Skincare can sound daunting; seeing the enormous price tags on 1 ounce of product and the routines that seem to be 1,000 steps long doesn’t sound very appealing to a typical college student. But taking care of your skin is important, and there are easy ways to make caring for it fun and affordable. Here’s how to prioritize skincare around a hectic college schedule and budget.
The first and easiest thing to do is some initial research. You’ll probably want to pinpoint your skin type to ensure that you’re looking for the correct products later on. There are hundreds of quizzes, visual guides and other resources online to help you determine your skin type and which items would be smart to incorporate into your routine. Doing the work ahead of time can save you lots of time and money later when you know what types of products to avoid.
For things like acne or discoloration, there are distinct ingredients often put into products that are used specifically to target certain problem areas. Having a list on hand of what ingredients to look out for depending on your skincare goals can be a huge help in your search to tackle your problem areas.
Some companies like Paula’s Choice have regimen guides and tips that make it super easy to plan what you might want your routine to look like. If you’re not sure about a specific brand, there’s an entire community of estheticians and skincare enthusiasts online, like Sean Garrette and Nayamka Roberts-Smith. Many of these brands and skincare gurus lay out products and regimens in a simple way for skincare beginners.
2. Find your staples
Once you’ve got some general information about your own skin and products you think you might want to try, you should establish a basic routine. The few staples you should have include a cleanser, a moisturizer and sunscreen. At the very least, skin experts say you should clean, hydrate and protect your skin with these products on a daily basis, the most important being protecting with SPF (you should be wearing sunscreen every time you go outside, regardless of the rest of your routine). These types of products are all easily accessible and fairly cheap at most drugstores.
If you’re concerned about finding the staples that will work for you, the drugstore is a great place to start. For the foundation of your routine, they have a wide variety of products that usually come in large quantities for decent prices. Some highly recommended brands by estheticians are CeraVe and Neutrogena, which are fairly popular in most drugstores. Once you know your skin type and have a general plan of what types of products you want, it can be much less intimidating to find something in the massive selection of items.
3. Sprinkle in some extras
If you’re looking to add a little more pizzazz into your regimen or have some specific skin issues to target, beauty stores like Ulta and Sephora carry lots of more advanced products. Even though that sounds more expensive, both carry brands with fairly cheap price tags without sacrificing the quality of their products. My favorite brand at Sephora is The Ordinary, a skincare-specific company with an abundance of different products all under $30 (most of them averaging between $5-$10).
Some of my favorite bonus items include serums. I use hyaluronic acid, which is great for hydrating dry skin and giving your face a more natural glow. Like lots of other college students, one of the biggest problem areas on my face is acne. Ever since using salicylic acid to combat any blemishes, I’ve noticed a huge reduction in their appearance. While these serums aren’t necessarily a staple in everyone’s routine and won’t work for every single skin type, they can make a huge difference in addition to other skincare practices.
4. Find time in your schedule, even if it’s between other responsibilities
Other than a hefty price tag on products, finding time in a chaotic college schedule is one of the top reasons students don’t adhere to a skincare routine. An easy way to fit time to nurture your skin in a packed schedule is to find areas where it’s possible to multitask.
For example, you can wait for one product to dry on your face while you brush your teeth. Or you can apply products between chapters of a book you have to read for class. If you can find a spare five minutes between all of your other responsibilities, you can easily fit in a simple routine to freshen up your skin.
If you have time but don’t feel motivated for another reason, consider it a form of self-care. Lighting a candle and doing your skincare routine can feel luxurious if you make it that way, and it can be a relaxing way to pamper yourself while caring for your skin. You can even invite friends or roommates to join to keep you motivated and to generally make it more fun.
5. Evaluate your other habits
Becoming more aware of things that touch your face other than skincare products can be important to pinpoint the cause of your problem areas. Practicing other sanitary habits can help keep your skin healthy, and are significantly less time consuming and more cost effective than other forms of care.
Subconsciously doing things like touching your face too often with dirty hands can cause breakouts. Or talking on the phone and touching the screen to the side of your face. Even using towels and pillowcases that could probably stand to be changed out more often can contribute to build up of dirt on the face. While fixing these alone might not totally clear up your skin, trying to actively change bad habits can be the easiest thing to do to prevent certain issues.
When you strategize and research a little further, skincare can be a no-brainer. Even for the busiest and most frugal of college students, there are easy ways to incorporate healthier skin habits into your everyday life. However you choose to include a regimen in your daily routine, remember that all skin is beautiful and deserves to be taken care of.