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Every college girl needs to know the best college makeup essentials.
Figuring out your college makeup essentials is a difficult task. There are so many makeup products for college girls (and guys) out there. It also depends on how your makeup skills and your preference.
Wearing makeup in college depends on each girl (or guy)! Some people go for an everyday makeup look or take inspiration from natural college makeup looks from Tiktok or Pinterest.
For my college makeup routine, I personally do not spend more than 10-15 minutes applying it. I have a collection of both drugstore and high-end products. I also started to love makeup in college, so I’m looking for the next product to add to my natural look.
But here are the college makeup essentials I believe that every college girl (and guy) should have.
Everyday College Makeup Essentials
This is a key product for any college makeup routine. Primer smooths out your skin and makes applying makeup easier. It’s essentially prepping your skin for all the makeup that’s about to go on it. A good primer depending on your skin type and what how you want your makeup to end up looking like (e.g. matte or dewy).
For example, I have dry skin. So, I usually look for primers than makes hydrates my skin because at the end of the day, my skin is dry af.
First, find out what your skin type is. Figure out what kind of makeup finish you like. I like dewy because my skin is dry and looks sad most of the time. I use mainly hydrating primers for my skin to keep it from also looking patchy and super dry.
Also, you don’t need to put a full face of makeup on to use a primer. Primer’s main job is to make your pores smaller. You can use it to simply make your pores look smaller.
My favorite primers for college students are…
Next, concealer is a makeup essential you should definitely have in college. Concealer is often lighter than foundation. It’s meant to cover up any blemishes, hyperpigmentation, or redness. Depending on what you want, there is a most likely concealer out there for it.
I recommend finding a concealer that matches your skin tone perfectly for a natural look. It’s one of the main natural makeup essentials. You can go as light or as heavy as you want, as long as it looks natural.
If you want to contour your face, then get a concealer that is 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone and another that is 1-2 shader darker than your skin tone.
Personally, I use concealer on days where I’m not doing much or going anywhere and want to put makeup on. I use it to cover my acne scars and dark circles.
The current concealers I use as a student are…
Mascara should always be on every college girl makeup essentials list. Even if you are not a big makeup person, mascara is one of the easiest products to apply.
Mascara makes your eyelashes longer. That’s it for most of them at least.
Mascara is one of the first makeup essentials I bought. It was simple and not intimidating. There are several kinds of mascara out there that you can use. There are mascaras to make your lashes longer, to give them volume, or to even curl them.
You should have at least one (or even two) kinds of mascaras.
My top two mascaras:
4. Eyebrow Pencil
Another makeup essential item for college is an eyebrow pencil. Eyebrows over the past few years have become one of the main focal points of makeup.
You should figure out what your eyebrow shape is and work around it. I’d recommend staying away from doing a lot with your eyebrows at first.
Honestly, my eyebrow pencil is my number one college makeup essential. I don’t care if I look horrible, but I can’t leave my apartment without my eyebrows looking nice. I also like to add an eyebrow gel if I’m not in the mood to do my eyebrows.
My favorite eyebrow pencil is the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Whiz. This eyebrow pencil is seriously one of the best I’ve used. My roommate recommended to me after buying dupes of it and then running out after a few months. The Brow Whiz pencil lasts weeks and applies so nicely.
Eyeliner is another makeup essential for college. Most girls’ college makeup routine includes eyeliner. Up until recently, I didn’t use eyeliner because I find it so difficult and time-consuming.
You can enhance your eye shape or even change it with eyeliner. Eyeliner is one of the easier ways to change up your look. It can also make your eyes look more awake.
My current eyeliners are all from NYX:
If you are anything like me, you will burn without sunscreen. Even though sunscreen isn’t necessarily a makeup product, it’s one of the best skincare products for college students. I apply sunscreen before my primer. I recommend using sunscreen before applying your makeup to prevent your skin from burning and protect you from the sun’s harsh rays.
7. Lip gloss/chapstick
One of the best natural makeup essentials is lip gloss or lip balm, depending on what you want. Lip balm goes on before you place lip gloss on. It helps prevent dryness. Lip gloss gives your lips a nice shine as well.
The lip balm I recommend is the EOS Vanilla Bean Stick Lip Balm.
8. Setting spray
Setting sprays are essential for makeup. No kidding. It helps keep your makeup in place and from shifting. If you don’t want your makeup to mess up during the day, then buy use a setting spray. Just spray it a few times and you’re good.
One of the best products for college students is the NYX Dewy Finish Setting Spray.
9. Finishing powder
You should always have a powder to set your makeup. This product makes your makeup also stay put and also allows it to last all day. Up until this year, I didn’t really use a good setting powder and winged it.
The finishing powders I use now is the Maybelline Fit Me Loose Finishing Powder.
If you want a tanner look or more warmth to your skin, use a bronzer. Bronzers give your skin more life. It also can be used to contour your face. You also can make a bronzer out of any powder darker than your skin tone.
My favorite bronzer is the Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzer.
Finally, one of my favorite makeup products is blush. Before last year, I used to be so intimidated by blush. Thanks to Pinterest and TikTok, I became a huge fan of blush.
