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Ulta Beauty At-A-Glance

Strengths: Inexpensive; several good mascaras; the blush, brow pencil, eyeshadows, and most of the foundations are worth a look; a few intriguing skin-care products (but nothing you cannot find from lots of other brands).

Weaknesses: Testers are not always available nor are the Ulta displays consistently clean; bad liquid eyeliners; poor-to-average cleansers; nothing-special pencil eyeliners; requires careful shopping because the makeup is such a mixed bag--for every good product there are two unimpressive ones.

Since Ulta was founded in 1990, the company has continued to carve out a unique position as a specialty beauty store by offering a large selection of upscale and drugstore cosmetics in all price ranges, all under one roof. There are currently over 675 Ulta locations across the United States, and, like Sephora, Ulta sells its own product line right alongside more familiar brands such as Revlon, Murad, and philosophy.

The Ulta Collection offers a variety of basic makeup products, from foundation to eye shadow to lip gloss. Nearly all items in the Ulta Collection are inexpensive, and its lower price point is a major draw.

As with most cosmetics lines, Ulta has its share of good and bad products; however, it seems for every good to great makeup product the line has two average-to-poor options. Testers may or may not be available, so choose wisely.

Among the safer categories of Ulta makeup are the eyeshadows, many of the mascaras, brow products, and most of the foundations, particularly the cream-to-powder and powder formulas.

Despite our enthusiasm for Ulta's large selection of eyeshadow, the quality is inconsistent, especially when it comes to texture and how they apply, even among different shades in the same category. The best way to shop this line is to pay attention to which products we've reviewed favorably and to take extra time to play with the products in-store (assuming the Ulta you frequent keeps testers available).

In recent years, Ulta has branched out from makeup to skin care. Their namesake skin care has the same affordable price point as the makeup, and some of the products are actually quite good. Skip the cleansers, ignore the moisturizers in jar packaging, and forget about the pore-tightening products...the rest is worth exploring, but again, this is not a brand to shop without some knowledge of what you're buying and how it performs.

For more information about Ulta Beauty, call 866-983-8582 or visit www.ulta.com.

585623-IIS1 v1.0.0.421 9/3/2015 8:34:26 PM