Stomping the Yard

Back-to-School Beauty 101

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Calling all college students!  Our new weekly column, Stomping the Yard, aims to help undergrads excel in their studies and social lives.’s team of experts will show you how to get it done from the day you move into the dorms to the minute you step off campus for that first job. Submit questions and feedback for The Yard via

As a college freshman, one of the first lessons I learned occurred OUTSIDE of the classroom. Before classes even began, I discovered just how difficult it would be to live away from home. The campus of Northern Illinois University is set in the middle of cornfields, something I never gave much thought to until I took my first shower on campus and ….

  • The water came out BROWN before it ran clear
  • My skin became extremely dry
  • I broke out in a rash
  • My hair became dry and brittle

The water was sourced through a well system, which meant that it wasn’t subject to the same filtration and treatment methods as larger cities.  It also meant that the extra minerals in the water made it harder for soaps and detergents to do their job. In other words, neither your clothes nor your body ever really got clean.

This week and next, thousands of students will be flocking to campuses and dorms all over the country. My first year away, I was so focused on books and bed sheets that it never occurred to me that I would need to adjust my beauty regimen to fit my new living situation. It also never occurred to me that my local beauty supply store wouldn’t be up the street, and that my beautician was no longer a phone call away.  In the ’90s, wearing African-American hair naturally was almost unheard of, which left Black female students to contend with a nasty mix of chemical relaxers, damaging shampoos, and hard water.

Fortunately, times have changed. Nowadays, Black female students have ready access to YouTube and chemical-free products to maintain healthy hair and skin. There are even student-led, natural hair empowerment groups on campus to share tips, tools, and resources. Even so, packing these beauty finds will help round out your back to school checklist:

1) Get Clarity… If your campus has hard water or rusted piping, it can wreak havoc on your hair because it causes dirt and bacteria to build up. Make sure you have a clarifying shampoo in your arsenal like Kinky Curly Come Clean Shampoo. It’s all natural and sulfate-free, and will leave your hair clean without feeling stripped.




2) Go Deep… Unless you’re packing your stylist in your footlocker, chances are you won’t be able to maintain your usual trim regimen for split ends and styling. Protect and maintain the health of your hair in between visits home with a deep conditioner. The Cantu Deep Treatment Masque comes in at a budget-friendly $8 and is available at your local drugstore.




3) Go Boxing… As a college student, funds can be limited. The bank of mom and dad might cover essentials, but may not be willing to finance beauty splurges for events like homecoming, step shows, and parties.  Fortunately, beauty box subscriptions can be an affordable option to get a variety of beauty products in a single kit.  We Are Onyx and Cocotique offer African-American beauty subscribers both full- and sample-sized products like lipstick, nail polish, eyeliner, bronzer, leave-in conditioner, hand creams and more!

We Are Onyx $25/mo


Cocotique $20/mo





Beauty boxing provides an excellent mix of high-end brands and familiar favorites. Because these boxes were curated for African-American women, the products reflect the beauty and skin care needs of their subscribers. Subscribers can also view video tutorials on the best ways to use the products inside the box. Besides, who doesn’t like getting goodies in the mail, ESPECIALLY on campus?

For college students, back-to-school shopping doesn’t end with books, paper, pens and pencils. It also means being equipped to handle living on your own, and having the supplies necessary to exude confidence, balance, brains and beauty.

About Dr. Shante Bishop


Getting TO college is one thing; Getting THROUGH college is quite another. That’s why Dr. Shante’ Bishop offers strategic advice on being successful both in and out of the classroom. From catalogs to cap and gown, Professor Bishop shares what it takes to ‘Stomp the Yard” with confidence and clarity! You can follow Dr. Bishop on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.