The Broke College Student’s Guide for Perfect Skin

My friends, the end of September is near-approaching! Fall semester is when it’s time to hustle—which involves having the dexterity to maintain both a strong academic and social life while somehow having the time to apply for jobs, internships, and research opportunities. On top of all this, our skin just loves to be rude. And by rude, I mean fall-skin has a penchant for breaking the freak out, being as dry as the Death Valley’s desert, and having a texture not dissimilar to a lizard’s skin.

Whatever your skin issue(s) may be, these skincare brands and products have the potential to be your knights in shining armour (except they aren’t trying to drain your bank account or break your heart).



First of all, god bless this company. The Ordinary provides all the “how-to” details in developing a self-prescribed skincare regimen as well as fancy, yet satisfying, medical vocabulary describing the behind-the-scenes of how their products work. Plus, they are cruelty-free. An extra plus, they have prices so affordable it’ll make all of your “Confessions of a Broke College Student” dreams come true, like with their cult-favorite $7 Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 (a hydrating dream). Even Kim Kardashian is a fan! If that doesn’t leave you sold, you can fill out a questionnaire delineating all your skincare concerns and needs, and a skincare specialist will provide a list of suggested products. Sephora had The Ordinary products on their shelves for a hot minute, but discontinued (the reason remains a mystery; however, they may be moving over to Ulta). This means that for the time being, you have to buy their products online. But, don’t worry, their customer service program is kick-ass and they have a 365-day full refund policy. Go glow, girl.


Okay, hear me out here. Toner is so, so essential in any skincare regimen. Yes, I get it. It is far easier to just wash your face and slap on some moisturizer. But, your skin needs some love after you wash it. When you wash your face, your skin is stripped of its natural sebum oils that are responsible for maintaining your skin’s healthy PH balance. Without a toner, which will prep your skin for moisturizing and return it to a healthy PH balance, your skin can become  dehydrated, or worse, can produce more oil to compensate for the lack of moisture—thus, contributing to those dreaded pimple friends. Head over to Target to snatch the popular (and under $10) Thayers Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Toner or No7 Radiant Results Purifying Toner Water. You can grab cotton pads while you’re at it, too!


There is much hype and debate over the world of face-washing. Some people swear by washing with oils, while others swear by a foamy formula. Most of the time, sticking to the basics just works! For acne-prone or sensitive skin, skinperts (which is my new portmanteau word for skin experts) and goddess Laverne Cox swear by Johnson & Johnson Baby Wash. For under $5, you can clean all of dirty skin’s grimy-ness while keeping inflammation at bay. If you are a makeup enthusiast, other skinperts suggest SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water All-in-1 Cleanser & Waterproof Makeup Remover ($7) to get fresh and dewy skin. Clean, clean baby.


Moisturizer is hella important. When using the right products, moisturizers can plump the face (hello baby face), put a pause on the onslaught of wrinkles, and help cure acne! Surprisingly, moisturizer (just like toner) aids the skin from over-producing oil, which can cause those unwanted pimple friends. DJ and Youtube star Chantel Jeffries loves the $13 CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, which has juicy skin-loving ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid. Even though this product is marketed for “night-time” use, it can very well be used both morning and night as needed (they also have a “daytime” version of this lotion with SPF). Also, an army of celebs such as Beyonce’, Nicole Kidman, and Charlize Theron use the multi-tasking Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($13) for daily moisture or when their skin is exxxtra thirsty.


There are numerous skin-loving secrets out there. Some of my favorites include a weekly raw honey mask (honey is nature’s miracle—not only is it anti-bacterial and the only food on earth that is non-perishable, but it also acts like a humectant on the skin and vacuums in moisture molecules from the air!), the $10 L'Oreal® Paris Detox & Brighten Pure-Clay Mask (works amazingly as a pimple spot-treatment, too), and acne-fighting $9 Aura Cacia Tea Tree Cleansing Essential Oil (I mix in a few drops with my face wash because it is too harsh to use directly on skin).

Above all else, the most important skincare secret is self-love and care! Stress, self-loathing, and poor diet are all factors that can seep to the skin’s surface and cause all sorts of reactions such as acne, dryness, and inflammation. Don’t forget to de-stress with a quick workout, a long-ass bathtub sesh with candles, or an episode of your favorite show on Netflix. Try cutting out dairy, junk food, and switch the self-deprecating comments with words of affirmation (yes, girl, you is a queen). Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, remember that you are beautiful with or without bad skin. Radiate from within, goddesses!