It can be hard to look your best it college, so finding good, affordable makeup is a must. (Illustration by Anastasia Willard, Moore College of Art and Design)

Beauty on a Budget: The Essential Makeup Guide for College Students

Staying fabulous and frugal is a hard balance to maintain. So, when you have to budget, keep in mind these cost-effective products.

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It can be hard to look your best it college, so finding good, affordable makeup is a must. (Illustration by Anastasia Willard, Moore College of Art and Design)

Staying fabulous and frugal is a hard balance to maintain. So, when you have to budget, keep in mind these cost-effective products.

Many college students can relate to the struggle of cramming to study for an exam or staying up to finish an essay before its deadline. The lack of sleep usually results in breakouts, dark circles and other imperfections. One is bound to look like a disheveled, hot mess. But if you’re in a frantic search for a way to appear presentable, then look no further. This guide provides makeup and beauty tips that will guarantee a quick and magical facial transformation! Just run to the drugstore and buy some essentials. Then proceed to apply with your fingers or brushes, depending on how fancy you want to get.

Ballin’ on a Budget

Maintaining a makeup routine can be expensive as costs for different products add up. However, it’s still possible to be the belle of the ball without spending much. Just remember that the drugstore is your best friend. Instead of running to Sephora to spend hundreds of dollars on high-end, luxury makeup, it’s possible to get the same beauty look with dupes from Walgreens, Ulta Beauty or Target. Often times, drugstores will also provide coupons or bundle deals for makeup.

It is worth noting that there’s a drawback to investing in cheap makeup instead of splurging. Sometimes, the quality of the ingredients may be compromised. It costs more in production for high-end companies to develop better chemical formulas and to incorporate nicer quality ingredients. This doesn’t mean that drugstore counterparts are not to be trusted. Drugstore makeup products perform just as well as more expensive items. Here are the best brands for all your makeup essentials.

Recommended Foundation/BB Cream

Foundation or BB cream is a must have essential. This is literally the base of one’s face. Foundation has the ability to cover up acne and blemishes; it makes your face look flawless like a porcelain doll. When looking into foundation, it’s important to pick the right coverage and appropriate shade match.

Coverage usually varies from light to heavy. Light coverage is perfect for individuals who do not have problematic skin, but just want to have a smooth, blurred face. For light coverage, BB cream or tinted moisturizers are highly recommended. Medium to heavy coverage is suitable for those who want to hide the imperfections or discolorations in the face.

Liquid or powder foundations will help in providing the extra oomph in needed coverage. In addition to coverage, it’s important to pick a foundation shade that blends in well with your skin complexion. When doing so, one has to consider their undertones (cool, warm or neutral). Knowing the right undertone will help in making makeup appear more natural. Also, match the foundation with your neck color so that there’s no disparities in the face color when compared to the rest of the body.

For light coverage, give Maybelline Dream Cushion Fresh Face Liquid Foundation a chance. The foundation is lightweight and is not cakey when applied. There’s a puff applicator to tap the foundation into the skin. The formula leaves a natural dewy application so that one is glowing.

Another great product for light coverage is CoverGirl Outlast All Day Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation, which is a liquid foundation with 3-in-1 power. It’s a foundation that is also a built-in concealer and primer. It also has an SPF 20, which helps in protecting the skin from harsh ultraviolet solar rays. The foundation blends well with the skin to provide all day matte coverage without breaking apart.


For medium to heavy coverage, Revlon’s Colorstay Makeup For Combo/Oily Skin might be the answer. This liquid foundation guarantees up to 24-hour long wear. It’s oil free and leaves users with a matte finish. For individuals who do tend to get oily and worry about excess shine, this is a go-to foundation. Application is flawless and does not accentuate dry patches or splotches within the skin. The coverage is medium and buildable but does not clog pores, nor does it lead to excessive breakouts.

Nyx Total Control Drop Foundation is a drop foundation that allows for customizable coverage. Blending on the skin is easy and smooth. The finish is velvety and matte. It does not look heavy or cakey on the skin because the glycerin in the product gives it moisture.

Concealer Choices

Along with foundation, concealer is essential. Concealer is used to cover up blemishes, discolorations and to brighten up the skin. It’s usually applied under the eye area to cover up dark circles. When purchasing concealer, it’s suggested for individuals to buy a concealer that is one skin tone lighter than the foundation shade. This allows for the concealer to highlight and brighten up dull and dark areas.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer + Treatment is popular amongst makeup gurus and vloggers. This product helps in reducing puffiness and swelling around the eye area. It also does an excellent job at erasing dark circles and fine lines so that individuals look youthful.

