If your summer playlist includes the Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk,” the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” and John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John immortalizing “Summer Nights,” then you’ve come to the right place. Those of us who are 50-plus have been there and done it all — from grimy beach towels to leaky totes, sandy blankets and beach chairs that were no body’s friend. Here’s how to “roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” — to paraphrase the late Sam Cooke — and enjoy every minute with 10 smart buys.
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PHOTO BY: Office Depot; Dick's Sporting Goods; Amazon
1. An insulated water bottle
Carrying a reusable stainless-steel bottle is better for the planet, a quick way to ID your drinks from others and keep whatever’s within icy all day long. One of the best design tweaks now is a built-in straw like the Takeya Actives Insulated Water Bottle with Straw Lid in Cobalt ($32, officedepot.com) or CamelBak Eddy+ Water Bottle + 20 ounce Insulated Stainless Steel Bottle in Koi ($25, dickssportinggoods.com) to encourage all-day hydration. Or try a smaller spout like the YETI Rambler with Chug Cap in Alpine Yellow ($40, amazon.com) to make one-handed slurping easy and avoid spills or splashes. A reminder: Drinking water in sweltering weather (not soda, wine or caffeine) prevents dehydration and is an important habit for your health and your looks.
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PHOTO BY: Dejaroo; Walmart; Amazon
2. An easy-to-carry-everything beach bag
How many chic straw bags and fancy summer totes have you wrecked at the beach, lake or pool? We may love their look but something that’ll stand a shake out, wipe down or toss in the washing machine is a better choice. Mesh bags like the Dejaroo Mesh Beach Bag in Blue with Grey Handles ($17, dejaroo.com) and Sunisery Women’s Mesh Beach Bag with Detachable Insulation Bag in Green or Blue ($26, walmart.com) are practically weightless but let sand sift through. And let’s not ignore our neck and shoulders here. A big, roomy, lightweight carryall that folds flat, such as the Scout Original Deano in Extra Large in Brooklyn Checkham or Nantucket Navy ($45, amazon), goes easy on them — even when chock-full. At the end of season use beach bags to store beach towels and swimsuits or take on a new life as reusable grocery bags.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Walmart; Target
3. Chafing solvers
We all sweat. It’s the body’s natural air-conditioning system. However, heavy sweating in summer can lead to more friction at stress points where clothing meets skin. The result is red, irritated skin between the inner thighs, around your bra band and straps, at the waistbands of jeans and even under sandal straps. While looser clothing in natural fibers plus open shoes help promote air flow and sweat evaporation, the best preventative solution is a chafing balm or spray designed for these issues. Try Megababe Bust Dust Anti-Boob-Sweat Spray ($16, target.com), a powder mist that’s aluminum-, talc- and paraben-free; or a balm stick like Body Glide for Her Anti-Chafe & Moisturizing Balm ($8, target.com) with coconut and almond oil, MedZone Chub Rub All-Natural Anti-Chafe Stick ($11, walmart.com) with organic coconut oil and shea butter, or Vaseline Healing Jelly All-Over Body Balm ($8, target.com). And of course, be sure to change out of sweat-drenched clothes and wet swimsuits ASAP to minimize chafing, too.
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PHOTO BY: REI; 4ocean; Tommy Bahama
4. A body-friendly beach chair
Wooden slatted chairs and sling styles may look stylish, but what about our very grownup bones and muscles? We crave comfort and places for our “stuff” while we enjoy the fresh air. A chair with multiple position options won’t leave you stiff and sore, and lets you read, people-watch or snooze, plus the addition of backpack carrying straps, lighter weight design and “extras” is more like it. Try the GCI Outdoor SunShade Recliner Chair ($75, rei.com) with retractable UPF 50 visor; the 4Ocean Signature Backpack Beach Chair with Cooler ($89, 4ocean.com) with drink and cellphone pocket on the arm and ergonomic pillow; or the Tommy Bahama Multi Stripe Deluxe Backpack Beach Chair ($90, tommybahama.com), also with cooler pouch and pillow.
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PHOTO BY: Target; Walgreens; Laura Geller; Walgreens
5. Melt-proof makeup
We know better than to wear makeup to the beach, but what if the thermometer says 92, the humidity is 90 percent, and you have a party or job interview? Social media advisers suggest going a totally oil-free, matte, liquid-liner route. That works at age 20, 30, even for some at 40 — but by 50 our dry, textured skin needs a different meltdown plan. Keep the dewy and fresh part but ditch the grease. Stick with your favorite face makeup — serum, liquid or CC cream — but add a final step of radiance-boosting setting spray like the Neutrogena Healthy Skin Radiant Makeup Setting Spray with Peptides ($14, target.com). Skip the smokey shadows and choose a waterproof mascara like L'Oréal Paris Air Volume Mega Mascara in Waterproof Black ($15, walgreens.com) and a chubby, velvety pencil like the Laura Geller Kajal Longwear Eyeliner in Dark Brown Kohl ($22, laurageller.com) for no-smear definition. And last, opt for a creamy, hydrating lipstick (and here’s where you can go matte) like the Milani Color Fetish Matte — The Nudes Collection in Secret or Tease ($8, target.com) for a smudge-free grin.
