Tips for Post-Beach Skin and Hair Care

woman wears a big straw hat and stands on edge of lake in hot summertime

Treehugger / Sanja Kostic

Sun, sand, and salt are glorious in moderation, but be sure to scrub away dirty layers and replenish moisture as soon as you can.

Spending time at the beach is fun and fabulous until you get home feeling like a piece of desiccated fruit. It’s important to know how to tend your skin and hair in the aftermath of a sunny beach day, to ensure it stays strong, supple, and healthy. Here are some tips for a post-beach beauty routine.


A black woman in a white towel washes her face in a white bathroom.

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Wash your face well after a day at the beach. Once sunscreen has served its purpose, it’s important to get it off your face quickly so it doesn’t clog your pores, along with residual sweat, saltwater, and sand that’s probably stuck there, too. If you’re not sunburned, then do a gentle exfoliation (use a handful of brown sugar mixed with sweet almond oil) to loosen built-up layers.Moisturize with light oil, nothing too heavy. Skin gets dehydrated in the wind and sun, so it’s important to add moisture back in. Be careful what you use, say a dermatologist and esthetician in this article for She Finds:

“Avoid creams that contain petroleum, benzocaine, or lidocaine. Petroleum can trap heat in the skin and benzocaine and lidocaine can irritate the skin. Avoid products that include retinol, retin A or harsh exfoliators as the skin is very sensitive after extended periods in the sun.”
You can add moisture with a facial mask. Look for rose and aloe, both hydrating ingredients, or make your own; there are lots of great DIY recipes here on TreeHugger. Stay away from citrus essential oils, however, since they “cause something called a phototoxicity reaction, which can scar and leave permanent damage to your skin” ( Brit+Co). One expert tip that I love: Keep a bottle of toner in the fridge and spritz your face as soon as you get home. Brit+Co explains why this helps.
“When you’re hot, the blood vessels in your skin dilate to help cool you down, making your face look red and irritated. By cooling your face with a chilled toner, you can keep your face looking calm and even.”


A body loofah and natural bar of soap on white wood.

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Take a cool shower or bath after returning from the beach. Scrub well with a sisal washcloth or body brush to get rid of caked layers of sunscreen, sweat, and sand. Use a mild soap, then follow with an all-over moisturizer. I like to use a heavier-feeling product on my body, which seems to soak up the moisture post-beach. Try the rich cocoa and shea butter massage bars by Lush or a scoop of coconut oil.

If you’re sunburnt, deal with it right away. Have a soothing milk bath by adding a few cups of whole milk to the tub or soaking a washcloth in it. From the Free People beauty blog:

“The lactic acid found in milk is gently exfoliating without being abrasive to help remove dead skin cells. It’s also full of proteins and vitamins A, D and E, so it’s super soothing, and the fat works as an anti-inflammatory.”


A black woman washing her hair with conditioner in a white shower.

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Hair doesn’t show the effects of too much sun as quickly as skin, but it suffers, too. Enjoy the salty, post-beach hair look as long as you want, but eventually you’ll have to wash it out. Use a mild, moisturizing shampoo, or – if you have thick wavy or curly hair – try ‘co-washing’ (washing only with conditioner), which doesn’t strip the hair shaft of its natural oils and adds in additional moisture. If there’s no product in your hair, consider washing only with water, adding a good scrub with fingertips to loosen debris.

Try a deep conditioning hair mask if hair feels brittle. Make your own from lukewarm honey and buttermilk, or check out these 6 simple homemade hair masks for treating your tresses. Rub a small bit of oil (almond, jojoba, olive) into the ends, and stay away from hot styling tools for a few days.

In summertime, your entire body will benefit from drinking more water and eating fruits like fresh berries and watermelon that contain antioxidants and high water levels.