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10-28-09 | Posted by


Photo Credit: Ulta.com

Going to Ulta without a shopping list is like going to an amazing grocery store when you’re ravenous; you’ll find everything that you need and things that you didn’t even know exist that become urgent must-haves in an instant.  Many moons ago, in my lean-post collegiate years, Ulta was a great place to get drugstore brands and a handful of salon hair care lines.  In recent years, the company has undergone a profound transformation, which is most apparent in the vast expansion of the store brand and the all-star roster of prestige brands.  With full service onsite salons, it’s tough to think of a beauty itch that Ulta can’t scratch.  Here are some of my favorite ways to fill my basket and get pretty.

MAKEUP – Most Ulta retail spaces begin with a huge island devoted to the store brand.  With their own mineral line, frequently released limited edition palettes, and general high quality and pigment content, the Ulta brand is a great way to test drive a trend and save, especially when there is a buy one, get one promotion in progress.

Prestige brands including Smashbox, Benefit, Stila, Urban Decay and Dermablend can be found in the center of the store, where shoppers delight in special kits exclusive to Ulta.  The store has become something of a pilgrimage for mineral makeup devotees, thanks to their huge selection of bareMinerals and salespeople who are willing and able to give application tutorials without a hard sell.  For budget brands, Ulta is a great spot to stock up on Maybelline and Cover Girl

Hands down, one of the sweetest spots in any Ulta is the nail care section, with treatments and polish from Orly, Essie, OPI and many others.  Ulta is the place to go when you can’t find the color of the moment anywhere else or are searching for inspiration.  Stop in with an outfit or accessory to find the perfect match before your mani appointment or DIY color change.

SKINCARE – Ulta customers give good face with a winning combination of budget brands and luxury products.  One of the best things about Ulta is being able to mix and match at a one-stop shop, so if you’ve hammered out a beauty regimen that mixes chi-chi and spendthrift you don’t have to run around town to find your favorites.  Workhorses for every age and skin type from Olay, Aveeno, Cetaphil and Clearasil are a fantastic bang for your buck alongside skincare splurges from Korres, Dermalogica and Elizabeth Arden

FRAGRANCE, BATH AND BODY – Ulta is a great destination for BITBers seeking gifts for all ages and stages.  Fragrance offerings range from classics by Yves Saint Laurent and Guerlain for women who know and love their signature scent, to fresh finds from Demeter and those adorable Harajuku Lovers.  Ulta also carries men’s fragrances from Armani, Calvin Klein and many others.  For the friend who has everything, candles, reed diffusers and room sprays from Habitat, Yankee Candle Company, Archipelago and the store brand make a great gift. 

There are all kinds of bath and body lotions and potions, making Ulta a great stop for shower gel, moisturizer and sun protection.  Get the goods for your no-no parts with personal trimmers from Remington and bump prevention from Tend Skin, and keep your pearly whites in top form with toothbrushes from Waterpik and Oral B and a wide selection of toothpaste, mouthwash and whitening products.   I’m particularly enamored with the array of loofahs, exfoliating gloves, eye masks, moisturizing booties and whatnot.  There’s no shortage of beauty whatnot at Ulta, that’s for sure. 

HAIRCARE AND TOOLS – Go luxe with shampoos and conditioners from Ojon, Phyto, and Frederic Fekkai, or keep your beauty on a budget with L’Oreal,  Garnier, and Organix.  Styling tools are available at every price point rom CHI, Sedu, T3, Conair and Hot Tools.   Ulta carries the full line of Tweezerman products along with beauty tools from Japonesque, Anastasia Beverly Hills and Revlon.  The latest gadgets from Clarisonic, Thermaclear and Neutrogena let you bring spa treatments home at a fraction of the cost.

SALON – With salon prices that start at $45 for a cut, $55 for single process color and $70 for highlights, Ulta salon offer a winning combination of value and convenience.  Their rates for waxing are very reasonable, at $65 for a full leg, $20 for under arms and $35 for a bikini wax. 

FOR SHOPPERS IN THE KNOW – Ulta has frequent promotions and a killer rewards program that give a little thrill to every beauty junkie looking to stretch her dollar.  Check online, in glossy magazines and in the Sunday paper for valuable coupons, but read the fine print for exclusions.  While prestige brands are typically excluded from these deals, you will find an occasional exception to the rule.  Enrolling in the rewards program will put you on Ulta’s mailing list, giving you first dibs on insider deals and lots of fun freebies.  The more you spend, the more you’ll get with rewards broken down into seven different levels with rewards ranging from a tube of Maybelline Great Lash to a free cut and style at the salon.  See www.ulta.com for more details, and enjoy!

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