If you’re heading to a lake or beach for Memorial Day weekend, you’ll likely be bringing a beach bag or backpack along with you. I love packing a beach bag with healthy essentials — especially when it comes to covering all the bases — from skincare to must-haves that makes your life easier.
Let’s tackle the big one first! When transitioning over to a more natural and healthy lifestyle, there is another big piece to consider — what you’re putting into and on your body. If you care about what goes into it, you may want to also consider what goes on it!
Two ingredients found in most over-the-counter sunscreens have been found to disrupt the hormonal system: oxybenzone and octinoxate, but they are both still commonly found in most sunscreens.
The alternative? Opt for products made with the following two ingredients: zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
When you apply toxic, chemical sunscreen ingredients like octinoxate and oxybenzone on your skin, the sun bakes them in and your body will absorb the ingredients. Chemicals like these can lead to various diseases — including the disruption of sex hormones like progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.
I strongly recommend avoiding chemicals like these and making the switch to natural products (and there are tons of great alternatives to choose from). One rule of thumb is to simply make sure your sunscreen contains at least one of the following two ingredients: zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Tip #1: Don’t Skip the Sunscreen
Sometimes, skipping the sunscreen frequently could provide the “feel” that you are achieving a wonderful sun-kissed glow — this is not true. Sunscreen should be applied generously at least every two hours, after 45 minutes of being in the water or quickly after toweling off. If the sun is especially strong, I advise shortening the time exposed and to be extra careful.
You will still get that nice tan with consistency — plus, you avoid the risk of sun damage which can lead to skin cancer.
Tip #2 Opt for Non-Nano
If you’re worried about looking “pasty” with a zinc sunscreen, look for non-nano zinc sunscreen lotions.
When opting for a natural lip balm, look for a few of the following choices at your local grocery store. To incorporate SPF into your natural lip balm, mix in your natural sunscreen with:
- Coconut oil
- Shea butter
- Aloe vera gel
Waterproof Wet Bag
This is one of my favorite items to bring along! Opt for a water-resistant pouch that can fold into a small, easily portable pouch. Why do we love it? Water-resistant beach bags are perfect if you want to store a wet swimsuit whilst separating dirty items from the rest of your beach bag, or protect your phone and other valuables from water and sand.
- Hair Mask: Believe it or not, coconut oil makes a great mask! The oil acts as a UV filter to stop sun damage, and its moisturizing properties protect hair from drying out. Apply for 20 minutes, and you can even rinse it out in ocean water! Shampoo to remove extra oil when home.
- Pro Tip: Use a small amount of coconut oil to thinly coat mid hair down to tips to protect from UV damage.
- Wet Brush: This is a fan favorite because it is an excellent detangling brush. Try the small, foldable version to save space!
Mini Cooler Storage Bag
Coolers are a must for any lake day or beach outing. We don’t make the rules. Use a mini cooler storage bag to keep your essentials out of the sun like your phone, medications, snacks, lip balms, etc. Freeze the inserts of the cooler and then place them inside the lining of the bag to keep all of your items cool from the Texas heat.
Quick-dry towels like a bamboo towel are easily fit in a beach bag because they are lightweight and don’t hold onto sand as much as a regular towel would — perfect for the beach.
Whether you’re floating, boating or just hanging outside, music is essential to the experience. And these days, there are tons of great options for portable speakers. Believe it or not, nowadays you can find speakers that float, are protected from sand and are even waterproof!
Sunglasses + Floating Strap
Eye health is just as important as nutritional health, so sunglasses are necessary for any outing. When it comes to sunglasses, I recommend opting for UV protection when choosing your perfect pair. UV protection keeps your eyes from the dangerous rays of the sun and is better for your health in the long term. And if you’ve ever lost anything while floating the river, boating on the lake or even on the beach, a floating sunglasses strap is a must.
This is a mixed bag, nut-pun-intended. But I wanted to throw in some of my favorite foods to pack for a balanced snack that will travel well for the day:
- Dried fruit
- Fruit juice
- Fruit strips
- Coconut water
- Beef jerky
- Frozen organic grapes
- Plantain chips
- Cassava chips
- Sweet potato chips
- Organic turkey roll-ups (turkey breast, bell peppers, lettuce wrap and stick with a toothpick)
- Zevia as a soda replacement (add graphic: “This is my absolute favorite soda!” -Note from the Director)
It’s incredibly important to stay hydrated if spending extended time in the sun. To avoid dehydration, bring along some electrolytes to mix in with your water to keep your energy level up and your body hydrated. Try looking for a mix that includes magnesium and calcium, which can help with headaches from too much sun exposure.
Natural aloe works wonders! Rub a nickel-sized dollop on your body after sun exposure. Make sure to purchase one with only one ingredient: natural aloe.
All of the items can be found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and Target. Also, Peoples Rx sells almost all of these items, from sunscreens to snacks to supplements!
Stephanie Kuehne, A.C.N., is a clinical nutritionist who has been treating patients through a holistic-focused care approach. Currently, she owns Ooh Wow Nutrition and, with her own personal experience with weight, hormone imbalance and cystic acne, helps her patients utilize functional nutrition and believes that nature is the medicine cabinet we all should utilize more often. Stephanie enjoys trying new workout experiences and considers herself and her husband (who is a chiropractor) to be self proclaimed “health geeks!”