Makeup is a bit of a luxury spend. Okay, maybe it’s like the biggest luxury spend. I know it’s not a necessity – I just enjoy it. It’s my adult-me-thing and I like playing with it in the same way that my 4-year-old likes playing with finger paints. It’s almost meditative, really – I get to know my face, enjoy my features, draw out the ones I love most… It’s beautiful and it’s one of those rare things in life that is just for me.
So of course when I was approached by Groupon Coupons to talk about their coupon sharing service (YES PLEASE), I was thrilled to see ULTA on the list of partner retailers, but I have to back up a step to explain why.
Have you ever walked into a makeup retailer and felt like you didn’t exist? Like you actually wanted assistance in finding something or getting color matched and you just could NOT get that associate’s attention and oh, great, she saw me wave AND WALKED AWAY?! COME ON! It’s like you have to be dressed up and already wearing way too much makeup to be taken seriously.
After way too many of these experiences at other stores, I became an ULTA loyalist – I feel like I can always find help when I need it, and their team members can actually point me in the direction of products that work for me and fit in my budget. More to the point, they actually carry drugstore brand products, their own brand, mid-line, and even a handful of luxury brands. Basically, ULTA is like a beauty one-stop-shop – they even have a salon & brow bar. Since there are thousands of them, there’s probably one near you AND it’s unlikely to be in an inconvenient indoor mall. There’s something about malls that I just find irritating, so this is strangely high on my list.
I know, this is turning into a love letter to ULTA, so I’m just going to get to the good part: my favorite products! THE EDIT.
Too Faced Cocoa Powder Foundation
It’s described to have a rose petal finish, and I could think of no better descriptor. It’s silky, it has incredible, buildable coverage that doesn’t look caked on, and IT SMELLS LIKE CHOCOLATE. CHOCOLATE. It’s a little on the pricy side at $34, I’ll admit, but it generally lasts me about 6-8 months, which is sometimes just in time for me to change out my color for the summer when I’m a little more tan. It’s not a perfect system, sure, but… well, it’s not a perfect system.
I use the Goss technique – I apply Maybelline Baby Skin Primer first (also available at ULTA), then I buff on Cocoa Powder Foundation, apply any concealer then set it with powder foundation (this is my not-so-secret to great blemish coverage, because hormonal breakouts can suck it), then finish it all with BB cream. This gives incredibly smooth, natural coverage – I can still see my freckles, which I LOVE, and my skin tone looks smooth and even. Goss method in short: powder before liquid foundation. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but this is how you avoid the powdery/cakey look.
What’s been great about this combination of products for me is that they don’t break me out. I’ve gone through so many combinations, and so many of them are excellent for other people – these are the ones that work for me. Results may vary.
Real Techniques Brushes
I can’t talk makeup without talking brushes – seriously, they’re 100% game-changers. I love Real Techniques because it’s hands down the best you can get for the price, they’re super soft, and they’re shaped beautifully for whatever you need to do. Pictured above is the contouring brush, which comes with the Real Techniques Core Collection. I also HIGHLY highly recommend their Blush Brush and Starter Kit. These brushes are workhorses that do pretty much everything I need for a day-to-day, or even a night look.
Products used: The Balm Bahama Mama bronzer (not sold at ULTA)
The Chocolate Bar Palette by Too Faced
This is my holy grail of eyeshadows. The pigmentation is incredible, the colors are the perfect neutrals with just enough pop, and are excellent for pretty much every skintone. And again, IT SMELLS LIKE CHOCOLATE. Like every time I pull out this palette, I sniff it like a hound on the trail because dem endorphines, y’all.
If I could only ever have one eyeshadow palette for the rest of my life, this would be the one, forever and ever amen.
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara + tarte Opening Act Lash Primer
There are lots of mixed reviews on Better Than Sex mascara, but I’m a big fan. Like I’m all in. These tiny baby lashes need all the love they can get, from volume to curl to length, and Better Than Sex gives the volume and curl, easy peasy. I got a sample of tarte’s Opening Act Lash Primer the last time I made a purchase at ULTA (oh, yeah, they give samples with purchases a lot if not most of the time), and when I run out, I’m definitely buying the full sized tube. It gives the kind of length you can only get from falsies. No joke, it’s incredible.
Too Faced Lip Injection Lip Gloss
I know that this might be a bit of a controversial pick, but I just happen to like the sting & tingle. It was one of the first midline beauty products I ever bought (when I was in high school, no less), and it’s a completely clear gloss that is supposed to plump your lips by triggering a mild allergic reaction, probably by capsacin.
Oh my god, Resa, what’s wrong with you, why would you do that?!
Don’t worry, capsacin is the same stuff that’s in jalapeños. It’s basically what makes peppers spicy.
What I like about it is that it brings out a natural vibrance from my lip color – it’s glossy but without a faked color sitting on top, and when I’m going for a more natural, easy look, that’s all I really want. Added bonus: it has a fresh, cinnamon smell that’s lovely.
Products used: Too Faced Lip Injection Power Plumping Lip Gloss
So yes, I realize that I have a pretty big thing for Too Faced (how could you not? They’re reasonably priced, high quality products, and they’re cruelty-free), but more than that, I can find pretty much all of my favorite things in one place. Just a note: some things are ineligible for coupons, but when you rack up points with ULTA, you can spend them like cash! WHOOP WHOOP! It’s winning all around.
Where do you like to shop for makeup?