Coachella Survival: Wear Sunscreen, Guzzle Water, Leave Your New Sandals at Home, Plus 7 More Tips

Coachella is one heck of an event that everyone should experience, but you have to be prepared. (Photo: Getty)
Coachella is one heck of an event that everyone should experience, but you have to be prepared. (Photo: Getty)

As much as I anticipated attending Coachella as a newbie, I took for granted some of the advice people tried to give me and made careless mistakes — for instance, when I applied sunscreen only on my face and not all over my body. Or the fact that my pin-straight hairstyle began to frizz up on day one.

Nevertheless, I did experience a big learning curve and will be better equipped next time. So if you are preparing to head out to Indio, Calif., for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, I have the perfect survival guide. Read on for 10 tips to navigate Coachella like a pro.

Don’t culturally appropriate
Coachella is a great opportunity to wear head-turning outfits, but you want to steer clear of appropriating someone else’s culture. Feathered headdresses, African dashikis, and bindis aren’t festival attire you should sport if they aren’t a part of your identity and culture. There are lots of professional photographers snapping pictures at Coachella, and the last thing you need is an inappropriate photo of yourself splattered all over Getty and social media. Not cool!

Do try beauty trends you wouldn’t normally wear
Whether it’s holographic makeup or electric-blue eyeshadow, Coachella is where you want to wear the unicorn makeup of your dreams. If you can’t rock it at work, why not do it here? Milk Makeup has a Holographic Stick ($28) that is so dope, and it makes your skin look majestic. You can wear it on your lips, eyes, or cheeks. I stuck with my normal highlighter, but I wish I’d brought this one along, had I known how wildly whimsical the festival would be.

Milk Makeup Holographic Stick
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick. (Photo: Milk Makeup)

Don’t wear a jumpsuit
I was so set on busting out my navy blue jumpsuit for Coachella, but it isn’t portable-potty-friendly. You pretty much have to get completely undressed every time you use the facilities. One of my biggest fears is having my butt cheek touch anything in those confined public stalls. May I strongly suggest wearing a less complicated dress or denim cutoffs if you want to be in, out, and comfortable.

Do prepare to get dusty
When you see people rocking triangular-folded bandanas over their nose and mouth, it’s not just another fashion trend. Since Coachella Valley is in the desert, there is dust blowing all around and you don’t want to inhale too much. It’s bad for your respiratory system and can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath the last thing you want to experience while trying to vibe out.

Don’t wear your hair pin-straight
My hair is naturally curly, but I usually straighten it with a blow dryer and a little flat ironing for a supersleek look. For whatever reason, I decided to keep it straight for Coachella. It wasn’t all that humid there, but the amount of sweating I did forced my roots to curl up. By day two, I was rocking a topknot. The best and most functional hairstyles at Coachella come in the form of natural curls, braids, or topknots (try two for extra flair).

Do wear sunscreen everywhere
Since I’m a beauty editor, you would think that I would know better, right? Wrong. For the first day, I had to get ready in a hurry and spritzed a little sunscreen on my face. After about two hours in the high-beaming California sun, dressed in an off-the-shoulder shirt, my body was supertanned and no longer matched my face. For a gorgeously textured sunscreen that smells good and won’t rub off on your clothes, try Coola Travel Size Body SPF 30 Pina Colada Sunscreen Spray ($24).

Coola Travel Size Body SPF 30 Pina Colada Sunscreen Spray (Photo:
Coola Travel Size Body SPF 30 Pina Colada Sunscreen Spray (Photo:

Don’t go without an itinerary
Art and music are the main highlights of Coachella, but the way Southern California weather is, you may not want to spend every single hour melting away on the festival grounds. Find out what other events are going on ahead of time. This year, American Express Platinum hosted a fun day party, Revolve and Nylon threw offsite fêtes, and you can always take a moment to explore the beautiful Palm Desert.

Once you arrive at the festival, there are fun tents, sponsored by brands such as Sephora and H&M, where you can get a much-needed air-conditioning break or quick makeup touch-up. Also, figure out which bands and artists you really want to see, as sometimes shows overlap, and they aren’t all on stages right next to each other. You don’t want to be stuck way at the back of a crazy crowd during performances you were looking forward to getting up close and personal with. It’s a good idea to download the official Coachella App to your smartphone, too. You get push notifications about all the different shows, plus you get cool discounted perks if you link your Amex card. Who doesn’t like a freebie?

Do opt for a backpack
I love carrying a dainty pocketbook while traveling. This wasn’t a huge problem at Coachella, but it does get annoying to hold on to while trying to dance to some of your favorite tunes. It’s better to carry around a backpack. This way, you can walk around comfortably and fit a little more in your bag (for example, a camera, face wipes, a water bottle) without feeling weighed down by a bunch of crap.

Don’t bust out your best sandals
Most of us like to wear cute sandals, high heels, and new sneakers during festival season. This might work at some festivals where there is “strong” green grass or concrete, but not at Coachella. As I’ve mentioned, there is lots of dust, and anything open-toed will leave your feet dirty. If you absolutely must debut your new sandals or sneakers, bring along a pack of shoe wipes such as Sneaker Rescue & Sandal Rescue All Natural Cleaning Wipes ($22) to help scrub away gunk and refresh your footwear.

sneaker rescue, shoe wipes
Sneaker Rescue & Sandal Rescue All Natural Cleaning Wipes are a must-have for your shoes during Coachella. (Photo: Sneaker Rescue)

Do gulp down plenty of water
This may seem like a no-brainer, but between having a blast and being out in the heat, you will get dehydrated fast. This is a feeling you really want to avoid, as your energy will be zapped, or even worse — you might faint. Drink up, folks!

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