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!

Beautifully clean with Faith Aromatherapy

Faith Aromatherapy is a beautiful bath and body line based on essential oils that heal the body, mind, and soul. They avoid synthetic fragrances and chemicals in their spa quality products, instead using pure, natural ingredients that are genuinely effective as well as good for the environment. I love their products and there are three in particular that I turn to time and again: Tahitian Monoi Perfumed Shower Gel, Balneotherapy Salts in Just Breathe, and Lemongrass/Fennel Hand and Body Wash.

Faith Aromatherapy Tahitian Monoi Shower Gel

Faith Aromatherapy Tahitian Monoi Shower Gel

Faith Aromatherapy Tahitian Monoi Shower Gel 2

The Tahitian Monoi Perfumed Shower Gel ($12.99) is a liquid soap that creates a soft foam. The main ingredient is Tahitian Monoi oil, known for cleansing and soothing skin while also soothing the mind and spirit. Sweet Orange Oil makes the natural scent even more delicious, while glycerin conditions and softens the skin. This shower gel is a beautiful way to get clean every morning.

When it comes to bath time, I absolutely love the Balneotherapy Salts ($10.99) from Faith Aromatherapy’s Apothecary remedy products. They have five different types of bath salts available, including Keep Your Peace, Just Breathe, Be Flexible, Flu Prevention Ginger, and Awaken Your Senses.  My choice is Just Breathe.

Faith Aromatherapy Just Breathe Bath Salts

Faith Aromatherapy Balneotherapy Bath Salts in Just Breathe

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Just Breathe has an awesome combination of eucalyptus and sweet orange essential oils. Along with the epsom salts, the combo clears my stuffy nose like nothing else. It also helps to ease aching muscles and sea salt is fabulous for clearing your energy and getting yourself back into spiritual alignment. This is strong stuff and it is perfect for when colds or allergies strike.

Faith Aromatherapy Hand Soap

Faith Aromatherapy Lemongrass/Fennel Moisture Rich Sanitizing Hand Soap

soapy goodness

soapy goodness

Last but not least, the Lemongrass/Fennel Moisture Rich Sanitizing Hand and Body Wash ($9.99) is a wonderful hand soap. It smells citrusy and clean thanks to the essential oils and Olive Leaf Extract. I wash my hands all the time and many soaps leave them parched. This one never does, and it smells so good – and that fragrance is what helps protect hands from germs, fungus, and bacteria.

Faith Aromatherapy is a wonderful line, particularly if you are into essential oils and the mind/body/spirit connection. They also have body scrubs, body lotions and creams, and natural deodorant. Plus, in the Apothecary you can fill out a questionnaire and they will make a custom blended essential oil just for you. Check it out and get calm, healthy, and happy!  – Lisa

 *sent for editorial consideration

Nuture your inner hippie with hip E chick Organic products

Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong era. I always seem to want to go back in time and hip E chick organic bath and body products lets me time travel to the groovy ’70’s! This is a very cool, ‘hip’ line that is all about eco-friendly living. Everything is hand crafted with organic, non-toxic ingredients. hip E chick recently sent the BIZ a few things to try and I am happy to report they are as practical as they are stylish.

hip e chick

hip E chick Maui Wowie Soy Candle

hip

totally gift ready!

The Maui Wowie Soy Candle ($24 for an 8 oz. candle) arrives gift-ready with a cheery lime ribbon bow. The scent is totally addictive, a mix of coconut, pineapple, and cilantro. It’s yummy and sultry and clean smelling all at the same time.

hip

Maui Wowie in the box

hip

100% hand poured pure soy wax

This beautiful, fun, and practical candle is 100% hand poured pure soy wax. It has a cotton wick so there’s none of that nasty candle smoke and it is free of synthetic dyes and additives. This is a great candle for you or for any hippie chick you know.

The Wellness Shot Organic Hand Soap ($16 for 8 oz.) is a wonderful way to get a little boho into your day.

hip

hip E chick Wellness Shot Organic Hand Soap

hip

super cute packaging!

