Beauty & the beach

One expert short lists her ultimate protection products.

It's a tricky thing looking good on the beach. You want to be natural, but pretty-glowy natural — not don't-give-a-crap natural. You need to be protected from damaging rays but not streaked in white glop. There's sand, sweat, salt, humidity — it's a pore-clogging, hair-frizzing nightmare (despite being the best place on earth, of course). So we turned to Mollie Chen, editorial director of beauty site Birchbox, to set us straight. As someone who has seen every innovative cream and elixir out there, she knows what works. She also grew up in Miami (which, in our book, amounts to instant beach cred). "I spent practically every weekend on the water," she says of her childhood. "Over the years, I’ve perfected my list of essential beach bag products — and no, it doesn’t include tanning oil." Since Birchbox sends its members a perfectly edited assortment of goodies each month, we asked Chen to curate her dream beachy Birchbox just for Q:

dr. dennis gross alpha beta glow pad

"I’ve come a long way since the days when I used to lay out without any SPF. Now, I tan before I hit the sand. I use Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads, which are the most user-friendly face self-tanners I’ve ever tried. Each wipe has exfoliating agents to get rid of any dead skin, and the formula reacts to your skin’s melatonin levels to give you customized color. I shield my fake-baked complexion with a totally worn-in, not-at-all-stylish baseball hat."
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nia24 sun damage prevention uva/uvb sunscreen

"I always bring two sunblocks with me: one specifically designed for face and a basic all-over body SPF. My latest discovery is NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention UVA/UVB Sunscreen, a powerhouse SPF 30 formulation that protects skin and also has vitamin B to help with any sun damage you already have (which I definitely do). Plus, it absorbs quickly and doesn’t give you a ghostly cast."
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supergoop! spf 30 uva/uvb sunstick

"The fewer things that can spill in my bag, the better. I love this product because it’s easy to apply in a hurry and uses both physical and chemical sunscreens. Because it’s fairly affordable, I don’t feel bad reapplying over and over again throughout the day."
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amika obliphica pure oil

"Salt water, wind, and sand make for epic tangles. I like to use a hair oil before I go to the beach to keep my strands from drying out and getting knotted. Amika’s light, fragrant version makes hair look glossy and healthy."
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twistband hair ties

"These stretchy elastics are much more fun than your average hair ties, and keep my hair from blowing around while I lounge. Bonus: if you coil your hair in a bun and let it get naturally salty from the spray you’ll have pretty beachy waves at the end of the day."
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herban essentials towelettes

"I’m a bit of a wipes fiend and I almost always have a few of these on hand. When you’re sweaty or sandy, it’s so nice to have a way to quickly clean up. These are made with a fresh citrusy formula and can be used on face or body."
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fresh sugar rosé tinted lip treatment spf 15

"Makeup at the beach just feels silly (not to mention pore-cloggy) but I make an exception for this pretty tinted lip balm. I know from experience that sunburned lips are painful and unattractive, so I love that this formula has SPF 15."
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