What Makeup Should I Wear To The Beach?

The combination of heat, salt water, and intense sunlight can wreak havoc with carefully applied makeup and result in a cakey build-up, shiny skin, or worse, runny mascara. A trip to the beach demands an entirely different set of products to your usual makeup routine. The overall look must be fresh, natural, and gorgeous the entire day.

Start with sunscreen with an SPF factor of 30 or more. Use hydrating products like gels and creams. Avoid heavy powders and harsh foundation. Opt for tinted moisturizers or use a matte bronzer. All cosmetics must be waterproof. Use blotting paper to dab shiny spots that appear during the day. 

There is no filter when in beach lighting! The glorious sunshine beating down on the sand can be both a blessing and a curse if you usually wear a lot of makeup. We will share some beach application dos and don’ts that will let you feel confident and ensure that your day at the beach is a makeup triumph.

What Makeup Should I Wear At the Beach?

There is a significant difference between how you apply your regular makeup and how it needs to be done for the beach. The most important rule about beach makeup is that it must look natural. You should be able to smile confidently for photos no matter the time of day or activity.

Beach skin should look healthy, sun-kissed, and glowing – without actually getting sunburned and causing irreparable damage! You probably also won’t have time to constantly be touching up your makeup during the day, so what goes on before you leave the house needs to look good the entire day.

While individual makeup application styles differ, an essential part of all beach makeup routines must start with a generous layer of effective sunscreen. This should be the first layer you put on after your usual skin cleansing routine.

If you are going on an outing to the beach or doing any outside activity, you should allow your freshly applied sunscreen to dry for at least 20 minutes before adding anything over the top. This is to let it dry completely so any layers you add over it won’t immediately mix with it.

The purpose of wearing sunscreen is not only to prevent red tanning; it is to protect your skin from damaging UV rays. Therefore, even if you have a darker skin tone, it is essential not to miss this first step!

Now that we have the non-negotiable sunscreen step out of the way, there are some basic makeup dos and don’ts to remember when heading off for a day at the sea.

Beach Makeup DosBeach Makeup Don’ts  
Always wear sunscreenAvoid heavy foundation
Use a matte bronzerAvoid any bright color eyeshadow
Use waterproof productsStay away from lip-gloss
Carry blotting paperDon’t use creamy lipsticks
Use a lip balm with SPFClogging your pores, so it looks oily when you get hot
Natural tones of eyeshadowDon’t forget your neck! Apply sunscreen liberally.

What Is The Best Makeup For The Beach?

Whatever makeup you choose should be waterproof. The absolute worst thing would be to avoid all the summer fun because you are worried about possible smudges or panda eyes!

Waterproof eyeliner and mascara are a must. If you absolutely must have something over your skin, just dab concealer over any areas that need coverage. Another option if you are self-conscious about your skin is to use a lightweight hydrating skin tint that will even out your skin without looking like a thick mask.

A great tip to get foundation to look more blended at the beach is to mix a tiny amount into a dab of sunscreen before applying it. It will be more diluted to avoid the thick layer effect. You can apply a dusting of translucent face powder to combat shine, but don’t go overboard with the powder. The moment you sweat, it will get a muddy consistency on your skin and block your pores.

You don’t have to get toasted by the sun to get gorgeous, glowing beach skin. Apply a matte bronzer in the same tone as your skin above your cheekbones and eyelids. Even out the effect by adding a light dusting to your chin, forehead, and temples. Then follow up with a light touch of pretty powder blush on your cheeks.

When planning your beach makeup, don’t forget your lips. Creamy lipsticks and lip-glosses must be avoided. They could melt or smudge with the combination of heat and seawater. A natural color lip balm with an SPF will hydrate and protect your lips. Lip balm should be applied frequently while you are at the beach.

Check out these beach-perfect lip balm options:

  • Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection – Pricey but excellent! Besides coming in 3 gorgeous shades, that will add a pop of healthy color, this amazing lip balm offers an SPF factor of 50. The really special feature of this product is that it can also be dabbed over your cheeks to add a rosy glow, so it is like having two products in one.
  • Cay Skin Isle Lip Balm – You may find yourself applying this lip balm frequently just to enjoy the delicious sweet taste. We love that it is tinted, affordable and cruelty-free. The finish is clear and non-sticky, so you don’t have to worry about sand getting stuck on your lips.
  • Bananas Foster Lip Balm Sunscreen – This lip balm adds a nostalgic touch of summer fun to a beach makeup bag. Inspired by a banana dessert, a touch of this lip balm will instantly put you in vacation mode. We recommended using it over a pretty, natural color lip stain as this SPF factor 30 lip balm is transparent and delivers a slight sheen.

What Are Common Beach Makeup Mistakes?

