Surfing may not be an official sport in the London Olympics (it can only be a matter of time) but it is riding an influential wave on the catwalks thanks to neoprene separates, neon hues and Hawaiian prints. Not surprisingly, it has also breached the beauty barrier.
“Surfer girl beauty is all about looking naturally gorgeous and sporty,” says make-up artist and No7 creative director Lisa Eldridge. “High-maintenance make-up is out,” she adds. What’s in is wet-look hair, fluoro nails and golden, freckled skin – a look personified by Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson.
The high fashion version of the surfer look and real surfers’ approach to beauty should not be confused, however; the first is about faking the effects of sun, sea and sand, while the second is primarily geared towards prevention.
As Malia Jones, a former US women’s surfing champion, warns: “The sun and the salt can be damaging to your hair and skin if you don’t take care of yourself. The most important thing is to keep both hydrated. Surfing is actually good for you and keeps you youthful. Just get some good beauty products and stay consistent in your routine.”
For Jones, sun protection is the most crucial item in a surfer’s arsenal – and it should be waterproof. “Sunscreen is my number one product,” she says. “I use a Shiseido sunstick on my face and usually don’t surf in the middle of the day unless the waves are exceptional. Kerastase Soleil Aqua Seal (£16.10) on my hair keeps it from getting too damaged by the water and sun.”
Maia Norman, creator of the Mother of Pearl fashion label and partner of artist Damien Hirst, is a keen surfer whose beauty ritual incorporates her surfing needs. “Surfing means sun and I’m very choosy about my sun protection,” she says. “It can’t make my eyes burn and needs to protect me well – I use suncream by Skinceuticals and Island Tribe when in the tropics. I surf here in England all through the year, part of which means coming home to a hot bath and Elemis Tranquil Touch Indulgent Bath Elixir (£19).”
Eldridge recommends a water-resistant, long-wearing tinted moisturiser such as Korres’s Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30 (£15.20) for anyone going out in the sun for extended periods. “It’s packed with antioxidants to preserve skin,” she explains. Other good products include Clinique’s Superdefence Moisturiser SPF 25 (£26) which is similarly designed to protect skin from the elements, as is its new Age Defence BB Cream (below right, £25) with antioxidants – which are meant to help prevent skin wrinkling after exposure to sun, water and sea winds.
Other key surfer trends are fluorescent colours and 1990s Courtney Love/Emma Balfour badly bleached hair. “Mixed-up fluoro nails are a perfect way to complement a surfer-girl look,” says London manicurist Sophy Robson. “Strong colours really pop with a tan and brighten up the beach.”
Try Illamasqua for a good selection of fluorescent nail polishes, or Model’s Own, whose Pink Punch is a violent searing bubblegum shade, and Orange Sorbet (£5) a brash citrus.
Eldridge suggests that “fluoro make-up looks fantastic when it’s applied in a block without looking ‘done’. A flash of colour across the lids looks modern. Limit the fluoro to one area though: eyes, cheeks or lips.”
Sun-kissed hair that’s naturally bleached out and highlighted is also a signature of surfing style, and easier to pull off than the home-bleached look. “Colour should be golden and not ash – like its been coloured by by the sun,” says George Northwood, hairdresser to TV presenter Alexa Chung. “It should be slightly rooty but not dip-dyed. Surfer hair should be cut with a strong shape and then chopped for texture.”
“Gisele [Bündchen] was the first one who had this look,” notes Corinne Adams, a John Frieda colourist who works in New York and Los Angeles. “Sarah Jessica Parker is a great example of it, as is Erin Wasson in the ads for Zadig and Voltaire.”
Adams says the look “is darker at the roots and gradually getting lighter at the ends. You can realise this colour by doing highlights with the ‘balayage’ technique [where hair is hand painted with colour bleach, lightly at the root and heavily at the ends]. You cannot get this look with foils. The idea is that the sun and the salty water did it.” Even if we all know they didn’t.