Last Updated on January 9, 2021 by Nina Ahmedow
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First things first: You don’t have to do anything specific before you go to the beach. You simply dress however you want to dress and make your way to the beach. But for those of us that like to look extra good in our beach pictures, I have some sustainable beach tips that help you get ready for the beach. Because while the beauty standards that are imposed on us should never be a requirement, that also doesn’t mean that we can’t follow through on our own sense of aesthetics, as long as we are critical of where some of these ideas come from.
At the end of the day, beauty and its perception by others should not be a goal in life, but rejecting any and all forms of beauty probably isn’t very realistic for most of us either.
Easy Sustainable Beach Tips to Feel Your Best
So here are ten simple but sustainable beach tips that can help you feel your best this summer and all summers to come.
1. Use Non-Toxic Nail Polish
When you go to the beach you want to get a pedicure first. But did you know how many toxic ingredients your regular nail polish has? And sadly, they don’t stay on your nails but can enter your body. From formaldehyde, triphenyl phosphate, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, to parabens, acetone, ethyl tosylamide, mequinol, methylisothiazolinone, tert-butyl hydroperoxide, lead, and xylene, these ingredients are known to be quite harmful.
But nowadays there are many brands that make non-toxic nail polishes. They are free of several of these ingredients and are therefore a healthier alternative.
2. Find Your Preferred Method of Working Out
Most people want to be in their best shape ever when they go to the beach. But that’s difficult when working out only serves the purpose of looking a certain way. Working out is actually healthy for our bodies, and the way they look doesn’t have anything to do with that. But in order to commit to regular exercise you need to find something you really enjoy.
I’m a fan of yoga, and I also like to walk. Weight exercises and a bit of cardio are also right up my alley. But I hate team sports (perhaps that says something about me not working well with other people, oops). I never managed to get into running, but if that’s something you want to try out my friend Lily has a great post on running mistakes to avoid.
3. Eat the Right Food
On that note, food is fuel. You can eat whatever you want and how much you want. But there are foods that are better at nourishing our bodies than others. Eating vegan while simultaneously cutting out processed foods will make you feel and look better. But to be honest, if you don’t combine it with some form of exercise it has the potential to make you gain a lot of weight (I speak from experience).
Generally speaking, lots of water and green tea is always a good idea. Added sugars on the other hand have a bad effect on my skin for example. (Tip: What you can do is cut out certain foods for about a month and then see if your skin gets worse when you reintroduce them to your diet. That’s how I realized my body doesn’t like sugar and soy (unless it’s fermented soy). Start with the foods that most commonly cause irritation.)
Also, as a vegan, I feel like I have to address the whole nutrient-deficiency issue. Back in Veganuary, I made a post on how to eat healthily as a vegan (which included some recipes). But let’s acknowledge that not everyone can start studying nutrition. Sometimes vegans and non-vegans alike may need to incorporate some supplements into their diet, and I see nothing wrong with that. As long as they’re high quality and you’re not using them as a substitute for good food they support your health.
Side note: While “healthy food” is somewhat a social construct, it is important to look at which groups are denied access to the foods that are more nourishing (speaking of food deserts). There’s a new documentary coming called “They’re Trying to Kill Us” which specifically focuses on the types of foods that are being promoted in predominantly Black neighborhoods.
4. Dry-Brush Your Skin
I swear by dry-brushing before every shower. No need for expensive exfoliators or making your own that clogs up your shower. A simple body brush (make sure it’s vegan) is all you need. Make sure you brush in the direction of your heart.
Dry-brushing helps remove dead skin cells from your body and also improves blood circulation making it a powerful method to get glowing skin. It can also prevent cellulite, though it will not be able to get rid of it.
5. Find an Ethical and Sustainable Swimwear Brand
If last year’s bikinis or swimsuits don’t fit anymore and you’re looking for something new try to be more intentional with your purchase. I have some general tips for how to quit fast fashion, but I actually think swimwear might be one of the best places to start. Because we really don’t need that many bikinis in the first place, so it might be easier to invest in one or two high-quality ethical and sustainable pieces that might be pricier. And since you won’t wear them 365 days a year they should last you really long.
