Whether you’re a makeup novice or have been experimenting with cosmetics for years, it’s crucial to have a collection with makeup essentials that will allow you to create a go-to everyday look. After acquiring the makeup basics, it is that much easier to seamlessly add more playful or trendy makeup products to your collection and incorporate them into your beauty looks.
Below, I’ll lay out the makeup basics every college girl should have in her makeup bag. The following list is also great for those creating a “starter” set of makeup, which is perfect for beginners or those departing for their first year of college.
The list is split into four categories: Face, Eyes, Lips, and Tools.
A primer minimizes pores and creates a smooth base perfect for the rest of your makeup application. This is a step you can skip if your skin is naturally flawless, but if you have any imperfections, it’s a fabulous product that will make your skin look amazing.
There are so many different kinds of foundation on the market that everyone can find something for their skin type and shade. If you don’t have a favorite foundation already, it’s easiest to start out with a line like True Match or Tru-Blend, because they have so many shades it will be a breeze to find your match. You can also check out MakeupAlley’s reviews – they have some fabulous recommendations.
3. Blush or Bronzer
I consider blush to be a non-negotiable makeup item. A swipe of color on your cheeks is natural and creates a healthy glow. In the middle of finals, a quick swipe of blush will leave you looking awake instead of like you just spent all night in the library.
If your skin is naturally more tan, a bronzer may look more natural than blush. Also, if you’re naturally fair-skinned, like myself, applying bronzer during the warmer months gives you a sun-kissed look without the damages of tanning. It’s best to apply bronzer (with a large, fluffy brush) where the sun naturally hits your face – a curved “C” shape on each side of your face from your forehead to your cheek bone and just a dab on your nose.
A black or dark brown mascara is essential for an everyday look. It’s the quickest way to make your eyes pop. We love L’Oreal Voluminous, but Maybelline Great Lash and CoverGirl LashBlast are other CF reader faves.
Eyeliner can be applied in many ways to define your eyes. For an overview, check out our Eyeliner 101 tutorial. A classic black shade is a necessity for most skin tones; if you have fair skin, opt for a dark-brown. Also, light to medium skin tones should consider a dark navy, because the blue makes the whites of your eyes pop; therefore, making you look more awake. I suggest mechanical eyeliner pencils because they are self-sharpening, letting you skip a step.
6. Brow Pencil
Unless you’re blessed with dark, perfectly even eyebrows, you should seriously consider adding a brow pencil to your makeup collection. Brow liners can be used to define and fill-in sparse eyebrows if you accidentally over-pluck them. A defined eyebrow is necessary for anchoring a smokey-eye look and accentuates the natural features of your face.
For your basic makeup collection, it’s a good idea to have some natural tan, taupe and off-white eyeshadow shades. These shades are perfect for an everyday school, as well as work, look. Nearly all drugstore beauty brands manufacture eyeshadow sets with multiple shades in them. These are perfect for a makeup novice, because it takes all the guess work out of finding complementary shades to highlight and define your eyes.
8. Lip Balm
As most of you probably know, a great balm does wonders for keeping your lips smooth and healthy, especially during those harsh winter months. Stock up on several lip balms so you can store them in your purse and backpack too, for easy reapplication. The eos balm featured above not only has an adorable shape, but is 100% natural and USDA-certified Organic, to boot.
9. Lip Gloss or Stain
Glosses are the clear winner over lipsticks for college students. They have a sheer, natural look and are so much easier to apply than a lipstick. A swipe of gloss is the perfect finishing touch for any look. For longer-lasting wear, you might opt instead for a lip stain which will last through all your classes without touch-ups.
It’s easiest and most cost-effective to stock up on brushes all at once by purchasing a brush set. Look for a set with a large powder brush, a slightly smaller brush for contouring and several brushes for shadow and liner application.
It’s a good idea to invest in some quality brushes, because as long as you clean them regularly, they will last you a long time. If you’re not convinced, try applying some shadow with a cheap quality brush then again with one of higher quality – you will see an obvious difference.
For all the obvious reasons. We love Tweezerman tweezers – in our experience, they really do work the best, and, okay, they also come in the prettiest colors and patterns.
These are great for smudging eyeliner and soaking in makeup remover for quick touch ups. Even better? They’re super inexpensive.
Now… Store it!
Now that you’ve got this starter set of makeup, you need a place to store it. For those living in a dorm or sharing an apartment, I recommend bags or Caboodles. They are perfect for traveling, too. Makeup bags are lined inside with an easy-to-clean fabric. Those with clear pockets are great for viewing all of your makeup without digging through the bag. Here are some bags and Caboodles to consider:
If you have the space, whether in a vanity or your bathroom counter, it’s a good idea to devote a drawer or two to your makeup. Use some small jars or plastic boxes of the desk-organization variety to store your beauty swag.
- More Beauty Storage Ideas:
- Emily of Cupcakes and Cashmere shows how she organized her “cosmetic clutter” using some plastic dividers. Check it out here.
- Another blogger, Laura Thoughts created a unique and space saving “makeup magnet board.”
Do you already have all of these makeup essentials? Are there any non-negotiable makeup products in your bag? Also, are there any basic makeup products you think should be added to this list? What are some superfluous makeup products that you just love? Leave a comment to let me know!