I wash my hands many times each day, so I want a soap that not only sanitizes but also moisturizes. Add in totally cute packaging and I am sold! Wellness Shot Organic Hand Soap has ingredients like Kangen Living Water, Strong Acid Water, and certified pure therapeutic grade oil blends of wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary essential oils. It leaves a very light, clean scent on hands and skin is wonderfully  cleansed and hydrated. If you love liquid hand soap, put this on your list because it’s a real winner.

hip E chick offers lots of other products, such as a sugar body scrub that sounds delicious, body wash, body oil, and even products for pets.

hip E chick’s do not only cultivate exciting and peaceful lives for themselves; but they always reflect upon how their choices are affecting the rest of the world.”  So what do you think – are you a hip E chick?  – Lisa

*pr samples

Pangea Organics Hand Soap

I am obsessed with hand soaps. I love bar soaps, liquid soaps, foaming soaps…anything that smells good and doesn’t dry out my hands from my (slightly OCD) hand washing habit. One I have been using constantly that was sent for review is Pangea Organics Hand Soap ($14) in possibly the longest scent name in the universe – Italian White Sage with Geranium and Yarrow.

Pangea

Pangea Organics Hand Soap

Not only does this soap clean your hands, it also uplifts your mind and balances your body thanks to the geranium and yarrow essential oils.

Pangea

So much more than a hand soap!

Hey every little bit helps. I can always use more rejuvenation and I definitely needs some calming down most of the time.

lovely, fluffy foaminess!

lovely, fluffy foaminess!

It does smell divine, fresh and herbally with a hint of floral from the geranium. And the fluffy foamy goodness is fantastic. The lather is a delight to wash with, and it leaves my hands feeling soft and smelling terrific. Ingredients include organic saponified vegetable oils, organic botanical extracts, and of course those amazing essential oils.

Other scents available include Canadian Pine with White Sage and Pyrenees Lavender with Cardamom. Whatever your scent preference, I can tell you this is one terrific hand soap that you will thoroughly enjoy until the last lather.   – Lisa

*pr sample

Makeup Wars – my repeat purchases aka the holy grail


It’s that time again. Makeup Wars!  If you haven’t been keeping up with us, Makeup Wars is a series with over a dozen amazing bloggers on a variety of topics. Today we have decided it show you the items we buy over and over. I’ve chosen to call them Holy Grails since I prefer these to similar products. These are products I consistently purchase and assume I’ll continue to do so for years to come.
So what has Marcia chosen and why?

Mary Kay Oil-free Eye Makeup Remover has been a constant for at least 10 years when I unwittingly ended up at an MK party. Actually I enjoyed the experience especially because I bought my first eye makeup remover there. Now I try to buy two or three at a time. The two items that I find the hardest to remove are gel eyeliner and mascara. No matter how stubborn those two are the Mary Kay works. I shake, squeeze it on my cotton square, hold it to my eye for a few seconds and wipe gently. I rarely need to add more since it’s so effective. Plus it’s not oily so if I’m redoing makeup I only have to pat on a little water and I’m set. The MK leads to the next item…makeup war repeat marykay

DHC Silky Cotton squares. I’ve used other brands of pads but this is what I stockpile. Since I hate paying shipping I always buy enough to avoid that charge and I’m set for a year. I like these because they are soft yet sturdy and they never shed fibers. I also buy Shiseido’s version because  those are super soft. But DHC stands up to eye makeup remover better. I usually only need one square for both eyes. I also use these for toner and other light liquids. These cost $5.50 for 80 pads and I now see that DermStore carries them.makeup war repeat dhc

Another type of cleanser I love having on hand all the time is J.R. Watkins Hand Soap aka Natural Home Care Liquid Hand Soap. This comes in about 5 fragrances and is my favorite item to wash my hands with. I keep these in all my bathrooms. It’s  natural earth-friendly formula that is moisturizing without being sticky. It washes off cleanly without a residue. It’s only $4.99 at drugstore.com or Rite Aid and lasts me about 6 weeks. I buy the yummy citrus scents of lemon, orange and grapefruit.

makeup war repeat soap

YSL Touché Éclat   Another product I buy again and again. I buy this kind of concealer/highlighter from other brands all the time. I  probably have half a dozen similar products in my stash. But when it’s all said and done, this is my favorite. It’s not the best concealer but it brightens under my eyes making me feel more alive. I’ve got a few new brands of this type of concealer/highlighter I will be using to review, but they’ll always be compared to YSL TE.makeup war repeat ysl

Last in this list is the BeautyBlender sponge aka Beautyblender Makeup Sponge- accept no substitutes. I’ve got this type of sponge from Sonia Kashuk and MAC and they don’t compare. Other brands will tell you that they are as soft but they aren’t. I love my “Pink Egg” and have gone through quite a few. Mine almost always stains but it’s not entered in a beauty pageant – its job is to make my foundation look perfect and it succeeds. They now produce this in black and in white so if you choose those colors just make sure they are genuine. I’m a bouncer ladies but only with my Beautyblender.makeup war repeat sponges

