Reviewing Everything* From Ulta's 21 Days of Beauty Sale
And by everything* I mean everything I’ve tried that’s included in this month’s 21 Days of Beauty Sale at Ulta. If you’re not familiar with the sale, it’s basically what it sounds like. It’s a sale that goes on for 21 days throughout the month of September. It’s an annual promotion at Ulta where you’ll find some of their best-sellers at 50% off. The sale is composed of two parts.
First are beauty steals. These are items that will be 50% off for one day only. Some of these items are platinum/ diamond exclusives (tiers in their loyalty program.) Some items are also online exclusives. They also have a habit of adding surprise products the day of so it’s worth checking out the promo page to see if there’s been anything added that day.
Second, are the hot buys. These are items that are 30-50% off for the entirety of the sale. You can find all the hot buys for the current sale here. You can also find the full flyer with the daily deals + all the details on the 21 days of beauty sale here. I’ve only included the items I’ve personally used in this post.
ALSO A (NOT SO) GENTLE REMINDER: JUST CAUSE IT IS ON SALE, DOES NOT MEAN YOU NEED IT. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE MORE SALES IN THE FUTURE 😇
Benefit The POREfessional Face Primer
I know this is a cult classic primer but I’m not a huge fan of it for my dehydrated skin. I personally find it too mattifying— it removes the dimensionality to my skin. It does do a decent job at blurring my pores, but at the expense of pilling when worn with water-based skincare and makeup.
Foreo LUNA play plus
A cleansing device is not a necessity at all. Out of all the cleansing devices I’ve tried through the years, my Luna mini is my favorite. This does make my face “cleaner” because it forces me to cleanse my skin for a full minute rather than hastily slapping on some cleanser and quickly rinsing it off. This Luna play plus is super teeny but gets the job done. Plus, unlike the regular Luna play, you can replace the batteries (it uses AAA batteries.)
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
ONLINE ONLY/ DIAMOND + PLATINUM EXCLUSIVE: 3.8 oz for $15; reg $30
TTDO is the first balm cleanser I ever tried, and it’s still my favorite. It’s easy to use, melts down my makeup, emulsifies easily, rinses away totally clean, and doesn’t irritate my eyes. $15.00 is a fantastic price to pay for this top-notch cleanser.
These highlighters give a smooth, metallic finish to my skin. To be honest, I find the look a little bit outdated at this point 🤷♀️ The packaging is also kind of clunky and cheap.
Becca Hydra-Mist Set & Refresh Powder
When I first saw this powder, I assumed it was a scam. But it actually does have a cooling effect when applied. It sets my makeup without being too mattifying, if anything it’s a tad hydrating. The tan color is a bit too dark for me, but would be perfect for those with deep/ dark skintones who want to avoid potential white casts.
Flesh Beauty All Highlighters ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
ONLINE ONLY: $9-14; reg $18-28
I’ve tried all three formulas of the Flesh highlighters, and enjoy them all. But the standout for me are the stick, cream highlighters. They’re easy to use and glide over my skin without disrupting my makeup or skincare. I barely need to blend them out, and a brush is never necessary. My favorite shades are ‘Pinky’ and ‘Twitch.’
Bareminerals Concealers ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
There are three different concealer formulas on sale, but I can only speak for the Complete Coverage Serum Concealer which is my favorite concealer of all time. If you suffer from acne but also have dry skin, this is the best concealer out there! It’s light and liquidy, but provides buildable coverage. The best part is that it doesn’t dry out or go patchy around my acne spots. It also lasts well throughout the day.
The major downside is that it has a very limited shade range. I personally switch/ mix medium golden and tan.
Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels
These are nice gels, but as they’re individually packaged, they create a lot of unnecessary plastic waste. A more economical and eco-friendly option are Korean hydrogels from brands like Petitfree and Heimish which deliver similar results, at a much lower price/ use, and less packaging.
50% off Select Products from Erborian, IPKN, Touch In Sol, TPSY
There’s a lot to unpack here; you can click the link to see all 18 products included. Some short & spicy style reviews of what I have tried:
Erborian CC Crème: Solid medium coverage, can feel a bit heavy, way too orange for me.
Too Cool For School Glossy Blaster Tint: Pigmented and hydrating, pretty long lasting.
Too Cool For School Milk Tint: Easy to use tint that provides long-lasting sheer color.
Too Cool For School Jelly Blusher: Way too ashy for my skin tone. They barely show up.
Touch In Sol Metallist Liquid Foil & Glitter Shadow Duo: I’m sad the hype around these died down cause they are BEAUTIFUL. So pigmented. So easy to use. So long-lasting.
Touch In Sol Metallist Liquid Foil Lipstick Duo: Drying and unflattering. No thanks.
Touch In Sol No Poreblem Primer: Blurs pores without completely mattifying my skin. Can pill with some products.
Murad Nutrient-Charged Water
When they claim this is nutrient-charged, they aren’t kidding around. This has got it all: ceramides, peptides, ferments galore. Despite being packed with all the good stuff, it doesn’t feel heavy on my skin. It is fragranced so just a heads up if you’re sensitive to that.
Lancôme Monsieur Big Mascara
This definitely delivers both volume and length. It doesn’t work for me because I have the straightest lashes of all time and can use all of 4 different mascaras, but that wouldn’t stop me from recommending it to someone who wasn’t cursed with stubborn lashes.
