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NOW READING How to Get Your Skin Prepped for Music Festivals in the Desert (or Anywhere in the Sun)
April 10, 2019

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.


triple threat exfoliation desert skincare


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.


desert skincare


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.


desert skincare


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!



Born in Korea and raised in Washington, Leo is another 20-something member of the K-Beauty Squad that is as committed to his love of skincare as he is to wine and cheese covered snack foods. After working as an educator and trainer in the beauty industry, he joined the team at Beautytap to continue sharing his knowledge and passion for skincare and all things chok-chok. During his free time, he’s been spotted in the wild bingeing Netflix shows, blasting K-pop while playing video games, or (much more rarely) leaving his hovel to venture forth in search of cocktails and Korean BBQ.




This will be my very first k-beauty summer, and I am ... thrilled? Terrified? Yes/and!

I'm starting a sunscreen search. I have a couple I like, but I want ... more. That I like more. Sunscreen + hydration are my current best ideas, and I am all in on those. As for the rest, I'm just going to have to find out by trial and error myself. I do already know that my face likes snail mucin and ceramides, though, so I'll have those available for rebuilding at the end of every day!


I like the A'pieu's Pure Block Natural Sun Cream SPF 45 PA+++. It's a chemical sunscreen, so it applies smoothly. However, since it's a chemical sunscreen it could overheat your skin. And that's something we don't need if we're going to be outside in the sun! So physical sunscreen would be better, since they give a physical barrier. But, a lot of physical sunscreens have white cast.. :( I've been using Make P:rem's UV Defense me. Blue ray sun cream SPF 50+ PA++++ and it's doesn't have a lot of white cast! But, it's drying on my skin, so I'm... Read more


That is such a great suggestion - thank you!

I really prefer "chemical" sunscreens to ones with physical filters. This time last year I was wearing no sunscreen at all, so I'm willing to give myself grace on the let-your-face-get-hot front. I'm about to place an order that includes a seaNtree sunscreen and one from So Natural-- here's hoping one of those feels perfect!


Let me know how they work for you! I might go back to chemical sunscreens since the physical ones have been drying out my face a lot :(


I absolutely LOVE the Make P:rem UV Defense Me. That might be my favorite sunscreen of all time so far. (Yes, even a bit more than Earth's Recipe Waterful Sun Gel, but it's close!) My hyperpigmentation doesn't like heat so this helps to cool my skin down during the summer.


It's time to switch out the AHA for BHA! (Though this always makes me sad — I'm a triple threat exfoliator too, and I honestly feel BHA doesn't do as much for me as AHA.).

I also pull out my spray sunscreen right around this time, and keep it by the front door so I remember to take it with me when I'll be outdoors. And I bring all the calming, anti-inflammatory ingredients with me when I travel to ward off any potential breakouts or reactions that naturally come from a new environment, airplane air, and stress (even good stress!). Read more


Thank you for the great article!
Since I burn really easily, I have to make sure that I have my sunscreen! I got a sunburn once even though I was under the parasol the entire time... (terrifying) And if I'm going on a trip, I make sure to take sheet masks with me! I take sheet masks with honey/green tea in them, since they help calm my skin a lot.


I've gotten red too, even though I was wearing a hat and sunscreen the whole time. UV reflects off metal, water, and even sand (I was at a temple all day where all the pagodas were drenched in gold leaf), and so even though I was in the shade most of the time, the UV rays found my poor cheeks. 😭

Soothing sheet masks are now a must in my travel bag!


The sun has its own ways to get to all of us! We will never be safe from its rays! 😅