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!

Join the gold rush with Lush: Phoenix Rising, Sunny Side, and Lustre Dusting Powder

It seems like everyone has gold fever these days.  Every where you go there are signs proclaiming “Cash for Gold!”, and there are quite a few television shows about digging for gold, like Gold Rush Alaska.  And don’t forget Kanye, who always shows up somewhere talking about gold diggers!

If you love gold, and even want to bathe in it and wear it, you need to check out Lush.    Here are three of my favorite ‘gold’ items that give a gorgeous, expensive looking gleam!

Lush Phoenix Rising in package

Phoenix Rising ($6.95) is a simply stunning bath bomb.  The violet fizzy has gold woven throughout, and it looks amazing when it hits the water.

The scent is an intoxicating blend of orange and cinnamon that isn’t too strong.  It leaves your bath water a majestic purple that doesn’t stain the tub like you might assume it would.  I do, however, sometimes use an old clean knee-high nylon sock – I tie the bath bomb in it, and the nylon keeps the ‘floaty’ pieces together to make clean up a breeze.

The bath water is shot through with tiny golden shimmers that stays on your skin, leaving it moisturized and beautiful.

Lush Sunny Side Bubble Bar

Another Lush bath product that always cheers me up is Sunny Side Bubble Bar ($6.95).  Talk about bling!!  This is bling times a thousand. If Daffy Duck takes bubble baths this is what he uses for sure.  This beautiful bubble bar turns your bath water into molten gold, with nothing but swirls of shimmer and bubbles completely surrounding you.  The scent is not a very big one, it’s citrusy but definitely not the reason to buy this.  Buy this for the gold.

For a major gold experience, use a piece of a Phoenix Rising and a piece of a Sunny Side Bubble BarSunny Side is subtle enough to not compete with the scent in Phoenix Rising, and the combination of royal purple and major golden shimmer is just to die for!

Lush Lustre Dusting Powder

Finish off your golden look with Lustre Dusting Powder ($14.95).  Do you love the scent of jasmine?  If so, you are really going to LOVE this.

the magical ingredients

See the ingredients above – it’s the neatest feeling powder, it’s moisturizing probably thanks to the essential oils.

Lustre Dusting Powder swatch

The powder has a very sexy, sophisticated, gorgeous warm jasmine scent.  The shimmer makes you look thinner, which is always a good thing!  Use a big fluffy brush to apply, or you can sprinkle it into your hands, rub together then smooth on your chest, legs, and arms.  Make sure you wash your hands after, shimmery palms look pretty weird.  It looks flipping fantastic when paired with a faux tan.

Lustre Dusting Powder applied

Here it is on, and remember I put a large amount on for the photograph.  The shimmer is actually beautifully subtle, you don’t look like a disco ball unless you really go crazy when putting it on.

A fabulous way to get ready for a night out is to take a bling bubble bath with some Phoenix Rising and some Sunny Side, then after put on some Lustre Dusting Powder for a great scent and a sexy shimmer.  Join the ‘gold rush’, try these terrific Lush products and get your gleam on!!  – Lisa

*pr samples

Mmmm, smelling so good with Bodycology Island Coconut!

Anyone who knows me knows that I am absolutely crazy about coconut scents.  I am picky, though – I don’t like fake scents, or coconut scents that are overly sweet.  I like real, true coconut fragrance, coconut that smells like it’s been warming in the sun on a tropical beach.  I have found some truly fantastic coconut scents in the past few years, and my latest discovery has me totally geeked.

I wasn’t expecting to love the smell of Bodycology’s Island Coconut products.  Now, I love Bodycology products and find them to be very high quality – but historically I have found that larger brands fall short in the coconut scent category.   Coconut scented items are typically way too sweet and cloying, so I usually prefer high-end lines or etailers for interesting, complex yet realistic coconut scents.  Imagine my surprise when I smelled Island Coconut and fell head over heels in love!!

I started with the Shower Gel & Bubble Bath ($4.00 for 16 fl. oz).  This lathers up beautifully, cleans and moisturizes the skin, and it smells DIVINE.  You have to admit, the price is absolutely right, too!!  After my shower my skin was lightly scented, not overpowering but definitely still some scent there.  So I thought, awesome, but the other products can’t be this good.


Next, I smoothed on the Island Coconut Body Cream ($4.00 for 8 oz.).  This is a thick, luxurious cream that just melts right into the skin. The fragrance amazed me – fresh-cut coconut with heavenly cream, delicious but not too foody.  It did not smell fake, plastic, or cloyingly sweet.  And my skin was so soft, smooth, and touchable!!  After putting on the body cream, the scent was noticeable, and it lasted all day long.

Then I tried the Island Coconut Body Mist ($4.00 for 8 fl. oz.).  My trick with a body mist is to spray it in front of me, then walk into it.  That way, the fragrance is pretty evenly dispersed, and I don’t put on too much.  Oh, I also give myself a tiny spritz at the back of my neck, a tip I read in a magazine a long time ago.  I was pretty sure that all of those products together – the shower gel, the body cream, and the fragrance mist, would be way too much.  But it really wasn’t.  You can use any of them alone – with the shower gel there is a faint scent that stays throughout the day.  The body cream alone gives a very nice, noticeable scent.  The fragrance mist is about the same strength as the body cream by itself.  Pair it with the body cream and it’s a perfect coconut fragrance that inspired people who sat next to me to say, “You smell so good!!  What is that?” 

You know what really sold me, though?  My husband.  He is very, very picky and usually doesn’t much like any perfume that I wear.  But the first time he smelled me wearing Island Coconut, he said, “Wow you smell delicious!!” and I have been fighting him off ever since. 

Between that and the price, what’s not to love??  Be sure to sample it the next time you are at Walmart, Meijer, Walgreens, Ulta…you can find it pretty much everywhere.  This scent will not disappoint you!!  – Lisa