The Best Colors to Wear on the Beach, Stylists and Dermatologists Say
Stand out from the crowd and protect your skin with these warm-weather hues.
Aside from picking out snacks, packing your sunscreen, and figuring out which summer book you'll be getting lost in, one of the most important considerations you need to make for any beach day is which colors to wear. Indeed, style experts and dermatologists agree that the colors you wear on the beach can make or break your seaside afternoon for several reasons.
According to Dustin Portela, DO, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Treasure Valley Dermatology, certain shades can actually help to protect your skin from the sun's harsh rays. Not only that, but Joana Walker, a fashion expert and contributor to Margo Paige, notes that some colors can also make you look more bronzed—or simply more put-together.
So, as you plan your next beach day, be sure to dig through your closet for these stunning expert-approved hues.
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The Best Colors to Wear on the Beach
1. Navy Blue
Navy blue never goes out of style—but that's not the only reason why it's an ideal pick for your beach day.
Ever noticed how you feel hotter when you wear black clothing on a sweltering day than when you wear a lighter color?
According to Asmi Sanghvi, a board-certified dermatologist at Mount Sinai Health System, darker colors like black and navy absorb more UV radiation than lighter colors, which can help protect your skin from sun damage.
For example, Portela notes that a typical pair of dark blue jeans offers a UV equivalent of SPF 100, whereas a white cotton T-shirt only offers the equivalent of SPF 4.
Since navy blue is just slightly lighter than black, it absorbs just slightly less heat, meaning you're more likely to stay comfortable.
"Not only does white look effortlessly chic, but the bright sun brings out its natural vibrancy, making it an excellent choice to flaunt your summer tan," says Andréa Bernholtz, a sustainable fashion expert and founder of Swiminista.
White is also universally flattering and goes with just about everything. As fashion and lifestyle expert Chantelle Hartman Malarkey points out, this makes it easier to mix and match with other pieces and accessories.
Another advantage to wearing white is that it's more likely to keep you cool since it absorbs less UV radiation. The downside to this, of course, is that it leaves your skin more exposed to the sun.
That's why Sanghvi recommends opting for tightly woven fabrics like linen or cotton whenever possible, as looser weaves will offer less protection.
Portela also notes that when a white bathing suit or T-shirt gets wet, its UV protection falls even lower. So, try wearing white pieces you know you won't wear in the water—like a pair of shorts, sundress, or hat—rather than a swimsuit.
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3. Pink and Coral
You can't go wrong with flirty shades of bright pink and coral on a sunny day by the ocean. As Malarkey notes, this color really pops against bronzed skin, and you don't need much of it to make a statement. For example, even a hot pink pair of sunglasses or a cover-up can liven up any beach look.
According to Walker, coral and pink are also great beach day choices because they offer contrast to the blue of the sea.
Remember: the darker and more vibrant the shade of pink, the more sun protection your clothing will provide, says Sanghvi.
4. Yellow and Gold
Bright yellow will not only make you stand out on the beach, but it also gives off a super playful and positive vibe.
"The sun's rays bring out the vibrant hues of yellow, making it a perfect color to wear on a sunny day at the beach," explains Bernholtz.
Walker recommends achieving balance in your ensemble by pairing bright yellow pieces with neutrals, like white, navy, and black.
"Gold is another luxurious color that's perfect for beachwear," adds Malarkey. "It adds a touch of glamour and sophistication."
But keep in mind that less is more when it comes to gold—accessorizing with a pair of gold sandals, a gold necklace, or a beach bag with gold detailing is enough to elevate your beach vibe, says Malarkey.
"Red has always been a statement color in my book—classic and exuding power," says Malarkey. "A red bikini, one-piece swimsuit, or cover-up is sure to turn heads."
Plus, Bernholtz notes that red works with every complexion—the key is to opt for a shade that complements the undertones in your skin. People with warmer-toned skin may want to wear more orangey reds, while those with cooler undertones should go for bluish reds.
If red isn't your thing, consider opting for Pantone's 2023 Color of the Year: Viva Magenta.
6. Emerald Green
This hue can bring out the hints of green in the ocean, says Walker. If you opt for a dark enough shade, you'll get the added perk of extra sun protection.
"Emerald green is hot right now, and it can complement all skin tones—especially those with warm undertones," says Bernholtz. "This color looks stunning against the blue water and white sand of the beach."
You can't go wrong with an emerald green one-piece, flowy maxi dress, or kimono cover-up.