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10 Back-to-College Skin and Hair Essentials


Back to college hair and skin essentials
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In my last post, I highlighted some awesome tried-and-true makeup essentials for back-to-college, and this time around, I’m going to focus on must-have skin and hair products for the upcoming semester.

Going to Target or Walmart or wherever you do your shopping can be overwhelming, so I’m happy to put together this comprehensive guide with great skincare and haircare products. Refreshing your skincare routine is a great way to feel more confident in the mornings and also to fix any skin problems you may be having! Also, who doesn’t love having awesome hair for class? Let’s go on to the list:

Your list of essentials:

  • Moisturizer (with SPF!)
  • Cleansing wipes (for late nights)
  • Cleanser
  • Face mask (use once or twice weekly!)
  • Face scrub
  • Acne spot corrector
  • Deep conditioner
  • Leave-in styling spray
  • Hairspray
  • Hairbands

What to buy (in order!):

Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer in SPF 50

Neutrogena healthy defense daily moisturizer in spf 50
$14.99 at Ulta

This stuff is completely comprehensive – which is exactly what you want in a moisturizer. It has SPF 50, so it definitely will protect your skin, plus it’s also formulated for sensitive skin. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, it’s still a good idea to use a moisturizer for sensitive skin just because it’s gentler and calms your skin. This one is also non-greasy and absorbs super quickly!

Murad Acne Complex Clarifying Wipes

Murad acne complex clarifying wipes
$18 at Ulta

These things literally changed my skin. I have oily skin that’s prone to little red marks (that aren’t acne, they’re just marks!) and these wipes made them go away. They’re made with witch hazel, which is a miracle worker for young skin. I cannot rave about these enough!

Clean & Clear Essentials Foaming Facial Cleanser

Clean & clear essentials foaming facial cleanser
$5.99 at Ulta

I have been using this cleanser probably for 7 years. It does everything you want a cleanser to do, like removing makeup (even stubborn waterproof mascara), dirt, and impurities. AND it’s oil free. Perfection!

LUSH Oatifix Fresh Face Mask

Lush oatfix fresh face mask
$6.95 at LUSH

I’ve posted about LUSH face masks before, and I’ll do it again! I’ll also never stop talking about how great they are. This one in particular works amazingly on dry, sensitive, and all-around troubled skin. Made with oatmeal and bananas, this mask moisturizes wonderfully and just takes care of all skin problems.

St. Ives Green Tea Scrub

St. Ives green tea scrub
$4.99 at Target

Since not everyone has the same skin type, I wanted to include another facial mask option. This is the BEST scrub for acne-prone or oily skin. You can use this daily, which enhances how effective it is! The scrub itself is not coarse, so it won’t irritate skin, and the green tea calms redness.

Neutrogena On the Spot Acne Treatment

Neutrogena on the spot acne treatment
$7.99 at Ulta

This spot treatment is made with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, so there’s less chance of it irritating your skin or  making your breakout redder, which is my favorite aspect of this product. It also doesn’t overdry skin. Overall, this is the best spot treatment I’ve ever used, and InStyle Magazine even rated it their number one choice!

Wella Enrich Moisturizing Treatment for Fine/Normal or Coarse Hair

Wella enrich moisturizing treatment
$12 at Ulta or at Wella salons

This deep conditioner (or hair mask) is definitely a salon-quality product. Let’s talk about the scent for a second – Wella uses Dolce & Gabbana’s fragrance creators to formulate every one of their scents, so obviously all of their products smell amazing. Scent aside, this mask works so well to help moisturize dry or damaged hair. I use the entire Wella Enrich line on my hair and I have noticed that it is so much healthier and shinier. I love, love, love this stuff!

John Frieda FrizzEase Daily Nourishment Leave-In Conditioning Spray

John frieda frizzease daily nourishment leave in conditioning spray
$5.39 at Target

This product is cheaper than a salon brand and it works just as well! It moisturizes your hair just enough that it won’t frizz during the day or suffer puffiness from humidity. It’s perfect for everyday use!

Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray

Bumble and bumble surf spray
$25 at Sephora

This saltwater-based styling spray adds volume and texture to hair to give it that lived-in wavy feeling without drying out your hair. Bumble and Bumble even added kelp and seaweed extracts to add moisture to your hair, so it’s almost like spraying the ocean on it, but better!

L’Oreal Paris Elnett Extra StrongHold UV Hair Spray

L’oreal paris elnett extra stronghold uv hairspray
$12.99 at Target

This hairspray has been a popular favorite for over 40 years, so you know it works. This product is definitely tried and true. It sprays on so fine you can barely feel or see it, and it doesn’t leave your hair crispy or gross-feeling. It’s the best hairspray I’ve ever used, and I plan on using it forever!

