Makeup Tips for College Girls – Daytime

A guide to daytime makeup for college, with tips on the best makeup to wear to class and how to do your makeup in a hurry.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you purchase through our links. Please read our full disclosure here.

A college girl's favorite makeup products laid flat on a table

I’ve had a few people ask me recently for some makeup tips for college, and thought I’d write an article about it to answer!

College girls face special challenges when it comes to makeup: we need to get ready in a hurry, (8 AM classes on 4 hrs sleep means no time in the morning), want to look natural but pretty, but still love to have fun with makeup!

How can you create a look that’s pretty, but not overdone? What’s appropriate for college, anyway? These questions and more will be answered.

{RELATED POST: The Ultimate Guide to No Makeup Makeup}

Today I’m going to talk about daytime makeup for college – a beauty routine for when you’re going to class, work, and just hanging out around campus. I’ll be covering nighttime makeup looks in another post soon.

Read on for my top tips to doing pretty & simple daytime makeup!

Keep it simple.

You don’t want to spend hours getting ready every morning, so keep your makeup routine as minimal as possible. You’ll be thanking yourself when you wake up late and have to run out the door to your 9AM class! Simpler is better.

Here are the cosmetics essentials that I recommend:

Makeup Essentials

Start with great skin.

When your skin looks good, the rest of your makeup routine becomes 100 times easier. Instead of piling on the foundation and cover-up, you can just use a mineral powder or tinted moisturizer.

A few tips to get your skin in tip-top shape:

  • Drink water! I know it’s cliche’, but it’s true. If you aren’t getting enough hydration, your skin is just going to look bad. Buy yourself a sigg bottle and carry it everywhere. No excuses!
  • Get rid of your blackheads. Huge pores that look dirty are never a good look on anyone!
  • If you have acne, consider seeing a dermatologist if it’s bad. They can get your skin looking better than any drugstore quick-fix ever could.
  • If you only have mild breakouts, consider using a line of products like Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control. (I’ve tried that line myself, and it’s fab!)
  • Wear sunblock! Okay, another skincare cliche’, but come on, you know people wouldn’t keep saying it if it wasn’t true.
  • Don’t ever go to bed without washing your face. It’s a recipe for breakouts, wrinkles, and premature aging. Keep some baby wipes in your room for nights when you’re too exhausted to make it to a sink and USE THEM!

Do your makeup in daylight!

I can’t stress this one enough – put your makeup on in the best, brightest lighting you can find, even in front of a window if you have to!

Since most dorm rooms have terrible lighting, it’s so important that you see what your face ACTUALLY looks like before you step outside! Makeup often looks perfect indoors but totally fake & awful outdoors. Don’t let that happen to you.

Don’t overdo it.

That opaque black, smokey eye that you saw in last month’s Allure would be fabulous for a party – but it’s not appropriate for a 10AM math class. Same goes with bright red lips and anything neon.

Keep your makeup simple and neutral for daytime. There’s a time and a place for the crazy stuff, don’t get me wrong! It’s just that the place is not in a classroom during the day.

What are your makeup tips?

Do you have any makeup or skincare tips that you think should be here? Have I left anything out? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

Stay tuned for the next set of makeup tips – I’ll get into all the fun stuff, and dish out some nighttime makeup tips!

31 thoughts on “Makeup Tips for College Girls – Daytime”

  1. As I have to rush for office the tips that you give are very useful to get make up done within no time and still look good. It is perfect for office and as you say, do light make up during day time.

    I would like to ask you if you can give me some tips for dryness around lips.

  2. Bare minerals is terrible. I used it for a year and finally realized it is a waste (it is sparkly, messy, doesn’t offer the coverage I want, and is overpriced for the amount you get.)

    Dont waste your money on NARS blush. I just use covergirl cheekers or MAC cream blush (it’s 10 bucks cheaper than NARS)

    Maybelline mascaras are pretty good. Never buy covergirl mascara. Avoid those gimicky plastic-ey “volumizing” brushes. I use maxfactor 2000 calorie mascara. Clinique mascara always looks great. Almay is pretty good too. Loreal is not good.

