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College essentials: skincare edition

Build a routine — and stick to it! — with Curology

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 5 min read
Clock held up by hand against pink background
Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar
by Stephanie Papanikolas
Updated on Jul 6, 2023 • 5 min read
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

Whether you’re moving into your first college dorm room or teaching your first section of comp, the death of summer vacation is upon us, which means one thing: back-to-school frenzy. If I learned one thing in graduate school, it’s that stress can show up on your skin. Sudden lifestyle changes can make us especially prone to breakouts when they ruffle up our routines, and after a particularly laidback summer, there’s nothing quite as ruffling as early mornings and cafeteria food. So! It’s me, your favorite part-time beauty blogger/full-time lazy egg, here to tell you how to cultivate consistency and confidence by following a simple daily skincare routine.

Your college shopping list vs. self-care

Whether your weakness is skincare, school clothes, or office supplies: back-to-school doesn’t always mean you need all the extra.. When it comes to essentials for college, the ultimate college shopping list doesn’t need to be long — or complicated! Beware of back-to-school impulse shopping and, instead, cultivate the organizational skills of a minimalist. Just because I can buy Yikes! Pencils on eBay for roughly $14 a pop doesn’t mean I need them. (Feel free to disagree in the comments.)

If you, like me, turn to your skincare routine for daily self-care, you might find yourself justifying all sorts of beauty-related purchases as an attempt to nullify your stress. Trust that I speak from experience when I say that bulk-ordering cabbage serums from Korea isn’t going to make your life any easier, but here’s what will:

Time management skills 101

I don’t care how color-coded your bullet journal might be — when you get down to it, we’re all procrastinators. Doing the thing we want to do before the thing we need to do is just part of human nature. But when occasional procrastination gives way to patterns of avoidance, we’ll all end up in a vortex of stress without effective coping mechanisms. The negative feedback loop of escapism can lead to Sisyphean-feelings of anxiety that become impossible to ignore, and that stress wrecks havoc on our feelings and our bodies.

But don’t fret! A new school year means a fresh start so we can get ahead of this vicious cycle. The trick to time management for college students isn’t about how much time you spend doing what, but creating an order of tasks based on priority. If stress reduction is your #1 priority, you can strike a balance between doing the work and keeping your soul filled up.

Here’s an example of what I mean: growing up in the 90’s, I was obsessed with Sailor Moon. I would always be on the couch at exactly the start of the show, no matter what. Once, when I was staying with my grandparents’, they forbade me from watching TV until I finished my homework. The problem was that Sailor Moon was on at 4pm sharp, and I didn’t get out of school until 3:30. Plus, my homework was algebra — one of my worst school subjects. But, dear Reader, I’ll tell you what: that day, my homework got done in about 20 minutes. By 4 o’clock on the dot, I had my butt parked in front of the TV and my homework was done. Grandparents, man — they know what’s up.

I know what you’re thinking: but how am I supposed to write an entire term paper when I haven’t even finished binging watching the fifth and final season of Sailor Moon, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: Sailor Stars, which was all but banned from Cartoon Network when I was just a kid? Here’s the thing: you don’t have to! Use your passion for binge-watching as fuel to finish a task. Try writing your paper for 30 minutes and reward yourself with 30 minutes of cartoons. (Am I doing this right now? You decide.)

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Time management for college students

If you struggle with time management in college, you’re not alone. In primary school, it’s easy enough to get your basic algebra homework finished in 30 minutes if you just put your butt in the seat. But in college, the homework is longer, harder, and (generally) more expensive. Combine those raised stakes with the fact that college class times rarely correlate with a consistent daily schedule and you’ve got the perfect storm for procrastinatory chaos.

This is why it’s even more important to practice self-care, which is all about honing healthy habits in order to be intentional with our time. And I’m not talking about sheet masks and ice cream — effective self-care is about taking care of our needs, not just indulging our wants. If you’re doing so much “self-care” that you don’t have time to finish your homework, you’re probably not so much taking care of yourself as you are practicing escapism.

So think of it like this: whatever you decide to do with your time, do it intending to both thrive and survive. Maybe you need to study with flashcards; maybe you need to sleep for 14 hours. When the priority is taking care of you, not meeting others’ expectations, it can start to get a lot simpler.

By the way, the thing that will make all of this easier? Talking to a mental health provider from your school. Even if you don’t have mental health issues all the time, mental health professionals are well-trained in the hierarchy of needs, and their job is to help you.

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The power of a simple skincare routine.

The power of a simple skincare routine

I know I’m your favorite kooky skincare blogger, not your licensed therapist, but I wanted to share what I learned about time management and self-care during my own (way, way too many) years in school. In all my efforts to better myself, I’ve had many failures, but one thing I’ve been able to do consistently is a twice-daily 3 step skincare routine. And while I started that skin care routine for acne, it’s helped me make time for myself and my health for a few minutes a day, every day, for so many years, now.

Following through with a routine is easy — what’s been trickier is figuring out which products actually benefit my skin and which will make it worse. Of course, if I didn’t spend years figuring out which of my beauty products were giving me breakouts and skin irritation, I wouldn’t have this job now!

While everyone is on their own individual skin journey, the best skincare regimen should make you feel like a million bucks — not cost a million bucks. That’s why Curology is here to make it easier: simple formulas, custom-fit for your unique skin concerns. Need some help simplifying your life? Then sign up for a free trial of Curology and choose: a 3-step skincare kit or just your custom cream for just $4.95 to cover the cost of shipping and handling.

Stephanie Papanikolas Avatar

Stephanie Papanikolas

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