Attending my first ever festival and ensconced in the dark interior of a budget tent (ripped upon first deployment*), I came to realise (slightly too late) that my daily beauty régime has a definite temporality to it; it's a ticking clock from A to Z, from beauty to beast.
And I don't notice it in day-to-day life because despite the fact I may be cosmetically high-maintenance, my beauty régime is only meant to last around 16 hours. The festival, then, brought me a little crashing perspective: not only do I need to retrain myself and trim down my fairly prolific routine, but I need to increase its longevity and force it, screaming and aching, to go that extra mile.
And so, I realised this, as I said, applying the carefully-placed tricks and trappings which have become to comprise of my beauty routine. For 20 minutes, while shadows strolled past the tent and Kiwi and his friends, freed of all adult responsibility, became the over-excited strafing little-boy airplanes tanked up on a more potent fuel, I applied makeup and fretted over my day-old hair in a mirror the size of a postage stamp.
I'm not very good at the 'festival chic' look, where the girls seem to hover about in long maxi dresses and hair in a messy bun, still possessing that elusive, ethereal beauty (and the very smuggery they seem to exude just by being attractive when I am so very not).
It's not even about vanity. (It might be a little bit about vanity.) It's about survival in my least favourite of all locations: the British festival campsite. It is a greyed-out landscape with snippets of tents being stumbled over by the drunk hedonists painted neon. The weather is turbulent at best, but always with the sniff of a storm, and it rains as soon as you start to put your tent up, just at that crucial point where it's too late to stop. The portaloos give up their ghosts early on and send phantoms of stenches swirling into the down-wind, and the showers are just... not there.
So here it is, my survival kit for my very first festival, neatly subdivided into skincare and hygiene, hair and makeup. For the festival newbies out there, all I can say is that Baby Wipes must be the notion of some higher power, for there is nothing more perfect than the humble moist wipe. Here are my festival skin saviours:
1. Baby Wipes: The God of festivals and never just for babies. They deserve their own altar and sacrifices. You will never get bored of finding a use for these. No shower? Baby Wipe it up. Cleaning your makeup off? Yep. Undignified spillage of a whole can of cider inside of your tent (yes, this was me...): Job done. Shower, makeup remover and a surface cleaner all-in-one.
2. Triple Dry: It's an antiperspirant in the strongest sense, and contains aluminium chloride to basically stop you sweating from the armpits. I'm one of those people with B.O. paranoia, in that when I smell B.O. in any kind of public arena, I spend a tense half hour trying to figure out if it's me or not. It never is, but I never want to be that person who doesn't realise their own offensive stench. When showers are limited, this is a good idea, but it's definitely not healthy for everyday use.
3. Avène Eau Thermale: I know, it's a gimmick, but it's a useful gimmick. Waking up in a warm, fetid tent in the morning means this is an instant waker-upper and nice and cooling on sunburn. It's refreshing to the skin and provides a really useful source of water by which to wash your face, if water is in scarce supply.
4. Witch hazel: Prolonging my day's makeup starts with a good foundation. Witch hazel is incredible for controlling oil. This is not a good product to use daily, as it dries the skin out to an unpleasant degree after prolonged use. However, after decanting this into a little Muji spray bottle and spritzing on my face after washing it, I didn't get that nasty, greasy feeling where your skin is crawling and you have that urgency to wash it.
- Face wash: Decant a couple of squirts into a little travel jar, and use the water aerosol spray to dampen your skin to allow you to work it into a lather. Squeaky-clean skin and not much effort.
- Packs of handbag tissues: Buy a pack of 6. Pack 2 in your handbag and the rest in your rucksack. Smile smugly on your way to the dreaded portaloos long since out of toilet paper and think of all those girls who didn't have the foresight.
- Dailies lenses: If you're like me and wear monthlies, consider acquiring a small stock of dailies, because removing and washing your lenses in the dark in a tent while possibly inebriated is just impossible. You wouldn't want to drop one and be blind for the rest of the shebang, would you?
- Hand sanitiser: You will need this in lieu of soap for washing your hands before eating, seeing as you probably won't know where they will have been...
My hair tends to be very fine, although there's a lot of it, so my main concern at this festival was giving my hair the appearance of volume because it's not quite long enough to bung into a ponytail. These products saved my life:
5. Osis Dust-It: The best product of its kind that I've found. It's perfect for hair that is fine or needs a wash as it both volumises and absorbs the oil whilst giving the hair perfect festival texture.
