Skin Care Products for College Students

Skin Care Products for College Students

It’s almost an understatement to mention how stressful college can be. Difficult classes, harsh professors, and living on your own is enough to worry about. Having to worry about curating a skin care routine that is affordable is just another thing to add to the list. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the number of products on the market and having to test which ones will work for your skin type. It’s equally as difficult to find cheap skincare products that will fit your budget.

I’ve been there and have gone through it. Luckily, with the internet, estheticians offer tons of product recommendations online. So I made a list of skin care products for college students all based on recommendations from popular estheticians.

*Disclaimer: I am not an esthetician or dermatologist. These are all products I have seen through recommendations by estheticians on Twitter and have tried out for myself.*


The start to any skin care routine is with a proper cleanser. Depending on your skin type and concerns you’ll need a different type of cleanser. From dry and sensitive skin to oily and acne-prone, I’ve got you covered.

The Inkey List Oat Cleansing Balm

Not only is this cleansing balm cheap ($9.99), it is super hydrating! It is a perfect cleanser to use at the end of the day to wipe away makeup, sweat, and sunscreen. It is recommended for those who have normal to dry skin, but I have oily skin and it works great. It is different from traditional cleansers because this is a balm which means that it is a lot thicker and doesn’t foam like others. I absolutely love using it to take off eye makeup because of how gentle it is.

oat cleansing balm

CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser

Another gentle product, CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial cleanser ($9.89) is amazing for those with normal, dry, and combo skin. It also works well for those who have compromised moisture barriers. This is when your skin has been stripped of its natural oils and has become sensitized. A compromised moisture barrier can happen to anyone no matter their skin type if they have been using products that are too harsh. This recommendation came from @caveofbeauty on Twitter who frequently raves about CeraVe products.

cerave hydrating cleanser

CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser

Yet another CeraVe recommendation, but it’s because their products are high quality, affordable, and have so many options. The CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser ($9.89) is perfect for those with acne-prone and oily skin. It contains salicylic acid which is an exfoliant, so this product isn’t for morning and night use! I have found this to help me a lot whenever I have breakouts and need a gentle way to deal with them.

cerave renewing sa cleanser

Essence and Serums

For an added boost of moisture, you can add an essence into your routine. Or if you are trying to target specific concerns, you may want to try a serum. These are extra things to add to your routine after you already have the basics. It’s important to not try out too many new products at once so you don’t cause a breakout. You could not react well to one product or a mixture of them. Before trying out anything new, always do a patch test on your hand/arm.

You can also only include these on certain days you would like to practice self-care in form of extra care to your skin.

E.L.F. Hydrating Water Essence

If you haven’t heard of E.l.f., they are an affordable cosmetics brand that has also branched out into skincare. They have a couple of different lines, but this water essence ($10.00) is by far my favorite. It contains water, glycerin, urea, and coconut water which makes it a great hydrating product. Anytime my skin is feeling dull, I use this product and instantly can see a difference. My skin becomes plumper and looks healthier.

elf hydrating water essence

COSRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence

Another product that plumps and revitalizes skin is the COSRX snail mucin essence ($8.90). This is the travel size version which is why it’s so cheap, but you can get it full-sized for $23. Now I know what you are thinking, snail mucin??? Yes, it is an ingredient that comes from snail secretions, but it is cruelty-free! This ingredient is prominent in a lot of Asian skincare products and the US is barely jumping in on the hype. COSRX snail mucin essence is amazing for dealing with redness, dryness, dullness, or acne-prone skin.

advanced snail 96 mucin power essence

Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Who hasn’t heard of hyaluronic acid? It’s been a trending ingredient for a while now and most are familiar with it. The Good Molecules hyaluronic acid serum is incredibly cheap, $6, and does an amazing job at replenishing the skin. @MakeupforWOC on Twitter has mentioned that Good Molecules is one of her favorite brands and even has partnered with them to do giveaways. This serum can be used twice a day in your morning and night routines.

