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!

Top Ten Tuesday’s drugstore favorites

If you set me loose in a drugstore what would I buy? Money is no object in this dream setup. I don’t think I’d overspend though because the things I really like and buy over and over just aren’t that expensive to begin with.

Yes To Blueberries eye cream – I was a little worried this would have a fragrance but if it’s there I can’t really tell. I’m impressed with this eye cream and am happy to recommend it. I found it with a $5 off coupon on it plus I had a 25% off CVS coupon so the price was just right. And the product is just right. The best drugstore eye cream I’ve used (and keep using).

Almay Oil-Free Gentle Makeup Remover Towelettes – of all the wipes at the drugstore this is my favorite. It’s not fragranced, they stay moist and they are gentle on my skin. While I don’t like to take off eye makeup with a towelette I will with this. It’s not great on mascara but it works in a pinch. The big reason I like these is that I really do feel clean and refreshed when using them.

Milani Eye Shadow Primer – this is a winner. I always recommend an eyeshadow primer and they have one of the best and at a price you can afford.

J.R. Watkins Liquid Hand Soap – it’s impossible to tell you how many of these I go through. There might be better liquid hand washes out there but I love how gentle this is and the wonderful citrus fragrances it comes in. I now have one at every sink in my house and a few in my linen closet so I don’t run out.

Maybelline Color Tattoo 24 Hr shadows – the first batch of Color Tattoo came out at the same time as L’Oreal Infallible cream to powder shadows. At first I was all over the L’Oreal but time hasn’t been especially kind to those and a lot of mine have dried out. They are still usable but the Maybelline Color Tattoo have stayed the course. The longer I have them, the more I love them. There are a few shades I really love like Barely Beige, Branded Beige, Nude Compliment and Sleek and Spice.

Eddie Funkhouser Ultra Definition Eye Liner -  I know, I know! I write about this all the time but it’s the best black liquid eyeliner I’ve found. It’s $9.99 and some of you are lucky enough to have a Rite Aid with Eddie’s products. The rest of us can go on his site or Dermstore.

Maybelline Master Glaze Blush Stick – totally impressed with these. I have two and I’d have a lot more if I didn’t own tons of cream blushers. These little sticks are dynamite on color, blend on my skin well, and last a good amount of time. Set loose I’d buy them all up. I have Pinched Pink and Pink Fever (shown) and I’d love more.

Sinful Colors nail polish – I’m totally impressed with these $1.99 beauties. I’m sure they aren’t all created equal but the three I received are fabulous. All lasted a solid week and got compliments for that solid week.

Maybelline Color Show Nail Polish – this is the other nail polish brand I’m always stopping and looking at. If I was set loose I’d buy all of these and all the Sinful Colors ones. The Maybelline wear well and have great trendy colors.

Milani Total Lash Cover Mascara – It took me a while to find this after My Newest Addiction reviewed it but seeing it on her made me excited to find a drugstore mascara this great. This has the most unusual brush. It takes a bit of playing with the brush to get big lashes but it is a winner.

CapriClear Spray On Moisturizer – this is new to me and I haven’t had a lot of time to use it since it was sent to test but I’m so impressed with it already. I know it’s number 11 out of a list of 10 but I wanted to introduce it. This non-fragranced spray on coconut oil moisturizer is so easy to use. Great for after the shower, out of the pool for the day or just about anytime. It’s not greasy so you use and keep on going. I’ll test it more and review soon. It’s available at CVS, Walgreens, Ulta.

Drugstore shopping can be fun but if you notice I don’t have any type of foundation or concealer on my list. That’s one area that is still missing a favorite. If you have any to recommend, bring it on. In the meantime visit my fellow bloggers to see what other treasures can be found. — Marcia


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

More reviews by Marcia

I know you are just dying to read my posts and can’t quite get enough. Even if that’s not the truth, I’m still sharing a few guest posts I did for Prime Beauty.  – Marcia

MAYBELLINE SHOW OFF Nail Polish in Styled Out (I love this!!)

JR Watkins Hand Soaps

An old post on Physician’s Formula gel liners

Thanks for reading!!