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How to Make Your Skincare Glow-Up Goals a Reality

Nowadays, exhaustive and expensive skincare routines are all over the media; it seems like every other day, a new celebrity is posting about getting a fancy facial consisting of leeches or 24k gold. If you’re a frugal college student like myself with barely enough time to breathe, there’s no way you can do that. So, how can you give your skin a good glow-up on a budget and a time constraint? You can go to your local drugstore or Target and find great products at prices even a broke college student like myself can afford—explore brands like Cetaphil, Neutrogena, Burt’s Bees, and St. Ives.

Here are my main tips for getting that coveted clear complexion:

The first step is really important: Wash your face!

There are so many options for cleansers that it can be overwhelming—do you want foaming, creamy, gel-like? The consistency you want completely depends on you, so just go with what seems the most comfortable. You also don’t need to spend a lot of time maintaining your skin, but you do need to devote some time every day. For example, if you have oily skin like myself, it’s very important to cleanse your face two times a day, although it’s a good idea to do this no matter your skin type. Consistent skincare only adds up to a few minutes a day!

After washing your face, the next step is super important: Moisturize!

It’s a common myth that you only need to moisturize if you have dry skin. Moisturizing is important for all skin types to help keep skin soft and prevent wrinkles, even if you have oily skin. Another common myth is that moisturizing oily skin makes it oilier, which is not true; although if you have oily skin, you might want to use oil-free products. There are so many moisturizing options, too! How to choose? You can look in the ingredients list to see what you do and don’t want in there. For example, someone with oiler skin might be looking for something oil-free.

There are also products you can use for steps in between if you so choose, such as toners, serums, night creams and eye creams!

These products depend more on your specific needs:

  • Toner is used right after cleansing as a great way to exfoliate and cleanse even further.
  • There is a wide range of serums with various benefits for many skin issues, ranging from acne to wrinkles. If used, put it on before moisturizer because it is generally thinner.
  • Night creams are basically moisturizers that are formulated to treat special problems such as wrinkles and might have a smell, thick consistency, etc. that would make it more suitable to wear at night-time rather than during the day.
  • Finally, there are eye creams, which are generally used for dark under-eye circles and wrinkles. Since it is generally thicker than moisturizer, it’ll be applied after.

Although these products may sound complicated and/or unnecessary, they only take an extra minute to do. But once again, what type of each product to use depends on your needs. (Remember that order matters—always apply thinner before thicker in order to get the best results.)

Treat yourself without breaking the bank!

You can have a fancy skin-care routine without spending money on expensive facials and other spa treatments. Instead, you can once again go to your local drugstore and pick up some face masks and other treatments that are generally inexpensive. These take some more time than cleansing and moisturizing, typically somewhere between 10 to 20 minutes, since the masks need to be left on. The results are worth it, however, and the process is very relaxing! At-home face masks will have you saying, “Who needs expensive facial treatments, anyway?”

DIY products are great, too!

If you’re looking to save even more money, if you’re crafty, or if you like to use all-natural ingredients, DIY products are an awesome alternative. You’ll find from a quick search on the Internet that there are many facial products and treatments that can be made from common at-home ingredients, including coconut oil, honey, oatmeal and various fruits.

If you follow the aforementioned advice, your skin will soon be the envy of all of your friends. Best of all, your wallet won’t even be upset with you! Celebrities and television commercials try to convince us that we need to spend a fortune and half of our day to achieve glowing skin, but this isn’t true at all: More budget-friendly options can usually get the job done.

Now, go enjoy your newly glowy skin!

Looking for product recommendations?

Although prices vary and my skin tends to be on the oilier side—which isn’t true for everyone—these are my personal faves:

Makeup remover wipes

Cetaphil Makeup Remover Wipes (25ct), $8.99 at Ulta


Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser, $24 at Ulta

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash Redness Soothing Cream Cleanser, $7.99 at Neutrogena

Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser, $16 at Ulta


Clinique Clarifying Lotion 4—For Oily Skin, $16 at Ulta​


Clinique Superdefense Daily Defense Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 20, $48 at Ulta

Night cream

Formula 10.0.6 P.M. Perfector, $7.19 at Ulta

Eye cream

IT Cosmetics Confidence in an Eye Cream, $38 at Ulta


St. Ives Blackhead Clearing Green Tea Face Scrub, $3.59 at Target

St. Ives Even and Bright Pink Lemon and Mandarin Orange Scrub, $3.59 at Target

Face masks

The Body Shop Tea Tree Face Mask, $17 at Ulta

Feeling Beautiful Charcoal & Black Sugar Facial Polishing Mask, $4.29 at Ulta

Boscia Charcoal Pore Pudding Intensive Wash-Off Treatment, $38 at Ulta

Blemish spot-treatment

Mario Badescu Plastic Bottle Drying Lotion, $17 at Ulta

Arianna Antigone

Columbia Barnard '22

Arianna loves New York City, binging Netflix, and pasta. She's an English major and a future lawyer. If you need her, you can find her sipping her third iced coffee of the day and gushing over Harry Styles or talking about her law school ambitions.
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