Beach Bag Essentials


My Fair Lady Stripe Hat

Everyone needs an oversized hat to don at the beach for those times when your nose is getting burned or you need extra shade to read your favorite novel. This floppy summer hat is made with SPF 50 material, to protect your hair and scalp from getting fried.

ShopDavidAndYoung.com, $30


Mossimo Large Straw Tote -- Multicolor

Pack everything you need for a day at the beach -- and then some -- in this oversized straw tote from Mossimo. The chic Grecian-key design announces the arrival of summer with bright, bold colors.  

Target.com, $35

Kenneth Cole Reaction Striped Hooded Cover-Up

This cute cotton cover-up will give your skin a much-needed hiatus from all-day rays at the beach. The empire waist with drawstrings gives just enough shape to not feel dowdy. Comes with two pockets at the hip and a hood.

Macys.com, $30

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

This quirky comedic novel by Maria Semple tells the story of Bernadette Fox, a neurotic Seattle housewife who hates people. It is told through a series of emails, documents and narration by Fox’s daughter, Bee, who is trying to find out what happened to her mother, who disappears while planning a family trip to Antarctica.

Amazon.com, $10

Alba Botanica Natural Hawaiian Sunscreen SPF 30

This naturally moisturizing, lightweight lotion isn’t thick or sticky like other sunscreens -- and doesn’t clog pores. It has a light, fresh tropical scent that isn’t overwhelming. Best of all, it isn’t tested on animals, and is paraben-free. Water-resistant, it protects against the sun for up to 40 minutes of swimming.

Vitacost.com, $7

Slim-Down Summer Foods

Summer is a great time to diet, because when the mercury rises, your appetite tends to crash. (And of course, seeing yourself in a swimsuit can be all the motivation you need!) Still, at this time of year ice cream cones call your name and BBQs beckon; overdo it with either of these -- or other seasonal treats -- and you’ll enter fall a little, um, fuller-figured. The good news? Plenty of the foods that are prevalent this time of year tantalize your taste buds, offer important nutrients, and help you shed pounds. Here, seven to keep you slim and satisfied.

Slim-down summer food: Watermelon. “Not only is watermelon sweet and refreshing, but it's also low in calories at only 45 per cup of diced melon,” says nutritionist Elizabeth Fassberg, president and founder of EAT FOOD, a food and nutrition consultancy. Because it's mostly water, this juicy summer treat is also very filling. An added bonus? It's a good source of vitamins C and A, lycopene, and the water it contains is hydrating -- something that’s important on sweltering days.

Slim-down summer food: Gazpacho. This tomato-based, vegetable soup is served cold so it’s very refreshing. “Because it’s chock full of vegetables, gazpacho is filling but not high in calories,” says Fassberg. “It’s also full of flavor -- especially when the tomatoes are local and tasting sweet as sugar.” On top of this, it’s packed with different vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Slim-down summer food: Summer lettuce. “When it’s fresh from the farmer's market it has so much flavor that you'll want to make salads instead of rich, heavy foods,” says Fassberg. “Also, lettuce has almost no calories because of its high water content and depending on the type you choose, can contain vitamin A, vitamin K, folate, vitamin C and fiber to help fill you up!” Just watch the dressings since that's where the majority of calories come from. Steer clear of those that are cream-based.

Slim-down summer food: Whole grains like bulgur, barley, quinoa or millet used in cold salads. “Whole grains have more fiber and more nutrients than plain grains like pasta and white rice,” says Fassberg. “Because they're rich in fiber, you'll only need a small portion to feel satisfied.” They also have a lot more flavor than their less healthy counterparts. Enjoy them mixed with roasted beets and a bit of goat cheese or on top of your favorite green salad.

Slim-down summer food: Homemade herbal iced tea. “Our bodies give us the same cue for hunger that they do for thirst,” explains Fassberg. In other words, often when you think you’re hungry, you may just be dehydrated and need a good, long drink. Having a jug of iced tea all chilled in the fridge and ready to grab can help stave off the urge to devour the calorie-heavy snacks in the pantry. Simply steep your favorite flavor herbal tea bags in hot water, let this cool at room temperature, and then pour into a pitcher and chill in the fridge.

Slim-down summer food: Fish on the grill. Summertime is synonymous with grilling time. And it’s a good thing because this form of outdoor cooking can be a low-calorie way of making delicious meals. “There’s lots of flavor without needing to add too much fat which means the foods you grill typically have fewer calories,” says Fassberg. Fish is an ideal BBQ choice because it’s lean protein, doesn’t have a ton of calories and is very satisfying.

Slim-down summer food: Corn on the cob. This sweet, seasonal staple is ideal when you get it local from the farmer’s market. “It’s also very filling, because of the fiber, fun to eat and takes some time to eat,” says Fassberg. “Often, we eat so fast we don’t realize we are actually full before we stop eating. If we slow down, our bodies and brains have a chance to work together and we stop eating before we are overly full.”  Fresh corn on the cob also contains antioxidants, manganese, vitamin C, B3 and B5.

