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What to Pack for a Beach Vacation

It’s that time of the Summer when everyone heads for the hills…or the beach or bay. At least in sunny Houston, come July everyone is just GONE. Except for me– I’m holding down the fort with the kiddos. But I did manage to escape for a quick college girlfriends trip to Rivera Maya (near Cancun), Mexico, and it was EPIC. Lots of sun, margaritas, and dance parties. Here’s my post on what to pack for a beach vacation, complete with the actual beauty staples I packed, plus tons of outfit inspiration:

As far as beauty, it is always difficult to pack all my essentials without checking a bag. You’d think travel would be a good time to use up all those sample face lotions from Sephora that you have been squirreling away, but I have been burned (literally) on that before. You don’t want to try something new on your face and endure a breakout or allergic reaction when you are supposed to be relaxing and enjoying your vacay!

Daily Skincare

Here are the skincare products I used on my face every single morning on my sunny vacay:

Skinceuticals C E Ferulic: this is an antioxidant serum that I have used for a month now, and I think it is making a difference in my skin. I need to do more research for a full blog post on why you need to make an antioxidant serum part of your daily routine, but my understanding is that applying sunscreen in the morning is not sufficient sun protection for your skin. You also need an antioxidant (Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a common one) to increase your SPF protection, and to protect your skin against free radicals like pollution that also contribute to aging of the skin. The Skinceuticals serum contains Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid that are antioxidants to prevent photoaging, and the Vitamin E replenishes skin’s lipids and corrects past sun damage. I bought the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic after reading several articles about skin products dermatologists actually use, and this one kept coming up. I bought my bottle for slightly cheaper on Amazon (from a legit, reputable seller). Another popular antioxidant serum is Prevage.

Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum SPF 46: I’m on my third bottle of this guy, and I think it is the perfect SPF/daily moisturizer for my skin. It is oil-free, but does not dry out my skin (especially with the C E Ferulic underneath, which adds a little moisture), and contains niacinamide to soothe skin and reduce redness. I love that it just feels like a nice moisturizer instead of sunscreen-y. And, most importantly, it has a high concentration of physical blockers zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which are the most effective sunscreens on the market in U.S. Full post on physical blocking sunscreens vs. chemical blockers here.

Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster: Of course I booked a spray tan for my pale self on the the night before leaving for Mexico. But since I’m constantly exfoliating and cleansing my face, my spray tan always fades more quickly on my face than on my body. The perfect solution is Clarins Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster: I mix 3 drops of the Clarins with my Elta MD sunscreen in the palm of my hand, and then apply to my face and neck. (PS, wash your hands afterward!) Within an hour or so, I’m sporting a golden, glowy, realistic tan on my face that matches my body.

Goldfaden MD Sun Visor SPF Spray: I’ve written a full review on this game-changing product here. I spray it on my face every couple hours to re-up my sun protection without disturbing my makeup. This is a must in your beach bag (and your everyday purse, for that matter!) I have also been road-testing two other makeup setting sprays with SPF by SuperGoop and Coola. I will write a full comparison post at some point, but the Supergoop and Coola smell strongly of alcohol and the Supergoop broke me out with tiny bumps all over my skin! Ugh. And they do not contain physical sunscreens like the Goldfaden does.


What makeup did I bring? I know this seems like a lot, but it was hard for me to pare down even this much! My makeup essentials that made the cut:

It Cosmetics CC Cream Eye: applied before my Garnier BB Cream to add moisture and give a little coverage;

Garnier All Day Shine Control BB Cream (I use it every single day; full post here),

Bobbi Brown Corrector and Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer for my under eye circles and redness around my nose),

It Cosmetics Bye Bye Pores powder (a recent find; I think it is the BEST to set under eye concealer because it doesn’t look dry),

Hourglass Ambient Light Powder in Ethereal Light to set the rest of my makeup and give a little glow,

Maybelline Brow Drama– a quick swipe gives brows a little definition for a natural, bushy brow look (full review of Brow Drama here),

My favorite highlighter, MAC Mineralize in Soft N’Gentle,

A new bronzer, Too Faced Endless Summer, that promises 16 hours of bronzing. Not sure if it lasts that long, but it is a nice light shade for fairer skins,

My new favorite mascara, CoverGirl The Super Sizer (full review post here). Lifting and lengthening, no eyelash curler needed!

Beach Outfit Inspiration

Finally, let’s plan your #ootd. Full disclosure: I had to recreate some of these outfits back at home because I got lazy on vacation and forgot to photograph them. But these are my real outfits I packed and wore, honest. I’ll start with the outfit I’m most excited about because it is such an amazing deal! This striking Ann Taylor Loft Frond Strapless Jumpsuit for your “fancy dinner” evening is on sale for $30!!! Way to step up your game, Loft! {clapping emoji} Hurry before it sells out.

I paired this jumpsuit with my Valentino Rockstud T-Strap Sandals and cork clutch from J. Crew Factory. Orange nail polish is Orly Color Amp’d in Sunset Strip.

A Tribal Looking Dress {available online here} to throw on over a bathing suit for lunch on the terrace. Pave diamond necklace from Andrea Montgomery Designs. I found the long beaded gold horn pendant and tribal dress at Pomp & Circumstance, a boutique in Houston. Shoes are Dolce Vita from last year.

Vintage-y “Margaritas” shirt with cut offs for lounging on our balcony while we drink margaritas, duh:

Target finds that I paired with every darn outfit I wore: my white wide-brimmed Panama hat and metallic slides. As seen on my Instagram (@kathleenjenningsbeauty), both items are on repeat all Summer long…

My trusty Target Panama Hat paired with Ray Ban Clubmaster sunnies + rashguard from Lands’ End:

These white Hayden boyfriend jeans from Topshop are everything. They have the perfect amount of distressing (in both knees), and are not super-baggy. In fact they are pretty snug until right above my knee, where they get a straighter to give that boyfriend look without adding bulk. And the rise is high enough to where they look good with a boxy cropped top.

This maxi dress with pom poms from J. Crew Factory just screams “Mexico!” It would be perfect to wear for your friend’s destination beach wedding. In fact, on our trip we were actually invited to attend/crash a Mexican wedding at our resort. But then we couldn’t find it. But that’s another story.

My favorite white bathing suit coverup from last Summer is now on sale 1/2 off! I bought it after I saw it on a friend and now it is my constant Summer companion. The deep-V is super flattering without being too risqué!

My roll-up visor (as seen in the first photo) from San Diego Hat Company is a beach-bag must. Fantastic sun protection that will shade your entire face, yet it is comfortable to lean back in your lounge chair to read your fashion mags. Priorities, people. I also wear it constantly here at home by the pool with the boys and while I go on walks.

Hope you enjoyed my picks. Cheers!






Tagged travel beauty essentials

4 Responses to “What to Pack for a Beach Vacation”

  1. Amanda Kerr says:

    Looks like a beautiful place that you visisted!! Great tips on what to pack! xox

  2. Mahée Ferlini says:

    Great Tips!! Thanks :)

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