While deciding what to wear for a night out can be a weekly struggle for collegiettes, deciding how to perfect your hair and makeup for the occasion can be even tougher. When should you try that red lipstick you’ve been hesitant to wear? When should you wear your hair up, down, straight or curly?
Looking your best (but also appropriate for the occasion) can be tough, but we’ve rounded up the best beauty looks for every night out in college!
1. Frat party
While they can be the scene of some of your best college memories, frat parties are usually far from glamorous. From the immediate sweat that comes with being in a house packed with far too many people to the probability that someone will spill beer on your shirt, shoes, pants or all of the above, it’s unlikely you’ll return from a frat party in the put-together condition in which you arrived.
Wearing your hair up or back is not only a super easy way to look effortlessly chic, but will also help you keep a bit cooler when the room heats up as the night goes on. Try a high ponytail, fishtail braid or messy bun; you won’t have to worry about your hair frizzing or falling out throughout the evening.
We know frat parties can be synonymous with sweltering heat, but that doesn’t mean you need to ditch your favorite makeup. While there’s no need to break out intense makeup for a night at the frat house, if you want to go a little bolder with your makeup without having to worry about it leaving your face, you have options. Primer is your new best friend. To keep your eye shadow in place, try Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion Tube ($12 at Sephora), which promises all-day (or night!) wear with no creasing. Before you create flawless skin with foundation, bronzer and blush, use Oil-Free Foundation Primer from Laura Mercier ($19.50 at Nordstrom) to make sure that your face stays the way you want it to all night.
“I like to go for a more natural look at frat parties,” says Amanda Paulson, a sophomore at Boston College. “Unlike the bars, clubs or formal events, frat parties are one of the few chances we get to be way more on the casual side, so I like to take advantage of that. I wear a light-color eye shadow like gold or pink with a shimmer and will add a small cat eye or pop of color on my lip to make it casual but still night-out appropriate.”
Like this collegiette, instead of going for an all-around dramatic makeup look, try picking one area to focus on, such as a bold lip or intense eye to keep your look going-out ready but not too over the top.
Want to work that updo without getting judged? Ready to rock the smoky eye, bright lipstick and bold blush? A night out at the club is your night to go as big as you want—and expect everyone around you to do the same. Since going to a club is likely a special break from your usual weekend routine of local bars or house parties, there’s no reason not to go big, starting with your hair and makeup.
No matter what your go-to lipstick color choice is, the club is the perfect place to go bold with it.
When you’re at the club, no hairstyle is off-limits. If you like to sit with your girls and scope out the scene, super-straight hair or big curls are perfect for a fancier night out (and won’t get messed up with the usual drink spillage or intense heat you’re probably used to from typical weekend outings). If you like to tear up the dance floor with your besties, try a sleek ponytail secured with gel from Aussie for a chic style that will last all night long.
“I like to wear an intense lipstick when I go to a club with my girlfriends,” says Jenna Turetsky, a junior at the University of Delaware. “It glams up any outfit, and I don’t need to worry about it getting on Solo cups or beer cans like I do at a frat party.”
If a bright lip color isn’t your thing, try dramatic eye makeup, such as a smoky eye, winged eyeliner or a few extra coats of mascara to make your eyes pop. For those looking to make a statement with bold eye shadow, try Almay’s Intense I-Color Collection. The brand offers palettes that are unique to different eye colors and come with step-by-step application instructions.
3. Girls’ night out
Whether you’re going to dinner and a movie with your girls or checking out an off-campus bar, a girls’ night out is the time when you can catch up and look fabulous while doing it.
“I love girls’ night out because my girlfriends and I can get dressed up in our nicer clothes and do our hair and makeup without having to worry about any of it getting ruined,” says Kara Malone, a junior at Lehigh University.
Girls’ night out can be a great time to try out bold hair and makeup trends you may not want to try in your usual nightlife scene. Try something like a cinched pony, a braid crown, a sock bun or a fishtail braid to switch up your look and keep it casually glam.
As for makeup, stay on the lighter side for a GNO. For a simple night, piled on eyeliner or intense lipstick can feel a bit over the top. Instead, keep your look light with a bit of bronzer, blush and a cream eye shadow, such as MAC’s Pro Longwear Paint Pot ($21 at MAC).
The bar scene at every school is different, but it’s likely that the typical dress codes at a few of the go-to bars near campus fall somewhere between the casual wear of house parties and the glamorous duds of your club-clothes collection. Dressing for a bar can be tricky, and hair and makeup can be even harder. How do you look cute without looking like you’re trying too hard? You know the bar is casual, but you also know you’ll probably see every single person you’ve ever hooked up with/had a class with/walked past on the street/met that one time and said you’d hang out but never did, so you want to look your best.
“The bar feels a bit more dressy to me than a party or casual night out,” says Tiffany Amina, a junior at Northwestern University. What does this mean for your beauty look? “I straighten my hair and curl the ends and spray it so the curls hold throughout the night,” Tiffany says.
“As for makeup, I use gel eyeliner and a shimmery shadow with one or two coats of mascara,” Tiffany says. “I usually save a bright lipstick for a fancier occasion, so I tend to just go with a lip gloss for the bar.”
If you want an eyeliner that is guaranteed to stay in place and look great, try Maybelline’s Unstoppable Eyeliner ($7.23), which will make your eyes pop without smudging. If you want a little bit of a lighter look, try a waterproof pencil such as Revlon Colorstay Eye Liner ($4.99-12.99 at Target).
5. Date party/formal
Date parties or any type of formal function are rare excuses to look fancy on a college campus. You may be ditching your LBD for something a bit more sophisticated, so how do you get a beauty look to match?
“At formals or date functions, I always try to go for more of a pretty look than a sexy one,” says Anna Tanley, a sophomore at the University of Delaware. “I leave the gray smoky eye look for the clubs and use a lighter shadow, like the Naked Palette from Urban Decay [$54 at Sephora], shimmery lip gloss and then go a little heavy on the mascara and put liquid eyeliner lightly along my top lash line to give the look a bit of edge without going over the top.”
Unlike a night out at a party, bar or club, you probably have your dress picked out and ready to go long before you decide which shade of eye shadow to wear. This means that you can build your beauty look around your gorgeous outfit!
“My must-have product for a formal party is blush,” says Andrea Lieberman, a senior at the University of Delaware. “If I’m going for a super-girly look, I put a bit of cream blush on the apples of my cheeks. If I want to vamp it up, I use more powder blush along my cheekbone. No matter what you’re going for, blush enhances that look.”
A date party can be a great time to play with flirty styles, such as a pop of pink on your lips or eye shadow in a lighter color, such as pink or a nude palette.
As you keep your formal makeup light and flirty, do the same for your hair! A formal event means you can go for flirty hairstyles that you may not want to try at house parties or bars. Try soft curls or loose waves, or play with a new part that you haven’t tried before.
No night out at college is ever the same, so your hair and makeup don’t need to be, either! Use these tips to switch up your look for every occasion. Enjoy your nights out, collegiettes!