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Although heading to the beach should feel like a carefree affair, you will be so glad if you spend a few minutes planning exactly what you should take along with you in your beach bag, especially if you’re heading to one of the top beach destinations in the world. Aside from a showstopping swimsuit, there are some other essentials you will definitely want on hand to help you handle the natural elements of the beach in style. Once you have found a beach bag that is chic yet sturdy, you will be ready to fill it with the following list of must-haves that will help you arrive prepared to the beach no matter the occasion:

SPF!

By far the most essential item on the list. Making sure you protect your skin from the harmful UV rays of the sun with sunblock or sunscreen is non-negotiable. Choose a formula that is waterproof and sweat-proof for the ultimate coverage, and don’t forget to reapply every two to three hours! You should also pack a product made especially for protecting the delicate skin of your lips, which is often overlooked. If heading out on a family vacation, make sure to pack sunscreen with higher levels of SPF for the little ones. It will help ensure they don’t get a nasty burn that could ruin everyone’s beach vacation.

Hair Product

Between the wind and the salty spray of the ocean, going to the beach can cause your hair to look less than glamorous, so instead of trying to fight the elements, embrace them by spraying in a beach wave spray that will enhance your natural texture and let you feel like a mermaid.

Sunglasses

Keep your eyes protected with a stylish pair of sunglasses that provides plenty of coverage and UV protection so that you don’t end up squinting as you gaze upon the gorgeous but highly reflective water. This is extremely important if you’re taking a Mexico vacation or other countries in the Caribbean, or anywhere closer to to the equator where the sun’s ray are more intense. In addition, don’t forget to pack sunglasses for the kids, who will need eye protection as well.

Hat

While any hat is a better choice than no hat at all, those with a wide brim are especially great at the beach because they not only protect your hair and scalp, your ears and neck will be shielded from the sun as well. Floppy shapes are simple to throw in your bag and go, and look cute too.

Towel or Sarong

From lounging around in the sun to drying off after a dip in the water, a towel or sarong will keep you comfortable all day long. If yours is made out of a lightweight material, it can even double as a quick cover up.

Pouch to Protect Delicate Items

It can feel frustrating to open up your beach bag and grab your wallet, phone or accessories and have them covered in dusty sand, which is why packing a special pouch where you can stash these items is an easy solution. If you are addicted to your phone and know you won’t be able to resist using it while you are at the beach, you can even buy a protective phone case that will seal out water and sand so you don’t end up accidentally ruining it.

Stylish Accessories

If you plan to head straight from the beach to another activity such as shopping, dining or an evening out on the town, you’ll want to include some key accessories that will take your beach look from casual to put together in no time. Start with a cover up that is stylish enough to pass for a dress, then add some dangly earrings or a necklace and some embellished sandals for instant polish.

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