    I only buy drugstore or MAC concealer. I prefer neutrogena concealer (comes in a tube) overthe recommended overpriced pot of benefit “Erase paste” (never buy benefit products. they are overpriced).

    Use a brush for spot concealing. The bristles really aid staying power and coverage of spots with weird textures (zits with tiny inevitable scabs etc.)

    Use a long-lasting lipstick and smudge it with your fingers to make it look more natural. I like maybelline (I think its called overstay lipstick) in rose, coral, and flame looks amazing when you smudge it to tone down the color.

  3. I use once a week a face mascara made of egg! Yes, egg.
    First you have to do is separate the yolk from the egg white… Then put the egg white on your face and wait till it’s dry. Rinse it and put on the yolk. Rinse it when it’s dry. (You’ll notice when you wouldn’t be able to smile. I totally recomend it doing it with a friend, it’s just really funny! lol)
    And that’s it. Your face will look and feel amazing and smooth! 🙂

  4. if you have very bland eyes with out a bit of SOMETHING in the morning, this is how I can help,
    1. cleanse and pat dry face
    2. apply moisturizer and a light acne treatment to heal and prevent unsightly blemishes.
    3. take a daily vitamin- vitamins help to replenish what the sun and food cannot give you (especially during the winter months when vitamin D from the sun is severely lacking)
    4. Apply an eye liner of your choice mainly to the bottom lash line, and to the upper tight lid if needed.
    5. apply a concealer or cover up (sparingly, and only if needed, DO NOT over do the wet or cake makeup)
    6. apply a blush or bronzer to add a “I got 12 hours of sleep” glow

    7. apply some mascara to make your eyes pop.

  5. My skin is very oily and i use mac’s studio fix base. The problem is my face doesn’t look fresh after some hours it actually looks horrible because of oil. So somebody with the same problem please suggest me something i want my face to be fresh all day.

  6. The essentials you posted are quite simple indeed.

    I wash my face with an exfoliator (St. Ive’s Apricot Scrub) so that I feel refreshed before I go to bed and I remove all the dirt from my skin.

    Keep up the good work 😀

  7. i LOVE rosebud salve–have been using it for months now, and don’t forget that it’s great for cuticles too!

    i definitely agree with the list here. a dear friend once told me that the less you use foundation, the less you’ll need it. i find that completely true and now leave my foundation use for the nighttime 😀

    can’t get enough of this site!!

  8. I can’t make my makeup in daylight because I wake up so early, what kind of light is the best to make up besides that?

  9. “Drink water! I know it’s cliche’, but it’s true. If you aren’t getting enough hydration, your skin is just going to look bad. Buy yourself a sigg bottle and carry it everywhere. No excuses!”

    I think people under estimate how much water you should drink. Hydrating your skin is very important., and you will see results in the first few weeks.

    On average water makes up about 60% of your body weight. Depending on your body weight you should drink eight 8-ounce glasses a day!

  10. I’ve found that when I use Microdermabrasion twice a week I rarely breakout. I use Mary Kay’s, the set comes with a restoring serum to put on after the microderm that penetrates up to 12 layers of skin!!! It’s fabulous! My skin has felt softer and looked more even in tone since I’ve started using it! But I would recommend only doing microderm before bedtime, since it strips your skin of it’s protective outer layers it leaves your skin more susceptible to sun damage and it also leaves mine a little more oily than normal when I wake up, and I hate having to worry about oil half way through the day at school!

    I love this site! I only started reading a few days ago! Awesome tips and advice!


  11. I love using Benefit Erase Paste! I have the worst dark circles and it hides them perfectly. Do you know where I could possibly find the Rosebud Salve lip balm?

  12. Oops it was meant to be for putting liquid foundation: SOON after you put on moisturizer and its better to use it sparingly around the face!

  13. Love the tips, especially about making sure to wash your face before bed, even if it’s with baby wipes! I’m going to have to get a box of cleansing wipes to put by my bed for emergencies.

