10 Budget Friendly Back-to-School Beauty Essentials

Whether you or your kids are going back to school or off to college, it’s the perfect time of year to find deals on essential beauty products.  The Meijer Beauty team challenged me to find my top back-to-school picks, and it was gratifying to see my must-have bath, body and color items with wonderful prices.  Considering I work in a high school and have kids in both college and middle school, I am all about finding the best products at the right price.  Drumroll please…my top ten recommendations for essential (and budget friendly) back-to-school products.

Soap for school:  J.R. Watkins Foaming Hand Soap and I love...Coconut & Cream Shower Gel

Soap for school: J.R. Watkins Foaming Hand Soap and I love…Coconut & Cream Bubble Bath and Shower Cream

1.  J.R. Watkins Foaming Hand Soap ($4.99, I got it at Meijer for $4.49)  The reason I first bought this hand soap was for the awesome vintage label.  The reason I keep buying it?  It’s excellent foaming hand soap, especially for the price.  The soap in public buildings like schools is usually pretty rough stuff, I wash my hands all the time.  My solution is to bring my own.  I keep this soap in my office, and it would fit nicely into a locker.  I like the Aloe and Green Tea scent as a real mood enhancer to help get the school year off right.

2.  I love…Coconut & Cream Bubble Bath and Shower Cream ($7.29)  This British brand is soooo good…doesn’t the packaging look like the Philosophy bottles?  I actually prefer the I love… brand, and it is so much more affordable.  I start my day with a shower then end it with a bubble bath, and the Coconut & Cream scent takes me right back onto vacation.

Necessities for school

Necessities for school

3.  Goody 50 piece Ouchless No Metal Elastics ($2.19, but I got mine at Meijer for $1.10!)  The perfect way to hide morning bedhead is with a ponytail or bun…and these Ouchless Elastics don’t snag, pull, or break hair strands.

4.  Nivea Lip Butter in Caramel Cream Kiss ($3.99)  This super cute lip butter has only been available in the U.S. for about a year, and I am so happy it’s easily found now!  It has great slip and keeps lips soft and moist, plus it tastes like caramel toffee.  Yum.

5.  Meijer Hand Sanitizer ($1.19)  This is simply a must-have for purses and backpacks.  You never know who was sitting in that desk or what nose they were picking…eewwwwww.

Perfect colors for back to school!

Perfect colors for back to school!

Nudes and deep pinks

Nudes and berries

6.  Cover Girl Bombshell Volume by Lashblast Mascara ($9.39)  I think this is the best drugstore mascara out there.  One end is the base coat, which gives definition and length perfect for casual days.  When I want more oomph – and I mean fantastic oomph – I use the other end, the intensifying top coat.  This side darkens lashes and provides mega-drama without any flakes or smearing.

Physician's Formula Nude Eyes

Physician’s Formula Nude Eyes

Nude Eyes - gorgeous.

Nude Eyes – gorgeous.

7.  Physician’s Formula Nude Eyes ($9.99, but I got mine at Meijer for an incredible $6.99)  I am loving neutral, nude eyes with berry cheeks for the fall, and this nude eyeshadow palette is to die for.  Is it reminding you of the Urban Decay Naked2 palette?  Yup, me too, but this is way cheaper with the same quality.  Use these shadows dry or wet for more intensity, and keep the palette sitting out because the packaging is stunning.

Maybelline Hi-Lighting Blush in Pink Rose

Maybelline Hi-Lighting Blush in Pink Rose

8.  Maybelline Hi-Lighting Blush in Pink Rose ($8.29)  Just check out the gorgeousness of this mosaic highlighter/blush.  The soft, creamy shades can be used alone, but I like to swirl a big brush over the whole thing for a beautiful berry glow on my cheeks.

Nicole by OPI mani and pedi shades for school

Nicole by OPI mani and pedi shades for school

9 and 10.  Nicole by OPI Nail Polish in Sing You Like a Bee and Cocoa a Gogo ($5.99 each)  Going back to school is an awesome reason to treat yourself to a manicure and a pedicure, and these two shades are perfect for a nude and berry combo.

Sing You Like a Bee

Sing You Like a Bee

Sing You Like a Bee is from the Carrie Underwood collection.  This is a gorgeous sheer white with golden shimmers.  It is a beautiful shimmery nude look by itself, and it makes a perfect top layer over pretty much any color.

Cocoa a Gogo

Cocoa a Gogo

Cocoa a Gogo is a shimmery chocolate-brown that I love for pedicures…and it is the perfect color for transitioning into cool days and cozy nights by the fire.  Even better, it smells like cinnamon!

Not only are these ten products essentials, it also costs less than $55 to purchase them all at Meijer.  Get your style on for back to school and save money too!

Be sure to check out MeijerStyle.com the last week in August for a post with links to lots of blogger Back-to-School articles – one lucky person who comments on the MeijerStyle.com post will receive a gift basket of Back-to-School/Back-to-College products.  - Lisa

*products reviewed courtesty of Meijer, opinions and selection of items all my own!

A Night at the W™ courtesy of Walgreens and Procter & Gamble (plus a giveaway)

First 3 Procter & Gamble products you can win

First 3 Procter & Gamble products you can win

Walgreens® and Procter & Gamble have created something fun for all of us and it’s totally free. Every single Walgreens® in the country, bar none, will have a “Night at the W™,” for us beauty lovers. “Night at the W™,” will be on Thursday, January 10th from 4-9 p.m so you can stop in when it’s most convenient for you. They call this the official party of the People’s Choice Awards. Now why would you want to do this? Because you can win prizes to make you red carpet ready even if the carpet you walk on isn’t red and isn’t going into a big event. We all want to start 2013 looking our best. We make New Year’s Resolutions about taking better care of ourselves, losing weight, exercising so why not looking better too.

Walgreens® and Procter & Gamble have worked with Tim Gunn to create some tips for all of us. After you read them you’ll have a chance to win some items to help recreate what Tim Gunn shares right here on Beauty Info Zone.

Tim Gunn’s tips:

* Get a Camera-Ready Smile: A bright white smile is absolutely necessary whether you’re walking the red carpet or the runway. A simple tip I tell all the runway models is use something like a Crest Whitestrips. There’s this 2 hour treatment you can put on when you are getting ready.

Crest 3D White Whitestrips

Crest 3D White Whitestrips

* Get Ready for Your Close-Up:  When it comes to facial hair removal, there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and there’s everything to gain. Olay has something new that is perfect for this and because it’s from Olay you know your skin will look fabulous!

Olay Facial Hair Removal Duo

Olay Facial Hair Removal Duo

* Every day is a new chance for you to “walk the runway,” so I like to encourage woman to try new things whether it be a new lipstick or nail color.

Procter & Gamble cosmetics you can win

Procter & Gamble cosmetics you can win

 

* Some of the most stunning looks I have seen lately are topped off with healthy-thick hair. Not every woman has thick hair and as women age their hair tends to thin. There is a new hair thickening product on the market from Pantene that will give you that gorgeous hair.pandg pantene

* To keep your skin glowing, it is important to stay hydrated by using a good moisturizer and drinking lots of water. And you can make your features pop with the right makeup and brightest smile.

Now for the giveaway – you can win a sample package of Crest® 2 HR Express Whitestrips; Olay® Facial Hair Removal (Medium to Coarse); Pantene® Expert Collection AgeDefy Thickening Treatment, CoverGirl® Clump Crusher (Very Black); CoverGirl Jumbo Gloss Balm; and CoverGirl Nail Gloss.

This whole prize is great and will be sent to one US based subscriber. I can’t help but have favorites though. I had recently bought CoverGirl® Clump Crusher mascara after some of my fellow bloggers raved about it in a recent Makeup Wars. It’s absolutely clump proof no matter how many coats of mascara you put on. CoverGirl® has new nail polishes out called Nail Gloss and these are beautiful and so shiny – no need for a top coat because the shine is built in. I received a sample box in order to tell you about the “Night at the W™” and my polish is #275 which is a dark, sultry Wine Stain. The CoverGirl® LipPerfection Jumbo Gloss Balm I received is Toffee Twist, a great nude lip crayon that twists up so you don’t have to sharpen it. I don’t know what colors you’ll get in the Nail Gloss or Jumbo Gloss Balm but the two I received are terrific.

Cover Girl Clump Crusher Mascara

Cover Girl Clump Crusher Mascara

Cover Girl Lipgloss Balm in Taffy

Cover Girl Lipgloss Balm in Toffee Twist

Cover Girl Nail Gloss 275

Cover Girl Nail Gloss 275

one coat on left, two coats on right, no topcoat needed

one coat on left, two coats on right, no topcoat needed

Our giveaway goes until January 14, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. EST. But only one person can win. We all want to be winners so get yourself to Walgreens® on January 10th between 4 and 9 and see what goodies they might be giving away along with tips to be Red Carpet Ready. I’ll be there!! — Marcia

*products sent for review and for giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lisa’s favorite drug store mascaras

I can be a bit of a makeup snob, but when it comes to mascara I am a total fan of drugstore brands.  In fact, I have four favorites that I buy over and over again.  I did an eye look that I really loved with my Kevyn Aucoin Palette #2 (pictured below) and one of my favorite mascaras, Maybelline the Colossal Volum’ Express ($7.79) and I thought hey – I should take pics with all my favorite drugstore mascaras and compare them.

My personal bias is for mascaras that give me lots of thickness, lots of length, no clumps, and no smearing.  I like my lashes to look as big and full as possible.  There is no room for a ‘natural’ mascara in my stash!! (You can find these mascaras at any drugstore, I bought mine at CVS).

Here’s the first eye look with The Colossal Volum’ Express.  This is only two coats, and my lashes have great volume and length.  I love this mascara, it never smears and only clumps when it’s getting toward the end of its life.  The brush is great, it really grabs your lashes so although it’s big, it finds even the tiny lashes.

My next favorite is Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume ($8.69). 

This one doesn’t lengthen as well as the Maybelline Volum’ Express, but it is fabulous at thickening and giving me a full, soft looking fringe.

I don’t like the brush as well, it’s big and doesn’t ‘grab’ the lashes.  But it never clumps, and never smears.

I love how soft my lashes are, and how even they look after a few coats.

My next favorite is L’Oreal Telescopic Explosion ($9.49).  At first I bought it just because it looked like something I could buy at the local Renaissance Fair, and for some reason I was anxious to use such a thing on my eyes.  I guess if that’s my only perversion I am doing ok…

Of course this is a whole lot like the infamous Givenchy Phenomen’Eyes Lengthening Mascara ($30), which I have to admit I have yet to buy.  I figured why get that one, when I can get this one at a fraction of the cost?  

I ended up loving the bizarro brush, which grabs every single lash, even ones I didn’t know I had.  This is one of the few mascaras that I will also use on my bottom lashes, because the brush is so excellent at grabbing them.  I do love this mascara, although it lengthens more than thickens, and I usually prefer a little more dramatic of a look.

And last on my list of favorite drugstore mascaras is Almay’s One Coat Nourishing Mascara Triple Effect ($8.19). 

I used Almay mascara all through high school and college, so this line is a sentimental favorite of mine.  This mascara does a great job of lengthening and thickening.

My only complaint is that it can be a little clumpy, especially after a month or so of use.

But I love how I end up with a super long, defined but thick fringe of lashes. 

There you have it – my top four drugstore mascaras.  Based on the pictures, which one do you think looks the best?  – Lisa

Summer Fun

The cosmetic companies are busy tempting us with fall cosmetics and I’m very intrigued. But wearing those fall colors when it’s so hot and humid doesn’t always look right. There’s still time for some summer fun. You can take your spare change and try out some of these wonderfully priced items.

I’m all about eyes so that’s where I’ll start. I’ve got some L.A. Splash items that are fun and colorful. They have mineral eyeshadows that are really nice. They are $6.99 each but they are often on special at Ulta; CherryCulture.com sells them for $5.99.Some of my favorites are Beach Chair, Dead Sea, Purple Tang and Poise. I also have Emerald Forest which is actually a Diamond Dust but that one is too glittery for me personally (pictured). With 224 shades I have a feeling you’ll be able to find a few that will suit your color style and shimmer level. Some are very shimmery so if you can get to a store to see them in person I’d advise that.


L.A. Splash has a Sealer/Base ($6.99/$6.49 at Ulta) that’s almost imperative with these. I find that you can’t just put a mineral base shadow on your eyes or it will disappear. You really need something to help the shadows stick. Splash Proof Sealer/Base intensifies the color and helps them last. I found that the less I used of this the better. It’s pretty sticky and the first time I used it I overdid it. Even though the pigments lasted well through the day, it was hard for me to apply them. Less is best. Put a thin layer on your lids wherever you plan on putting the color, give it a little time to set, then pat on your L.A. Splash mineral eyeshadow. I tried this with regular eyeshadow and it was too sticky so now I use it exclusively with pigment/mineral shadows.



Now you need a little mascara. I’m surprising myself by suggesting Cover Girl Lash Blast Fusion. I received this from BzzAgent (see my other Cover Girl review to learn about the wonders of BzzAgent) and used it thinking I’d hate it. I had bought Lash Blast when it first came out and I hated it. My lashes were shorter at the time and I ended up with mascara everywhere. Now my lashes have grown thanks to RevitaLash, CG’s Lash Blast Fusion is making them look so lush. I didn’t have any trouble getting used to the large brush this time. I’m getting both length and volume with this. Even though I’m hot as can be and often have water dripping down my face (I’m so NOT a hot weather woman) I’m finding this lasts! I’m amazed. The only time I had any smudging with this was when I napped with it on. Otherwise no smudging and no flaking. I’m very impressed.



