5 essential skincare products every college girl should own

No time for skincare? Here are the basics

If you're like me when I was in college, skincare was a tiresome thing that all the adult women in my life insisted upon with more urgency than someone prophesying the end times. For the large part, I ignored them. I was overwhelmed by all the tips and tricks (Wash daily! Exfoliate once a week! Serum! Essence!) and felt I couldn't just suddenly incorporate everything into my daily routine. Who had the time to sit in front of a mirror when I had class, work, and friends? I was simply too busy.

But then I realized that the days where I could slip by without looking in the mirror were slowly disappearing. After much experimentation, I narrowed it down to the quickest, easiest essentials – no excuses!

If you're a tried-and-true beauty expert, these are a few things I've found that worked for me and that I truly recommend. And if you're anything like the college girl I was, sprinting out the door in the mornings and crashing hard into bed in the evenings, these are just a few basic steps to fit into your routine that your skin will thank you for later.

Here are 3 products absolutely everyone should include in their skincare arsenal:

1. Makeup remover

I once read somewhere that every night you don't take off your makeup, your skin ages a year. Perhaps a little exaggerated, yes, but never did I forget to take off my makeup again. If nothing else, use these to avoid waking up on an eyeliner smeared pillow case.

Neutrogena Makeup Removing Wipes

These are quick, cheap, and effective. (Read: nights stumbling into your bathroom in the dark.) Most brands have some version of them, just be careful if you have sensitive skin – they can be quite harsh.

Clinique "Take The Day Off" Makeup Remover

Oil-based removers are great for heavy eye makeup. Just grab a tissue and it comes right off.

Thayer's Rose Petal Witch Hazel

Super gentle and perfect for days where you're not wearing a lot to begin with. Feels and smells like rose water with a little bit of extra kick from the witch hazel.

2. Face wash

A must for clean, oil-free skin and a good night's sleep. I feel so refreshed afterwards, and when I wake up I have a clean slate for the next day.

Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Wash

A cheap, effective option for oily skin. I use this in the summer and feel like I am truly a purer person afterwards – like I'm actually getting rid of the built up gunk in my face.

Dr. Haushka's Cleansing Milk

Slightly pricier, but gentle and smells soft and pretty, like baby lotion. This is great against the harsh winter air or just for generally dry skin. It melts into your skins and leaves you feeling so soft. You can even kill two birds with one stone and skip the moisturizer.

THE FACE SHOP Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam

One of my favorites. It's got a lightweight, foamy texture, and it's super easy to lather and rinse off. I use this daily, sometimes instead of makeup remover.

3. Moisturizer

After scrubbing clean, I like to put in a moisturizer to restore my face and help it get to dewy hydration levels. I tend to lean towards organic versions for these - especially if I'm leaving it in for the night. Moisturizer is also a great pre-step to add to your makeup routine in the morning!

Nature Republic Watery Cream

This is another lightweight option that also helps even out the oils in your skin. Water-based and organic, I love that my skin can still breathe underneath it.

Coconut Oil

A great natural option that smells nice and is so effective. Works even for girls like me, who have acne-prone skin. I've also been known to use it on the dry ends of my hair.

4. Exfoliator

Here's the deal: Exfoliators are a deeper clean that I try to do about once a week. They get rid of all the dead skin and grime that's built up in your pores throughout the week. Great to prevent blackheads!

St. Ives Apricot Scrub

This is my go-to exfoliator. It's not too harsh, smells nice, and I've found it super helpful for clearing up acne.

Foreo LUNA Facial Cleansing Brush

Though definitely more of an investment, these little brushes do all the work for you. I have the mini "Go" version and it works tiny wonders. I use them to reset my skin after falling off the skincare wagon for a few nights or when I need help with blackheads. They're made of silicon, so you can use them in the shower and leave them on the shelf with your other things.

5. Spot Treatment

For those days when it's too late for everything else, and you need some damage control. I've found salicylic acid to be pretty harsh for my skin, so I've become a big fan of natural options for spot treatments.

Aloe Vera Gel

Honestly, this has been surprisingly effective for me. Although it doesn't help when my face is reaching critical levels, aloe works best to bring down little red spots and bumps. Another great natural option, and it doubles as a moisturizer.

Belif Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil has natural antibacterial properties and seems to be in everything today. This one from Belif is mixed with lavender and chamomile oils, and is less drying than the pure stuff. Although the other ingredients lighten it up a bit, be prepared for a strong scent!