Philosophy The Microdelivery Exfoliating Facial Wash
I think calling this a “mini-peel” is deceiving because there are no chemical exfoliants. It’s a simple cleansing gel with small, physical exfoliants. If you’re looking for a basic, physical exfoliant, this isn’t a bad one, but neither is there anything exceptional about it. I find the gel itself drying in the winter. It is a good value as the bottle is huge.
Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
When I bought this serum during a 25% off sale, I thought I was getting a great deal. At 50% off it’s a steal. It’s primary star ingredient is niacinamide but it also includes peptides, hyaluronic acid, and madecassoside. It’s a lovely texture that easily absorbs into my skin winter or summer. It hydrates and helps calm irritation, and if you’re not irritated, it helps maintain a healthy skin barrier.
Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzing Powder
Again, I’m in the minority that doesn’t enjoy this powder. I don’t like the weird, box packaging. It’s an odd shape that’s difficult to store amongst the rest of my blushes. I also find the shades too orangey for my tastes. But it’s a favorite of many so perhaps go and swatch it in store to see if one of their shades works for you.
DHC Cleansing Oil ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s so exciting to see popular Asian products finally be easily accessible here in the US. This cleansing oil is a hit in Japan for good reason— it does it all. It melts sunscreen, sweat, and makeup, emulsifies well, doesn’t dry you out, is free of synthetic fragrance and microplastics, comes in easy to use packaging, and personally, doesn’t irritate my overly sensitive eyes. Plus, the bottle is huge and will easily last a couple of months, even with daily use.
Cleansing Brush Heads
I hate my Clarisonic because it feels like it’s literally peeling the skin off my face. But I used to love it and I know many people love theirs. The 50% off sale is a good time to stock up on replacement brush heads.
Murad AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser
AHAs/ BHAs have wonderful results for acne prone skin, unfortunately, they’re not very effective in cleanser form as they’re literally on your skin for a minute max. I think money is better spent on serums or toners with a higher percentage of active ingredients which are more likely to be effective. And combining this cleanser (which I already find drying) with a more active toner/ serum could potentially lead to over-exfoliation and irritation.
First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser: Limited Edition Birthday Packaging
Basic, gentle, effective. The limited edition birthday packaging spices things up a bit. On my dryer-than-the-Sahara skin in the dead of winter, this cleanser is too drying if I use it daily. In the summer, it works just fine. It does have that typical “unfragranced” fragrance (it is, in fact, free of fragrance and essential oils.)
I’ve used all four of the VDL primers and I don’t think you could go wrong with any of them. My personal favorite is the OG, the lumilayer primer. It gives naturally glow skin, and it helps extend the wear time of my makeup. I’m also a fan of the compact as it’s easy to pop into my bag and use on the go.
BeautyBlender Blendercleanser Solid ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
While you technically could use castile soap or a variety of other offerings to cleanse your brushes, this cleanser is worth the splurge if you a) have the budget b) user nicer (read: pricier), natural bristle brushes. In comparison to cheaper bar soaps, I find I use less of this soap to get my brushes vs the cheaper alternatives. It also rinses off easily. A lot of cheaper soaps leave a slippery, residue on my brushes. As I’ve invested in my brushes, I don’t mind investing in their maintenance as well.
I’ll use this with my beautyblender if I have some really stubborn makeup residue, but for the most part I’ll clean my beautyblender and synthetic brushes with cleansing oil or face wash.
IT Brushes for ULTA Concealer Brushes
IT Cosmetics’ brushes are some of the nicest synthetics I’ve tried. The IT Brushes for Ulta… are not. I think you get better quality with cheaper brands like Real Techniques, ELF, and Ecotools. Even with the 50% off, I don’t think these brushes are worth the price.
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
These used to be my favorite pencil lines before I discovered the Marc Jacobs highliners. They’re creamy, pigmented, and last pretty well throughout the day. I would say they’re creamier and easier to blend than the Marc Jacobs, but the Marc Jacobs is more budge proof. You really can’t go wrong with either option.
Lipstick Queen Shade Shifters
These are nice lipsticks, even if they seem gimmicky at first. They’re hydrating and give a nice wash of color. Some shade shifting products don’t fully shift, leaving a weird greyish cast. These don’t. All that said, I don’t think it’s a particularly exceptional deal as Ulta has Lipstick Queen products at 30-50% off.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Liquid Highlighter
Remember when Becca highlighters were all anyone talked about? Even if these are longer as trendy as they used to be, they’re still fun to wear. They are very, very extra and a little bit goes a long way. While 30% off is a decent sale, I don’t think most people need a full-sized bottle. If the shade you want comes in the travel sized bottle, I would say save yourself the money and buy that instead. My personal travel sized bottle is 4 years old and I’ve barely made a dent in it.
Flesh Tender Flesh Blush
These are nice. Easy to blend, long-lasting, pigmented. They also come in a nice compact with a mirror. If there’s a shade you’ve been eying, this sale is a nice time to go for the splurge.
Boscia Clear Complexion Cleanser & Luminizing Black Mask
If you have oily, acne prone skin, the Boscia cleanser could be for you. It helps with congestions, active breakouts, and oil control. The luminizing mask is fun to use (it’s a peel of mask) but it’s messy to use. It doesn’t dry evenly most of the time and I end up having to scrub off half-wet pieces of plasticy mask off my face. I wouldn’t repurchase it but I use my current tube on my nose to help with blackheads.