Now that you’ve read my 5 choices let me know what you’ve been buying over and over again. Then when you are done do some clicking (bouncing) yourself to see what my fellow warriors have selected. — Marcia

Introducing Make Me Smooth

I want to introduce you to what I consider the best bath and body care products around. The line is called Make Me Smooth and it’s the creation of a wonderful woman named Nancy. I’m a little prejudiced about Nancy and Make Me Smooth which I’ll admit right off the bat. Nancy is most likely the reason I’ve got a blog even though she wouldn’t think so. In 1998 Nancy owned a new website called Emakemeup. It was a beauty forum which also had a review board attached. I started reading the reviews and slowly but surely became a part of Emakemeup. I applied to be a reviewer and happily remember the day I was accepted. My first review was for products from Calvin Klein. Looking back I realize my attempt was a little crude but it was my start and I’ll never forget that. When I met Lisa I invited her to join us and she became part of the history too.

Nancy had a fledgling line back then which was called Make Me Up. She sold cosmetics at first and then created her own line of bath and body products. Not being a fan of fragranced items due to migraines, it took me a while before I heeded the raves of others at Emakemeup and started adding a few products onto my orders. As cosmetics were phased out, the site was renamed Make Me Smooth. Soon it was all I ordered.

Here’s why I love the products
1. Every item is made by scratch just for you. Nothing is pre-made.
2. Make Me Smooth is made with the finest ingredients
3. It’s a labor of love for Nancy and her family
4. Everything Make Me Smooth sells has been created by Nancy, they are products she’s designed and cooked up through her own experimentation.
5. Her scent library is phenomenal. She has over 320 scents that you can choose from and she is always creating new ones.
6.  You are the boss. When you order from Make Me Smooth you pick the product, the fragrance and the intensity of the fragrance. For someone like me who is gun-shy about how items smell I can order my items to be made in Light yet my best friend (who I met thru Emakemeup) orders everything in heavy. We are equally thrilled because we’ve got exactly what we want.
7. The products that Make Me Smooth carries are varied; you can buy hand washes, body creams, shower gels, fragrances and so much more. And like I said, you’re the boss. You pick the exact scent and strength that you desire.

 

What do I get out of writing this article? Absolutely nothing but the pleasure of sharing this brand with you. If there’s a discount or a special, it’s the same for everyone. We all get the same individualized service and freshly created products. Orders are made in the order received so no one gets preferential treatment. Being a small company you will have to wait for your order and the wait can be excruciating because once you make up your mind you’ll be dying to get that package in the mail. Once it comes you’ll realize why it was worth any wait. Nancy keeps people infomed through Facebook and on a sidebar on the site on the timing of products as well as announcing her special sales. All Make Me Smooth products are Paraben-Free, Sulfate-Free, Artificial Colour-Free, Not Tested On Animals, Vegan-Friendly!

Here’s a little about my favorite items but this is a drop in the bucket compared to how many items they create –

1)      Handy Wash: Personally I’m addicted to Handy Wash. It’s a creamy handwash that keeps my hands well moisturized.  I was without this product for a long time and I see a difference when I don’t use it.  Here’s the description: “Gentle, sls-free cleansers lather up all creamy-good to get the nitty gritty cleansing job done, while skin loving Vitamin E, Aloe Vera, Vegetable Glycerine, and Avocado Oil delete stripping, attract moisture and refresh the hands.” $12.95 8 oz

Handy Wash

2)      Foaming Shower Meringue: This makes taking a shower fun! It’s so creamy and gentle on my skin. You put on this lovely cream and it foams up making shower time fun! “Cleansing Skins Lavishly, Everywhere! Give your body beautiful a fabulous treat every time you shower! Rich, creamy lather completely cleanses skin without strip, while skin-soothing Babassu Butter, and emollient Cherry Kernel and Sunflower oils lightly moisturize and protect the skin.” This is available in 4 sizes from $3.50 to $14.95.

Foaming Shower Meringue

3)      Babe Cakes: A super rich body cream. If you have dry arms and legs you need this. It goes on so smoothly and after a few minutes sinks in to moisturize you all day long. “Body Butter. Indulging Skins, Everywhere! Sinfully rich, this super-smoother brings skin back to its ultimate place of comfort. At your skin’s service to soothe and protect. Indulge with Babe Cakes Body Butter, often! Key Ingredients: Rice Bran Oil, Sunflower Oil, and Shea Butter.”  This is also available in 4 sizes from $3.50 to $18.95

Make Me Smooth Bake Cakes

As much as I like and respect the owner of Make Me Smooth, I wouldn’t be buying if I didn’t love the products. Like my mom always used to say to me, the world’s pickiest eater, “try it Marcia, you might like it”. Well I tried it and I not only like it, I love it! I’m sure you will too. — Marcia

Here’s another wonderful update! A coupon code of “beautyiz15” is being set up for readers of this blog for 15% off your order. This will be available through the end of March. Thanks so much to Make Me Smooth for offering that to us all.

