Are there any two things in this world more dramatically different than summer expectations vs. summer reality? On the one hand, you have long, languid beach days, radiant makeup-free skin, the tousled waves salt gave you, margaritas on a boat, and three uninterrupted weeks to spend in St. Tropez; on the other, it’s all about sweating on the subway, staring out the one window in the office, overcrowded local beaches, the daily grind, and zits. You’ll never guess which one is reality.
Short of quitting your job, breaking your lease, and dropping everything to live off the land in Costa Rica (a tempting prospect, admittedly), there’s not much you can do but make the best of it. And once you’ve got that figured out, the next step is to live like you’re on permanent vacation, even when you’re shackled to your desk. With these 20 beachy beauty products, you’ll be so realistically sun-drenched, windswept, and (seemingly) fancy-free, you might even have yourself half convinced. Until your alarm goes off in the morning, that is.
With a rich, creamy base of coconut oil and beeswax, this sheer bronzer melts easily into the skin, leaving behind a warm, sun-kissed glow—sans shimmer or unsavory orange tones—that's just about as natural-looking as makeup gets.
RMS Buriti Bronzer, $28; at RMS Beauty
A generous dusting of this luminous powder is all you need to brighten up your complexion for a healthy, low-maintenance glow.
Dior Diorskin Nude Air Glow Powder, $56; at Dior
This scent is just about as close to olfactory time travel as it gets: The complex blend of bergamot, coconut milk, lemon, musk, and ylang ylang realistically invokes all the things you'd associate with the beach, from the breeze off the ocean to sun-soaked skin.
Maison Margiela Replica Beach Walk Eau de Toilette, $125; at Sephora
The bronze tint in this SPF 50 lotion gives skin a gorgeous glow sans sun exposure, and it just smells like summer.
Australian Gold SPF 50 Lotion Sunscreen with Instant Bronzer, $7.99; at Ulta
When beachy waves alone are not enough, this mist imparts a warm, sunny scent while also helping to tame frizz and add shine.
Fekkai L'Air de St. Barths Hair Fragrance Mist, $20; at Fekkai
This pumice-based scrub leaves skin feeling super smooth, and the subtle, pleasant coconutty fragrance lingers for hours.
Bobbi Brown Beach Body Scrub, $39; at Bobbi Brown
This no-mirror-necessary tinted balm, formulated with shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, and vitamin E, gives lips a flattering rosy shine while also providing natural UV protection.
Love + Sage Beach Rose Lip Balm, $12; at Love + Sage
In a soft, sheer mauve that's beyond flattering, this conditioning color-in-balm moisturizes like nothing else. Plus, the SPF 15 in the formula protects the delicate skin of your lips from sun damage.
ILIA Tinted Lip Conditioner SPF 15 in Kokomo, $26; at ILIA
Wash-and-go summer hair gets an upgrade with this versatile oil: Smooth a dime-size amount through damp hair for perfectly air-dried, well-hydrated texture; or apply a generous amount as an overnight mask.
OUAI Hair Oil, $28; at Sephora
This once-discontinued classic is back, and the updated formula is just as good as the original when it comes to providing soft, tousled natural waves and the perfect amount of texture for better heat styling.
John Frieda Beach Blonde Sea Waves Sea Salt Spray, $9.99; at Walgreens
Light, refreshing, and a must for all of your hot-weather needs, this face spray has rose water, coconut extract, and honey to keep skin on the up and up.
Lavett & Chin Coconut Moisturizing Facial Mist, $32; at Sephora
Formulated with the same salinity as Pacific Ocean salt water, this wave-enhancing mist contains aloe water to prevent crunchiness—plus, the subtle, heavenly coconut scent can basically replace perfume as your go-to summer fragrance.
Herbivore Sea Mist Texturizing Salt Spray, $20; at Herbivore Botanicals
The longtime go-to body lotion of anyone who's ever wanted to smell like a stoned '70s beach babe.
Skin Trip Mountain Ocean Coconut Moisturizer, $10.79; at Drugstore.com
If you're serious about scoring big, windswept, realistically beachy texture, this mousse-salt spray hybrid gives hair insane volume and the ideal amount of grit.
Bumble and bumble Surf Foam Spray Blow Dry, $31; at Bumble and bumble
Liquid summer, indeed: All three shades of this unparalleled bronzer leave skin looking luminous, and the SPF 15 protection is a major plus.
Giorgio Armani Maestro Liquid Summer SPF 15, $64; at Giorgio Armani Beauty
This hydrating dry-oil spray for skin and hair is 100-percent necessary. Packed with aloe, senna, and healing tamanu oil, the SPF 30 in this formula offers head-to-toe protection and a silky smooth finish.
Clarins SPF 30 Sun Care Oil Spray, $36; at Clarins
This dewy balm smells like actual coconuts—not the fake stuff!—and can be used to hydrate lips, cuticles, and rough patches or swiped onto eyelids and cheekbones for an almost-sweaty sheen.
Glossier Coconut Balm Dotcom, $12; at Glossier
Because nothing says summer like a little bit of sun-kissed color, you can smooth this tinted body lotion anywhere you need a natural golden boost that lasts all day. The scent, infused with grapefruit, rose, pink pepper, vanilla, and cedar, really helps to sweeten the deal.
Caudalie Divine Legs, $38; at Caudalie
Not your little sister's vanilla perfume: Coconut milk; real Tahitian vanilla; and light, floral heliotrope make this a warm, subtle fragrance that smells just like a vacation in the tropics. (Or how you might imagine one, at least.)
Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Coco Travel Spray, $22; at Sephora
The (safe) sartorial equivalent of sitting poolside in a lounge chair circa 1958, covered in tanning oil with a lit cigarette in one hand and an aluminum-foil sun reflector in the other.
Sunflower Print Headwrap, $3.90; at Forever 21