Survive Wedding Season on a Budget

June -- the season of love, flora and lots of weddings. Many of us spend our summer traveling from wedding to wedding, and this celebration of love and life can get very expensive.

Here’s a few tips on how to survive the wedding season and emerge with your budget intact:

  1. Never feel like you need to wear a new dress to each wedding, especially if they involve different groups of friends. Invest in a great little black dress. Change up your look with different accessories, and each occasion will feel fresh.
  2. There are many alternatives to buying a new dress. Scour the racks at thrift shops for fun finds. Also, renting is super popular these days! Rent the Runway is affordable and has fabulous deals. Or keep it in the family! If your best friend or sister is your size, do a quick swap. But, if buying a new dress is unavoidable, set a strict budget and stick to it! Keep in mind additional costs such as hair, makeup and nails.
  3. Consider gel manicures. If you are going to be headed to engagement parties, rehearsal dinners and weddings every weekend, you might as well have a manicure that will last you for several weeks’ worth of occasions!
  4. Wear sexy but "just sensible enough" shoes. A new pair of stilettos may be tempting, but not only will they cost a pretty penny, they also won’t be broken in, making a night of dancing and chatting around cocktail tables, more painful than it has to be. Opt for your favorite pair of heels, in this case, the more times you’ve worn them, the better! 

  

Plump Up Your Best Beauty Assets

With each passing birthday, our lips lose a little volume and our hair -- on our heads and lashes -- tends to get thinner. Plus, as we age, our eyelashes begin to straighten, which also makes them look less lush. But you don’t have to feel deflated about these changes. Instead, you can fatten up your best beauty assets with a few fast, simple tips.

Plump it up: Get lush lashes

Choose the correct product. Stroll the makeup aisles at any drugstore or department store and you can easily become overwhelmed by what seems to be a thousand mascaras in an array of categories from lengthening to curling -- and everything in between. “For fuller lashes, choose volumizing mascara,” says Mari Shten, a NYC-based makeup artist.

Be a curly girl. “An eyelash curler is the key to taking your mascara the extra mile and really giving your lashes that ‘wow’ factor,” says Sonia Kashuk, makeup artist and founder of Sonia Kashuk Beauty. For best results, try this trick: “Heat your lash curler up with a blow dryer, let it cool for five seconds, and then curl,” suggests Stephanie Flor, celebrity makeup artist and hairstylist whose clients include Mariah Carey and Kathy Griffin.

Prep before you swipe. Apply loose powder before putting on mascara. “This will prevent the lashes from sticking together so you can more evenly apply the mascara,” says Flor. Or try using a mascara primer. “It has extra fibers that stay on your lashes and make them fuller and longer,” explains Shten. Apply one coat of a primer. Then, while the primer is still wet, apply a coat of mascara on top of it.

Rework your wand. Bend your wand sideways to create an easier application. “The wand doesn't come with the natural eye shape,” explains Flor. “By bending it sideways you're able to get really close to your lash line. This is my secret and everyone loves it!” How to: Use a napkin to hold the brush; then, bend the area where the mascara brush connects with the stick part of the wand.

Wiggle while you work. Start with the mascara wand as close to the roots as you can get and then wiggle it upward toward the tip. “That will lift lashes up and give the effect of longer lashes,” says Shten. Start at the outermost corner of your eye going inward toward the nose. By coating the ends with the most mascara, it gives lashes a thicker look.

Brush it out. For a more dramatic effect, brush lashes to separate them. Kashuk suggests a metal-toothed lash comb. Then, apply a second coat of mascara. “Don't forget lower lashes. It creates extra dimension,” says Shten.

Top it off with liner. Take a soft black or black/brown eyeliner (depending on your coloring) and apply it on the upper lid really close to lashes. Use an angled brush to blend the line into the lashes. “This will instantly add fullness,” says Kashuk.

Plump it up: Fake fuller lips

Ban dry flakes. Gently brush your lips with a toothbrush (or rub with a washcloth). “Exfoliating will remove the dead skin and stimulate blood circulation,” says Galit Strugano Wigdor, founder of the makeup line Girlactik Beauty. “This will plump your lips up and smooth them for a healthy-looking pout.”

Line right. Start by using a nude lip pencil that’s as close to the color of your own lips as possible. “Slightly overdraw and extend the lip line to make your lips look fuller,” says Kashuk. Also, stay away from dark lip colors because they tend to make lips look smaller.

Grab the gloss. “Gloss will always make lips look fuller because it reflects light,” explains Strugano Wigdor. This is especially the case with glosses that have shimmer or sparkle. “You can also apply a shimmering gloss just in the middle of your pout, on the top and bottom lips,” she adds. Again, this attracts light to these areas, pulling them out so lips look fuller. Another option? “Glosses made to have a lip plumping effect,” adds Shten.

