Preparing for a Beach Photo Session: Make-up, Hair, & Styling

A  San Diego beach photoshoot provides an unforgettable experience to capture your special moments. Although it’s easy to get swept away by the magical ambiance that the ocean holds, coming prepared for the shoot really helps!

Some of the most essential components to consider are your wardrobe, hair, and makeup — particularly where windy, humid, coastal weather comes into play.

Considering hair and makeup in advance will allow you to “let your hair down” and enjoy making memories on the beach.

Make-up Tips

Because of the sand and wind, my friend and make-up genius Sarah Tolson recommends using waterproof mascara and eyeshadow for your beach session.  This way, if your eyes water, your makeup will stay put and you won’t get the dreaded raccoon eye.

Using a budge-proof, non sticky lipstick or matte velvet lip (we love LipSense for this) is also helpful to avoid stray hairs getting stuck all over your lips, and avoiding that faded lipstick look. 

Using a long-lasting makeup line will help to create a seamless look from start of session to end.  You won’t need to touch anything up, and your makeup will look just as freshly done at the end of your photo session. We’ve partnered with Sarah to assist San Diego or traveling clients get just the look they want. You can browse or shop on her site here

Hairstyling Tips

They’re called “beachy waves” for a reason, but there’s actually a lot more work that goes into these seemingly casual hairstyles. Without the right hair products, humidity and wind can  bring out the frizz, flyaways, and other unruliness.

If you are debating whether or not to get your hair done for your beach shoot, go for it! Though your hairstyle will likely turn into a messier version of what you started out with, it’s nice to employ a professional with a good understanding of your type and texture of hair and its special needs. I recommend my stylist, Amelia Camp (aka Violet the Stylist). 

 If you choose to do your own hair (also just fine!), be sure to prepare with the appropriate products (more on that below, with Amelia’s recommendations).

Men’s & Boys Hair & Short Hairstyles

For short hair, a simple run-through with some pomade should do the trick. Sun Bum’s Texturizing Hair Paste is perfect for this purpose and leaves hair looking soft as opposed to stiff, like many gels do. You’ll get that casual, tossed, wavy look without the need for heat-styling.

Little Girls with Long Hair

  • Secure sections of baby hair and flyaways with bobby pins, barrettes, and headbands.


Three Steps for Women’s Hair (from Amelia Camp “Violet the Stylist”)

My stylist Amelia recommends a three-step approach to take on the humidity on the beach.

Step 1


Un.tangled by Kevin Murphy is Amelia’s go-to base on any hair type. This light weight leave-in helps to moisturize, detangle, strengthen and protect against heat styling.

Step 2


If you’re looking for volume and control or do a little body building on finer hair, Amelia recommends AIIR Professional Texture Mousse. This mousse is light weight, and thanks to being infused with Volcanic Ash, it creates a voluminous texture that also helps to absorb oils. Who doesn’t love being able to go longer between shampoos?!

For smoothing effects on thicker or courser hair types, AIIR Professional Smoothing Cream is my go to. Blue Agave and Babassu oil help to moisturize and protect your hair, leaving your style smooth soft and tamed.

Looking for volume AND smoothness? These products work great together. Apply the Texture Mousse to your roots for extra lift, and a small amount of the Smoothing cream for a frizz free finish.

Step 3


AIIR Professionals’s Flexible Hold AIIRSpray is Amelia’s go-to when it comes to styles that she wants to last. This hair spray’s flexible hold allows versatility. Use it throughout the hair before using any hot tool, and then as a finishing spray to set your style in place after you’ve achieved your desired look.

Looking to tousle up those waves for a beachy look? AIIR Professional’s Texture AIIR is the best texture spray on the market. It Amplifies volume and texture on all hair types without getting to heavy or gritty and natural Mica helps to create a soft natural shine, so it won’t dull out your style.

Find all of these products on the AIIR website and use discount code Violet10 FOR 10% OFF..

Wardrobe Choices

Probably the most dreaded part of preparing for a photo session, clothing selection does not have to be difficult. I partner with Style & Select and provide every client a custom code to login and choose their family’s ages, sizes, style, and color preferences. From there, clients can choose to purchase recommended pieces from the Style & Select collection or just use the ideas provided to get started shopping in town or elsewhere online.

Many clothing combinations look wonderful against a beach backdrop. The classic Amy Gray Photography beach palette is light blue, off-white, and pink, but don’t be afraid to be creative. For large extended families, blues and neutrals are the go-to since they blend together well.  

For senior portraits and couple sessions, additional clothing options and accessories are nice. Bringing a hat or scarf can add some variety to your images. 

One thing not to worry about for a beach session is shoes. Unless it is a very cold day (think December – February), just plan to kick off your flip-flops upon arrival at the beach.

To create a light, flowy look while keeping comfortable and covered up, consider collared linen or cotton shirts for men and flowing maxi-dresses for women. Both will achieve that airy, casual aesthetic while retaining a sense of elegance. When choosing dresses, avoid jersey (“t-shirt material”) since it can cling and blow awkwardly in walking shots. Women should also avoid large ruffles and collars that may flip up in the wind. Dresses shouldn’t be so fitted that they impede your fun, playful movements on the beach. 

When prepping for a photo session on the beach (or anywhere), finding the perfect dress can seem illusive, especially since we women tend to harbor our pet insecurities.  If you’re not comfortable with the fit of your dress (or if it reveals more than you’re used to showing off) just incorporate a little short-sleeved sweater or shawl. This adds dimension to your outfit while also providing a little more security.  Choosing clothes you feel great about and that make you look your best will help you love the results of your photo session that much more.

Abigail Baker is a writer for American Beauty School, one of the leading cosmetology schools in the Bronx for aspiring makeup artists, stylists, and other beauty professionals.

get in touch

I'd love to answer your questions!

let's get in touch

Contact me

Scroll to Top