When it comes to makeup for the beach, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing all the tricks. It can be tempting to apply your favorite daily-use products only to find they block up your pores when you sweat, and you end up coated in a greasy mess.

Let’s go through eight common mistakes you should avoid when applying makeup before heading to the beach.

1. Avoid Oily Or Sticky Makeup

No matter how much you adore your high-shine lip gloss, leave it at home. It can quickly become a sand trap and will feel uncomfortable. That goes for any other products too. Oily foundations or thick lipsticks are a no-no when you are heading out for some summer fun at the beach.

2. Not Updating Your Foundation Color

Although wearing foundation is not recommended for the beach, many of us can’t go without it. The lighting at the beach is pretty intense, so any discrepancy between the color of your foundation and skin tone will be immediately apparent. This will look even worse if you missed a spot while applying your makeup.

Remember that your skin tone may be slightly different than when you purchased your trusty foundation. Do a color test in high light before heading to the beach to check that it appears natural and blends perfectly with your skin tone.  

3. Not Investing In A Waterproof Mascara

This is a rookie mistake that will ruin your summer look. No matter how cute you look in your new beach bathing suit, having runny black eye makeup will ruin the look. At the start of summer, invest in a quality waterproof mascara. They are also available in hypoallergenic varieties if you have sensitive eyes.

We love this lash-plumping waterproof mascara from Neutrogena (Available on Amazon below). It will make your eyelashes look 400% fuller and is perfect for a trip to the beach.

4. Using Your Regular Eyeliner

While you should not use heavy eyeliner for a day at the beach, it is a standard makeup item for many people. Ensure that your eyeliner is waterproof, or you may end up with smudgy dark circles around your eyes rather than the alluring, sexy eyes you started with in the morning.

NYX Professional Makeup (Available on Amazon below) has an inexpensive waterproof liquid eyeliner that won’t smudge, no matter how much you love swimming.

5. Skipping The Sunscreen

Sunscreen must always be the first layer you apply to your skin before any beach outing. Apply a moisturizing sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 30 and allow it to dry for 20 minutes before applying your makeup.

Forgetting your sunscreen leaves your delicate skin totally unprotected against damaging UV rays. According to a report by Yale Medicine, exposure to ultraviolet radiation causes a change in skin DNA. This can lead to premature wrinkles, sun spots, or even skin cancer.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every few hours while you are at the beach. Wear a wide-brimmed sun hat to add another level of sun protection to your face. They are available in loads of gorgeous, trendy styles, so find one that matches your bathing suit to complete your beach outfit.

6. Using Very Bright Colors

The beach is a beautiful natural setting, so bright lipstick or eyeshadow can appear overwhelming. If you need some color, choose a lip stain or SPF lip balm in a subtle pink or light orange tone. The overall look should be natural and healthy.

7. Using The Wrong Face Powder

When you feel your face sweating, reaching for your powder compact may be a natural reaction to quickly wipe away the shine. Using a colored powder compact on the beach may leave you looking like you have dust on your face.

In addition to possibly becoming caked when it gets wet, it can look slightly off-color, especially if you tend to become flushed when you get hot. There are two solutions to this. The first is to only use a translucent face powder like this one from Revlon (Available on Amazon below), which comes with a little brush so you can just lightly run it over your face, rather than patting it onto your skin.

A great beach trick to controlling shine on your face is to keep a small piece of blotting paper handy. Instead of adding something to remove the shine, dab the blotting paper on shiny areas and lift the sweat off your face without messing up your makeup.

8. Pat To Apply Products, Don’t Rub

Nothing will make your makeup look more caked than if you rub it on. If you need to do a quick touch-up to stay looking fresh, dab the product on so it doesn’t create visible circles and lines. Translucent powder can be applied using a brush or simply pat product on to areas that need a quick touch-up.

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Should I Put On Makeup At The Beach?

Most of us who wear makeup every day feel more comfortable with a few touches of makeup, even at the beach. While it is not a necessity, it may make you feel more confident.

What is essential if you decide to wear makeup to the beach is that all your products are waterproof, especially your mascara and eyeliner. Avoid heavy foundations or layers of powder that will turn to clay the moment they are exposed to moisture. Blocking your pores may also cause skin breakouts which would be the very worst reminder of your fun day at the beach.

Keep colors natural. Opt for a neutral eyeshadow and use a bronzer to highlight areas like your cheekbones. This will give you a sun-kissed look without damaging your skin.

Good sunscreen and lip balm are the two most essential face care products for any beach trip. Both should have a high sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or above.


You want to look your best when heading to the beach, so using the right makeup is essential. Opt for long-lasting waterproof products that will be able to withstand the elements. Keep tones natural and pretty. The first layer must always be sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage.