Ulta-mate Experience

This past weekend I braved Carmageddon to head north.  On the way back I literally said to myself, “I deserve an award for surviving that.”  I decided to track down the closest Ulta instead.

Walking in I was surprised.  I really don’t browse the site at all, I’ve only ever ordered twice.  The first was a major fail and the second was for Real Techniques brushes.  I had NO IDEA the variety of products the store carried.  They had both drugstore makeup (Maybelline, Cover Girl, Rimmel, and Revlon) as well as stuff I’ve only found online (NYX and Essence) and high end stuff like Benefit, Smashbox, and Urban Decay.  There were aisles and asiles of perfume and haircare.  Their collection of nail supplies was amazing as well as their selection of face and body creams.

Knowing me what caught my attention first was the Benefit Brow Bar.  Basically it’s a little area all fancy on the end of the Benefit display were a technician does brows.

I was curious and my brows have been growing out for a while, so I sat for a ‘brow arch’, which cost 20$.  Jen brushed out my brows and cleaned the area, plotted out the shape according to what I wanted and what would suit my face.  Then she waxed, trimmed, and plucked them into the perfect arch.  Even without product I’m just amazed.  Then she talked me through a few different products and what does what and showed me how to ‘properly’ apply a filler.  I walked away looking and FEELING like a million bucks.

I was really happy with the service.  I sat and talked to her a little bit and she happily recommended a few things she thought I might be interested in, based on my style.

The shop was pleasant and bright and open and airy.  I was asked a few times if I needed anything and checking out the cashier was really great.  She signed me up for an Ulta rewards card and I got a bunch of free goodies.  I spent so much I had almost 40$ in rewards points.

Yes, I went a little cray-cray.

As soon as I got home I headed to the website to spend those rewards points, since I really wanted more Real Technique brushes.  Sadly, my experience with the website wasn’t as pleasant.  It took almost three days to place an order and I ended up having to call customer service three times about multiple authorizations to my checking account.  I’m still waiting on shipping confirmation, but I’m being patient!

What do you think of Ulta?


37 Responses to “Ulta-mate Experience”

  1. Long time reader first time commenter. I purchase from ulta all the time, reason being besides some good deals and prices I hate shopping in stores with all the people, some are extremly rude and usually there is never anyone around when I have a question on something but 95% of the time I know what I want and what I am looking for. So I would give Ulta thumbs up! Also I know you hear this all the time but I want to say that your site is awesome and I always come here for reviews and ideas 🙂

  2. I prefer the Ulta near me over the Sephora. Ulta’s shop is in a “strip mall” and has huge windows allowing tons of natural light, which makes it easy to see what products really look like. The Sephora is in the regular mall, no windows and bad lighting. I end up spending more at Ulta because I can get the drugstore brands there too!

  3. I’m so jealous! I’ve never been to an Ulta before. One opened within the past couple months about an hour and a half north of me. I keep meaning to make it up there, but I haven’t yet! Looks like you got a great haul!

  4. I think I want to find a Benefit Brow Bar near me.

  5. The Benefit Brow Bar and Ulta sound awesome. Doesn’t seem like there are any locations close by me. Maybe someday they’ll open one…

  6. I have not been to an Ulta…yet. I know there’s one about 45 min from where I live, and I’ve been meaning to pay it a visit– mostly because I know that I’d be able to get my drugstore *and* high end makeup fix.

    Btw, I noticed you hauled the Benefit Cha-Cha tint! My mom bought that one not too long ago and it looks lovely on her. Her skin is a bit darker than mine, a sort of golden-olive-y colour. I’m sure any skin tone can rock it (I tried it too, and it’s flattering on me as well), especially if you lean warm rather than cool.

  7. I was wondering if those Real Technique brushes were any good. I saw a video with Pixiewoo using one to apply concealer under her eyes and it looked like something I might like. Have you tried that particular brush yet?

  8. Luv Ulta! Their customer service level is impeccable and the mix of drugstore & highend products is unmatched. I can spend hours in there..it’s the perfect haven for product junkies like myself. Sooo excited when I found out there’s a new one opening near my office in Torrance, CA…can’t wait!!

    • The one in N.Redondo is already open! It opened about two weeks ago, so you should check it out. I confess, I’ve already been twice in those two weeks. xD

  9. I loved working at ULTA. Even though the pay was minimum wage and only part time, the discount was awesome. Plus at least once a year you get 40%. I was lucky enough to be working there when the Chi was on sale for $99 plus I got the 40% on top of it. Super sweet.

