There’s a reason why girls often take approximately 304 photos of themselves in their full Saturday-night, spent-two-hours-on-this-hair-and-makeup attire before even leaving the house: It’s the last time they’ll look put together before descending into the frizzy, sweaty realm of 1 a.m. hot-messness. You know—that golden hour before last call, when your eyeliner is making an escape down your face, your hair looks electrified, and your concealer already went home two songs ago? Beautiful.
Because for whatever reason (uh, humidity, dancing, sweat, etc.), going out and lookin’ good are not mutually exclusive—unless, of course, you’re a rave girl, where it’s literally part of your job to keep your face and hair somewhat picture-perfect while getting engulfed by swarms of sweaty people at EDM (electric dance music) festivals and club events. These girls are the ultimate experts at making their makeup and hair last all-night…and sometimes all-morning…long, and yes, they’re about to bestow a ton of insider knowledge on your brains.
First thing’s first, though: Rave girls are not strippers, or exotic dancers, or groupies. Rave girls are the glittery promoters of the EDM scene—and they take their job seriously. “We work with companies to bring people into events and keep them there, passing out massive balloons and glow sticks in between dancing,” says Marisa Barnes, a 19-year-old college student who’s part of The Iris Girls, the “it-girls” of the southeast music scene. “We have clothing sponsors, intricate costumes, and goals to meet; we’re not just shaking our asses on stage,” says Barnes, noting a sentiment very strongly echoed by raver Kelcey Rodriguez, a 28-year-old social media manager at iHeartRaves, a festival fashion brand on the West Coast, who’s a rave girl in the Unicorn Crew. “Rave girls aren’t all about dancing or drinking or going crazy,” said Rodriguez. “It’s not only a total lifestyle and culture change, but also a business for us.”
And being rave girls in two of the hottest corners of the country means that Barnes and Rodriguez are masters at keeping their hair and makeup intact, despite the mind-numbing heat they’ve encountered at festivals. So to help you before your next night out, even if it’s just at that dive bar down the street, we nabbed their best tips, tricks, and product recommendations to try on yourself—no glitter or glow sticks required (though highly encouraged).
ALWAYS BE PACKING
“I sweat like a dude, and this year’s Imagine Music Festival in Atlanta was outside in July, which meant we were working a crowd of 30-thousand people in hundred-degree heat,” says Barnes. “You can’t carry a purse around with you for touch-ups, so we all made sure to stash oil blotting sheets and powder highlighter in our bra or boots. It sounds weird, but blotting your T-zone and loading up your cheekbones and Cupid’s bow with a ton of powder highlighter instantly makes even the sweatiest skin look fresh and glowy again.”
PRIME LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT
“If you don’t prep correctly, your makeup has zero chance of staying on all night,” says Barnes, who always begins her routine by smoothing a dollop of NYX Angel Veil Primer over her combination skin (“it keeps my makeup matte and smooth”) and dabbing NYX Proof It! Eyeshadow Primer across her eyelids to prevent creases or smudges. Rodriguez, on the other hand, skips the face primer and instead sprays her clean skin with Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray—“it’s like a base coat for my makeup, except super lightweight”—before tapping Nars Pro-Prime Eyeshadow Base over her lids.
PERFECT YOUR BASE
Even the best primers and setting sprays won’t save you from looking like a hot mess if you’re using the wrong type of foundation and concealer. And for Barnes, the right base involves a three-product approach: Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer, which she blends in a triangle under her eyes, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation (“this stuff looks so natural, and it doesn’t budge”) buffed over her skin with a damp Beauty Blender, then Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder, which she taps down her nose and under her eyes, waiting 15 minutes before brushing off the excess with a small blush brush. “Letting the powder ‘bake’ on my skin first keeps my makeup looking matte hours later, even if I’m sweating,” says Barnes.
Rodriguez, however, prefers a lighter touch, opting for BB cream during raves. “Foundation feels too heavy on my skin, especially at outdoor events, so I like using Garnier 5-in-1 Miracle Skin Perfector BB Cream as a base, then setting it with a mineral powder, like Urban Decay De-Slick Mattifying Powder, for a more natural look,” says Rodriguez. “Then, if it creases or wears off, it’s not as obvious.”
MASTER THE WINGS
“My crew has found that thick, winged liner is the most-flattering look on stage and in photos,” says Barnes. “The shape gives your eyes this super-wide appearance, which kind of brightens up your face.” Her liquid liner of choice? Kat Von D Tattoo Liquid Liner. “Every rave girl I know uses it,” says Barnes (fun fact: Rodriguez does, too), “because it doesn’t flake, run, or smudge until you wash it off.” If your liner does smudge—like if you’re using kohl or pencil—don’t try to salvage it with paper towels in the bar bathroom. Instead, “rub your finger over a bit of Chapstick, then swipe at the liner to smudge it back in place without ruining your makeup,” says Rodriguez.
GO FOR LONG-WEAR
“I generally use lip stains, since I don’t want to be worrying about what my lips are doing, but if you want a lip color that’s one and done, use Jeffree Star lipsticks,” says Rodriguez. “They really stay on all night and give you the absolute best, most-opaque, truest color. And, because they’re totally matte, the colors won’t look super gaudy on your lips.”
SEAL IT ALL IN
We’re pretty sure that if we asked one-thousand rave girls what their number-one, most-important, do-or-die beauty product was, they would all say setting spray. “E.l.f. Matte Magic Mist & Set spray is so lightweight and seriously life-changing,” says Barnes, who spritzes it over her face as a last step (even after applying lipstick), to keep her makeup from sliding off. “Setting spray is life—I mist Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray on before and after my makeup, and my face really doesn’t budge,” says Rodriguez. But if you don’t have a setting spray handy, Rodriguez (cautiously) offers this cheap alternative: hairspray. “I wouldn’t recommend this for everyday use, or at all for someone with sensitive skin, but a fine mist of hairspray over your makeup will completely keep it from moving, even if you’re super sweaty,” she says.
SKIP THE FLAT-IRON
“The worst thing you could do before heading to a sweaty club is straighten your curly or wavy hair, because it’s going to frizz up and poof out no matter what you do,” says Rodriguez. “Usually, I’ll curl my hair with a curling iron, so when—not if; when—it falls, it’ll at least look tame and smooth. To keep the frizz away, I’ll rake Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Hair Serum through my damp hair before blow-drying it, then rub it a bit more on my dry ends.” Barnes agrees with the no-blowout rule, and keeps her hairstyles simple, instead: “I usually dab a bit of coconut oil around my hairline when my hair is sopping wet, which helps prevent flyaways, but if my hair is especially bad, I’ll clip it up into two space buns and add some glitter to my neck, cheeks, lips, and cleavage to detract from my hair,” says Barnes. “Glitter fixes everything.”
And, if all else fails and you look like a dumpster fire by midnight, just embrace it. The whole point of going out, whether it’s at an EDM club or a girls’ night out, is to have fun, so don’t freak about your frizzy hair or shiny skin. “That’s the best part of the rave community,” says Rodriguez. “Whoever you want to be and whatever you want to wear, you’ll still be accepted with open arms.”