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At Coachella, Almighty Self-Expression

If not for being postponed due to the pandemic, Coachella would be celebrating its 20th birthday this April. From Björk to Beyoncé, Billie Eilish to Lizzo, it’s been one hell of a show onstage. And it’s been one hell of a show offstage, too, with 125,000 festival goers busting beauty norms in favor of almighty self-expression.

As documented in the new YouTube film, “Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert,” as the festival matured beyond alternative rock to include hip-hop, pop, electronica and world music, the crowd became more diverse. So, too, did the beauty looks, which have ranged from indie music darling to boho goddess, Nineties raver redux to neo-soul sister and many more. (Is it any wonder the two weekends are also a blitz of beauty brand activations from the likes of Sephora, Pixi, Tresemmé and YSL? We will see who returns for the festival’s rescheduled dates Oct. 9 to 11 and 16 to 18.)

Over the last few years, with the rise of the gender-inclusivity and body-positivity movements (and social media show-and-tell), Coachella has become a playground for ever more bold hair, makeup and near nudity, where butt cheeks are just as likely to be bedazzled as cheekbones, and everyone is dressed to self-express.

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Unicorn hair color, flower crowns, space buns, pierced braids, under-eye glitter, face gems, rainbow mascara, holographic lips, scrunchies, butterfly clips, beads, bows and stacked barrettes are just a few of the trends that have come out to play in the Southern California desert, where everyone’s a model and Instagram star. Here’s a look back: