Cleansing Rinse for Hair and Body. It doesn't smell like anything, but when you wash it off, you don't either (which is great, considering that before you smelled like a lifeguard).
Zap the zits
The only thing cute about "back-ne" is its punny name. If your skin's prone to pimples, go with a gel-formula sunscreen or one labeled "oil free." Change out of sweaty clothes right away, and use a body wash that has two percent salicylic acid; try L'Oreal Paris Go 360 Clean Anti-Breakout. When you're dry, dab benzoyl peroxide onto your chest and back or a thin layer of a prescription antibiotic lotion. Just wear a junky tank top, since the stuff can bleach clothes. If you get those annoying little bumps on the backs of your arms (aka kerastosis pilaris), smooth 'em with a lotion that has alphahydroxy acid and a hydracortisone cream. They should disappear within the month. Sundresses and margaritas, here you come!