Beauty,  Fashion

Easy Summer Living: The Best Beach Bags & Totes & What To Put In Them

If you’re suiting up for summer, craving the hottest in handbags and the most stellar of sundries, you’ve just hit paydirt. Here is a list of musts for those easy days by the beach and the pool: the best bags and totes, and what to put in them.

What To Put In Them

Let’s start with the inside…because we all know that’s where true beauty begins in the first place! Summer is a great time to loosen up and lighten up–with regard to your hair and your makeup. Ironically, this can mean even more products in your handbag due to the harsh elements that will otherwise wreak havoc on your skin and hair.

I try to always pack a giant floppy collapsable hat; my shades (equipped with proper UV protection); sunscreen and mineral makeup; and of course some clips and pins for hot-weather hair. Usually I pull my hair off the face into a high pony or a tousled or braided bun for summertime. For hair, as you know by now, I love my Philip B. haircare products. The four-step hair and scalp treatment kit below, $94, contains a few of my favorite things in one travel-size bag.

Philip b travel kit

Within this convenient set you can find Philip B.’s cult-status Rejuvenating Oil, the delicious Peppermint and Avocado Volumizing and Clarifying Shampoo, his Light-Weight Deep Conditioning Creme Rinse, and the very necessary pH Restorative Detangling Toning Mist. These botanical-rich products will keep your hair shiny and manageable all through the sweltering summer months.

R and F eye wipes

For skin, I make sure to have my Rodan + Fields Redefine Peptide Eye Wipes, $30, for quick clean-ups on my face and around the eye area. These things are a peptide-rich Godsend! They are the softest pre-soaked cloths…perfect on hot days, whether you’re sweaty from a game of beach volleyball or running errands in the heat. If you need a quick fix to take off your makeup at the end of the day before reapplying a fresh face for an evening out, or, if you’re just too exhausted to run the water before collapsing into bed at night, these wipes are the shiznit. They’re great for your man, too. Pack them in his gym bag and his complexion will thank you. They are so rich in peptides that you will notice a tangible difference in your skin right away. If you’re taking a day trip, stash these wipes in the cooler that is holding the food and drinks. They feel so refreshing on a hot summer day.

And speaking about refreshments…I love Susan Ciminelli’s Marine Lotion, $125. It’s a light serum that you can spray on to freshen and moisturize the skin, and it’s spiked with algae oil, one of nature’s most nourishing clock-stoppers, and other essential oils, such as calming cypress, aromatherapeutic marjoram, anti-inflammatory juniper, and antibacterial vetiver. A quick spritz or two leaves skin dewey and comfortably moisturized. This is a can’t-live-without product for too many celebrities to name…I’m absolutely addicted! You will notice from the first use how transformative this serum is. It really gives a great glow, and you can use it over the full body after you shower, under your moisturizer. Bliss!

Marine lotion

As a quick aside, Susan produces some of the most delectable skincare products you can find, high praise from a licensed aesthetician, myself. I love her detoxifying products and masks, and you’ll get to know Susan later, when I discuss her products more in-depth. In the meantime, she has a great blog that discusses cleansing and purifying foods, complete with recipes for the skin-conscious! I recommend that everyone subscribe to her informative newsletter, complete with great recipes and helpful skin tips. You will love it.

Triple defense

Rodan + Fields make a wonderful collection of sunscreens for every skin type. I use their Triple Defense Treatment, $80, a sunscreen that sinks into the skin in the most luxurious way. This is part of their anti-aging skin care line, which employs the ultimate ingredients and technology for mature skin. I love the radiance it gives me, while protecting from those harmful UV rays and free-radicals.

Mineral makeup and brush

I also pack my mineral makeup for touch-ups which will provide extra SPF all the day long. The Rodan + Fields mineral makeup, $29, is the best mineral powder in the cosmetic industry, period. The lightweight fluffy powder, developed by the two Stanford-trained dermatologists Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields, reduces redness with anti-inflammatory peptides that build collagen, and it physically blocks the sun with titanium dioxide and micronized zinc.

