My love of beauty products can’t be restrained, even when making time to use them means a little less sleep or rushed mornings now that school is back in session. I will have at least groomed brows, highlighted cheeks, and a lip color on at my 9 a.m. if it kills me. If you were planning to pick up some refills of your usual reliable products during back-to-school shopping, read on to find some new essentials to add to your cart. From foundation that perfects your skin in seconds flat to a primer that fakes a well-rested glow, our community members recommended their hair, makeup, and skincare essentials that are perfect for the start of the school year.
Low maintenance foundation for running out the door to class
When you can’t be bothered to spend more than 10 seconds blending your foundation but still want to look flawless, reach for Benefit Cosmetics Hello Happy Soft Blur Foundation ($29).“I’m all about low maintenance, super fast makeup routines when it comes to getting ready for class,” says Kate Day, Loyola University Chicago class of 2020. “This foundation is so easy to apply even when I’m rushing, because the formula is so lightweight it practically melts into my skin. It gives me a nice medium overage and a glowing finish that lasts all day but I feel like I’m wearing no makeup—it’s seriously a game changer.”
Buildable eyebrow pomade for quick and natural brows
Technically a gel eyeliner, Samu Sibiya, LISOF Design and Retail Academy class of 2020, swears by MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline ($18) for shaping her eyebrows. “If you’re trying to achieve a natural makeup look for school, it’s definitely a go-to product because it’s not too harsh and you can build up the intensity of your brows. It’s also really easy and quick to use, just fill in with an angled brush and you’re good to go.” If you only have a few minutes in the morning, a structured brow helps define and polish your face in a flash.
Hair styling cream to amp up your bedhead before class
For a one-step hair routine when you need more time to focus on picking your OOTD, Kate Hartman, Southern Methodist University class of 2019, recommends Bumble and Bumble Brilliantine cream ($24). “I love it because I air-dry my hair and the only thing I need is Brilliantine balm. It gives my hair a kind of languid texture with major Serena van der Woodsen vibes.” And who doesn’t want to channel the Upper East Side’s classic “it” girl?
Hair oil that makes your curls soft and bouncy
Add Ouai Hair Oil ($28) to your stash of go-to hair products, especially if you’ve got curls. “It works wonders on my curly hair and it smells amazing, just like sunflowers,” says Geordon Wollner, University of Wisconsin-Madison class of 2019. The oil has notes of violet, gardenia, ylang ylang, and white musk, and it targets split ends and heat damage. “I usually put it on after I get out of the shower. It just makes my hair extremely soft, and I never feel like it dries out the next day.”
Pore-erasing primer that keeps your makeup on all day
Got a full class schedule, plus an after-hours job (or a few)? This primer has got your makeup’s back, even through the longest days. Avery Rizzotto, University of South Florida class of 2020, has decided on Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Primer ($7) as her holy grail primer after testing tons of alternatives. “Primer has always been a crucial part of my makeup routine. I swear by this primer because not only does it literally erase my pores, but it prevents my foundation from getting patchy and helps it stay all day long.”
A body brush to de-stress after a long day of class
Alexis Angelini, University of Connecticut class of 2020, suggested something I had never heard of but now must try: the EcoTools Dry Body Brush ($4). The handheld design of the brush makes it easy to exfoliate your whole body before you hop in the shower, instead of using a messy sugar or coffee scrub mid-lather. “There are so many benefits to dry brushing. My body already feels so much smoother, and it can help improve circulation.”
Refreshing face wash to keep your skin clear even through all-nighters
Washing your face after a night of studying at the library is easily one of the best feelings ever. Kimberly Nguyen, University of Connecticut class of 2020, loves Tula Purifying Face Cleanser ($28) for its fresh scent, thanks to a blend of blueberries, chicory root, and turmeric root. “It’s super refreshing and did wonders for clearing my skin, especially on those late nights up.”
Non-drying gloss for a quick swipe of color
If you’re looking for a new no-fuss, keep-in-your-backpack lip color, Almay Goddess Gloss ($10) should be in your next online order. Kimberly’s favorite color is Angelic, a sheer iridescent pink. “It doesn’t dry out my lips, and it’s a simple swipe of pretty shimmery color.”
A hydrating face mask to give you a glow through the colder months
While pricey, Fresh Rose Face Mask ($62) is worth it to Sarah Singer, Quinnipiac University class of 2020. “It’s the only mask I’ve ever used that gives immediate results. After five minutes, I have a glow I didn’t have before. It’s perfect for hydration as the weather gets colder and my skin gets dryer.” Infused with an average of two and a half roses worth of petals per jar, the mask is formulated to solve your dryness and redness issues.
Affordable cool-toned liquid lipsticks perfect for fall
Sometimes spending more doesn’t mean you get a better product. Jessi Simpson, Illinois State University class of 2020, has dished out for more luxury liquid lipsticks, but has settled on L’Oréal Infallible Pro Matte Les Chocolats Scented Liquid Lipstick ($10) as her new favorite. “This stuff lasts all day compared to others liquid lipsticks. Plus, they smell like chocolate wafers. The cool tone browns look stunning for transitioning into fall.”
A compact, warm-toned eyeshadow palette to stash in your dorm
For a small addition to your eyeshadow collection that packs a punch, Callie Bisset, Emerson College class of 2019, recommends the Huda Beauty Obsessions Eyeshadow Palette ($27) in coral. The collection of yellow, pink, and, of course, coral tones fit in the size of your palm, but the palette still includes a handy mirror. “It has gorgeous warm tones perfect for fall, plus the tiny size makes it convenient if you don’t have a lot of storage space in a dorm room. I love the pigment in Huda Beauty shadows.”
A minty face mask for keeping stress breakouts at bay
Skin not dealing well with the back-to-school rush? Lush Mask Of Magnaminty ($15) is here to save the day. “It’s made for making stress breakouts disappear, something that’s definitely useful those first couple of weeks adjusting to new classes,” says Vanessa Shepherd, Marist College class of 2021. Its fresh mint scent is a great pick-me-up, and ground adzuki beans create an exfoliating sensation when you rinse the mask off.
A glow-giving primer for when you aren’t well-rested
An aptly-named college student beauty product, Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer ($34) is a favorite of Kat Tinsley, Sarah Lawrence College class of 2021. “I’m studying economics, art, international relations, and history, which means I have a lot of late nights. This primer just makes my skin look fresh, awake, moisturized, and glowing. I sometimes wear it on top of moisturizer and without any makeup.”
Opening image by @amandasmitthh.
What beauty products will you be rocking this semester? Sound off in the comments below!