How To Get Ready For A Beach Vacation In The Middle Of Winter

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Who doesn't want to break up the monotony of winter (even the fairly tame, mild winter we're having in New York) with a little above-70° action? Even I–hater of sun, lover of layers and below-freezing bedroom temps—find myself craving anything that's not the Mid-Atlantic grayness from January until March. As such, last weekend I decided to do something about it: a quick weekend trip to Miami Beach. Fun, right? Right! With some caveats. A beach vacation seems easy...until you realize your pasty body hasn't seen the light of the sun since early October and your body is now mainly made up of pale foundation shades and chicken skin.

But that doesn't mean a beach vacation isn't worthwhile. Quite the contrary: It's more an imperative than ever that you remember what it feels like to slip out of your jeans and into that Ulla Johnson dress you bought on discount and stare longingly at before you go to bed each night. But just how do you prep yourself for the (relative) Tropics and what do you pack? Well, I love solving problems almost as much as I love the fact that the Standard Miami Beach has outdoor bathtubs in front of the rooms. So here's what I did:

Problem #1) You Are The Proud Owner Of A Winter Body

OK, there's no real difference between my winter body and my summer body except for the fact that I'm better at exfoliating in the summer. So my very low-impact prep for wearing shorts the last weekend in January revolved around encouraging new, gleaming skin to appear on my legs. First up in my arsenal for this was Paula's Choice Skin Revealing Body Lotion With 10% AHA. It's a light gel that I started using at the beginning of January to gently but gradually work on the keratosis pilaris I occasionally have on my legs. I think of it more as a serum or an acid toner for your face—meaning that it begs for a moisturizer follow-up. My favorite right now is African Botanicals Marula Firming Botanical Body Oil, which I heard on good authority is the best pre-Red Carpet anti-cellulite fix Hollywood can find. Personally, I like to rougly massage it on and go to bed feeling like a million bucks. I also tucked it in my carry-on just in case.

On days when I shaved (you shouldn't use strong acids on your skin after you shave unless you're curious about a world of pain), I slathered my just-showered body in Charlotte Tilbury's Multi-Miracle Glow. This product is a heavyweight, I'm telling you. It's a balm cleanser that turns to oil upon massaging, a humectant mask, and a super-charged body moisturizer. Now, be prepared to oil up and stand naked for a minute–this stuff is sticky. But it does what Charlotte promises: create "baby soft skin." Perfect for Southern Florida.

Problem #2) You Don't Know What To Pack

Neither did I. All your shorts are hidden somewhere under your bed or in storage, and all your bronzers are at the bottom of your makeup bag. Understandable.

Start digging.

After that, think seriously about what you need. Personally, I don't want to do a whole makeup look on vacation. So that eliminates the Tom Ford and Chanel palettes taking up valuable real estate in my suitcase. Instead, I packed according to these categories:

  • Skincare
  • Sunscreen
  • Minimal makeup

Skincare for me is whatever the tiniest vial of oil I have on hand is (Marula from Drunk Elephant), plus a targetted serum like Marie Veronique's Treatment Serum. Eye cream is Glossier Balm Dotcom... I know, I know, but my eyes are really, really dry right now, guys. Lip balm is also Balm Dotcom.

Sunscreen! OK, I'm finally really excited about this one. Susanne Kaufmann's Sun Cream Cell Protection is e x c e l l e n t. Along with the UVA/UVB protection, it has jojoba and balloon vine oil to hydrate and reduce inflammation. So much so, that I actually think it made my skin look better after one use. I'm keeping this one in rotation for sure.

Minimal makeup for me is tint for face, tint for brows, and tint for the lashes. I just got my hands on the Dior Dreamskin Perfect Skin Cushion Broad Spectrum SPF 50 because I love cushion compacts but haven't found one with SPF that I've loved. This one, I love. Seamless coverage, feels like nothing, doesn't break me out. Brows always are and will be Glossier Boy Brow in Brown. Lashes (because it was a romantic trip with the boyfriend) were done up with Guerlain's La Petite Robe Noire Mascara for the girliest lash I've ever sported. The brush is curved, with the signature orb on the end. Excellent for doe-eyes that are volumized and separated. And it smells like candy.

Problem #3) You Don't Want To Break Out On The Plane

Because no one wants to arrive for a relaxing vacation with a zit in the middle of her forehead. But I learned a tip! A tip I'm now going to share with you. Recently a makeup artist (who travels a ton) told me her secret for flying with clear skin: First of all, moisturize a ton. I opted for the Beauty Chef's Dream Repair Cellular Serum before I left for the airport. On top of that, she suggested I try adding a sunscreen. Yes, a sunscreen—it's one of the better products to ward off all the bacteria floating around the airplane while you're 40,000 feet up in the air. So I slathered on that Susanne Kaufmann stuff, followed by a little tint, just for self-esteem's sake.

And let me tell you, no new breakouts after two and a half hours in an aluminum tube. Both ways. Pretty nifty.

Of course everything that happened in Miami (mostly the detox massage featuring Biologique Recherche P50 for body) is coming in another post. But hopefully this serves as inspiration for any long weekends you hopefully have in your future. Bon voyage.

—Emily Ferber

Photographed by the author.

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