Ah, Coachella. I love you, and I hate you. Within your Technicolor walls, I’ve experienced love, thumping bass, and some of the most vivid memories of my life (along with some of the blurriest). After five wonderful years, I thought our relationship was finally coming to a peaceful, loving end. We were consciously uncoupling, as Gwyneth Paltrow would say—you were being embraced by a younger, less tired crowd, and I was finally going to try growing up (in reality, I had moved to New York, and it was just logistically harder to get to you).
Well, 2017 breezed by, and I didn’t step onto your magical turf—didn’t experience that feeling of bursting through the gate and frolicking through your fields. I thought it was the end of an era. And yet, here I am, readying my bags once more to battle your dust storms and blazing heat. What can I say? I just can’t stay away. As a Coachella veteran, I’ve got my festival beauty packing list down to a science. I know which sunscreens are small enough to fit into my belt bag and won’t melt in the heat, plus which dry shampoo makes my dust-ravaged hair look squeaky-clean. Enjoy—and see you in Indio!
I will preface this by saying that I don’t really sweat (I know, I’m annoying) and don’t wear deodorant unless I’m doing hot yoga or it’s summer in NYC. That being said, this natural deodorant is my go-to. It smells like fresh roses and keeps my underarms smelling like fresh roses, too. I love that it’s made with all-natural ingredients and allows me to raise my hands in the air to Haim without a care in the world.
Makeup wipes are a Coachella a fact of life. In a perfect world, I’d come back to my hotel room each night and cleanse all the dirt and grime off my face using my normal five-step routine. After five years, I’ve accepted this is simply not a reality I will be experiencing. Knowing I’ll be way too tired (read: hungover and on the brink of exhaustion) to do anything but weakly wipe my face, I always bring a pack of makeup wipes to perch on my bedside table (or in the case of my first year: my sleeping bag). These ones from Bliss remove my makeup in one go and leave my skin feeling clean and soft.
This is my go-to sunscreen and final step of my skincare routine every day. I go into detail about why I think it’s the best sunscreen ever in this video, but here’s the gist: It blends easily, leaves your skin velvety-matte, and actually works. I leave a lot of my everyday beauty products behind when I go to the desert, but this isn't one of them.
The reality of Coachella is that showering will often fall low on your list of priorities in the day. This is a fact. I consider myself a very clean person when it comes to personal hygiene, and this was something I had to grapple with my first year at the festival, when I camped (the horror!). Luckily, beauty products exist that help you look and smell like you didn’t just dance to Beyoncé in a dust storm. Amika’s dry shampoo is one I always bring with me to the festival for one reason alone: You can layer it on second- or even third-day hair without any buildup. Other dry shampoos work the first time, but if you try to use them again the next day, they’ll start leaving your strands slightly stiff and crunchy. Not so with this one. It sprays on almost invisibly and soaks up dirt and oil like a pro. Yes, you could just shower, but like I said, you probably won’t.
This lip balm is a classic and has over 4000 positive reviews on Sephora for a good reason. It’s hydrating, gives your lips a perfect hint of color, and comes in a wide variety of shades and finishes, so you’ve got options. I love the coral one especially for the festival circuit; it makes my lips look plump and juicy in the sweltering sun (or so I've been told).
I got sent baby-size versions of these three masks and used them on a recent trip to L.A., with amazing results. The scrub/mask is great to apply before your shower, and I loved that it left my skin feeling bright and smooth. The calming mask is perfect for soothing sun-stressed skin, and the overnight mask helped me wake up to bright, glowing skin after a night of too many tequila sodas. Needless to say, this trio will be coming with me to Coachella as an apology to my skin for everything it had to withstand during the day.
I’m not exaggerating when I say the entire Byrdie team in NYC collectively shrieked when we got the Body Lava delivery from Fenty Beauty. The queen of glow, Rihanna herself, debuted this product on her Instagram in the most seductive way, and ever since then, the world has waited in breathless anticipation for its launch. To put it shortly, it doesn’t disappoint. Yes, it’s pricey for a body product, but the bottle is hefty and, I can imagine, will last for a long time. The smell is slightly vanilla, slightly floral without veering into overpowering; after an hour or so, you can only smell it if you’re an inch away from your skin. The finish is just the right amount of glossy and glittery. From far away, it just gives your collarbones, shoulders, and any exposed parts a gorgeous sheen—like you maybe just took a luxurious bath and emerged dripping in gold and reflecting light.
I’m a sucker for holographic beauty products, and this palette is versatile enough that I’m for sure packing it for Coachella. The holographic shades reflect light without making you look like a human strobe light, and I like layering them on my eyes as makeshift eye shadow. The matte shades give your cheeks a nice glow and also look nice tapped on over lip balm and on the eyes.
This little guy has accompanied me to many a music festival, and for good reason. It takes up barely any room, is easy to apply, and smells pleasantly like bananas. I swipe the stick over my face throughout the day to ensure my skin stays protected, and it never breaks me out or feels like a sticky film. I haven’t gotten burned yet!
I like to keep my face makeup minimal during Coachella due to the 90-plus-degree desert temperatures and all, but that doesn’t mean I want my dark circles and splotchy redness to be out on full display. Thus, instead of foundation, I reach for a cushion compact, which blurs and smoothes—sort of like an Instagram filter in real life. I’m currently obsessed with this one from Korean brand Missha, which has built-in SPF, takes less than 10 seconds to apply and blend, and gives a more matte finish compared to most other cushion compacts (knowing I’ll be sweating profusely later, I’ll take all the mattifying help I can get). It doesn’t look like I’m wearing makeup when I wear this product—rather, just like my skin is smooth and even naturally.
I don’t exactly travel light when it comes to my beauty products, and I usually have to pack my skincare, makeup, and haircare products into two or three separate toiletry cases. Then, I discovered this cute train case from Oliver Thomas, and my life was changed. This case is the Mary Poppins bag of makeup cases—it’s actually astounding how much you can fit in here. Plus, there are so many genius extra touches. For example, the top layer zips open and has a mesh pouch for you to store your jewelry and other knickknacks, and the bag also has loops to store your makeup brushes. Like I said, genius.
So, there you have it—my streamlined Coachella packing list. And if you’re interested, here's more Coachella beauty content where this came from.