Twistband Solid Headband Set

$10 at

I know these aren’t technically a haircare product, but they are so revolutionary and amazing. These hair ties do not cause damage or dents, and they stay in your hair all day. They’re wonderful, I use one almost every day!

2 More Skincare and Haircare Tips for College

  • DON’T pile on the styling products! Stick to one or two after you’ve dried your hair or let it air dry in the morning. Using a whole bunch of products can dry out your hair or make it flat and oily. Owning a few salon-quality products does not mean you have to use all of them every single day.
  • For skin, don’t assume that your cleansing routine should be the same all year. In the winter skin is naturally drier, so pick something a bit creamier for your moisturizer and also for your cleanser! Don’t be afraid to use something that isn’t oil free, just know your skin and know what works. Sometimes a little oil might be what your skin needs!

What do you think?

What do you think of these hair and skin picks? Do you already own any of them? Let me know in the comments if you’ve used any of these products or if you have any other products that you think are essentials in your daily routine!

Posted on on August 13, 2013 / Filed Under: Beauty & Hair / Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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18 Responses to “10 Back-to-College Skin and Hair Essentials”

  1. 1
    August 13th, 2013 at 10:38 am

    I use that Neutrogena sunscreen, and I’m pleased with it. That oatfix mask made my skin red and irritated though. :( It seems that mud- or clay-based masks work better for my oily skin.

    In terms of other products, I recommend Neutrogena’s foaming cleanser (in the orange packaging) and Sexy Hair hairspray.

    Do you know of a less expensive alternative to Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Spray?

  2. 2
    August 13th, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I agree with all of these, but I would add dry shampoo to the list! It can help you wash your hair less, which is time saving and healthier for your hair. Furthermore, it can be used to add some volume to hair!

  3. 3
    August 13th, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t use hair care products anymore and my hair has never been healthier for it (just coconut oil, water and sometimes baking soda for me!) but I still love skin care products.

    A really great one I found recently was No.7 Microdermabrasion scrub. It’s a really intense exfoliant and makes my face baby-soft. Though it’s a little harsh, so it probably wouldn’t be good for people with more sensitive skin.

  4. 4
    August 13th, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    I’m a product junkie, and my number one face mask pick is Queen Helene Mint Julep Mask. It’s cheap (between 3-5$), readily available at Walmart and Walgreen’s, and has been a cult favorite for years! It does and awesome job of pulling out any impurities out of your pores (it’s a clay mask) and smells great, too!

  5. 5
    August 13th, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I’ve been a fan of St. Ives Aprcot Scrub for years but, I’ve never tried the green tea formula. I have oily skin and get a few breakouts once in a while so this might benefit me. Do you feel it’s better than the original formula?

  6. 6
    August 13th, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I love this article, but I’m sorry the Green Tea scrub is extremely abrasive. I’ve used both the apricot and the green tea scrub and the apricot scrub is much better on my skin, you cannot use the Green Tea scrub everyday, there is sand in it to make it a scrub and can irritate your skin. (I’m honestly not a fan of Clean&Clear because it’s only soap and will dry out your skin)

    However I love the hair advice, I really want to try Frizz-Ease now!

  7. 7
    August 13th, 2013 at 4:12 pm

    The St. Ives scrubs are actually bad for your skin. The particles in it used to scrub your skin is so rough it actually creates micro tears in your skin instead. For exfoliation, try out the Stridex pads in red (for acne-prone skin) or the St. Ives scrub-free pads (dry skin–beware of fragrance). These will be gentler and you’re able to use them daily, just make sure to moisturize properly. In regards to moisturizers with sunscreen in them, they’re not as effective as applying moisturizer and sunscreen separately. Although, it is difficult to find a good sunscreen for your face if you’re acne-prone or have sensitive skin. But sun protection, especially for your face–since it’s exposed all the time–is very important.

  8. 8
    August 13th, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    I have a pixie cut and my hair is wavy, I use Garnier Sleek and Shine leave-in conditioner after I shampoo it and it works wonders!

    It brings the curl out, but makes it less frizzy. It’s the only hair-care product that I use.

  9. 9
    August 14th, 2013 at 12:23 am

    I think that there are a few that might be helpful as well!

    1. Dry Shampoo – I don’t know about you but I did not like to use the gross dorm showers everyday (they made me feel disgusting). I suggest Suave Professionals Keratin Infusion Dry Shampoo.

    2. Neutrogena Triple Moisture Silk Touch Leave-In Cream – This stuff undoes all of the damage that heat products inflict. It is MAGIC

    3. Coconut Oil – I use it in my hair and on my skin. It moisturizes my hair and it has eliminated the great majority of the acne on my skin. I love this stuff due to the fact that it is so moisturizing and if you refrigerate it, it becomes a solid.

