Summer officially starts on Friday and no matter how old you are, the season still beckons your inner kid with play, adventure and freedom. Just don’t let grown-up, self-conscious worries zap the fun.
Swimmer, 12-time Olympic medalist and California girl Natalie Coughlin shares tips on how to shake off hot-weather beauty fears and dive deep into summer with confidence.
Use sunscreen no matter what
Coughlin is grounded, warm and engaging -- a bronzy, blue-eyed beauty who is as lithe as she is fit with a cascade of light-brown highlighted hair and nary a sunspot to be seen. How does someone who trains in water under the beating sun maintain such beautiful skin? She’s vigilant.
“I always have sunscreen on,” says Coughlin. Her family stressed sunscreen’s importance, “so I’ve always protected my skin even at a relatively young age -- even if it’s cloudy outside.”
She’s one-quarter Filipino, “so I have a darker tone,” says Coughlin, but even so, she knows face and body sunscreen is still a must. A new study shows daily sunscreen users were 24% less likely to show increased signs of aging, and one in five Americans develop skin cancer.
Coughlin recommends: Vertra sunscreen made for “Very Water/Sweat Resistant” sport specific performance: Vertra "The Shelter" Kona Gold Face Stick SPF 38 and Vertra Sun Resistance Cream SPF 45 ($22, $28 vertra.com); Boscia B.B. Cream SPF 27 PA++ ($18, sephora.com)
Protect your eyes
In addition to training for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and competing in World Championship trials, Coughlin is traveling with LensCrafters for its “Go See” campaign to highlight vision care.
People who spend a lot of time in the sun can be particularly susceptible to eye diseases linked to UV radiation. “People forget about protecting their actual eyes,” says Coughlin who competes wearing contacts.
She owns several pairs of prescription sunglasses, including glare-reducing polarized sunglasses, helpful for driving, going to the beach and squinty-wrinkle reduction. Glasses with anti-reflective lens coating reduce strain from looking at the computer, “And they’re also good for being photographed on the red carpet so people can see your eyes,” says Coughlin.
Coughlin wears custom-made Ray-Bans with clear optical lenses (RB4186 $109.95, lenscrafters.com)
Shield hair from morphing into a brassy-orange mess
“For color-treated hair it’s important to get your hair wet first with regular water, not chlorinated water. That way it won’t soak up so much chlorinated water,” says Coughlin. To prevent sun and chlorine damage, she also wears a swim cap, uses leave-in conditioner after swimming and doesn’t style her hair every day. Instead, “I just put my hair up in a bun after practice,” she says.
Big hats offer extra protection. Coughlin rocks fedoras and Panama hats.
Afraid you don’t look great in a swimsuit? Act confident, have fun anyway
“I think everyone, especially women, has body image issues,” says Coughlin. “For me as a swimmer, I’m very muscular with big shoulders and a big back so I feel the most confident when I dress for my body type. For instance, I’ll wear something that plays up my legs or my waist, not my gigantic shoulders. … Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes and some suits are better for certain body types than others.”
She’s learned via on-camera appearances that she looks best with a little lip color but her biggest advice is, “Be confident. Don’t apologize for your body. Just know that everyone has insecurities. If you lack self-confidence and you show it -- it just makes it worse,” says Coughlin. “We have to let go at certain points and just enjoy it -- enjoy summer!”