More information that I forgot

1) The information about the intensity of scents is at checkout. You can order it in UNSCENTED as well as light, medium, heavy.

2) If you have special requests, like totally vegan friendly, you can email Nancy through Make Me Smooth to ask if products can be made that way.

images from Makemesmooth.com

Hands down, the best contest ever – by Hand Perfection

This is a true story: I was getting my nails done the other day by this cute man at a local nail spa.  He was telling me that in China, a woman’s desirability greatly increases with the softness of her hands.  He said that the softer a woman’s hands, the more money and luck a man will have if he marries her.  And then….he proposed!!!!  He was going on and on about how soft my hands were, and how much luck and money I would bring him.  He was TOTALLY serious.  I was thinking, are you kidding?   I just spent the weekend up to my eyeballs in cleaning solution!!!  But then I realized, my hands WERE super soft.  Amazingly soft, even with all the cleaning I had done sans gloves.  You know why?  Hand Perfection.  I have Ellen Sirot to thank for my recent marriage proposal!!!


If you haven’t tried the Hand Perfection products yet, now is the time.  They were created by Ellen Sirot, whose face you may not recognize, but I’ll bet you’ve seen her hands before!  As a hand model, she needed products that would keep her hands in perfect shape, so she created her own line.  Marcia has reviewed several products, the Complete Day Cream and the Cuticle Treatment here and the Moisturizing Cleanser and Night Solution here.  This is my take on the products offered in this line:

I love the Nail and Cuticle treatment ($22).


It’s different from other pen-style treatments in that instead of a brush, it has a great spongy tip that you can use to push back the cuticles, as well as applying the treatment.  I keep one at my computer, and I apply it every time I sit down to type.  I keep the other at work, and I apply it while I’m on the phone.  I haven’t had a single hangnail since I started doing this – which is a minor miracle.


After I put on the Nail and Cuticle Treatment, I slather on the Complete Day Cream ($50). This is the best hand cream I have ever used.  It is moisturizing without being too wet, it softens hands like you wouldn’t believe, and it doesn’t have a nasty scent.  It is perfect.


I work in a school with high school students, so I am constantly washing my hands.  Normally this gives me dry, peeling hands all school year long that I have to fight with a bunch of other products.  Then I started using the Moisturizing Cleanser ($30), and could not believe the difference.  My hands were clean, but not stripped in any way.  I could wash and wash, and my hands never got chapped or dry or peely.  This is lovely cleanser, and the bottle lasts and lasts – I am at the end of the second month of using it, and it isn’t even half gone.


Finally, at night I use the Night Solution ($75). This is heavenly stuff.  I thought it would be thick and heavy, but it’s not – it’s light, and sinks right in, and it just leaves your hands feeling and looking amazing.

My hand routine has become second nature, and it has made a huge difference for me.  Now, not only do my hands look amazing – they will apparently bring my husband great wealth and luck!!

And it’s definitely your lucky day, because for the holidays, Hand Perfection is giving away a Cleanse and Hydrate Hand Kit – a full size Moisturizing Cleanser and a full size Complete Day Cream!  These products are worth $80.  Entering is easy – just do the following:

1.  ‘Like’ Hand Perfection on Facebook or subscribe to their Twitter feed

2.  Leave a comment on this post about how you feel these products might help your hands.  Splitting cuticles?  Dry wrinkly hands?  Uneven skin tone?  What’s your hand issue??

3.  Shoot us an email at beautyinfozone@gmail.com with your name and email address. Sorry but this is a contest open only to those in the U.S.

And that’s it!  Enter by midnight on Monday, November 22nd. We will pick a winner using random.org, and then let you know if you are the lucky one this time!!

Plus, there is a discount code for Beauty Info Zone readers.  Just enter the code BeautyIZ and get 20% off any order.  Marcia and I both feel any of the products make a wonderful holiday gift – or a fabulous stocking stuffer for yourself.  Hurry, though – this code expires November 30, 2010.  Good luck everyone!!  – Lisa

Disclosure: products and prize provided by PR.