How To Keep Your Hair Clean At Music Festivals

by Maxine Builder

There's a lot of pressure to look good at music festivals. Just look at how much focus on fashion there is at Coachella this year. But that doesn't mean it's easy to do. When you go to a music festival, especially an outdoor one in the middle of the summer, you're going to get dirty, so you should be prepared accordingly. I've been to about a dozen day and weekend-long music festivals over the years, and I've made many festival fashion mistakes. I've learned to adjust my clothing as needed, but there are also adjustments you should make to your beauty routine.

The last piece of the festival fashion and beauty puzzle is hair, which might be the trickiest to get right. Getting greasy hair at a music festival makes total sense. It's hot, and you're outdoors for three or four days with limited access to showers. But one problem no one ever mentions is how matted you hair can get after a weekend of camping and romping and moshing. Your whole body goes through a lot of physical stress at a music festival, and your hair is no exception. It's a challenge to keep your hair healthy, stylish, and clean, especially with all the natural elements fighting against you.

There are some music festivals where attendees have the luxury of spending their nights in a hotel room rather than a tent, like Austin City Limits and Ultra in downtown Miami, neither of which offer camping options. In those cases, haircare is less of a problem. But for all the festival attendees who are pitching a tent and sleeping in a field in the middle of nowhere for three nights to see their favorite bands, these nine tips to keep your hair clean — and healthy — are for you.

1. Savor Your Last Shower

Not Your Mother's Intensive Hair Unit Renewal Treatment, $11, Amazon; Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask, $36, Amazon

The shower you take before you hit the road will be your last shower for a long time, so savor it. Take your time and treat yourself, because you and your hair won't be this clean again for several days. It's also a good opportunity to take some steps to prevent damage and breakage before you go to the festival. Apply a hair mask, like Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask or Not Your Mother's Intensive Hair Unit Renewal Treatment. These treatments take less than 10 minutes, and will prevent lasting damage, especially with all the bad stuff you're about to do to your hair.

2. Avoid Any And All Hair Products...

Leave whatever products you usually use to style your hair at home. This includes mousse, hairspray, and any kind of hair serum or oil. Your hair will already be greasy by the end of the first day, so more hair product will just weigh it down and ultimately make your hairdo look worse. Between any excess product and all the sweating you'll be doing, you'll probably be more likely to break out along your hairline, too.

3. Except For Dry Shampoo

Batiste Dry SHampoo, $8, Amazon; Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo, $10, Amazon

The only hair product I would recommend using while you're at a festival is dry shampoo, because it is magical. I wish someone had told me about dry shampoo before I went to my first music festival. Two of my favorites are Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Refreshing Dry Shampoo, because it has a nice lingering coolness after application, which will feel so nice in the summertime heat, and Batiste Dry Shampoo, which comes in a variety of scents to mask any funky smells that may arise. Most dry shampoos also come in a travel-size, which is great to pack in your day bag in case you want a mid-day touch-up. For best results, apply dry shampoo before going to sleep, so it distributes itself evenly while you toss and turn.

4. Comb Daily

Sephora Tidy Detangling Comb, $8, Sephora; Tangle Teezer Compact Styler, $17, Amazon

Before liberally spraying on your dry shampoo at night, try to at least run a wide-tooth comb, like Sephora's Tidy Detangling Comb, or even some fingers, through your hair. Again, don't use a detangling spray because the additional product will make your hair even greasier, but trying to brush it out will at least help evenly distribute your hair's natural oils and prevent massive knots at the end. You can also try something more heavy-duty if you know your hair has a tendency to tangle; Tangle Teezer's Compact Stylers are perfect for this, and small enough to fit into any bag.

5. If You're Not Combing Your Hair, Don't Touch It

The best advice is to leave your hair alone as much as possible because you will be sweaty and gross, and touching your hair isn't going to help anything. Find a style that works for you, set it, and forget it. Keeping your hands off your hair is, by far, the most reliable way to keep your hair clean, despite all the dust and mud you'll come across.

6. Wear Bandanas And Hats

Wearing a bandanna or a hat will help you not touch your hair. There's also some practicality to both of these choices. A bandana will keep sweat out of your eyes, and a baseball cap will keep sun out of your eyes. Bring a couple of each, because you're bound to lose something along the way.

7. Braids Are Your Best Friends

There are a lot of different hairstyles that will hold up throughout a festival, but for me, the best choice has always been braids. They're low-maintenance, especially if you do a nice, tight one at the beginning of the day. A braid will also prevent nasty knots when you take them out.

8. There Will Be Showers, If You Really Need One

Most weekend-long outdoor music festivals have showers available if you're feeling desperate. But this really should be considered a final resort, since there won't be any way to blow dry or style your hair afterward and, in my experience, the showers have stupidly long lines, and they cost quite a bit of money. If you really can't stand the thought of going without washing your hair for three days and taking a shower is going to make you feel most comfortable, then go for it. But I would still recommend doing everything else first and seeing if you can stick it out until you get home.

9. Be Ready For The Worst When You Get Home

There will be no shower sweeter than the one you take after coming home from several days of camping at a music festival. Be ready to spend a lot of time in the shower, rinsing off all the mud and dust. This is also the point in time when you'll have to take on those tangles. Use a heavy-duty spray like Mane 'n Tail Detangler, and one of those wide-tooth combs or detangling brushes.. There are lots of great tutorials on how to detangle your hair, and you'll probably need all of them. But if you've followed these tips, your hair will hopefully come out of the festival with as little damage as possible, while still looking pretty stylish.

Mane N Tail Detangler, $3, Amazon

Images: Author's Own; Giphy; Courtesy Brands