The concealer also does not crease and provides excellent coverage for day-to-day wear. It will stay on the face the whole day when college students are busy with attending classes and hurrying off to social events.

Another option is L.A. Girl Pro Conceal HD Concealer, which is one of the most affordable products in the drugstore. It’s extremely popular too, as many shades sell out on Amazon and Ulta. The shade range is amazing, with a variety of 30 shades. The formula is high coverage but does not feel cakey or heavy. It is lightweight and lasts for a long time without creasing. It’s easy to apply, as one can squirt some out of the tube and blend it in with their fingers.

Must-Have Mascara

At first it may be intimidating to apply mascara. It’s a natural reflex to flinch when using a lash wand near the eye area. After all, no one wants to risk poking their eye out. However, practice makes perfect and mascara is a great tool to make one’s eyes stand out. Just use the lash brush to apply some mascara coating on the upper and lower lashes, then proceed to use an eyelash curler to curl them. Your lashes will be on fleek and classmates would not dare to turn their eyes away from you.

Maybelline Great Lash Mascara is fantastic because the formula provides thickening and lengthening of the lashes without clumping. The mascara goes on smoothly and coverage is buildable with multiple applications. It’s good for individuals with sensitive eyes because of its special blend. The mascara comes off easily with micellar water or liquid makeup remover. The only drawback to the mascara is that it’s not waterproof, so don’t expect for black chunks not to run down your face on a rainy day.

L’Oreal Paris Makeup Voluminous Original Volume Building Mascara is a fantastic product for lashes. The mascara has been a long standing product in the makeup industry. The formula guarantees that there will be five times more volume for lashes and the mascara is highly buildable. Longer and fuller lashes are achievable with several applications.

The mascara wand is also easy to work with so that the tiniest lash hairs are reached. This mascara also comes in different colors for people who like to experiment with different makeup looks. Like the Maybelline mascara, this product is also not waterproof so don’t try to wear it when you go swimming or engage in water-based activities.

Blush (Rouge) Options

Blush, as the title suggests, is used to make your face blush. It is used to highlight one’s cheek area. This is a great product to provide some color and rosiness to one’s complexion. It also can double up as an eyeshadow to enhance the eye area.

When it comes to applying blush, be gentle with how much you put on. Too much blush could result in one looking like a clown. Too little may not be enough to accentuate the cheekbones and to provide lively color to the face. So, the best advice is to apply in moderation.

Physicians Formula Butter Blush is an affordable option that can easily be integrated into a makeup routine. The first thing to note about the product is its wonderful aroma. It smells like paradise with the rich scent of coconut infused with butter. The formula consists of pearl and soft-focus pigments that help to smooth skin texture and provide incredible pigmented payoff. It also provides a warm glow to the skin. Blush payoff is initially light, so this allows for buildable layering.

Another product to try is e.l.f. Blush. E.l.f. Cosmetics is one of the most affordable drugstore brands out there. Their products are cheap and of high quality. They make one of the best drugstore blushes as the formula provides a healthy glow to the face. The blushes are not overly pigmented, rather they have a sheer payoff. This allows for buildable layering and for a natural look for day-to-day makeup. Apply a little bit, and it goes a long way in ensuring that you look alive and awake.

Lipstick Varieties

Lipstick is a makeup product created out of mixing pigments, waxes, oils and emollients. They provide color and texture to one’s lips. Lipsticks and lip glosses are used to provide some pop to the lips. Lip liner pencils are another way to add color and shape to your lips or just be used as a long-lasting base for any lip color. Bold and bright colors can brighten up any makeup look. They can also draw in attention from onlookers to focus on one’s face. Don’t be afraid to play around with different lip colors and to be bold when you walk into your class.

First, Flower Beauty Petal Pout Lip Color comes to mind. Besides the sleek packaging of the product, this lipstick’s formula allows for vivid color payoff and smooth application onto the lips. It’s not drying and provides conditioning and protection for lips with fused antioxidants. It’s hydrating and nourishing.

Individuals are left with a healthy shine and glossy finish upon application. Another plus about the product is that there’s also a huge shade range to pick from. This allows for lip-tastic expression and creativity.

For a completely different look, try Milani Color Statement Matte Lipstick. Those who prefer a matte finish on the lips will find that this Milani lipstick is the perfect product to buy. The wide range of colors allows for individuals to play around with lipsticks before finding the perfect color to match makeup looks. The formula is long lasting but does not dry the lips. It is infused with vitamin A and C to provide much needed hydration and nutrients.

Makeup can be fun and hassle-free. With the bare essentials listed above, makeup routines can be quick and convenient for students who are on the go. Instead of looking dead and tired, this little bit of makeup can go a long way in brightening up your complexion.

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