This powder provides a physical sunscreen block similar to the kind you used to see in the old days–the cliché lifeguard with the white strip of zinc on the nose. But this stuff buffs on beautifully and the shades are incredibly versatile and natural looking. The powder is water- and sweat-resistant, too, meaning its longevity outlasts a liquid or cream foundation. But don’t forget to touch up…Your skin will eat up the peptides, and it’s a fact that if I skip a few days of my mineral makeup, I notice less vibrancy and a little less skin density and firmness. This is a treatment product, as well as a sunscreen and a cosmetic.

The mineral makeup comes with a retractable antimicrobial brush, $37. The dense, soft, fluffy bristles are treated to repel bacteria. Isn’t that smart?

Hand shield

And when you are protecting your skin from the sun, do not neglect your hands. They are a dead giveaway as to your age, so take care and use a sunscreen. I am in love with the Rodan + Fields Shield Hand Balm, $43, which comes in a solid stick form and can be applied to the back of the hands only. Genius.

And that’s the dirt on what I put in my bag. Now, let’s look at the bags themselves, shall we?

The Best Beach Bags & Totes

I’m retiring my red pony hair Dior and my fabulously tactile stingray purse for something that looks lighter for summer. This gives my expensive purses a break and extends their lifespan.

It is not necessary to spend a lot on a summer bag. Invest in your skincare and haircare first, they should be your top priority. Here are some fab bags at all price points.

Marc jacobs tote

This is Marc Jacobs’s answer to easy summer dressing–a structured natural and black circular raffia basket bag , $198, that you can carry cross body over the shoulder or handheld. It’s chic either way.

Marc jacobs detail

The texture screams summer, and the smart water-resistant raffia material make this tote both pretty and practical.

Tory burch molly tote

Another raffia beauty, the Tory Burch Molly Crossbody Tote , $195, is a playful take on the beach bag. With whimsical fringe and adorned with puka shells and beads, this carryall speaks of far-flung chic. Exotic.

Platia straw bag

Platia’s straw bag is a steal at only $34.50. The natural color and rugged texture make this carryall a great, practical investment for easy summer dressing.

Rugby tote

The Rugby Stripe Straw Beach Tote above, on sale for $38.99 at, is a roomy bucket bag that will stash everything stylishly.


I love everything by Lanvin, and this beautiful woven straw tote, $360, is trimmed with a leather snake print double handle and grosgrain ribbon.

Yesstyle coffee striped tote

YesStyle offers up a chic on the cheap Striped Straw Tote in Coffee, above, for a mere $14! Now that’s a bargain!

Check out the fabulous wooden beads and the braided organic texture, below.

Coffee striped tote detail

And finally, a blizzard of butterflies makes the beautiful backdrop on Valentino’s Butterfly Camouflage Tote Bag, $3,995, available at Neiman Marcus by pre-order only.

Valentino butterfly tote scaled

This bag already sold out at Saks Fifth Avenue online, but if you happen to have four grand lying around…plus tax…this bag could be all yours. You better hurry though, cuz it will sell out again. Trust me.

Valentino butterfly tote

I love the vivid colors, the richly textured mix of canvas and napa leather, and the raised laser-cut butterflies which have been painstakingly stitched on for a 3-D effect. This bag is a real beauty, even more striking in person.

Valentino has captured the essence of one of fashion’s hottest trends (and one of nature’s most complex creatures) in this spacious and most coveted square tote with winged sides. You can take this bag to the boardwalk or to the boardroom without boredom. It’s just that versatile, completely appropriate for any venture, and oh so striking. Plus the craftsmanship is unparalleled. It’s Valentino, after all. The wearability, the quality of materials and workmanship, and the versatility and utter gorgeousness is what you get when you shell out four racks for a luxury couture handbag such as this.

Next up? Hats and shades. I hope you’ll join me. See you soon.

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