How to Get Your Skin Prepped for Music Festivals in the Desert (or Anywhere in the Sun)
Take it from our resident desert dweller: Your skin needs some extra TLC if you’re going to a music festival in the desert, the beach, or anywhere where there will be lots of sun. Here, beauty writer Leo’s best desert skincare tips to get your skin prepped and protected.
Maybe it’s because I still resent living in the desert, but music festival season has never been a thing for me. Every time I walk outside in the summer it’s over 100°F/38°C, so being outside in general is something that I try to avoid. However, when Coachella, EDC, Stagecoach, and all the other music festivals roll around, my Instagram timeline gets flooded with pictures and stories of people I know attending, so clearly not everyone hates the outdoors as much as I do (although I will make an exception for beaches in California).
Whether you’re attending one of these festivals or spending some time on vacation somewhere sunny and less oven-like than my state, follow some of the desert skincare steps I take to ensure my skin doesn’t look as worn out as I feel after any traveling.
Ease off the actives
Acid exfoliation and excessive sun do not mix, and the case for retinol coupled with sun exposure doesn’t look so great either. I encourage everyone to do their own research, but from what I’ve learned, it seems like the general consensus is that AHAs — glycolic acid in particular — make your skin more susceptible to damage from the sun for up to a week after application of said acid. Pushing your skin’s cell turnover with retinol or retinol-type products brings new skin cells to the surface faster, and while that doesn’t necessarily make your skin more sun sensitive, I’m pretty protective of these new little cells, and I’m not crazy about frying them in the sun.
What all of this means for me is that about a week prior any extended getaways, I’ll drop my AHAs and any retinol products from my routine. I know this prospect may having you clutching your acid toners and serums in fear, but in most cases, taking a week or so off from acid exfoliation isn’t the end of the world. If you’re concerned about breakouts or clogged pores, I have yet to read anything warning against BHA use in relation to sun exposure, so any BHAs seem totally safe to use before, during, and after prolonged sun exposure with no increased sun sensitivity.
Batten down the hatches
Being out in the sun and on vacation almost guarantees that I’ll be dehydrated and I’ll have compromised skin. I never feel like I’m cleansing my skin as well as I do when I’m home in my own bathroom. Maybe it’s because I know that I’m accumulating way more dirt and sweat than I normally would, and any makeup and sunscreen I’m wearing is on for 10 to 12 hours or more, but I can feel the hydration slowly being leached out and my oils going into overdrive. If your skin is going to be put through its paces, one of the best things you can do is give it a head start in this department.
Thankfully my process for boosting up my skin’s resilience goes hand-in-hand with backing off the actives in my routine. The key ingredients and products are going to be different for everyone, but for me, I love honey and propolis, or snail mucin, Centella asiatica, and ceramides combined with cholesterol and fatty acids. I want my skin to be as calm as possible and my moisture barrier to be in top shape, and I’ve learned through trial and error that my skin (right now anyway) loves these types of products.
So I’ll make sure to have all of those things in my rotation the week leading up to my trip and will make sure to bring them along with me. Yes, I basically bring my entire skincare routine with me no matter where I go, regardless if I’m driving or flying. I refuse to let TSA throw a wrench into my routine.
Cover up, cool off
My natural instinct is to dart from shaded area to shaded area like a frantic squirrel, but when you’re at a beach, music festival, amusement park, or anything of that sort, there isn’t a whole lot of shade in general. This is definitely one of those times to actually reapply your sunscreen, but I like to take things a step further and bust out any other clothing that can help provide some protection. Trade in any weird headdress situations that really shouldn’t be a thing at festivals anyway for the big sunglasses, giant sun hats, and flowy bathing suit covers to help protect from the sun and look like an incognito celebrity.
The sun isn’t just an annoyance because it’s super bright, but it also is, well, hot, which brings its own set of issues. The warm (or in my case, scorching) temps heat up your skin, which can also send your oils into overdrive, and a whole domino effect starts that ends with potentially irritated and inflamed skin.
Western skincare has yet to adopt this idea, but the temperature of the skin is something many Korean beauty brands and dermatology clinics view as something to be considered. Modeling masks are almost a staple post any type of laser treatment in Korea, partly to help cool down the skin. You can adopt this same philosophy by bringing along any cooling or refreshing mists to cool off and keep your makeup from melting off, and/or do what I like, which is to throw a sheet mask in the fridge before I head out for the day so I can slap one on as soon as I get back to my room and take a shower.
The day-to-day struggle of making it through hot summer weather is not something I’m personally looking forward to. And while I won’t go do all of this if I’m just spending an afternoon at the beach — with the exception of sunscreen reapplication (I can talk more about my summer shift in skincare and makeup in the near future!) — my skin always thanks me for taking some extra care of it with the steps above when I am going to be gone for more than a day or two.
Do y’all have any travel plans coming up or any music festivals you’ll be attending? What are your vacation, beach, or desert skincare tips? Sound off below!