Saving Money at Ulta


The area I live in just got its’ first major makeup store – Ulta. Because of this, I had absolutely no clue about prestige makeup. None. Nada. Zip. I was perfectly content using drugstore brands and more often than not, going completely without makeup because nothing matched me perfectly. Then at long last that ultra bright white store took up residence in our lackluster mall.

I am one of those people who finds something I want, buy it and then adds another ten things to my list for next time. I am also one of those people who winces a little at the register when one little bottle of foundation rings up for $49 and those are the same times I swear I hear my wallet get a little nauseated.

So where’s the compromise? Unfortunately for me, I can’t just go pick another foundation – the only foundation I have ever found that matches my skin flawlessly is the NARS Sheer Glow Foundation in Siberia (I’m a rare breed; super pale with lots of yellow undertone) . The only other thing I can do is save as much money as possible.

Sign up for Ultamate Rewards.
You’ll receive 1 point for every $1 spent as a regular member, but if you spend $400 or more in a calendar year, you’ll become a platinum member and earn 1.25 points for every $1 spent. You can start using your points once you reach 100 and points expire one year after earning them. Here’s a breakdown of how much points are worth:

100 points is worth $3
250 points is worth $8
500 points is worth $17.50
750 points is worth $30
1000 points is worth $50
2000 points is worth $125

As you can see, the point values and their respective monetary value aren’t linear so if you spend a decent amount of money at Ulta, think about hoarding your points for a shopping spree!

Sign up for emails. Seriously.
You’ll receive special emails for Ultamate Reward members only with offers for freebies, double and triple points offers (which have to be activated for your to reap the benefits) and even high value coupons such as 20% off an item.

Make sure they have your birthday on file.
This one is a biggie for me because last year around my birthday was when I first started my journey into high end makeup and I was dropping loads of money to get all the products I wanted. This helped take the sting out of my wallet – double points for the entire month of your birth. You also get a free birthday gift. This year mine was a travel size Smashbox Photo Finish Primer; I loved it so much I finished the tube and now it’s all I buy.

Clip those coupons!
In my area the Ulta ad comes out in the Saturday paper with all the other sale ads and there is usually a coupon for $3.50 off a purchase of $15 or more. Sadly, these coupons can’t be used on the high end brands but they can be used on brands like NYX, which has a few products I use on a daily basis that I absolutely love – NYX Dewy Finish Makeup Setting Spray, NYX Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade and NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream.

Combine sales and coupons.
Coupons are great, but when you can use a coupon with a sale price? There aren’t even the words for my little heart. Let’s use the coupon from #4 as an example. Say NYX cosmetics are on sale for buy one, get one free and there’s an eyeliner you want with a purchase price of $5. If you buy 6, originally without coupons or sales you’d pay $30, but with coupons and sales watch what happens:

6 eyeliners @ $5 each = $30
BOGO sale = -$15
Ulta Coupon = – $3.50
$11.50 for all 6 eyeliners!
(and you’ll have earned 11 points on your purchase!)

Keep an eye out for free gift deals.
Ulta always has these deals going on. Things like “spend $35 on Benefit cosmetics and get a free beauty box” or “get a free sample with any purchase”. If you’re already buying that brand, get the free gift! Best case scenario you love the product and will continue to buy it even when it’s not free, worst case scenario it’s not your style and there is no shame in gifting it to someones’ style it is!

Buy a discounted gift card before you shop.
Use sites like Raise, Ebay, etc to purchase discounted gift cards to save even more! Say you find a $50 gift card for 10% off, you’ll only pay $45 for a $50 credit to Ulta. Every little bit helps!

Rules for shopping online.
First rule, don’t do it. Just kidding! While there are definitely better deals in store, sometimes it’s just more convenient to shop online. For example, my store doesn’t actually carry my foundation in store so I have no choice. If you have to shop online, make sure you’re spending at least $50 so you get free shipping, otherwise it’s a flat $5.95. Second, shop through a cash back site like Ebates or ShopatHome for cash back on your purchase. Right now the rate at Ebates is 3%, so if you spend $50 you’d get back $1.50. (Like I said in #7, every little bit helps!)

Watch for major sales.
In March and September, Ulta has the 21 Days of Beauty sale which offers extremely deep discounts on one item for one day only for 21 days straight. The Gorgeous Hair Event in May and October is all about discounts on hair products. Finally the Jumbo Event is when the big name shampoo and conditioner is priced crazy low and that only happens in January and July.

Ulta has awesome insurance.
You can return any 80% full product for a full refund within 60 days of purchase with a receipt. Boom.

Your new foundation causing breakouts? Return it. You hate the hair appliance you’ve been trying to love for 45 days? Refund. How many retailers have that kind of guarantee? This “insurance” helps me feel more secure in spending big bucks on high end brands.

Christmas = HUGE VALUE.
Retailers love boxing sets up for Christmas. A lipgloss, blush and a mascara retailing for $60 individually, retails for $30 when it’s in a box. Go figure. These are great for gifts, but they’re also great for keeping too!

These are rules I live by when shopping at Ulta. I hope they can save you some money too!

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