6. Batiste Dry Shampoo: Oh, you. How could I forget you? Dry shampoo is perfect for spraying into your hair to give it a bit more mileage and volume. It makes it light and fresh smelling and is the best dry shampoo pennies can buy.
7. Lee Stafford Matte Stylee My Big Fat Texturised Hair Super Spray: I bought this on a complete whim when I was out on a shopping trip and it's actually amazingly good. It's a sea salt-volumiser-gel-hairspray hybrid which you shake up until it turns more liquidy. You spritz over your hair for all-day hold, life and volume, and you can tousle it up. I've never been so surprised by a hair product in my life.
- Travel shampoo: If you're like me and your fringe is the only thing letting you down on the second-day hair shuffle, then consider taking a small bottle of shampoo and washing it. Let it air dry and fluff it a bit, and you're away. If you're super high-maintenance (cough), look for some bargain-bin portable straighteners in places like TK MAXX. Don't pay over a tenner. They'll do.
- Hair grips: The point of no return for my hair is day 2, and considering I wash my hair every day (different strokes...), even day 2 is pushing it. A pack of hair grips to clip up your hair nasties on the long journey home on day 3 will make you feel more human, even if your brain is performing a staccato dance party in your skull.
- Elastic headbands: The kind that footballers wear. Whether you feel hideous or just need to tidy up your mane, these are pretty useful, especially considering you can extend their use to holding your sleeping mat in its perfect rolled-up form.
Makeup for a festival is a sore point for me; I'm extremely mindful of the fact that festivals are home to the most unstealthy of thieves (I mean seriously, all you need to do is unzip the tent and you're home and dry with purloined goodies). My response to this is to only take things that are either drugstore, multi-purpose, or that I don't quite love as much as, say, my limited edition super-duper MSF embossed with a precious unicorn. Here's a selection of what I found indispensable:
8. Lipstick Palette: I first blogged about this in a post quite a while ago, and I'm going to tell you again. Don't take your lovely lipsticks to a festival, where they may either melt, go walkabout or fall into a stinking cesspool somewhere. Depot a few of them and you won't be so bothered if you don't come home with it. 4 is always better than 1, too.
9. Brushes that go further: I only took 2 makeup brushes to the festival: one for the face and one for the eye. The trick is multipurpose; the E.L.F. powder brush I brought with me is inexpensive, easily available and performs pretty much every task I can think of. It can do foundation, blush, powder, contour, cream products... It's essentially perfect. The Space NK eye brush I brought was a wild card, but ended up being indispensable. Its long bristles allow for a quick wash of colour, whilst the narrow nature allows you to sweep in a crease colour and blend with ease.
10. MAC Mineralized Eyeshadow Trio in Togetherness: 3 beautiful, eye-brightening colours, myriad combinations and all in one compact. Choose duos, trios and palettes rather than single eyeshadows. The colours are selected to go together and there's less chance of losing something!
11. Topshop Cream(-to-Powder) Blush in Neon Rose: This is the perfect formulation for skin that's a bit grubby or oily. It's a cream-to-powder so dries matte and provides a beautiful flush to brighten up a tired complexion.
12. MAC Tinted Moisturiser: For those for whom foundation is too much of a faff (which, for a festival, it definitely will be...), consider a tinted moisturiser. I really like the MAC tinted moisturiser (which I've reviewed here!) because it's thick and nicely-textured, decent coverage and never makes me oily.
13. Kryolan Anti-Shine Powder: The big daddy of all powders. Decant a little into a jar and use with the magical E.L.F. Powder Brush. Oil-free all day, and at such a cheap price, it's a little jar of magic. Take my word on this one.
- Your favourite foundation: If you must take some, decant a little into a travel jar and away we go. If you don't mind using your fingers, so much the better.
- Urban Decay All-Nighter Makeup Fixer: If you're feeling flush, this is a great spritz to help your makeup last a little longer. It's no miracle cure, but it does do its thing.
- Mineral Samples: These are perfect for festivals - tiny samples in baggies and jars which won't upset you too much if they get set on fire/robbed at gunpoint (etc, etc...)
- Nail Polish: Paint your nails before you go, because you won't be showering for 3 days. Your nails will be filthy, and the only way to disguise that is nail polish. I know, it's a corner-cutter and scummy and I'm a horrible human being for recommending this. But think of your possible scummy, caked nails. And then think of your colourful, scummy caked nails which don't look half as revolting. Justified smuggery.
And there we go. From one newbie to hopefully a few others. If you didn't find it helpful, I hope you at least found it entertaining :)
*Just say no to the all-in-one Value Camping set from Argos. You will wake up drier and more well-rested if you do.