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PHOTO BY: Amazon (3)
6. A sand-proof beach blanket
We’re not usually alone at the shore. Some of us bring a spouse, significant other or friend, while others make it a family affair with kids and grandkids. Having some sort of blanket helps define your space and keep everyone’s belongings together. We used to lug an old blanket, but now that fluffy comforters and their washable covers have replaced those it’s time for a new solution. Lightweight nylon “blankets” like the WellaX Beach Blanket Waterproof and Sandproof ($35, amazon.com), HIHOHO Sandproof Waterproof Beach Blanket in Pink Flower ($20, amazon.com) or POPCHOSE Waterproof, Sandproof Beach Blanket in Orange ($22, amazon.com) fold up to almost nothing. They’re useful for picnics and camping trips, and can double as drop cloths over furniture for messy home chores when the summer is over.
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PHOTO BY: Macy's; Zappos (2)
7. Foot-safe flip-flops
We’ve worn basic rubber flip-flops since high school, and many of us still wear them at pedicure-time to let our polish dry intact. But the truth is they’re flimsy and not great for older, bonier feet, plantar fasciitis and tendonitis. A new category of chic, contoured flip-flops — such as the Bzees Cabana in Black Stretch Fabric ($70, zappos.com), Clarks Women’s Cloudsteppers Arla Kaylie Sandals in Black Textile Sparkles ($65, macys.com) or FitFlop Surfa in Black ($60, zappos.com) — can provide the arch support, cushioned soles, substantial footbeds and hint of style we need. The broader straps also offer top-of-foot comfort. Match the arch to your arch by trying them on. You’ll know it’s a good fit immediately if there’s no gap. Why black? It simply looks sophisticated, works with every swimsuit and polish color from classic red to trendy yellow.
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PHOTO BY: Amazon (2); Walmart
8. Stress-free beach towels
The days of lugging home heavy, soggy, damp towels or not remembering which one is yours after a dip are over. Fast-drying microfiber towels — like the Sun Cube Microfiber Beach Towel in Blue, Orange or Red ($16, walmart.com), Eccosophy Microfiber Oversized Beach Towel in Cancun or Kenya ($28, amazon.com) or Arthmom Big Pineapple Microfiber Beach Towel in Stripe Pineapple ($14, amazon) — are lighter and thinner than regular cotton ones, go from wet to dry in minutes, roll up trimly and come in a variety of prints that make finding your beach chair easy.
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PHOTO BY: Walgreens; Ulta Beauty; Sephora; Bath & Body Works
9. Summer-scented body basics
Every smell — good and bad — intensifies in hot, sticky weather. It’s why staying on top of hygiene is crucial when dealing with a smelly scalp, sweaty armpits and funky feet. Summer is also a time when our usual body products and fragrances may seem not as appealing as the smell of sea-salted air, ice cream and tropical smoothies. Try swapping your cold-weather basics for seasonal hints of vanilla, coconut and a dash of citrus in products like the Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant Deodorant in Caring Coconut ($8, walgreens.com), Bath & Body Works At the Beach Shower Gel ($14, bathandbodyworks.com), Pacifica Island Vanilla Hair & Body Mist ($12, ulta.com) or a mini eau de toilette of Maison Margiela Replica Beach Walk Travel Spray ($32, sephora.com) to tuck in your bag or tote.
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PHOTO BY: Swimsuits for All; VENUS; Bloomingdale's
10. A ‘dressed’ post-beach coverup
So, you’re heading for home and friends suggest grabbing dinner at a seaside restaurant. Maybe you are running late and remember tonight is your neighbor’s barbecue or must dash from pool to a party with no time for a shower and clothing change. Keep it loose and breezy but step up the glamour with a swimsuit topcoat that transforms all in seconds. The Swimsuits for All Plus-Size Kate V-Neck Cover-Up Dress in Black ($76, swimsuitsforall.com) has a just-above-the-knees length, flattering empire waist and elbow-length dolman sleeves for those who want to bare their legs. For more coverage try a strapless maxi like the Venus Plus-Size Maxi Dress in Aqua Reef Multi ($34, venus.com), a perfect partner for strapless suits; or a midi-length elastic waist dress like the Echo Garden Party Midi Dress Swim Coverup in Spearmint ($99, bloomingdales.com), which floats over any style suit. Just add sandals and lipstick, and you’re good to go.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.