Back to school means back to glam. After weeks of couch vegging and pool-hopping, it’s time to set our alarm clocks back to 7 a.m. and act like human beings again. Human beings with better hair, at least. As long as Madonna is too busy sucking someone’s face, us 21st century material girls will have to navigate this material world on our own. Hopefully you’ve scored enough cash at your summer gig because you won’t want to miss out on these three splurge-worthy beauty products before the first day of classes. Meanwhile, you can save the rest of your dollar bills by avoiding these three sneaky amateur products. There are far too many wine BOGOs to let imposter mascara keep you in debt.
Once you get your accessories in order, make your own custom pouch. Take your favorite insta-worthy pics or that adorable photo of your cat and add it here.
1. Pravana Hair Straightener
Great hair and fried ends no longer have to go together. Ditch your flat iron because Pravana is your genie in a bottle, here to make all of your hair-straightening fantasies a reality. Pravana is a hair smoothing system that takes out 85% of your frizz and curl, and it’s permanent. I repeat, permanent. Unlike other treatments like Keratin and Brazilian Blowouts that fade away after so many showers, Pravana will give you luscious locks all year long at the same price. And the benefits don’t stop there. “Compared to a Keratin Brazilian Blowout, Pravana does not contain formaldahyde or aldahyde, which can cause cancer,” said Carl James, hair stylist of Salon Lofts in Tampa, Florida. James recommends Pravana to any head of hair, as long as it hasn’t endured any heavy bleaching. But do NOT try this at home, kids. Or with some cheap-o hair stylist “in-training.” This stuff is for the big-leagues only.
2. Laser Hair Removal
Imagine what it’s like to be a dolphin. Swimming around town in all your silky glory. Ready for any last minute dolphin pool party, because hey, pesky pubes and horrifying razor bumps are nonexistent for you. This is exactly what life is like after laser hair removal. It’s better than any form of hair removal you’ve tried before because it’s permanent and all made possible by the FDA-approved Candela GentleLASE Laser System. Teresa Pulido, licensed Clinical Medical Electrologist of Pulido Electrolysis and Laser Hair Removal in Tampa, Florida, said, “The Laser System works by targeting hair follicles and zapping them away with heat in a fraction of a second. The laser even has what’s called the Dynamic Cooling Device to comfort and ease the warmth.” Shaving and waxing? Psh, so old school. After about six sessions (that last less than 15 minutes each) you will go from Lady Sasquatch to Miss Shamu. Hell yeah.
3. Brand name foundation
If you’re gonna smear it all over your face, it might as well be quality, right? Fancy schmancy foundations are worth the splurge because they’re just better for you. Simple as that. Designer lines hire real-life scientists to concoct a cornucopia of options to fit your every need, from your skin’s pigment to its natural moisture level. Sure, Jessica Alba’s face looks really great in those Revlon makeup ads, but that’s mostly the Photoshop doing the heavy lifting. Drugstore brands are known for caking, creasing and melting right off. Talk about a first date gone wrong. When it comes to your face, stick to that good good. Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Foundation is specially formulated to give you a flawless finish in photographs, making it all the rage on the red carpet. And if your skin is easily irritated, Clinique Redness Solutions Makeup is the way to go. Plus, it contains SPF 15 sunscreen because it’s never too early to start that anti-aging kick, right? Better ingredients, better foundation. Papa Johns— opps, sorry.
1. Facial cleansing brush
Take a look inside any self-respecting gal’s bathroom today and you’re sure to find one of these jumbo-sized electric toothbrushes that she claims is for her face. “It exfoliates my skin debris and sebum!” she’ll say, reciting the celebrity-clad advertisements by heart. As facial cleansing brushes disappear from the shelves, however, so do their promises of baby-bottom smooth skin. Redness, dryness, irritation and break outs—oh my!–are the most common complaints by users. According to Dermatology Physician Assistant , Dr. Jennifer E. Thompson of UF Health Dermatology, these effects are especially prevalent if you are already using an acne medicines like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Plus, think of all the bacteria building up in between those tiny bristles day after day… yikes. The best alternative? Keep it old school with a gentle cleanser and exfoliate your skin lightly with a towel.
2. Shellac nail polish
I hate chipped polish as much as the next girl and I have certainly fallen into the temptation of the “two-week long” manicure from heaven. But we all know the trauma our twinkle toes endure in the aftermath. Weak, flakey and lack-luster—when those two glorious weeks are over, our nail beds are left looking like a deserted battlefield. And it turns out, these symptoms are worse for our health than most of us realize. The UV light, commonly used in salons to speed drying times, is the same light used in those God-forsaken tanning beds. Who knew your manicure could cause skin cancer? And according to LA nail stylist, Jenna Hipp, just getting this cement crap off your nails—whether you dunk them in toxic acetone or file them down—requires nine months to a year to fully recover from the damage. Save the drama for the next season of The Bachelor and stick to high-quality polishes like OPI and Essie. Your phalanges will thank you.
3. High End mascara
Some products are all talk and no action. Our friends Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy claim to have the secret recipe for mile-long lashes, but in all honesty, they got nothin’ next to some tubes from the convenient store. Don’t let sparkly designer labels and high price tags trick you into blowing your birthday cash on something you could have picked up at CVS for seven bucks. I dare you to buy a tube of each and test it out for yourself. CoverGirl Lash Blast Clump Crusher and L’oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Excess were named two of the top 10 mascaras of 2015 by Cosmopolitan magazine. And Maybelline’s Colossal Cat Walk never lets me down. Just sayin’.
*Updated July 29, 2016 with an awesome new create-your-own accessory pouch.