Ulta Beauty At-A-Glance
Strengths: Inexpensive; several good mascaras, including Waterproof Amped Lashes Volume + Defining Mascara; Cheek Color; Cream and Sheer Finish Lipstick; Fabulous Face Compact Foundation; Fabulous Face Pressed Powder; Shimmer Eyeshadow; Extreme Wear Lip Stain Pen.
Weaknesses: Glitter Finish Eyeshadow; Shimmer Finish Lipstick; Fabulous Face Liquid Concealer; Double Duty Concealer and Dark Circle Treatment; tester units are not always available or clean.
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 480 Ulta locations across the United States, and, like Sephora, Ulta sells its own product line right alongside more familiar brands such as Revlon 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. Thankfully, the shelves of the in-store displays are well stocked with testers for each product—much like a department store setup—making it reasonably easy to find appropriate color matches and to play with the products before committing to a purchase.
Among Ulta's better products are everyday basics like their Cheek Color, Fabulous Face Compact Foundation, Fabulous Face Pressed Powder, and Extreme Wear Lip Stain Pen. The sheer and cream lipsticks are worth trying, too, but steer clear of Ulta's shimmer-finish lipstick, as its finish tends to feel gritty. Ulta also sells some great mascaras, including waterproof formulas.
As 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.
For more information about Ulta Beauty, call 866-983-8582, or visit www.ulta.com.
Note: Several Ulta stores we visited had poorly maintained tester units. They were either dirty or dusty, or severely lacking adequate testers. This was disappointing because several other brands in the same store had immaculately maintained displays, while Ulta’s own brand was in various states of disarray, as if the staff simply didn’t care.