Let's face it, when we see pictures of celebs looking nothing less than incredible in a teeny weeny polka dot bikini, our self esteem doesn't exactly sky rocket.
From Elle Macpherson's age-defying abs (well she is The Body) to arguably the sexiest woman alive Emily Ratajkowski's barely there beach snaps, sometimes it seems as if we're the only ones struggling with a sunburnt parting and prickly heat on our hols, instead of looking like we could front the cover of a lads mag at any given moment.
And honestly, when we finally get to escape the office and read a book rather than our emails, we're not really that bothered about being insta-ready. Hell, we'll just take less selfies. But from time to time, when we want show Instagram that we actually did go on holiday, we wouldn't mind looking, and feeling, a little more like a beach babe, than a beach bum.
We love you summer, but sunburn and hair frizz…not so much. So bring on the tips! Elle and Emily watch your back, you've got some competition…
Q Is there any way to fill in tan lines?
A Yes, but you have to be artful about it. It's a case of sweeping over with instant tan to lessen the contrast, then fill,ling in with make-up. Sienna X Instant Bronzing Gel, £12.95, has great blendability, but celebrity tanning expert James Harknett advises priming the skin first with moisturiser. 'Usually this goes against the golden rule - on developing tans, moisturising causes streaks, but with instant formulas it helps the product go on better,' he says. Now for the fiddly bit. Powder bronzers are great at filling in strap lines, just choose a shimmer-free one like Tom Ford Bronzing Powder in Terra, £68. Draw it in with a small, flat make-up brush, then blend with an angled make-up sponge. It's a faff, but better than dodgy strap marks.
Q I love hot holidays but I have a real problem with prickly heat. What can I do?
A Prickly heat, or sweat rash, forms when sweat ducts get blocked and sweat gets trapped. This causes inflammation, seen as red, raw bumps. Short term, keep Caudalie Grape Water, £6, in your hotel room fridge - it's a skin-soothing miracle. Then, after a day in the heat, Herborist After-Sun Crackling Mousse, £25 contains wild chamomile to bring down swelling. For permanent action, Dr Rita Rakus is the only Sweat Smart Clinic in London and you can be referred by your GP. Her clinic offers a variety of solutions like miraDry - zaps of controlled electromagnetic energy to the armpit area, eliminating sweat glands. While sweating is an essential body function for temperature control, the underarms house less than 2% of the body's sweat glands.
Q Do people really wear make-up on the beach?
A They do, but it’s a very different approach. Pack a few products in your beach bag that solve multiple issues: a bright, sheer lip colour with buildable pigment that can also be dotted on cheeks – Charlotte Tilbury Colour Of Youth Lip & Cheek Glow, £30 is an winner – a waterproof mascara and something to put on your face to make you look finished. Stila Aqua Glow Perfecting Primer, £20 looks lovely on its own – it hydrates, shrinks pores and reduces heat-induced puffiness, while aloe extract protects against free radicals and repairs UV damage.
Q I can never get an even tan on my legs – any tips?
A Four words. Bespoke Sun Cream Application. Stay with us on this – it’s a method we swear by. Use your usual SPF50 on the face; then SPF30 on your torso. Thighs tan better than calves, so use SPF20 from thighs to knees then SPF15 for calves and ankles. Feet have a high tanning ability, so back up to SPF20 on those. Also worth their weight in bronze are Imedeen Tanning Tablets, £40.80 as they’ll increase your depth of tan. Lastly, Lancaster has a genius new Fast Tan Optimizer,£24 that helps you tan better as well as providing SPF protection.
Q I have really thin hair and always seem to get a sunburnt parting. What can I do?
A Here’s something you didn’t expect: Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, £26 is amazing as a scalp after-sun. It calms itching, soothes redness and stops the dreaded flaking. Apply it neatly with a clean eyeshadow brush along your hairline and parting and it won’t even ruin your hairstyle. It’s better not to get frazzled in the first place though, so next time take Redken Colour Extend Sun Take Cover SPF25, £16.85 with you. It’s a mousse-formula hair and scalp sunscreen that you run through with your fingertips, and it has the bonus of giving your roots body.
Q How do I stop my hair becoming a frizzy mess?
A We hear you. You spend the day blissfully presuming your hair has dried into beachy Gisele waves but glancing in the mirror later, you realise you look like a crazy person. A great solution is to keep hair looking wet. Comb Philip Kingsley Elasticizer, £29 through with a wide-toothed comb. It looks ultra-glamorous slicked back with glossy ridges (very Ursula Andress), and the oil base stops hair from frizzing. After enduring sweat, sea, sand and a full day’s mask, you’ll find your hair needs a proper wash. TIGI Bedhead Totally Beachin’ Cleansing Jelly Shampoo and Mellow After-Sun Conditioner, £11.95 and £13.95 combat frizz but still leave your locks soft and floaty like it’s air-dried all by itself.
Q Why does insect repellent ruin nail varnish?
A Insect repellents contain a high concentration of alcohol, solvents and oils, much the same as you’d find in nail polish remover. Be on the lookout for DEET, the most common ingredient, also ethanol or propanol are commonly used as a base for aerosol bug repellents. ‘If you want to avoid ruining your manicure but stay protected against bugs, use a lotion intead,’ suggests Deborah Lippmann. ‘When applying, be careful to avoid your nails as anything oily or greasy can cause nail colour to wear away quicker.’ If you’ve chipped your nails, dab a bit of polish remover, like Deborah Lippmann The Stripper, £17 on your fingertip and smooth the ridge lightly where the chip is, then allow it to dry. ‘For larger nicks,’ she says, ‘take your colour and lightly dab into the chip – resist the temptation to smooth it out over the nail, as this typically amplifies the appearance of the chip.’