For as long as I can remember, I've always spent 4th of July on the beach. There's something about having your feet in the sand, a frozen cocktail of some sort in your hand and seeing fireworks going off in every direction. I've become a pro at packing the essentials in my beach bag. You don't want too much weighing you down, but you also don't want to forget something important.
I love an adorable bag for the pool, but when it comes to the beach, a non-expensive canvas tote is usually the way to go. You don't have to worry about it getting damp sitting on the sand because the canvas will dry quickly and once you get home and pull that sandy towel and anything else out, just shake the remaining sand out (preferably in the yard not the house).
Inside my beach bag you can always find:
Hair ties, bobby pins and a headband: You may be asking why all three of these could be necessary. It's usually windy at the beach. The hair is blowing all around your face, into your chapstick and you can't even see the page you're trying to read of your book. I always go for a side braid to combat the wind, but with that I have a few pieces that stick out due to layers, so cue the bobby pins. Then, just to make sure my bangs stay back and out of my face, I add the headband. Voila! Makes more sense now huh?
Leave-in Conditioner: There are two different reasons you're going to want the leave-in conditioner. Salt is bad for your hair and so is the sun and the wind for that matter. (Yes, there is such thing as too much of a good thing.) I'll lightly mist my hair with conditioner when it's dry to try and protect against the sun and breeze. That's reason one. The second reason, wet, salt infused hair from swimming in the ocean. First, you'll want to rinse your hair with fresh water (some beach entries have showers or take a bottle of water) and then spray your hair with the leave-in conditioner to instantly put moisture back into your hair.
Wide tooth comb: You're gonna need something to evenly distribute that leave-in conditioner and work the tangles out right?
Makeup Removing Wipes: I'll admit to wearing a tinted moisturizer or something to the beach for the skin evening reasons and the SPF reasons, but I suggest taking a pack of these along for a different reason. Have you noticed that no matter where you store these wipes, when you pull one out it always feels cool against your skin? These are great to take along to the beach because you can clean the sweat off your face (it's hot here in Fl, so I always go there), which keeps your skin clear in the long run and it serves as a way to cool yourself down. They are also great if you're stopping somewhere before heading back to the hotel or home. It's an instant skin refresh that you can use along your arms, neck, face or where ever.
Spray Sunscreen and Face Sunscreen: I always take two different sunscreens because they serve different purposes. I love the spray sunscreen because you can get your own back if necessary and you don't miss spots that turn you into a reverse ladybug later in the day. I always shoot for 30 SPF and reapply, reapply, reapply. Then, for my face, I always go with Neutrogena's Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock in 30 SPF. It's perfect for my face. It's not oily at all, it doesn't clog my pores and it doesn't leave white streaky marks on my face, so I can reapply without a mirror or a friend.
Lip Treatment/Chapstick: The Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment is my absolute favorite for the beach. It's so moisturizing and adds an SPF of 15 to protect my lips from burning. I highly recommend this one over the run of the mill chapstick, which can sometimes leave my lips feeling even drier than they were before application.
Phone: Always necessary. Music, Instagram, Twitter, Candy Crush. Should I keep going? The beach must always be accompanied by a beach playlist, that crazy wave should be tagged to Instagram, tweeting all your friends and making them jealous you're at the beach without them is a must and Candy Crush because everyone is still trying to beat level 35 and you're not a quitter.
Headphones: For that beach playlist you created at midnight the night before.
A Good Book: Let's face it, being surrounded by sand and water is no place for an iPad or Kindle. So, scrounge up an old paperback that'll smell better with a tinge of salt air and enjoy the relaxation of reading your favorite book on the beach like you don't have a care in the world. Also, the pages don't fly around like a magazine in the breeze. So, that's a bonus.