If you want a softer, more youthful look with your makeup, then use a blush. Blushes obviously give your skin a reddish glow.
Here are all the blushes I use (warning there are a lot):
Makeup Tools Essentials
If I could go back in time and tell my freshman self anything about makeup or even me a few months ago, it would be to invest more into your makeup tools.
Sure having that $50 eyeshadow palette, but what are you going to use to put it on your eyelid?
Invest in what you use to apply makeup. It will help you in the long run.
12. Makeup Brush Set
Save yourself the drama of buying a new makeup brush every few weeks and just buy a whole set. Save up for nice quality brushes. I started out with some cheap makeup brushes from Amazon by some unknown company. They worked fine for me as a high school student and still as a college student.
The makeup brush set I used as a beginner during my freshman year:
13. Makeup Brush Shampoo
One tip for everyone is to wash your brushes. You have no idea how gross makeup brushes get. I must admit that I didn’t start washing my brushes weekly or bi-weekly until last month. It’s one of my New Year’s Resolutions. That’s probably why my skin used to break out so badly.
My current brush shampoo is the EcoTools Makeup Brush Cleanser. This is honestly one of the best makeup products for college students due to how it is cheap and you only need to use it once a week. It also lasts a long time.
14. Eyelash Curler
Curling your lashes is one of the simplest things when doing your makeup. Using an eyelash curler before applying mascara gives your eyelashes a fuller look. Even on days, I don’t wear mascara, I use my eyelash curler for a natural everyday look for my lashes.
15. Makeup Bag
Makeup bags are one of the main college makeup essentials you must have. It is a vital makeup organization tip, especially for college students. Makeup bags also keep all your products in one spot. I have two: one for my apartment and another for when I travel.
Makeup bags prices can range, but it all depends on what you want. I just wanted a cute bag that looked like a mermaid. But Ulta gave me a free one for buying a certain amount of makeup. (Also, Ulta gives out so much free stuff when you sign up for their points program!)
16. Makeup Brush Holder
Have a space for your makeup brushes on your vanity or bathroom counter. I recommend that you buy a simple makeup brush holder. It is a great makeup organization tip. It’s simple and super cheap to do.
Keep your eyebrows from losing their shape with tweezers. You don’t need to spend much on tweezers. I only use them to pluck a few eyebrow hairs when I need to. But it’s a simple way to keep your eyebrows looking nice.
18. Eyeliner Sharpner
Dull eyeliner sucks! You need an eyeliner sharpener if you use a pencil eyeliner.
My current eyeliner sharper is from NYX. I use their 2-in-1 Pencil Sharpener.
19. Beauty Blender/Sponge
Finally, my last college makeup essential is a sponge or Beauty Blender. The real Beauty Blenders are kind of pricey but any other brands work fine. Sponges help blend in all the makeup together and make it look streak-free.
The dupe for Beauty Blenders I use the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Beauty Sponge. They work fine and are so budget-friendly. These sponges are perfect for beginners. Real Techniques typically has tons of great brushes and makeup tools that are so budget-friendly.
What Makeup Should I Bring To College?
Push aside the essentials for college makeup for a second and think,
“What makeup do I really need for college?”
If you have tons of makeup at home, I’d recommend sorting out what you actually use on a daily basis or at least is opened and within the expiration date. If you don’t have much makeup and are a beginner, I’d start off with the basics and learn.
Buy your makeup essentials for college bit by bit. Sign up for Ulta and Sephora’s rewards programs.
Makeups Tips For College Girls and Guys
Makeup takes time to get better at. Everyone (even with the help of YouTube and TikTok) has to go through a cring-y makeup phase. I’ve been wearing makeup since I was about 17 and still struggle.
Also, Instagram has given us a hyperbolic sense of makeup, so I’d be careful taking advice from some influencers. Lighting for the camera is intense so people apply more only for their makeup to look better on camera. Also, makeup is often Photoshopped on Instagram a lot. Be wary of what you try to replicate because it might not even be possible.
Throw away makeup when it expires. I’m not kidding! I used to break out so much when I used to use all the makeup that I had from high school. I was too cheap to buy some more and it made my skin worse. THROW AWAY OLD MAKEUP!
Ulta gives returns on makeup within 60 days. Utilize this! If a shade doesn’t match you, then don’t keep it. Return it and get a better one. There is nothing to be ashamed about.
Ask help from sales associates. If you go into any makeup/beauty store or section, then ask for help. I was always so shy to ask them, but that’s their job! I didn’t get the right products or even my correct shade until I asked for help from the nice ladies at Ulta. They will help you out better than you can on your own as a beginner.
Finally, YOU DON’T NEED EVERY SINGLE PRODUCT. One thing that has happened over the years is that beauty influencers and YouTubers recommend TONS of makeup products that we don’t need. There are so many useless, expensive products out there. You do not need to purchase every product that your favorite influencer recommends. I fell into that trap of buying so much makeup that it went to waste.
Buy what you need. If you want to support a beauty guru, go ahead. But don’t spend more than you have.
This blog post was all about college makeup essentials!
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