As we age, our hyaluronic acid in our skin depletes, so this makes it one of the best serums for college students. It’s an affordable way to get started with adding products for anti-aging in our routines.

good molecules hyaluronic acid serum

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

If you are on TikTok or follow any beauty influencers, you probably know about The Ordinary. They are an umbrella brand under Deciem and focus on affordable skincare. If you suffer from hyperpigmentation, niacinamide is a must-have ingredient in your products. Usually, whenever I have big breakouts I’m left with dark spots that my basic products don’t target. To kickstart the process of fading my hyperpigmentation I use Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.90).

the ordinary niacinamide 10% + zinc 1%


As I mentioned before, I have oily skin. I don’t use a moisturizer very often so I don’t end up looking greasy. Typically for my morning routine, I wash my face, apply sunscreen, and go. For those will oily or combo skin, you may be able to relate. However, those who have dry skin or eczema may need that extra layer of hydration.

CeraVe Moisturzing Cream

If you are looking for intense hydration and for your skin to be as moisturized as possible, this is the product for you. At only $13.59 for a giant tub, it’s a great deal. It’s fragrance-free which is what makes it very gentle and suitable for sensitive skin.

My little sister has eczema and she swears by this product. She has tried A LOT of moisturizers, and no other cream can quite compare to this one.

cerave moisturizing cream


Sunscreen is arguably the most important product in any skincare routine. If you aren’t protecting yourself from the sun then you can’t possibly treat any other skin issues you are having. Serums for hyperpigmentation or redness will not work effectively without the use of sunscreen. I always make sure to use the 2-finger rule, create by @MakeupforWOC, to apply the proper amount. You just squeeze out a line of sunscreen across your index and middle finger to apply to your face and neck.

2 finger sunscreen rule, index and middle fingers with a line of sunscreen on each

It’s important to do this every day no matter the weather and even if you are indoors. Typically you will be surrounded by windows or near one, so the sunlight will get into your home. Even with that amount of sunlight, you are exposed to through windows is enough for you to have to put some sunscreen on. All recommendations in this list will be free from white-cast.

Black Girl Sunscreen

Black Girl Sunscreen ($18.99) is absolutely amazing. This product is “sunscreen made by women of color for people of color.” It is completely white-cast-free and doesn’t take a lot of time to rub in. It’s also cruelty-free, vegan, reef safe, and doesn’t smell like regular sunscreen. Black Girl Sunscreen (BGS)  is also perfect for applying your makeup right on top.

However, at least for my skin, I do find it a little too greasy to use in the summer. Other people I know with more combo/dry skin have had no issues with oiliness after use in any season.

black girl sunscreen

Aveeno Protect and Hydrate Sunscreen

This sunscreen is perfect for all skin types no matter the season. At only $7.97 or $23.58 for a 3-pack, it makes it one of the best skincare products for college students. Like Black Girl Sunscreen, this one doesn’t have a heavy sunscreen smell.

aveeno sunscreen

Banana Boat Light as Air Sunscreen

Similar to Aveeno, the Banana Boat Light as Air Sunscreen is also non-greasy. However, it doesn’t take a bit more time to rub in compared to the other sunscreens recommended. It is priced at $7.99 for 6 fl ounces which means double the product compared to both BGS and Aveeno (3 fl oz).

banana boat light as air sunscreen

Skin Care Products for College Students Recap

These are 11 skincare products that are perfect for any college student’s budget and skin type:

  • The Inkey List Oat Balm Cleanser
  • CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
  • CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser
  • Elf Hydrating Water Essence
  • COSRX Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
  • Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid
  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
  • CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
  • Black Girl Sunscreen
  • Aveeno Protect and Hydrate Sunscreen
  • Banana Boat Light as Air Sunscreen

That’s it for skin care products for college students recommendations. What products do you have in your skincare routine?

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Celeste Lili is a student + lifestyle blogger and Content/SEO marketer. She loves to write blog posts that provide value to college and high school students about productivity and lifestyle.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook



  1. February 11, 2021 / 7:56 am

    I have been using The Ordinary and Good Molecules for a while and they have completely changed my skin. I love how affordable they are because as a MA student money is always a struggle, so I don’t have to compromise on anything to have great skin! Thanks for sharing!

    • Avatar photo February 11, 2021 / 8:18 am

      It’s truly amazing how they can make such great products at an even greater price. Glad you liked the post!

  2. February 11, 2021 / 8:49 am

    Nice collection and a must have for all ladies.

  3. February 11, 2021 / 11:27 am

    Snail extract sound so interesting! If you can recommend a snail product, then the results must be pretty good! lol!

  4. February 13, 2021 / 8:00 am

    I love CeraVe. They make such great products a affordable prices.