  10. The closest ULTA to me is south a few hours in Oxnard. I had a very similar experience to you, except that I did a makeup application (free) instead of visiting the brow bar. I was also pleasantly surprised with the airy, clean, open environment and friendly but not hovering staff. I really liked the options of low, mid and high end brands and a few brands I checked out that I had not heard of. I’m a frequent ULTA online shopper and have not had a problem with their website in the past. I will say that they do take a very long time to ship and use “basic UPS” so that after UPS gets it to a local facility it’s delayed another day by having the post office deliver it, so as long as I’m not in a hurry (and I won’t pay for expedited shipping!) then it’s been fine.

  11. I love ULTA. Great deals, great sales, and really helpful associates. Plus the lighting in there is actually, you know, ON, unlike at Sephora. And there’s almost always some good nail polish in the clearance nook.

    Ordering online, though? Yeah, no thanks. I ordered some NYX trios from the site a while back, and one of them arrived with finger swirls in them. I have no idea how or why that happened, and neither did the girl at the store when I brought it in for an exchange. She was just as grossed out by it as I was 😐

  12. Sounds amazing! 😀 I saw that you got ChaCha tint! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it, since I recently bought one! ^__^ (though mine will take a month to get here) – I’m amazed that benefit website ships to Brazil! :3 I thought it was a nice idea to try some high end brands….
    We don’t have Ultra’s here. Make-up is usually sold through drugstores. There’s one high-end store called Opaque, but it’s the only one. We can also get some products through Sacks (a website that was sold to Sephora, so we will have sephora here soon! Yay!) as well…

    I think someday Benefit might come to Brazil as well! 🙂 This brow service sounds cool!

  13. I like the Ulta near me. I picked up a few of the Real Techniques brushes there, but bought the rest online because Ulta was all sold out. I’ve bought some Essence glosses there. That’s where I end up buying my Punky Color. I ordered the UD 15th Anniversary eye shadow box set from there recently. I got free shipping and it arrived today.

  14. This looks like the one in Oceanside, lol. If it is, I work for the company right next to it :-p

  15. I love Ulta, as it’s the only “real” makeup chain store around me. The JCPenney’s in the mall very recently got a Sephora bit, but it’s not very large and only carries about one line that Ulta doesn’t.

    For some reason, though, they’ve got two versions of their rewards card, and it sounds like you got the better one. Lucky you. I just get quarterly certificates, and I’ve collected about all their baked shadows and am on to getting free salon nail polishes.

    Hopefully, though, you’ll get mailers like I do with coupons. I get about 2-3 20% off ANYTHING coupons a year, which I can use on even most of the high-end cosmetics, though most of the other coupons aren’t good on what they call “prestige brands,” which can be a bummer.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed that they’ll have the UD Anniversary palette in stock before my latest 20% off coupon’s expired.

  16. The only Ulta near me (that one, I’m guessing) is a bit out of my way, so I’ve never gone. Ony ever glanced at the site, really.

    If I may rant on a semi-pertinent topic:
    Brow bars sound like heaven…. I don’t have enough money to get mine done professionally, but I absolutely hate my brows. I think my best chance at brow success is a growth treatment (my arches are simply in the wrong place as they grow in naturally, and filling in my brows where I don’t have hair ALWAYS looks funny). Add to that that my brow hairs have a bit of a curl to them, and it’s no wonder that I sometimes simply give up and bleach them.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for reasonably-priced eyebrow[/eyelash?] grower-uppers?

  17. I’ve been working at one for about 2 months now and I love my job. There a lot more variety than Sephora and besides the brow bar, there’s even a salon. The company treats it’s employees really well, in fact too well sometimes. I’ve never ordered from the site, but the store is amazing.

  18. I am lucky to live relatively close to an ULTA store (Pasadena) which I prefer over the online store. I’ve also had extreme headaches ordering from there, especially when it comes to honoring their own coupon codes. However, the online selection has sales and promotions that the physical store does not so I will order again. If I just need a quick something though I’ll trek it out to the actual store.

  19. I went to Ulta during an extended trip to the Bay Area. My hair was pretty long and I wanted to donate it to the ACC, so I went to the salon part of their store and inquired about getting a haircut. A big woman with *really* bad teeth and a snooty attitude greeted me.

    Me: I want to donate my hair, so I want about 10″ cut off and then the rest styled in kind of a bob, but with lots of layers and one side longer than the other.

    Big Woman: We-ell, I can pro—–bably do that. Yeah. Hold on, let me check. *disappears for five minutes* Yeah, we donate hair here.

    Me: Okay, so how much does a haircut cost here?

    BW: Ugh, well, *you* probably wouldn’t get it, but we have different levels of stylists here. Like, I’m at the ~*TOP LEVEL*~, so my haircuts start at $50.

    Me: Uh, that’s fine. So can you do it right now?

    BW: Ugh, well, I’m re—–ally busy right now (there was no one there) so I’ll have to check my appointment book. I might be able to fit you in this evening. Let me check.

