How to nail your pre-holiday beauty routine

Want to look your best on the beach this summer? Get a head start on your skin, hair and nails with our guide...

How to nail your pre-holiday beauty routine

Have a beach holiday coming up? First of all, don't panic about not being 'ready' – one of the great perks of going away is that you'll have more time to catch up on sleep, look after your hair and skin, enjoy a few laps in the pool and fill up on good food.

However, there are a few basic tweaks to your daily routine that will ensure you're a little more prepped by the time your trip to the airport rolls around.

From an at-home mani-pedi to a spot of self-tanning, we bring you your holiday beauty countdown...

1 month before: Start exfoliating  

With four weeks to go, this is the perfect time to start exfoliating as it will give the skin time to settle down before you reach the beach. ‘The trick is to start gently and don’t overdo the scrubbing,’ says Holly Wagman, expert at the Skin Academy. ‘Lots of people throw off their winter woollies and scrub away, only to find that skin becomes inflamed – which isn’t a great look!’ 

Try a mitt, loofah or gentle body scrub in the shower, using circular motions, two or three times a week. We love nspa Coconut & Vanilla Jelly Body Scrub, a gentle formula with a gorgeous tropical fragrance. 

Remember, if you’re going out in the sun, use an SPF30+ hydrating suncream after exfoliating, rather than a separate moisturiser and sunscreen. This will ensure your skin is moisturised and protected from UVA and UVB rays without being overloaded, which can result in clogged pores.

3 weeks before: short hair removal 

By thinking about hair removal a few weeks before your holiday your skin will have lost any redness from the trauma and the follicles will have time to recover before any pre-holiday self-tan you might be planning.

‘A common mistake is leaving too little time between waxing and tanning, and ending up with a “speckled” effect or even a skin rash,’ explains Shanice Ferracho, head trainer at the Ministry of Waxing. ‘Three weeks before is great because the beauty of waxing is that you’re removing hair from the root, so you’ll have soft, smooth skin for longer.’ 

Also, remember to let it grow. Hair has to be a certain length to wax off any part of the body, so let it grow for at least three weeks beforehand. And, whether you’re planning to remove it at home or go to a salon, always use a moisturiser afterwards – ideally one with anti-inflammatory properties, to help soothe.

Veet Sensitive Skin Silk & Fresh Hair Removal Cream with Aloe Vera & Vitamin E helps hydrate skin while removing hair for a smooth bikini line, underarm and leg area. If you prefer to shave, try a five-blade razor such as the Gillette Venus Embrace Snap Extra Smooth. With this, you’ll only have to go over the area once or twice, reducing irritation.

2 weeks before: start self-tanning

Starting your self-tanning routine two weeks before you go leaves time to build up colour slowly, and to correct any streaky mistakes. Keeping up a gentle exfoliating routine and using plenty of moisturiser over the fortnight will help you avoid patchiness that can occur when self-tan starts to fade, so by the time you go away you should have a beautiful natural-looking colour. But a good faux tan is all in the prep. 

‘Shave or wax at least 24 hours before your first application and exfoliate the night before,’ says Strictly Come Dancing and Norvell tanner, Carrie Marsh. ‘Apply moisturiser to “hot spots” such as knees, elbows and ankles to prevent colour collecting, or use an oil-free moisturiser all over, as it can help your tan last longer.’ 

Remember to protect those palms, though! To apply at home, use a tanning mitt (orange palms are a giveaway!) and apply in long, sweeping strokes, then cover up in loose clothing for the rest of the day to avoid staining furniture. If you go for a salon tan, avoid wearing perfume, moisturiser or deodorant as they react with the colour. And don’t go for anything drastic – only take your skin a shade or two darker. Try Asda Self Tan Bronzing Mousse, available in Dark or Medium. Its non-streak formula delivers a long-lasting, golden tan.

1 week before: give yourself a mani & pedi

‘For a perfect pedi, start by softening feet in a bowl of warm water, gently rub with a pumice stone – paying attention to the balls of feet and heels – then dry,’ says Emma Supple, creator of The PodPed. ‘Cut nails straight across with a clipper, then smooth edges with a file. When painting, always start with your big toe and let polish dry between coats before adding a top coat for a hard-wearing finish and shine.’

Remember to use a rich foot cream every night after your pedi to maintain skin softness, and add a fresh slick of polish to toenails the day before you go. Try Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Nourishing Foot Cream for Dry Feet, to keep feet looking fab. 

Your mani is best done a few days before you set off, so the polish has time to harden before you get busy with the packing. Shape nails with an emery board, soak in warm water for five mins, then gently push back cuticles with an orange stick. Use a clear base coat, followed by two coats of colour and a topcoat. For polish with fantastic staying power, try George Gel Effect Nail Polish in Pina or Violet Mist.

1 day before: Holiday-ready hair 

The day before you go on your holiday, treat yourself to a deep-conditioning hair mask to get your hair fully prepared for your upcoming lazy days in the sunshine. 

‘Apply your hair mask and tie your hair up – with a shower cap over the top to guard against drips – as you get on with the rest of your packing and holiday prep,’ suggests Kirsten Maine, co-director at hair salon Live True London. ‘This will give it time to really sink in while you get on with any last-minute essentials.’ Try Garnier Ultimate Blends Hair Food Coconut 3-in-1 Hair Mask for Frizzy Hair. Or, for a quicker fix, use Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moisture Deep Treatment for Thirsty Hair.

The nut oil helps restore dry, dull locks in just three minutes, so you’ll have silky hair for your journey. Use on hols as well to help protect hair from the drying effects of the sun, sea and pools.

While away, keep up the good work...

  • Sip plenty of water to hydrate your skin from the inside out
  • Gently exfoliate your face and body every three days to remove sunscreen build-up, get rid of any dry, flaky skin and help your self-tan maintain an even tone
  • Don’t waste too much time on shaving – a quick once-over every three days should be enough to keep you fuzz free
  • Keep your pedi on point by moisturising feet daily and topping up your polish every other day to cover any chips

Find everything you need to spruce up for your holiday online, or pop into your local store.