    I love cream blushes. They’re convenient for adding color to cheeks, lips, and eyes, and you can apply them with your fingers. Much easier and faster than wrangling with brushes early in the morning.

  14. Washing your face before exercising too! I see lots of girl at the gym trying to sweat through a layer of foundation. Also- tinted moisturizers with SPF are great. Tips for zits- if you feel one coming on, a hot compress will “speed up” the zit and it usually never gets a whitehead because your body reabsorbs it. Another thing is hemorrhoid cream ( i know…) but it stops the extra blood flow, getting rid of the redness.

  15. First off, I have been reading your stuff for about a year now, I’m a college sophomore and have never left a comment. Just wanted to say I love your site!

    Anyway, this may sound weird, but I’ve never had a problem with breakouts (thank GOODNESS) but whenever I “felt” a zit coming on, the night before I would go to bed I was dallop Neosporin on it. Yes, you heard it right, Neosporin. Caution-wash your face the next day with a good cleanser or the spot will look…oily. Works fab! (Oh yeah-and put the Neosporin on a freshly washed fase-or else it’s pointless)

    Keep doin’ what you do! I love this site and always recommend it to my friends.

  16. tip for when you have bad bags under your eyes;
    1. apply foundation
    2 . use the highlighter eyeshadow/powder that you have for under your eyebrow arch and apply as if you were putting on concealer
    3. then add concealer on top

    makes you look awake and vibrant! i do it every day cause i’m always lacking sleep!

  17. These are all great! A highlighter is essential for me. It makes me look wide awake, even if I just rolled out of bed 15 minutes ago. I put it on the inner corners of my eyes and on the brow bone. Just make sure to blend! It can look a little stripe-y if you don’t. Also if you’re going out, add a little to the tops of your cheek bones for an all-over glow.

  18. This is one of the greatest sites ive ever been on, and have been reading your stuff for almost 3 months :D…

    Some tips i recommend as well: Neutral colour eyeshadow (like pale pink, brown, nude), that way you can cover up the darkness of the top eyelids yet still look nicely done!! or if you are in the mood for some colour, green or purple would be nice. For daytime, apply the shadow with a brush, not the eyeshadow placer as sometimes it may look too heavy. Oh and avoid glitter or dark eyeshadow during daytime.

    Cetaphil is a wonderful way of removing makeup, if you are out of wipes!! Removes makeup easily and i swear by this product after coming home from classes!!

    Eye pencil is ok, but i would pretty much steer clear from black (ok for night time), but brown or white eye pencil is good.. its best to line to top rims close to the lashes and then blend.

  19. I love this post! I use something similar:

    -Mineral foundation
    -MAC tenderling blush
    -MAC lustreglass in Love Nectar
    -MAC paintpot in Rubenesque
    -CG lashblast mascara

  20. These tips are fabulous. I’ll definitely be using them!
    Just a thought, though…
    If you’re getting up for an early morning class, try applying a navy blue eyeliner before your black mascara. It’s a subtle contrast to the whites of your eyes, which means that even if you’ve been up until 4AM the night before studying you’ll look wide awake! Curling your eyelashes also helps you to look more awake, even when you’re not!

  21. Another tip i would add- find a trio color palate eyeshadow that is related to you eye color. This way you know you what colors best suit you eyes, and thus having to reduce time looking for other colors that go well with the eye. I’m liking ‘ Almay bring out powder shadow for brown’ and haven’t bought any other eyeshadow since then.

    Liquid Foundation- should be put on as SOON as you moisturize, so it settles in with your skin, otherwise it can look cakey if you put on too much (in which i have observed with girls that i know of) and it doesn’t look good. I’m pretty sure you would probably know this….

  22. i just love this website im 16 yrs old in my country we start college whem we r 16….
    my college starts in a month and this website has been of great help

  23. should you were eyeliner or do you thinkit would look bad. and is powder foundation good for your face or no? : } :{


Leave a Comment