To say Audrina Patridge, 26, was born in a bikini is actually not that much of an exaggeration. "I practically grew up in the water," says the former cast member of The Hills and star of her own VH-1 reality series, Audrina. "I knew how to swim by the time I turned 4." That's not surprising, since she was raised with a pool in her backyard and lived near the ocean in Orange County, CA. "I don't even think twice about wearing a swimsuit because it's always been a part of my lifestyle," she says, "but I have girlfriends who are so afraid to show their bodies, they won't take off their towels at the beach or pool. It's a shame because everyone can look good in a suit." Are you ready to tap into your inner (and outer) beach goddess? Audrina off ers nine easy, breezy tips for looking and feeling hot.
1. Suit Yourself
The first step toward feeling comfortable in a bikini is finding one that fits your frame. "So many women will buy one they see a celebrity wearing, thinking it'll look good on them too," says Patridge. "But often it doesn't flatter their figure." She recommends going to the store and trying on many different styles to see what works for your body type, skin tone, and lifestyle. "Be open-minded," she says. "Even if you think you know what works on your body, you may be really surprised by the results."
2. Find Your Comfort Zone
Patridge suggests wearing your new suit around the house for a few days until it feels like your second skin. "Or get support and advice from some of your friends by inviting them over for a private girls-only party in the backyard," says Patridge. If you still feel self-conscious, experiment with strategic cover-ups that showcase your best assets, be it toned legs or sexy shoulders. "You can team a gauzy tunic with a bikini bottom," she says, "or flaunt your upper body with a suit top paired with a long skirt."
3. Flex Your Muscles
For an extra boost of confidence before she saunters onto the beach or power-lounges by the pool, Patridge does a quick series of squats and sit-ups. "I like to get the blood flowing to those areas," she explains. "I feel tighter and stronger, and it gives my skin a nice rosy glow."
4. Fake It, Don't Bake It
One glance at Patridge and you know she loves looking golden. "I have olive skin, so if I'm in the sun for even 15 minutes, I turn brown," she says. "But I'm much more aware of protecting my skin from the sun's rays than I was in my teens and early 20s." She gets her "tan" from a can and never leaves home without sunscreen—ones by Lancer Rx, Neutrogena, and Kiehl's are faves. "These products give my skin a smoother look and firmer appearance," she says.
5. Shine On
Another trick Patridge swears by is to rub a little Hawaiian Tropic Oil onto her skin over her sunscreen. "It keeps skin soft and accentuates your muscles," she says. "But you have to be careful not to use too much or you could end up looking greasy!"
6. Power Up Early
With her jam-packed schedule—juggling her reality show, promoting her new Bongo fashion line, and attending dozens of events each month—Patridge burns calories like crazy. While that may sound like an enviable problem to have, it can take a toll on her energy levels if she doesn't fuel up regularly. To ensure that doesn't happen, Patridge always starts the day with a hearty breakfast. A typical one might include banana pancakes, turkey bacon, hash browns, and a side of fruit, or a veggie-filled egg white omelet. "It's my favorite meal," she says. "So sometimes I'll even have breakfast for dinner."
7. Be One with Nature
"I try to get to the beach every day," says Patridge. "It brings sanity to my life. I'll just sit and read a book and enjoy the quiet." When she's traveling and can't find a horizon to stare at, she'll look for a local park to hang out in. "I get a blanket and just lie in the grass," she says. "It's a perfect place to be alone with your own thoughts."
8. Give Tresses a Time-Out
Patridge has a dirty little secret: To give her hair that tousled, beachy texture, she washes it only twice a week and uses dry shampoo in between. She fixes flyaways by rubbing Moroccan Oil onto her ends. "It smells really wonderful," she says, "and I have less breakage when I comb my hair."
9. Play the Day Away
The last place you'll find Patridge during the summer is in a gym. "I love outdoor activities," she says. She swims in the ocean, rides her bike on the boardwalk, and plays beach volleyball with her friends. But Patridge's favorite workout buddy, she says, is her dog. "Lady makes sure I run or hike once a day—no matter what!"