My 10 Summer Essentials

I grew up in a warm climate, but only recently relocated back down, and boy am I enjoying the summer weather so far. Sure, it may thunderstorm almost every afternoon, but the blue skies and sunshine are a wonderful treat after a few years of living in the northeast!

Now let me preface this warm-weather bliss by admitting that summer isn't entirely a season heaven sent. If you're not careful, that summer sun can easily turn into summer sweat and itchy, peely sunburns. Neither of these outcomes are any fun, so it's important to prepare for the beach to make looking and feeling your best as simple as possible. In order to help you put together that kit of summer essentials, I thought I'd walk you through ten of my top picks in fashion, beauty and skincare. Here's to a glowing, sunkissed summer!

#10: A cute beach bag
The pool or beach is no place for a purse -- most leathers and suedes aren't water-friendly and fabrics like vinyl can get really hot when left out in the sun. Instead, opt for a rommy beach bag made of a light, airy fabric, like this one that I got from Lancome with their latest gift with purchase. You'll probably want a bag with an open top so that larger items, like your towel, don't have to be squished in. Just make sure that you place important items, like your wallet, keys and cell phone at the bottom of the bag or in a zippered pocket so they don't accidentally get lost if the bag tips over.

#9: A good summer read
If you're a student, you may have put off pleasure reading due to all of the required reading from your teachers or professors. Take advantage of the freedom that summer brings and grab a novel that you'll really enjoy! There's no better place than a sandy seashore to get enveloped in a book -- I know for me, the sounds of crashing waves are almost like white noise, allowing me to drift away into the world of my characters. Right now I'm reading Nicholas Sparks' The Last Song. It's the first book I've read by him and I really enjoy his style of storytelling. Summer is also a great time to start reading a series of books because you'll have the time needed to read multiple novels -- The Hunger Games series is a favorite of mine, and I've heard the Pretty Little Liars series is a fun read too.

#8: Urban Decay's Eye Shadow Primer Potion
Overall, I'd say that I actually have quite dry skin, but despite that, my body sure does know how to work up a sweat in the summer. And although I wouldn't say that you want to slop on a ton of makeup this season, you're going to want the products you do choose to apply to stay put! There's nothing worse than drippy or creasy eye makeup, and in my opinion, the Urban Decay Primer Potion is, simply put, the best product on the market for solving this problem. In addition to keeping shadows in place, the product also acts as a base and allows your shadows to achieve their maximum pigment potency, so bright colors show up as they should!

#7: A good matte powder
If dripping eye shadow was bad, dripping face makeup might be even worse! Although I'm a fan of setting powders year round, I find that they're especially important in the summer to keep skin oil-free and fresh looking. If you choose to wear foundation in the summer, use a matte powder to set your makeup, and even if you don't, it never hurts to carry a compact in your purse for mid-afternoon shiny forehead touch-ups. Right now, my favorite drugstore powder is L'Oreal's True Match Super Blendable Powder (I'm in shade N1), and my favorite department store product is MAC's Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium (although Medium+ is nice if you're fair like me and want more of a bronzed effect).

#6: A comfortable (and pretty!) pair of summer sandals:
My favorite sandals of the moment are these jeweled Stuart Weitzman gladiator-inspired sandals that I got at an outlet store for less than $100 (they are $265 retail!). What's more important than brand or price, though, is that you find a pair that are comfortable both for walking on the sand and the street. It's also smart to stick with a lighter color, because black sandals will absorb the sun and scorch your soles if you leave them behind to pop in the water. I also like these particular sandals because they can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion -- they'll work with a cute bathing suit and cover up for daytime, and also a summer sundress or pair of dark-wash skinny jeans for night!

#5: Fun, bright nail polish:
There's no better accessory for your summer sandals than a pretty pedicure with a bright, bold shade. Some of my summer favorites include: OPI's A Good Man-darin is hard to find (far left), I'm Indi-A Mood for Love (middle) and Dutch Tulips (far right).

#4: Lip gloss:
Sometimes I feel like lipsticks can be too harsh for summer, and can feel ultra heavy on the lips when it's muggy outside. Instead, I prefer lipgloss in some shade of pink, and I always go for something that smells and/or tastes delish! Of course there are so many great brands and shades to choose from, but two of my faves are MAC lip glass in Cruise Control or Victoria Secret's I Want Candy (from the Beauty Rush collection). Lancome's Juicy Tubes are also a nice alternative and usually come in sampler-size sets, which are great for carrying around in a small makeup bag or purse. Summer is also a great time to embrace sparkle, shimmer and tons of glitter, so if you're bold, you might want to try a MAC Dazzle Glass or Super Glass, which is chock full of glittery bits.

#3: Bronzer
If you have dark skin or tan easily, this may not be as essential, but for a pasty pale gal like me, bronzer is a must in order to fake that glowy warm tone (plus, getting a real tan isn't very healthy for anyone!). My favorite bronzer is MAC's in Refined Golden, which has some flecks of gold shimmer, but by no means overloads your face with glitter. Another alternative is Lancome's bronzer, which used to be my go-to product, but really, it's so similar in quality for a lot more money, so I tend to stick with MAC and use the money I save to buy other fun summery products! :) (P-S: Since my bronzer is almost all used up, I've pulled a stock photo from the MAC Web site.)

#2: Shimmery gold eyeshadow
For daytime in the summer, and especially if I'm going to the pool or beach, I like to use just a dab of eyeshadow, rather than a full eye with tons of products. Gold, shimmery shades tend to sparkle in the sunlight and look great on darker skin tones. I don't have too many individual gold shades, so I reach for my Coastal Scents Metal Mania 88 Palette when aiming for this type of look. Since this is a metallic palette, there are lots of great rusty, gold and bronze tones, especially in the upper left corner as shown!

#1: A great nourishing body cream
It's so important to add moisture back into your skin after spending a day out in the sun. Personally, I prefer a rich, creamy formula rather than a thinner body lotion, and my favorite is my H20+ Hydrating Body Butter. Yes, I did get this product while on a Disney Cruise, and truth be told, I think the full size bottles are pretty pricey, but it's very worth it if you really want to nourish your skin. It has a really fresh, light scent and goes on super thick, but quickly absorbs into your skin for a smooth finish. According to the packaging, it contains Vitamin E, Algae Extract, green tea and paraguay tea to provide "maximum moisture retention and skin suppleness."

And there you have it, my top 10 summer favorites. Enjoy! :)


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