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College Students Reveal the Beauty Products They’ll Wear on Campus

Students strive for natural looks and a dewy glow.

With college students returning to class, CollegeFashionista offered a peek inside their beauty shopping bags.

Founded by Amy Levin, CollegeFashionista is a media company and global community where young adults share their style via photography and product tips. Style Gurus from hundreds of universities across the country weigh in on what’s trending on their campuses and provide insight on what they want to purchase.

Not surprisingly, it is still about the selfie, said Levin. “Our Gen Z Style Gurus are focused on achieving healthy, flawless skin and are all about a natural beauty look. A clear complexion is essential to getting the right photo.”

The Gurus said they stock up on the basics before heading to school. “On my beauty list for back-to-school has to be a good brow pencil, highlighter and a nude matte lipstick. This season, I think the natural look is fighting its way back and will be popular. While I love seeing the Instagram makeup videos as much as the next makeup lover, brands like Glossier are popping up on people’s radars making the more natural look more appealing,” said Jaida Brinkley from the University of North Texas.

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Minimal makeup is in, but they students are all about the glow. Olivia Bleeker from the University of Missouri said her back-to-school look is low-key and simple. In her suitcase are products from Lush and Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess Skin Clay Mask. “These products give my skin a natural glow so I don’t have to do as much of a detailed makeup application in the long run,” she noted.

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Monmouth University’s Emily Ciavatta agreed that in addition to a good mascara, eyebrow pencils, foundation, setting powder and highlighter, she eyes items for a glow. “I’m super into the glowy face look, so I intend to continue incorporating that into my beauty routine for the upcoming season.”

The Style Gurus mentioned highlighters, and not those to use on books. “My absolute favorite beauty product right now is Haloscope highlighter by Glossier. It’s perfect for any occasion and never fails to brighten up my face. I love it on a bare face matched with Nars highlighter powder in Albatross or with full makeup for nighttime,” noted Eliza Huber of the University of Iowa.

Chastity Heusinger of the University of South Florida identified dewy, highlighted skin as her favorite makeup trend right now. “I can’t go a day without using my highlighter.”

The latest trends in beauty aren’t overlooked by these collegiate Gurus. “A darker liquid lipstick and a new face mask are definitely on my beauty list! I’m looking to try out some products by Glamglow and Ofra Cosmetics. I think big lashes, deep lip shades and peachy tones are going to be in this fall,” said Sofina Bassett at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

In true Millennial form, several of the CollegeFashionista contributors confirmed they are more interested than past generations on natural ingredients.

“I really hope that the focus on organic cosmetics and non-toxic ingredients has more than just a moment and really sticks around. In that case, I see companies like Herbivore Botanicals or RMS Beauty getting ready to get even bigger,” Bleeker said.

Melissa Epifano of the University of Oregon added, “This year, I have a big focus on making sure my beauty products are cruelty free and free of parabens, phthalates and other harmful ingredients. I think it’s important to make sure the products you use aren’t hurting others or your own skin. I also am more wary of antiaging now. Although I don’t agree with our society’s push to obsess over looking young and ‘perfect,’ I think taking care of your complexion is important for health reasons.”

Millennials are the ultimate omnichannel consumers. “I buy most of my products in drugstores. I am a firm believer in paying less for the most! I tend to stick to my own beauty regimen that resonates the most with me,” said Melany Rodriguez, who will be headed back to Rutgers University in the next few weeks.

Ashleigh Angel of the Fashion Institute of Technology said she likes a mix of high and low end. “Ulta [Beauty] is a one-stop shop for me.”

But there are also those who prefer finding new options online. “I am shopping more from online brands that aren’t sold in major retailers, like ColourPop and Jeffree Star Cosmetics,” explained Bassett. “I also find myself getting a lot of beauty inspiration and product suggestions from Instagram.”

College women have fragrance favorites, but are open to experimentation. “I am usually a CK One person. However, I have been using a lot of essential oils to create my own scent. They have a lot of great benefits and you can change it up whenever you want. I’m really loving lavender,” said Huber.

Gazing into a crystal ball, the Gurus see emerging lines and continued natural looks. “I think Milk Makeup will get more popular as it becomes more commercialized and mainstream,” predicted Megan Sharp from Pace University in New York City.

Huber is looking ahead to what she’ll need as winter arrives. “I think the holidays and winter will be all about looking hydrated, moisturized and fresh faced when it comes to beauty. Winter is such a dry time, so I think it will be important for beauty brands to help solve that problem. I also think that when it comes to hair, icy blonde will be the “It” color,” she said.

Levin said the Gurus are among the first to know about emerging labels and educate their friends. “They are sharers and want to be the first to know about a new, emerging label to educate their friends on. ColourPop, Nudestix and Milk Makeup are the most notable brands on their radars at the moment. The classics, like Urban Decay, Clinique and Nars, are still brands they are using and talking about frequently on social,” concluded Levin.