Pool Bag Essentials {+ The BEST Sunscreens}

With summer {and the heat} upon us, doesn’t a pool day sound amazing?  I’m sure many of you are gearing up for swim lessons, backyard playdates, and trips to the neighborhood pool.  Or maybe even a daytrip to Galveston.  If any of these activities are on your summer itinerary, then it’s time to pull together your summer pool bag essentials.  We have a pool in our backyard {‘burb perks!}, and I still have a designated pool bag ready to go – so all I have to do is grab one thing and I’m set!

Go ahead and prepare your bag now so when the perfect pool or beach day arrives, you aren’t scrambling last minute to pull it all together.  I am so glad that I bought each of these items and give them my certified stamp of approval!

Pool Bag Essentials

1.  The Perfect Bag :: Obviously, the first thing you need is a bag to hold everything together.  The perfect pool/beach bag is large, easy to carry on your shoulder, and ready for messes galore – water, sand, sunscreen, and who knows what else!  Something that you can wipe clean is a bonus, but make sure it can at least be washed.  Basically, now is not the time for your favorite designer tote.  I chose a tote bag from Sarahjanes Oilcloth.  I love the bright, cheery design, but even better is the fact that this bag wipes clean!


2.  Sunscreen :: The most important thing to remember to bring on a pool or beach day is sunscreen!  Gone are the days of just bringing a bottle of tanning oil and some aloe vera for your inevitable burn {I cringe at my 20 year old self}.  If you are using bottles from last summer, be sure to check expiration dates!  These don’t last forever.  I prefer to buy new stuff every summer…it’s like back-to-school shopping for your skin!

Before you hit the stores for some new sunscreen, checkout the EWG’s 2015 Sunscreen Guide including the Best Beach and Sport Sunscreen and the Hall of Shame.  It was eye-opening for me.  I also learned that while convenient, spray sunscreens are not ideal for little ones.  They are not as effective in protecting every inch of skin on their delicate bodies and can easily be inhaled in their lungs.

Some faves of mine that made the good list include Honest Company sunscreen and stick {plus, it’s from Jessica Alba…and people mistake me for her all the time} and Beautycounter Sunscreen.  These are the two that I’ll be using this summer.  I also religiously use Elta MD’s facial sunscreen which you can find on Amazon, but I normally purchase through my dermatologist who was the one who recommended to me!  You can read more about sunscreen warnings and tips on our sister site Red Stick Moms Blog.

Pool Bag Essentials Sunscreen

To make your sunscreen buying process even more confusing {you can thank me later}, download the Think Dirty app – I promise it’s relevant to this post!  It allows you to scan the barcodes on products you own or are considering buying and get a rating on how potentially harmful they are to your body based on their ingredients.  I ended up scanning my entire bathroom last night and ended up throwing away some items with a 9+ rating.  10 is the worst rating to be given.  FYI – Honest Company and Beautycounter products rated 5 and less!

3.  Small Wristlet for Personal Items :: I like to have a mini bag to throw my important, smaller items in so they aren’t swimming around in my huge tote.  In this bag I like to include my keys, ID, cash, lip sunscreen, iPhone, and hair elastics.  Target and Ulta are both great places to pickup a small cosmetic bag to use.

4.  Wet Bags :: Whether you want to use actual, marketed “Wet Bags” like these from Itzy Ritzy or just some disposable, plastic grocery sacks, it’s smart to have something available to put all of your wet clothing and swimsuits in.

5.  Diapers & Wipes :: If you are still in the diaper phase of life, don’t forget your swim diapers, wipes, and a regular diaper for afterwards.  So far, we’ve had luck with the Pampers Splashers disposable diapers and the Honest Company Reusable Diapers.  In my opinion, no swim diaper is fail-proof, so check them often!

6.  Snacks & Water :: Bring a cooler if necessary, but to keep it simple, think things that won’t melt!  Goldfish, animal crackers, and fruit to munch on in between meals.  The absolute most important thing you don’t want to forget {besides sunscreen} is water…lots of water!  I like getting a huge Tervis tumbler and filling it to the brim with ice {and water}.  This will ensure it lasts at least through half the day.

Pool Bag Essentials Snacks

7.  Hair Care :: Please don’t be one of those people at the pool or beach who is afraid to get their hair wet.  It’s too dang hot for vanity, but in order to not look like Medusa or the screaming banshee there are a few hair tools that I like to keep in my bag.  This includes some hair ties, The Wet Brush Mini, Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray, and a hair clip.  Hats are great too to cover-up whatever mess is going on.  Which brings me to #8…

8.  Hats & Sunglasses :: Don’t forget to throw in your favorite sunnies and a hat for you and the kiddos to protect your eyes and face.  I love this sun hat for my son since it provides great coverage and is waterproof.  If you are placing an order for the hat, you might as well throw in these adorable kiddo sunglasses too.  For my noggin, you just can’t beat a monogram!  A classic floppy hat is fun too – I’ve seen lots at Target lately or you can get a monogrammed one here!  My favorite sunnies right now are my mirrored Ray Ban Aviators, but I also found a couple of great dupes for a lot less here and here!

Pool Bag Essentials Hats and Glasses

9.  Towels :: It’s obvious that you need towels to lay on and dry off with, but bring extras because these will double as changing pads, spill fixers, sunscreen wipers, and seat protectors for your car!

10.  Book :: Even if much of your time will be spent wrangling kiddos, go ahead and throw in the latest “beach read” just in case you get a moment to yourself.  It’s no fun trying to scroll through your phone when you are out in the sun – so a book will be so much better than checking those Facebook statuses.  Not sure what to read?  Checkout the Houston Moms Blog Summer Book Club!

Pool Bag Essentials Book

Other items to consider :: Pool toys, change of clothes, pool floats, camera, nursing cover…  The list is endless, but try to keep it simple when you can.

Did I forget anything in my bag?  Be sure and leave a comment with your favorite pool bag necessities too!


  1. Awesome list! I totally downloaded that Think Dirty app, I can’t wait to go scan my bathroom! The only thing I would add is a small travel size of a GOOD lotion. The chlorine dries my skin out something awful and the cheap stuff just gets my skin too slick to hold on to anything plus it doesn’t even sola into my skin so I STILL feel dry.

  2. Beach toys, baby powder (makes it easier to get sand off) & I also bring Avon Bug Repellent. We usually stay into the evening and mosquitoes love the taste of my kiddos and we’re not messing with West Nile . Great list.


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