30 Back-to-School Beauty Essentials Your Makeup Bag Needs

Add these cosmetic, skin, and haircare must-haves to your packing list ASAP.

back to school beauty best 2018
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Can you believe classes start up again soon?! Luckily, you can put your best face forward with these back-to-school beauty essentials. They’ll keep you looking good from that early class until you finally crash into bed (hopefully there are no all-nighters!)!

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Kiehl's Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 25
$19.50

Tinted lip balm is an exhausted college girl's best friend — it adds just enough color to bring life back to a tired face, and it takes literally no effort to use. This is our absolute favorite because the color isn't too saturated, and it's also super hydrating. Plus, a little SPF protection never hurt. Choose from a variety of colors, including bolder dark purples or paler pink neutrals.

More: 100 Things Every New College Student Needs for His or Her Dorm 

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The Beachwaver Co. S1 Curling Iron
$129.00

We honestly don't know how we ever styled our hair before The Beachwaver hair styling tool swirled into our lives. Invented by amazing celeb stylist Sarah Potempa, this rotating curling iron removes all guesswork from creating that iconic beach-wave style. With illustrated arrow buttons and a fast/slow speed switch, the Beachwaver S1 creates incredible styles, even for the college girl on the go.

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Sigma Beauty Express Brush Cleaning Mat
$21.77

Clean brushes = clean skin! Don't let bacterial buildup be the cause of your acne (you have enough stress to deal with on your own!). If you have to use a common bathroom in your dorm to clean your makeup brushes, we suggest using a brush cleaning mat that'll speed up the process so you don't have to stand there all day. This one by Sigma has a variety of textures on the pad, so you can get down deep into every type of brush you use.

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Tarte BB Tinted Treatment
$46.30

Just because your parents aren't around to tell you what to do doesn't mean you should be ignoring the advice they've given you throughout your childhood. Namely, it's still important that you wear sunscreen if you're going outside — even in the winter! Make sure you're covered (literally) with this SPF 30 tinted BB cream by tarte. Not only will it hide blemishes and protect your skin, but it also works as a primer for heavier coverage foundations, and it can be used in place of a tinted moisturizer.

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Pinrose Travel Perfume Wipes
$24.00

You may already know Pinrose for its delicious fragrance line, but this might be your first intro to its travel wipes. Let us be the first to tell you: They're totally worth it! Pack one or two wipes into your tote or backpack, or leave the whole pouch in there for those days when you need a refresh but have no time to go home. Each wipe is single-use and infused with one of its five best-selling perfumes, so you can toss it afterwards. Plus, it comes in a cute holographic pouch you can repurpose for pens and pencils.

(BTW, while you could carry a rollerball perfume in your bag, we don't suggest it — based on a traumatic personal experience, when a laptop smacks the glass tube, nothing good will happen.)

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Superpower Shower Cap
$43.00

Don't bother with those plastic shower caps you buy at the drugstore once a month. Instead, wear this stylish option from your room to the bathroom, and everyone on your dorm floor will be asking where you got it! The Superpower Cap is a stylish alternative to the classic grandma cap. It's totally water-resistant and extremely effective at protecting your hair from both moisture and heat.

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AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream
$6.00

Soon your hands will be tired and cramping from typing up term papers and homework assignments. Salvage stressed fingers and palms with AHAVA's soothing hand cream. Enhanced with witch hazel, aloe vera, and mineral spring water, it's the healing balm you never knew you needed.

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Becca x Jaclyn Hill Shimmering Skin Perfector
$39.99

Anything branded by Jaclyn Hill is going to be high-quality, so you might as well splurge on this beauty. Designed by Hill and Becca Cosmetics, we love the vlogger's signature highlighter, Champagne Pop. Cheeks on fleek!

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Benefit Cosmetics ka-BROW! Cream-Gel Eyebrow Color
$24.00

It was — and pretty much still is — a big deal when Benefit cranked out an entire collection dedicated to brow maintenance. The ka-BROW cream gel with application brush is like a magic potion for keeping strays in line and your arches looking shapely. It also happens to be one of the line's best-sellers. Choose your shade, from light to cool black, for an all-in-one tool that keeps brows polished all day long.