Make it just an illusion. After applying your gloss, take a white eyeliner and apply it just around the cupid's bow of the lip (the little indent on the top lip) and slightly on the bottom middle part of your lip.  “Blend it inward and it will give the illusion of your lips looking fuller,” says Strugano Wigdor. If you don’t have white eyeliner, use a frosty, light pigment eyeshadow.

Plump it up: Create fuller hair

Degrease your strands. You don’t need to wash your hair daily. In fact, doing so just strips it of its natural oils. Instead, opt for a dry shampoo product, which contains powder. “By taking some of the oil out of your hair, you’ll get more volume instantly,” explains Flor.

Pull out the hot rollers. Yes, you read that correctly. They’re not for housewives anymore! “Put hot rollers in your hair before you start applying your makeup and then remove them for fuller hair,” says Flor.

Tease it. Tease the crown of your head. “Grab a teasing comb and back-comb the top area of your head,” explains Flor. “Using a softer brush, comb it down softly to take away the frizz but leave the teased area hidden for volume.” Flip over your hair and spritz with hairspray. “Then flip it over to get that va va voom movie hair,” says Flor.

Embrace your hair’s natural texture. “You may not realize it because you’ve been styling your hair into submission for so long, but you may have your own natural waves, curls, and fullness,” says Lorraine Massey, co-author of Curly Girl: The Handbook. Forget the blow dryer and flat iron. Instead, wash hair with a sulfate-free shampoo, and then apply conditioner. Leave a little conditioner in hair rather than rinsing it all out. Once out of the shower, apply an alcohol-free, silicone free gel to the palms of your hands, flip you head over and scrunch hair gently upwards. Let hair air dry without touching it. That may be hard, but you’ll be surprised by the fullness that emerges.

Teeth-Whitening Blunders to Avoid

Thanks to easy at-home whitening products, beautifying your smile has never been simpler. However, in the quest for whiter teeth, there are some mistakes that can render your efforts less effective and others that can put your health and looks at risk. Here, the top teeth-whitening no-no’s and how to avoid them.

Whitening mistake # 1: Using products longer than directed.

This is the top whitening faux pas. After all, if a little is good, then a lot is better, right? Wrong. Wearing your whitening strips or trays longer than you’re supposed to is not going to bleach your teeth faster. “Instead, it can cause painful sensitivity by irritating the nerves in the teeth and burn the gums,” explains New York City-based cosmetic dentist, Lana Rozenberg, DDS. “It can also leave teeth translucent and bluish on the edges.”  You can cause similar problems if you whiten too often -- for example, every four weeks, when a product recommends every six to twelve months. For best results, follow directions. “Most products have been tested and designed to work in a specific time period,” adds Rozenberg.

Whitening mistake # 2: Letting excess gel seep onto your gums.

Whitening strips and trays use a gel to bleach your teeth and remove stains. However, when you press strips onto your teeth or insert trays, some of the excess gel may ooze out onto your gums. “This can burn your gums leaving them red and painful with the gum tissue sloughing off,” explains Rozenberg.  After applying a tooth-whitening product, check gums to see if any gel has seeped out onto them. If it has, diligently remove it with a gauze pad.

Whitening mistake # 3: Using products that aren’t FDA-approved.

These teeth whiteners may be available, but that doesn’t mean you should use them. “The FDA is there to protect us and requires companies to do safety tests and research before granting their approval,” explains Rozenberg. A non-FDA approved product may not be effective, but that isn’t the only issue. “When a product is not FDA approved, it could harm not only your teeth, but your body,” cautions New York-based, celebrity dentist Marc Lowenberg, DDS. “Non-FDA approved teeth whitening products often use fillers and chemical concentrations that can damage teeth.” With plenty of approved whitening products to choose from, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Whitening mistake # 4: Not being consistent.

If you don’t use a product as often as directed, you may whiten your teeth but may not achieve the best results possible. “It takes time for teeth whitening products to work and you must be consistent in using them,” explains Lowenberg. “If you stop your at-home teeth whitening routine, your teeth may become yellow again and you have to do the whole process over again.” The bottom line is that you have to follow the instructions on these whitening products; the directions are there for a reason, says Rozenberg.

Whitening mistake # 5: Not prepping your pearly whites. 

No matter how eager you are to brighten your teeth, you need to take a few minutes to clean them well before applying the trays, whitening strips, or other tooth whitener. “Otherwise the whitening product isn’t going to be as effective, because plaque is covering the surface of the tooth,” says Rozenberg. Brush, floss and then start turning up the wattage on your smile.

Whitening mistake # 6: Drinking or eating while whitening.

This may sound obvious, but some people do drink water -- and even eat -- when they have whitening strips or trays in their mouths. The seal between the whitening product and your mouth isn’t a perfect one, making this a huge mistake for several reasons. “First, you may be diluting the whitening gel material so it will not be as effective,” says Rozenberg. “Second, you may swallow some of the gel with your drink.” Though the gel is made to go in your mouth, you don’t want to ingest any more than you have to.