  10. 10
    August 14th, 2013 at 1:07 am

    These are all great products, I have used clean and clear for years and I would never use any other facial cleaner.

  11. 11
    August 14th, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Hi girls!

    Thank you so much for reading! To answer your questions:

    Taylor: Try “Not Your Mother’s” salt spray! It’s sold at Walgreens and CVS or other drugstores. I love it! It’s around $5 and CVS normally has a “buy one get one” deal on that brand.

    Diana: I have sensitive skin so I use the green tea scrub. I actually have noticed that it is pretty gentle IF you don’t scrub super hard. I actually use a face brush to apply my scrubs just so it’s nicer on your skin. I’ve never had a problem with it and I’ve been using it for years!

    Feel free to ask any questions! I’ll be more than happy to answer it or to clarify anything in my article :)

  12. 12
    August 16th, 2013 at 11:59 am

    I just bought the green tea scrub, I’ve used it a few times and I’m impressed with how it doesn’t feel like many other scrubs with giant scratchy particles. I’m hoping the small dose of salicylic acid in it will be good for the hormonal breakouts that always pop up on my chin!

  13. 13
    August 18th, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I do use products similar to these, except for the moisturizer.
    While during the summer it’s a good idea to use a moisturizer with sun protection, it’s not such a great idea during the winter. At least not when you live in a place where there isn’t so much sun! It’s better to use a regular moisturizer so that your skin can absorb the little UV light there is, since your skin will turn it into vitamin D. Vitamin D, while you can also come by it through food, the best way to “get it” is through the sun.

    Also, my moisturizer is an anti-aging creme. I’m 23, but the thing is: your skin starts to age from the age of, around, 25 (give or take a few years). It’s better to prevent than cure ;-) plus, anti-aging cremes work better in preventing than curing aging symptoms anyway!

    Another thing I’d like to say is that the Elnett Hair Spair is really bad for your hair, it dries out your hair. I’ve never used it but much grandmother used to always use it until her hairdresser asked her which hairspray she uses. That’s when her hairdresser told her to stop using Elnett. It might depend on the kind of hair you have, I don’t know, but I wanted to share this anyway. Better safe than sorry when it comes to your hair (when it comes to anything, really).

    Oh also: after a cleanser (and, once a week, a soft scrub) I always use a skin tonic to close the pores and hydrate my skin at the same time to make sure that my skin stays clean and healthy! (a skin tonic is a clear liquid product which you apply with a cotton pad and leave to dry or blot with a clean tissue).

    I have quiet an extensive beauty routine, but I do all this because I know it works, it makes me feel better and, while doing it, it relaxes me!

  14. 14
    August 20th, 2013 at 6:49 am

    I’ve always wondered if I need to use a separate facial sunscreen or if it is enough to use just moisturizer or makeup with SPF included.

    Also, the BEST spot treatment I’ve ever used is Mario Badescu Drying Lotion. Celebrities rave about it, and it makes all my pimples dry to nothing overnight!!!

  15. 15
    August 26th, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    I wish the world would stop buying into St Ives. It’s TERRIBLE for your skin. Physical exfoliators should feel like smooth beads, or be so fine they feel like baking soda (which is an amazing exfoliator, actually). As someone who works in skincare and beauty, I can tell you you are damaging you skin. Micro tears cause aging issues and acne. I’d really recommend you checking out a chemical exfoliator. Everyone should, actually. They help eat away at dead skin, and are easier to control (because of the levels of chemicals used) for different skin types. Plus they give you that amazing glow.
    /rant over

  16. 16
    March 3rd, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    so i have used the green tea scrub many times. The first time i tried it was ok and then later i had rly bad break outs. i also noticed that my skin got really dry. But i also have tried the apricot and it was slightly better then green tea. If anyone is looking for clear skin you have to start from the inside. Have a healthier diet, and try eating vitamins such as Biotin. for a facial wash Neostrada is also really good because its antibacterial and is great fro oily skin.

  17. 17
    July 9th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    I used to be addicted to St Yves’ Apricot scrub, but I’ve found out that Garnier is much better for my skin. I’ve tried about 6 different brands in the past few years and Garnier’s new collection Clean+ is incredible for my skin. I have combination skin so it’s really difficult to find a good product to keep my face clean and breakout free. I’ve tried Neutrogena (which everyone said was great) and it only made my acne worse. Garnier has natural ingredients and the pomegranate face wash and scrub work miracle for me. I use the scrub during my morning wash and the foam cleanser to remove my makeup at night. If you have relatively sensitive skin and breakout with most facial cleanser, I’d definitely recommend Garnier Clean+. They have face wash with or without scrub for all skin types (dry, oily, combination, normal and sensitive).

    Okay, I’m done with my publicity XD great article, though ;)

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