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Bite Beauty Multistick
$24.00

For a grab-and-apply-out-the-door option, Bite's new multistick can be applied by brush, beauty blender, or clean fingertips! Whether you're wearing it as an eyeshadow, lipstick, or blush, the formula goes on like a cream and blends like a powder, for an airy feel and color payoff that becomes gradually more brilliant the more you build it.

More: Bite Beauty Products That Seriously Up Your Lip Gam

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boscia Sake Cleansing Water
$23.62

A personal fave and end-of-the-day staple, we use boscia's Sake Cleansing Water religiously. Formulated with unfiltered sake to boost hydration and brightness in the skin, it also has rice powder that acts as a secret weapon for deep cleansing. We suggest incorporating the gentle wash into your makeup-removal routine (it's especially amazing for getting off eye makeup). It's great as a last step in your regime to erase any last bits you may have missed.

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Dior Fix It 2-in-1 Prime & Color Correct
$36.00

Color correction has officially gone couture. Dior solidifies a two-step process in one miniature stick, prepping the skin and concealing visible color imbalances. Available in yellow, blue, green, and apricot, you'll most likely want to collect them all to cover the bases, including sculpting facial features, hiding dark circles, neutralizing skin tone, and highlighting the eye area.

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Goody Ouchless Elastics
$3.66

Goody's pack is a must-have for everyone who wears hair ties like they're bracelets, yet still manages to lose them every other day. Store a few on your wrist, in your pocket, backpack, etc. to ensure that if you need to topknot stat, you're always prepared.

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Inglot Duraline
$16.15

Consider waterproof makeup a sister stash to your everyday staples. Though you'll use them less frequently, it's always good to have backups when necessary. If you rarely use water-resistant formulas, INGLOT's Duraline is a smart investment for those sweaty days when you really don't want your makeup running. The clear liquid transforms your powder foundation, eyeshadow, etc. into a waterproof formula, and it even ups the ante on color payoff. It can also revive dried-out gel liners and shadows.

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jane iredale Smooth Affair for Eyes
$30.33

Jane Iredale's collection of six eye-makeup primers also make for gorgeous cream shadows. Purchase the shade closest to your skin tone for masterfully achieving the no-makeup makeup look. Pop your fave eye shadow over it for a more dramatic look.

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Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo
$21.98

Let's just put it out there: Living Proof's Dry Shampoo is the best if you have super oily locks. No time to shampoo before class? You can still have a perfect hair day with LP's dry shampoo because this formula's fast-absorbing powders take care of oil and sweat, so your slightly dirty 'do is undetectable. Also great as a styling tool, you can veil it over freshly blowdried hair for some extra texture.

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Neutrogena Cleansing Makeup Remover Facial Wipes
$8.97

Study sessions lead to late nights, empty coffee mugs lining the perimeter of your desk, and ultimately exhaustion. We know you're tired and planned on hopping into bed after finishing that last chapter, but if you put makeup on in the morning, it's crucial to take it off at night. These Neutrogena wipes are a universal favorite because they're easy to use and super effective. You'll only need one to wash off an entire face.

More: Makeup Wipes Ideal for Evening Removal 

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Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure Nail Polish in Clear'd for Takeoff
$16.05

We dare you to try and keep up the mani maintenance with the same proficiency as you would your homework assignments. Okay actually we don't, because it's near impossible. Between seminars, assignments, extracurriculars, and, you know, breathing, we're lucky enough to be getting a full eight hours of sleep a couple nights a week, let alone pamper ourselves in the process. 

Luckily for us, the naked manicure is an underground trend that nail artists secretly live for when life gets hectic. File, then polish your tips with two thin coats of this Sally Hansen blend, and be on your way.

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Stila Nouveau Nude Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick Set
$20.00

Liquid lipsticks will continue to be the it-lip this season, and stila's formula stays true to the brand's "stay all day" legacy ... unlike the alternative options that hardly make it past breakfast. Nudes and pinks are staple shades for any collection, so you'll get a lot of use out of the miniatures, especially once you experience how comfy the vitamin E and avocado-oil-enhanced formulas feel across bare lips.

