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Sunny & Shade: The Black Girl’s Beach Survival Guide

Pack all the right stuff for a day in the sun.

Growing up a Black girl in a mostly white space, I often felt like the odd man out when my blond bombshell besties and I would adventure to the beach. It was hard not to notice the way we packed our beach bags was always slightly different.

It took me a while to figure it out—since I have different hair and darker skin color than some of my friends—but I’ve finally perfected the best beach bag for me, so why not share it in this beach survival guide? The gag is I was really roasting in the sun for too long, but I am totally in love with the beach. The sight and sound of the ocean waves and digging my toes in the sand can be therapeutic and healing. Plus, what’s better than being nearly naked in an adorable bikini with friends?

photo by Celeste Noche

X-citement marks the spot
Beach gear is major. Making sure to pack an enormous beach umbrella is key. Don’t forget an umbrella anchor to make life easier and to keep your shade just where you want it. Setting everything up for maximum relaxation is worth it. I prefer lounge chairs so I’m not sprawled out getting sand in every imaginable crevice, not to mention it’s way easier to drink my drank in an upright position. Of course you can also lie on a giant blanket, perfect for a beachy nap. If you’re single and looking, the beach is my go-to spot to peep any potential talent strolling the shores, or if you’re just there to mind your business, it can be relaxing to hit a Savasana while you luxuriate on a piece of fabric under the sun.

All the shade
Once you’re settled in, get your sunscreen on. Contrary to popular belief, Black people do need it. Although the more melanin you produce the more protection you have from ultraviolet rays, those of us with darker skin should still take precautions to avoid premature aging and sunburn. With the right formula, I’ve figured out how to allow my skin to look sun-kissed versus ashy. Typical sunscreens aren’t really formulated for us and can leave a white residue that looks messy on dark skin. I really like EXTRASHADE, a sunscreen specifically made for those of us with more melanin.

A pair of polarized sunglasses should be on deck. If you’re a creep like me you’re going to want to be aware of any potential thirst traps in a very discreet way. Sunglasses are great for people- watching and protecting your eyes from the sun. Whether it means mugging a group of unruly children or avoiding eye contact with strangers, the perfect pair of shades is a must.

When accessorizing, make sure you have something to protect your hair. My fave is a Badu-inspired head wrap that can secure my giant curly hair above my head. But when my hair has less volume, the go-to look is a floppy hat or anything with a wide brim to shield my eyes and my hair from sun damage.

Wallaroo hats can withstand being crushed in a beach bag, and some styles are made with built-in UV protection; according to their website, these hats are made of fabrics that block out 97.5 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Don’t forget to pack a leave-in conditioner with sunscreen or make your own by pouring sunscreen mixed with one cup of water into a spray bottle to spritz on your coif.

photo by Celeste Noche

Where the party at
Now that you’ve got your beauty basics and a primo setup, it’s time to get down to what you came to the beach for: to party. No matter whether you’re staying at a resort or a local beach on the coast, you’ll want to have all the essentials at arm’s length while you’re basking in the sun.

There is no better feeling than hearing your jam on a Bluetooth speaker with your toes in the sand. Don’t worry about being too loud, because, if you’re anything like me, it’s nothing but flames when any of your friends hand you the aux cord. Beach patrons will thank you for your quality music selections, or at least in my mind I think they should thank me for blessing them with the hottest new tunes.

Since I live on the West Coast of the United States, legal weed is just as vital as a beach blanket. Make sure you have the right tools to hit the herbal refreshments. I recommend a pre-rolled joint or vape pen, or perhaps some edible treats because the wind and sand can interfere with your good times.

Obvi once those munchies hit, you’ll be thrilled you remembered to pack your mini cooler. Nobody wants to get up once parked in the sand. Pack the cooler full of beverages and snacks. I make sure to pack sandwiches, chips, a bottle of CÎROC, and some lemonade for “Diddy” drinks to toast to a good day at the beach.

photo by Celeste Noche

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