Have I got a blush for you!! I’m crazy about Hard Candy’s Blush Crush in Living Doll. This baked mineral blush is so much like the high price spread! Here’s another product that I wasn’t so sure about but it went far beyond my expectations. I love the pink shade and the little bit of gold shot through this. It is smooth and blends beautifully. For $7.00 at Walmart this is my favorite summer bargain. There are 4 shades total. I swatched this very dark on purpose since my pictures normally get washed out. On my face it’s bright but subtle and it lasts!


While at Walmart you’ve got to check out the Hard Candy nail polishes! What fun colors!. I have two (Mr. Right, a terrific blue; Sugar Daddy, a sparkly pearl that makes a great top coat). With a base and top coat these $5 nailpolishes last me a week. They are DBP, toluene and formaldehyde free and they even come with a cute ring for your little tyke.

I know most people have summer fun at the beach but I’m an indoor girl so here’s my idea of SUMMER FUN. — Marcia

Disclosure: Some items in this post were received for review purposes. Cover Girl Lash Blast Fusion was received from BzzAgent for me to spread the word, good or bad. Please see our disclosure for more information.

Sunday Spotlight – Cover Girl and Simply Ageless

Wouldn’t we all like to look simply ageless? What a dream that would be. Cover Girl and Olay have worked together to create a line of cosmetics that they hope will make this dream come true. The line consists of foundation, corrector, concealer and cream blush. I was sent one of each of these products by a company called BzzAgent.

BzzAgent runs BzzCampaigns. Their goal is to get the word out about a variety of products on the market. I’ve been a part of BzzAgent for almost 5 years and I’ve been sent things like Jennie-O turkey products, Sonic UV cleaner for my electric toothbrush, Grey Poupon, Hersheys Take 5 candy bars (yummy!!!) as well as cosmetic items. I’ve been lucky enough to try a variety of Cover Girl products through these campaigns. The goal of BzzCampaigns is to get the buzz out. Use the products, talk about them, give feedback to the companies and send out the buzz.

I’m happy to report this buzz about Simply Ageless. I’ll be honest, I never thought of buying any of these products. I rarely buy drugstore cosmetics, mainly because that’s all I could afford to buy for years and now I can afford to splurge more. I also don’t buy as many because I like to test colors and smell things and drugstores don’t give me that chance.


When I first received these 4 products I had a heck of a time opening them. My hands just aren’t big enough for the foundation and blush. Once I figured it out though (and called for my husband) I was ready to test the color and fragrance. I was pleasantly surprised that the foundation especially didn’t have a fragrance and that it does seem to match pretty well. I received the foundation in Classic Ivory, the concealer in Light , the corrector is only one shade so that’s what I received, plus the blush in Royal Plum.  By the way, Olay recognizes the problem of opening the containers and has directions for this on their website but I hadn’t checked there first.

The products have Olay Regenerist Serum swirled throughout making these very creamy. They are best for my combination skin during cooler weather. I can’t wear the foundation on a hot humid day but it’s not the only foundation I avoid during that kind of weather. I have not worn it consistently for 30 days to find out if the claim of improving my skin condition would be true but I’ve worn it enough to know that I like it and that it will remain in my arsenal of foundations. I also like the corrector. I’m used to using a corrector under my eyes prior to foundation application. This one has a slight peach undertone which helps with dark circles under my eyes. The concealer isn’t my favorite product. It just seems like the foundation in a smaller container although it does go on very nicely. Maybe if I had it in a lighter color I’d have felt differently. The blush in Royal Plum is a natural cool tone blush on me. It wears well and doesn’t settle into the pores on my cheeks luckily.

What I can’t really agree with about the claims from Cover Girl is that the products “stay suspended over fine lines and wrinkles”. To me that’s an advertisement talking and not reality.

Do these products make me look Simply Ageless? I doubt it but the finish is nice, the variety of shades in the foundation are good, there are 4 blush choices so you should be able to find one that you like for your skintone.

If you are interested in becoming a BzzAgent click the link above and get some information. I’m enjoying trying out a variety of items in my life including these from Cover Girl. — Marcia


Since this is Sunday Spotlight I want to share some other reviews from Emakemeup.com for Cover Girl’s foundations (and two other products). If Simply Ageless isn’t the right one for you, maybe one of these would be.

Sarita enjoys the Smoothers Liquid Foundation in her review

Booyaw (Joy) chose  Advanced Radiance Restorative Cream Foundation

Sharon likes Wetslicks Amazemint Lipgloss

And Alisa is a fan of Cover Girl mascara, especially Lash Exact

Disclosure: The items in the Simply Ageless review were sent by BzzAgent for consideration. They were not provided for the blog but I chose to review them here to get out the Buzz. Please see the disclosure for more information.