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Tarte Amazonian Clay Concealer
$26.99

Conceal blemishes on the spot with tarte's creamy stick that guarantees 12-hour coverage. We love this option for quick fixes in between classes when those irritatingly spontaneous pimples make an appearance on your forehead mid-exam. Made with the brand's signature Amazonian clay, target your acne with a thin, buildable layer of the blend that dries matte and reduces redness around the problem area.

More: 11 Concealer Palettes for Complete Coverage

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Tweezerman Mini Manicure Kit
$18.47

You'd bring an emergency kit to college, right? Consider this the equivalent for your nails. Featuring nail clippers, a file, pick, and cuticle scissors, these are the fantastic four for 911-esque emergencies for your hands and feet. Just be sure you're clipping and tidying toward the opposite direction of your roomie. No one likes discovering foreign toenails on their bedspread.

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e.l.f. Beautifully Bare Lipstick in Touch of Pink
$4.96

A universal nude that flatters every skin tone, e.l.f.'s drugstore stick offers users a neutral enhancement, tinted pink. Formulated with vitamin E and shea butter, lips look natural and feel amazingly hydrated. Bonus points for being a drugstore buy, so you can easily restock at your local convenience store once you run low (and trust us, you will).

More: 9 Nude Lipsticks Bringing Out Our All-Natural Beauty 

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Farmaesthetics Dreaming Etheric Inhalation Oil
$27.00

You have the brains — now let's get you some beauty sleep. The first product to launch Farmaesthetics's Aetheric Inhalation Oils, Dreaming Oil can be applied to your palms and inhaled for 30 seconds, or drip-dropped over your bedside lamp so the heat of the bulb can release calming vapors into the air. The aromatic effects will essentially act as a sensual lullaby, easing your mind and helping you to sleep.

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Klorane Leave-In Cream With Papyrus Milk
$18.00

If you're one to use (and maybe unknowingly abuse) styling tools, it's possible that damage has already been done to your hair. Use Klorane's leave-in conditioner to restore and protect hair from heat while straightening or curling, so you can style on without consequence.

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Tony Moly I'm Real Sheet Masks
$12.00

Let's talk Tony Moly. Not only are these masks effective, they're also super affordable. Who doesn't love a beauty bargain? Each variety of this multipack caters to a different need, and each tri-layered sheet is infused with natural oils to completely nourish skin. Our advice is to buy the packaged deal instead of the individual ones, because it's cheaper and you never know what kind of shenanigans your skin will be up to once stresses arise. 

More: At-Home Sheet Masks for Giving Skin the Spa Treatment 

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John Frieda Frizz Ease Moisture Barrier Firm Hold Hairspray
$7.47

If you're going to buy hairspray, we're absolutely obsessed with John Frieda's style extender. Unlike other flimsy formulas, this strong-hold spray fights frizz, so no matter what the weather, your hair stays still.

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Mario Badescu Drying Lotion
$17.00

This super popular acne treatment contains pore-clearing salicylic acid, redness-calming calamine, and impurity-drawing sulfur, making it a triple-threat against breakouts. Don't shake it; simply dip a cotton swab into the pink goop, and dot onto breakouts before bedtime.

More: The Best Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Products 

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Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
$18.00

This daily wash can be used in-shower to start your day, or after long hours in the library. Featuring ingredients like rosewater and a poloxamer to heighten the gel's strength against cosmetic impurities, it leaves skin healthy and soft to the touch.

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Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge
$5.39

Real Techniques' multipurpose blending tool is not so much a college staple as it is a life staple. Its rounded side blots larger areas until fully blended, the flat edge can be used for contouring, and the precision tip tackles any hard-to-reach areas. 

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Bliss Lemon & Sage Refreshing Body Wipes
$8.00

These cleansing body wipes feature plant-based, aluminum-free deodorant to neutralize odors. They're perfect for freshening up quickly in between classes, or stashing in your gym bag to feel (and smell) great while you're running to your next adventure on campus.