I’ll just say it. I wore make-up in the Peace Corps. In a sweltering, tropical Southeast Asian country comprised of over 7,100 islands (at low tide) – the Philippines. I mopped my forehead once every 10 minutes with my ever-present sweat rag, doused my damp arms in baby powder regularly – but also looked forward to the three hour bus ride to Manila where I would spend my extra pesos treating myself to a Revlon foundation and a palette of neutral eye shadows. I am not ashamed!
It was not about vanity. For me, applying a small amount of make-up in the morning was a comforting reminder that although I was half a world away doing environmental work in a rural Filipino town, away from everything familiar, I was still me. And I still loved make-up. While I did have to give up a lot of Western comforts (toilet paper and air conditioning, anyone?), and a lot of my favorite things (dairy products are nearly non-existent – no cheese!), this was not one of them.
So to anyone who says it’s ridiculous to wear make-up to the beach, hiking, to the gym, or – even swimming! – I call shenanigans. Of course you can wear make-up to the beach. Just ask my sister, who sent me care packages filled with the Washington Post Style Section and tubes of waterproof mascara.
Now, of course there are certain guidelines you should follow to achieve an outdoorsy make-up look. It has to look natural, but it also has to last through the day’s activities. Less is definitely more. Forget about eyeliner all together and stick to a neutral powder shadow, or a dab of a light shimmery shadow directly on the lids. Stick to only one color, the point is you don’t want to look made-up. I suggest Kevyn Aucoin’s “clay” shadow, or Stila’s popular “kitten” shadow.
For mascara, nothing beats Blinc’s tubing mascara. Unlike waterproof mascara which can be a struggle to scrub off (and can be damaging to your lashes), Blinc’s “tubes” of mascara slide right off your lashes with slight pressure and water. This means that you can have natural looking darkened lashes while swimming, and avoid the dreaded “raccoon eyes” if caught in a humid summer thunderstorm.
No need to mess with creamy, highly pigmented lipsticks in hot weather (save those for breezy summer nights at your favorite restaurant’s candlelit patio). Your go-to beach lip product should be a lip stain. Lip stains provide a long-lasting, natural wash of color. The more you layer on, the more intense the color will be, allowing you to control the intensity of the shade. I really like Nouba’s Acquerello waterproof lip color in red. A few dabs and you’ve got a natural yet long lasting cherry flush to your lips. A pinky nude alternative is Peter Thomas Roth’s Pink Bombshell Lip Balm.
As for foundation, you may think that a tinted moisturizer would do the trick for a natural look. But if you want your make-up to actually do its job and not melt down your face in half an hour, you will want a long wear liquid foundation – but use sparingly. I prefer Smashbox’s Studio Skin 15 hour wear and Stila’s Stay All Day foundations. Only blend a small amount where there is redness or unevenness. Who wants to wear a heavy mask of foundation when basking in the heat of a sunny summer day?
As for your cheeks, if you will be active and running around, you can forego blush altogether – you’ll have glistening rosy cheeks without the help of make-up. But, if you must, blend a tiny bit of cream blush to the apples of your cheeks and you’ll be good to go, like Vincent Longo’s water canvas blush.
And, for the love of skincare, lest we forget: wear sunscreen. I am in love with Peter Thomas Roth’s Instant Mineral SPF, a powder SPF that comes in a convenient twist-up brush. It doubles as an SPF and a mattifying powder.
Remember, keep it light when it comes to beach/trail/pool make-up – but don’t shy away from make-up altogether just because we’re told we shouldn’t care in certain situations. My Peace Corps service required hiking mountain farmland, scuba diving, walking hot dusty roads…and yes, copious amounts of waterproof mascara, for which I am forever grateful (if only I knew of Blinc then!).