    (opens up an appointment book, I look over and it’s virtually empty)

    BW: Yeah, um, I could probably cut your hair for you at 7 (it was 1 at the time).

    Me: Uh, yeah, I’ll think about it. Bye.


    I wound up going to a salon across the parking lot and a really nice lady chopped off my hair for me and styled it *just* the way I wanted (which never happens!). She cost the same, but she was so nice, I gave her an enormous tip.

    P.S. Here’s what it looked like 🙂 http://segnoseven.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Photo-400.jpg

    • I love that haircut and it’s awesome that you donated your hair! It’s probably a good thing that the first person you went to didn’t do it- sounds like she needs to change careers or at least adjust the attitude.

  20. Ulta is a wicked, horrible place because I love it so much and spend too much money. 🙂 And of COURSE there’s one a block from my house. Literally. I used their salon service once – it was all right (in a hurry, my regular gal wasn’t available) – the girl was nice and the price was reasonable, but I have wavy/curly hair that needs to be cut to the curl and it didn’t work out that way. I’m a sucker for their massive selection – it’s like going to the drugstore but less crowded and people actually answer questions. 🙂 I like the brushes I’ve bought in the past, and intend to check out the Real Technique brushes in the near future. 🙂

  21. I really wish there was an Ulta near me, all we have is a Sally Beauty where I used to work and it sucks.
    I have only one experience with Ulta, trying to order the Real Techniques brushes because they were on sale. Ugh, so frustrating, I thought I had completed my order and had a reciept from paypal but eventually discovered it hadn’t gone through on Ulta’s end. By then the sale was over, I never did get the brushes and soon the charge to my paypal account disappeared.
    The stores might be great, but their cart system online needs some work.

  22. I’ve been going to ulta for a while. My mom actually introduced me to it! They have great coupons fairly often and I never leave disappointed. The drugstores by me have a really lousy selection. I always leave pissed off that they don’t have something basic I need. So the Ulta is the best of both for me.
    another great beuty place : Harmons discount beauty. It’s all drugstore brands, but they have an amazing selection and they carry Nyx, salon hair products, and a bunch of the natural products I love that I can’t find anywhere else but online.

  23. I LOVE Ulta. I’m trying to get a job with them, but my local store opened less than a month ago, and they’re not hiring anyone new yet. I’m so frustrated with myself for not signing up for the rewards card in-store, but I only found out after I signed up online that signing up in store gets you a bag of goodies, so boo on that nonsense. My experience with the website is also that it’s nowhere near as awesome as the store, though one good thing about the website is that their clearance selection is so much larger than that of stores, where clearance is very individualized depending on the location.

  24. Ahhh I wish we had Ulta over here, your haul loooks amazing! The Essence concealer looks really interesting. I would really love to get a professional brow shaping mine naturally grow in different shapes :/ Sadly I’m too shy and don’t like strangers touching me 😛

  25. Ulta was one of the stores that I found when I was first getting into makeup. My first time in it I was completely overwhelmed, since I’d only bought drugstore make up. I’ve found that the Ulta employees are nice, but the actual brand representatives are very snooty and condescending at the Ulta near me, so I’ve avoided the more high end makeup counters. I do like the store overall, though.

    I’ve been wanting to try Cargo’s stuff, and the Most Wanted kit looks interesting. For only $15, I think I’d like to get it. I can’t find it on the Ulta website though. Are the products all trial sized?

    • Yeah, they are ‘travel’ sized, but still fairly big, if you ask me it’s a great deal.

  26. There is an Ulta close to me. I like the variety there as well. I have been able to buy the Redken Naturals shampoo/conditioner there. It is nice to have options when you go shopping for makeup, and I love that you can get hair, nails, makeup, body washes, etc. in one store. There is a DSW Shoes right next to it.

  27. I love Ulta, especially when they have ‘events’. I’ve had my makeup done by UD, TooFaced, Napoleon Perdis. It’s really nice to go and have a girl day with friends and do some shopping. If it weren’t for Ulta I never would have found TooFaced Mirror Mirror Lip Gloss in Damn, I’m Hot, which is this thick but not sticky red that lasts forever. Plus it’s way more convenient than hitting Sephora, which is located in our busiest mall. I’ve had nothing but excellent service at Ulta and when I need to pick up any non indie essentials I go there.

  28. Ooh I’m green with envy! That sounds so lovely and your goodies look pretty c:
    One day I shall get to an Ulta!

  29. I adore Ulta. They have an amazing selection, and it’s all so convenient. Admittedly, I’ve only erred on the side of getting drugstore makeup and cheaper things, but I’ve been happy with every purchase.

  30. I wish Ulta didn’t suck and shipped to Canada.

  31. I’ve never been to Ulta. We only just got a Sephora a couple years ago! The nearest Ulta is about an hour and half away and I’m hoping to go on a little road trip there sometime 😀