For someone who simply adores the ocean, before moving to the West Coast last year I never really spent that much time on the beach. Being more of a museums and historic sights holiday kind of family, I can only remember one 'beach' holiday taken in Barbados growing up. There are beautiful beaches around my home in France, but I usually spend my time wandering around local fish markets and Ancient walled towns instead. My friends and I like spending Summer afternoons in our little corner of the Kentish countryside either in Sandwich or Whitstable, but with their great expanses of grey stones (great for barbecuing, though!) they tend to be more 'seaside' than 'beach' afternoons. However, after the past 9 months of throwing bags of beach essentials together for trips out onto the sand for an afternoon relaxing in the sun either on Santa Monica, Venice or Newport beaches, I think I have got what to take to the beach down to a very fine art.
Brightly Coloured Beach Towel
Obviously when you're heading to the beach you need something to lay on, and in my book the brighter the better. I did not actually have one in Los Angeles with me, so I picked up this fantastically bright one in Old Navy for only about $9, so I'd really recommend their styles this Summer.
Brightly Coloured Flip Flops
For walking around when you are not on the beach and you have sandy feet, or, as I have sometimes discovered on Santa Monica Beach, the sand is so hot that it will feel like your feet are burning however fast you walk. My personal preference is, and has always been Havianas styles. These are actually Kathryn's bright brand new pair; as she pointed out to me while we were shooting, they looked much better in the piece than that every old, cracked and battered pale purple pair I'd grabbed on Sunday morning!
Fresh Pressed Juice or Water
When you are on the beach, just as important as using SPF is to make sure you stay hydrated while you're in direct sunlight. For most beaches in the world, take bottles of water with you (don't rely on buying something at the beach, everything costs more there) but if you are lucky to live in Los Angeles or elsewhere in SoCal, the SoCal cult of fresh cold pressed juice is your best friend. For fellow fans of LA's Pressed Juicery, Summer favourite Watermelon and Mint is now back in stores (pictured).
I don't think you need to tell me about the importance of SPF when you go to the beach. You should reapply quite regularly and wear at least SPF30. Since moving to Los Angeles I have joined the scores of fellow Southern Californian girls in buying into their (now our) unofficial scent; the amazing coconut of Hawaiian Tropics. I can't recommend their sunscreen enough; it smells amazing, comes prettily swirled in the bottle and does not make you feel like you're wearing a sunscreen, not sticky at all. It has a nice silky finish.
While I don't recommend getting burnt, as a pale girl I know more than most that sometimes burns happen. I like to carry a good aftersun with me to the beach too then, and as I like things that smell great and tropical I've been using Apivita's Aftersun ever since they sent it to me when their sun range first launched last Summer. Hawaiian Tropics also make one that compliments my favourite suncream that I also want to try.
Sorry for continuing to state the obvious! These frames are by Alexander McQueen and were sent to me by Sunglasses Shop. They are my favourite day to day sunglasses; I absolutely adore the tortoiseshell frames.
SPF Lip Balm
It is not just your skin that need to be treated with SPF if you want to prevent serious chapping. I favour Fresh's Sugar Lip Treatment, which has a SPF of 15. I think Elizabeth Arden also do a great one from their sun range.
A suggestion from Kathryn actually, that will actually be very useful. As anyone whose mother carried a packet of Wet Wipes around with them when they were kids will know, they are great for cleaning up all manner of spills. Also, not all beaches have taps for cleaning off the sand once you leave the beach, to they are also great for removing excess sand.
Books or Magazines, & an iPod
Finally, reading and listening material. These days, almost all of my favourite reading material like books and magazines (I subscribe to Tatler and I buy quite a few issues of The Spectator) is on my iPad, but the screen does not work very well with all the sun and sand, so back to paper and ink. My beach read of choice is an old favourite of mine, NYLON magazine. On my current beach playlist we have a mix of Aerosmith, Maroon 5 (true band love lasts forever), Christina Aguilera's Back To Basics album, and Kate Nash.
What do you always make sure you have stashed in your bag when you head to the beach? My bag by the way was a gift from Dorothy Perkins last Summer.