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Low-Maintenance Grooming for Camping Festivals

posted by Laura Baker-Finch on May 21, 2012

At every camping festival, levels of acceptable hygiene vary from hippy to high-maintenance. Some don't shower at all (and probably rarely do normally), and while you might frown upon their greasy hair and BO (especially when you're squeezed between two in a crowd trying to catch a glimpse of your favorite band without suffocating), they're the lesser of two evils. I'd take a dirty hippy as a camping companion over an I'd-rather-miss-my-favorite-band-than-go-without-makeup type. 


Personally, I think I fall somewhere in between. I'm totally content sans makeup and would never miss a must-see set to take a shower, but some habits are harder to shake. After a few camping festivals, however, I think I have a pretty good system down. So leave the excessive makeup and hair straighteners at home and add these seven simple items to your packing list instead to stay clean (ish) and cute without missing the entire festival in bathroom and shower lines. 

1. Baby Wipes/Wet-Ones/Make-Up Removing Wipes:

These are great for everything from a full on "shower" to removing the day's sunscreen, sweat, and dirt before putting on extra layers at night or crawling into your sleeping bag. 

 2. Portable Mirror: 

Many festival bathrooms aren't equipped with mirrors and while it's sort of refreshing to go without seeing your reflection for a few days, sometimes you just need a quick look - whether it's to apply sunscreen (don't forget!) or to double-check you're at least semi-decent to flirt with the group of guys in the neighboring tent. It's an acceptable indulgence as long as you don't spend hours in front of it each morning before emerging from your tent. 

3. Bandanas/Hats

Hair accessories are ideal for covering up greasy, unwashed, and/or unbrushed hair. Hide your locks under a wide brim hat (also great for sun protection) or put it up in a bun with a bandana for a fast and fashionable fix. 

 4. Dry Shampoo: 

Another great way to combat greasy, dirty hair is dry shampoo. With such thin hair, I've always been a fan of the concept of a quick, between-shower grease solution but my hair is also very dark, thus it took a while to find a brand that didn't make me look like a grey-haired grandma or the loser of a baby powder fight. But now many brands have products specifically tailored for your hair color and type - I adore Batiste's Dark & Deep Brown Dry Shampoo. Not only is dry shampoo good for a skipped shower, but for streamlining your shower process as well. Even if you choose to suffer through the line and make it to a shower, dry shampoo allows you to quickly wash your body, keep the line moving, and bypass putting your entire head under the what is sure to be freezing water. 

 5. Rubber Flip-Flops: 

Flip-flops are far from the ideal festival shoe, but while boots, sneakers, or wellies are a must for the festival itself, rubber flip-flops keep showering and late night tent-to-bathroom walks semi-hygienic. 

6. Extra Towel: 

Sure you need a towel for the shower, but consider bringing an extra as well, if space permits of course. If you spill a beer in your tent, need to wipe down a dewy tarp, or want to create a makeshift dressing room - do you really want to use the towel you clean yourself with? 

7. Colgate Wisps: 

Keep your mouth minty fresh and teeth speck-free without trips to the bathroom sinks (if there even are any). I don't recommend them as a permanent alternative to a toothbrush and toothpaste, but they're great when you may cut back your normal teeth cleaning routine from twice to once a day, or if you don't have any water handy. 

To recap - Step 1: take your hair straightener, blow dryer, curler, and 10 pound makeup case from your festival bag. Step 2: replace them with these essential camping items. Step 3: show off how you camp like a pro (while still turning heads) at one of the upcoming camping festivals, like CoachellaSasquatch, Bonnaroo, Firefly, or Splendour in the Grass.