Whatever style you may prefer you’ll probably find an ethical and sustainable brand that carries it. I’m super picky, but I’ve seen nice designs on a few websites. Not everything sustainable is boring and comes in plain colors anymore.
6. Research the Effects of Your SPF
SPF is important, but did you know that regular sunblocks bleach coral reefs when they end up in the water? Hawaii has even banned sunscreens that contain octinoxate and oxybenzone (the latter one being more harmful) in order to protect its environment.
Mineral sunscreens usually contain ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. The problem is that they leave a white film making you less than pretty. And according to studies, they don’t provide the same level of UVA and UVB protection as chemically-based sunscreens.
So until mineral sunscreen improves in efficiency or chemically-based sunscreens reduce their environmental impact there’s no perfect solution. But whether you decide to cover your entire body, get a mineral sunscreen, or simply avoid the most harmful toxins, that’s already a positive step.
7. Wear Braids or an Updo
If you have longer hair like me it’s impossible to wear it down at the beach. All the wind, sand, and water is going to mess it up. Braids or updos hold your hair in place. This is also one of my major travel hair care tips. There are different styles ranging from easy to difficult. But braids or updos are definitely one of the best sustainable beach tips. Basically, your hair stays in place and looks cute without any negative impact on the environment.
8. Moisturize With Shea Butter
You don’t need to buy an expensive sustainable body lotion. Shea butter is an excellent moisturizer for both body and hair. To save money, buy a big bucket from an African shop and not a small glass sold by a brand trying to monetize on this traditional West African ingredient.
Shea butter melts at body temperature and absorbs very quickly. It’s also great as a lip balm. And because it binds water it works really well to lock in moisture. That’s why it’s best to use it on moist hair or skin. Raw shea butter isn’t only one of the best sustainable beach tips but generally one of the best sustainable switches you can make. No more body lotions full of toxins.
9. Keep the Makeup Limited
I love makeup, but foundation, concealer, powder, etc. don’t really make sense when you go to the beach. Don’t worry, you’ll still look good with (or without) some mascara and maybe an intense lip color!
Because sustainable beach tips don’t always have to consist of buying products. On the contrary, sometimes leaving out stuff is the most sustainable thing you can do.
10. Choose a Safety Razor
I have an entire post detailing how to shave with a safety razor. This is probably the most sustainable method of hair removal. You can get a really basic cheap one like I have or splurge on this super pretty rose gold bamboo one.
Before you shave make sure you exfoliate properly with a dry brush and lather your body with a good soap (I use pure olive soap). Check out the full post if you’re a bit afraid of using a safety razor. But I really believe shaving with a safety razor is one of the best sustainable beach tips (for those who do remove their hair).
What do you think about this list? Do you have any additional sustainable beach tips?
Lily | imperfect idealistAugust 5, 2020 at 4:26 pm
Hehe, thanks for the shoutout! This is a really awesome, holistic post – love how it’s not only about going to the beach, but also long-term habits related to beach-going. I’d heard about sunscreens being terrible for reefs, but didn’t know the specific ingredients (I rarely wear sunscreen since I don’t burn, which maybe is not great for my skin…). I’ll be sure to avoid those ingredients if I ever buy sunscreen! Beyond sunscreen being bad for reefs, research has also found that some ingredients in conventional sunscreens can contribute to the development of breast cancer, which is another reason to avoid those sunscreens.
Nina AhmedowAugust 6, 2020 at 1:00 pm
Wow, thanks for the additional information about sunscreens! I didn’t even know the part about breast cancer. Let’s hope they develop sunscreens that are safer for people, animals, and the environment.
NyashaAugust 14, 2020 at 2:45 pm
I never thought about moisturising Shea butter, I usually just do SPF and the no 9 makeup limited should be common knowledge. I don’t know anyone who goes swimming with a lot of makeup hahaha
Nina AhmedowAugust 15, 2020 at 1:42 pm
Yes, it should be, but sometimes I see women heading to the beach who look like they’re on the way to the club, haha.