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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Sonoma chapter.

When it comes to makeup, I want the best quality products possible, but I am also on a college-student budget. Over the years, I have had trial and error cases with every kind of product you can think of. While there are some that I am still experimenting with (know of any good mascara?), there are certain products that I am hooked on and can’t imagine not having.


Let’s be honest, you probably don’t get enough sleep. I know I don’t. Since starting college, concealer has been my best friend. I just dab a small amount on the dark shadows under my sleepy eyes and I instantly look significantly more awake. I have found that concealer is one of those products in which the drug store brand does just as good a job as the top market goods. I use Maybelline Fit Me! concealer in Fair Claire that I purchased from CVS for less than $10. As a bonus, if you have acne, a touch of concealer on top of your red spots is a quick fix as concealer tends to be thicker than foundation.

Oil absorbing sheets

There’s nothing worse than waking up early to spend time on your face makeup, only to look in the mirror a couple hours later to witness a glowing, blotchy mess. These sheets completely fix the problem of oily skin. You simply press a sheet along your T-zone and watch the blue sheet change to clear as it soaks up the oil. It’s disgusting, yet oddly satisfying. The best part is, your makeup stays intact and looking fresher than ever. You can get a pack of 70 sheets in the Target brand for less than $5. I only use one or two a day, allowing my money to go a long way with this product, and they are small enough to fit in a bag or even a wallet. I wish I had discovered these sooner, because they are lifesavers for my oily skin.

Eyelid primer

As you’ve probably figured out from the last section, I am prone to oily skin, so much that even my eyelids get greasy after a few hours, causing streaking in my eyeshadow that isn’t cute. After complaining to my roommate about this problem, she let me try her Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Two days later, I was hooked and driving to Ulta to purchase my own. When you put it over your lids up to your eyebrows before applying eyeshadow, there are no words to express how amazing this product is at keeping makeup in place. Once, I fell asleep without washing my face and woke up the next day to perfect eye makeup. It is priced at around $20, depending on the size and type you get. Make it last a long time by only putting a thin layer across your lids, which is really all you need.

White eyeshadow

I have always been a fan of a good highlighter and I usually limited my white eyeshadow to light traces in the corners of my eyes and under my brow bone to add some depth and brightness. I did this until I saw a beauty vlogger on YouTube use it across her lids as a base. Now, after experimenting with it, it’s a necessity. By starting with a highlighted base, my eyes are instantly brightened beyond the little I added before, and any other eyeshadow I blend in stays rich in color. I wear Milani in Bella White from CVS, and blend one of the lighter brown shades from my Naked palette into the crease.

Flat brush for eyeliner

From my skin to my eyes, every part of my face is pretty light, so it is easy for my eyeliner to appear harsh and raccoon-like. Yet, I really like having that extra element of enlarging and deepening the eyes that lining them gives. Over break, my friend helped me find a perfect compromise: Lining with eyeshadow. You want to use a brush that is small, flat, and angled. Simply run it through brown or another dark eyeshadow and apply it along the base of your eyelashes like you would any liquid or pencil eyeliner. I get my brush slightly wet first, which darkens and intensifies the eyeshadow color. When you’re done, you will have a soft eyeliner that adds to your appearance without being obvious.

Eyeshadow for eyebrows

I have incredibly light eyebrows, so light that if you’re more than a few feet away from me, it appears as if I have none at all. Since freshman year of high school, I have used an eyebrow pencil to outline and fill in, but even when using short soft strokes, pencils can make eyebrows look harsh and unnatural. Last year, I began lightly dusting brown eyeshadow from Benefit on top of the pencil marks, and it has made a noticeable difference. The eyeshadow immensely softens the edges and blends the pencil for a softer appearance. Immediately, I had friends commenting how “I’m not sure how you’re doing your eyebrows differently but I really like it!” After struggling with trial and error, they now look natural enough that most people think they actually are. I also always put a dab of hairspray on the finished product to keep the makeup in place, and my eyebrows even, all day.

I hope these products help you feel like your very best self, just as they have helped me!

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