How To Get the BEST Deals at Ulta
This post has been a long time coming, but I figured since I got another almost unbelievable deal that it was time to share my tips. This isn’t just “sign up for the Ultamate Rewards,” but more information about bonus offers that help you accumulate points faster and get way more bang for your buck on deals at Ulta. I’ve been able to get the Anastasia Brow Wiz for $1.50 (retail is $21) and recently, the Lorac PRO Contour Palette for $2.50 (retail is $45!!). On a more “normal” level, how I got $35.96 worth of hair products for $23.57. How did I do this? The answer is in a few parts. 1. I save my points until something really good comes along 2. I find ways to get points faster through bonus offers (these have to be activated and I will show you how! This is KEY and if you don’t know how to do this you are missing out on a lot of rewards $$). But I also think it’s important to share the ways I’ve found to avoid any overspending. How I get the best deals at Ulta has gotten me some great rewards and saved me money along the way.
Ultamate Rewards (but NOT the credit card)
Ulta has a free rewards program, and the best part is that these points accumulate as cash back. That means you don’t have to save up points just to receive a deluxe sample of a product you may or may not care about (*cough* Sephora *cough* – though I also do love Sephora. I just think their rewards are lacking). It’s free to sign up, and I suggest you do otherwise most of this article will not be relevant. Click here to sign up and get a free $10 off your first purchase! I do want to be clear that I am not talking about the credit card, and I actively advise you not to sign up for the credit card. In fact, Ulta employees will ask at nearly every checkout if you are interested. Say no. The whole point is to cause overspending, and it may already be difficult with the rewards. Which leads me to my next point….
Only Look When You NEED Something (or are fairly close to it)
This may be a huge change to your beauty shopping style. I know it was to mine several years ago. As an ex-makeup junkie, I know what it’s like to have drawers of makeup that you “love” but realistically will never use up. Get yourself out of that habit NOW. Find one (okay, maybe two) of each makeup category that you love and use.them.up. Lip products are a bit more lenient on the ONE or TWO but still should be reasonable. This is where it can be wuality vs. quantitiy. Here’s some quick math: If you try out 5 different $10 foundations, and don’t use up any of them…did you get a “better deal” than if you had bought one great $40 foundation and used it completely? Food for thought. The same applies to any type of makeup or beauty product. You may be $5 purchasing your way out of a makeup collection you love. Cut the impulse crap. This means, if you have run out of something, need something in a new category, are close to out (1/3 or less but you MUST finish before opening the new one!) or the product is not working (example: maybe a skin product is now breaking you out), that”s when you go to the Ulta website or store. NOT just to online browse. I know those dangers. Thankfully the thought of paying for shipping snaps me out if I do break down and browse. Please note that I’m not saying drugstore products aren’t good. That’s definintely not what I mean, I loooooove drugstore makeup. I’m just saying whatever you buy you need to love! For me at the moment, that’s a drugstore mascara but a high end eyeliner. Here are a few tips to help minimize temptation with your Ulta spending that made a tangible difference for me:
- Stop email subscriptions
- Stop mail subscriptions
- Cut Ulta from your Instagram feed
- Avoid going to the Ulta website
- Unfollow beauty gurus who cause you to want to try something new every week (that really could be a separate post). Remember, they get sent the majority for free. You have to put your hard earned money towards it!
Okay, so you need something. How to get the best Deals at Ulta? BONUS OFFERS and stacking deals.
This is where the game gets seriously changed if you don’t know about this. Pay attention to the images as they will show you where to go on the Ulta website.
- Log In to your account. Again, if you haven’t signed up for Ultamate rewards, Click here to sign up and get a free $10 off your first purchase!
- Once logged in, the screen should bring you to the “My Account” page, which shows your membership information. In the menu, click “My Rewards” as shown.
- Scroll down and at the bottom of the “My Rewards” page are the Bonus Offers. These are KEY to earning points when you need something. Note that both that I have available to me are worth 5X the points!
- This is where it can become critical to know what you need. Maybe you were out of a face cleanser and were interested in one by Murad and it was within your budget. If you were to spend $30 on a Murad cleanser, you’d get the points for if you’ve spent $150 otherwise!
- Knowing your budget and self control are key here. Sure, that Donna Karen fragrance might earn you 5X points, but I’m perfectly content with the two perfumes I own (and LOVE). No need to even consider that purchase. This is also why I suggest only checking when you need something or are close to running out of something.
- In the beginning, it’s okay to check a little more often – the only reason I say this is because it helps familiarize you with what types of offers are available. For instance, there will be 2X points offers, but if I think that a 5X points offer will be coming up, then I will wait to purchase (more on that later). But for things like say…..shampoo? If I’m actually out and Ulta is the best place to get the item, then I’m not going to wait. That’s when I like to keep an eye out when items are about 1/3 remaining. It gives a little buffer of time to find a good reward deal.
Have Patience – If you really want a specific product but aren’t completely out, wait until a good offer comes along
Story time…I really wanted Tarte ShapeTape. Really bad. REALLY bad. Everyone raved about it, but it’s expensive! $27 for a single concealer? Ouch. I had the money set aside, but knew I wanted to take advantage of a good bonus offer. I already had a concealer (Rimmel Match Perfection, it’s ony $4.50! but horrendouse shade selection) that worked, so I knew I had to be patient. I would look occassionally at the rewards, and within a couple of months (yes, I waited months and I’m glad I did!) a “5X all Tarte Cosmetics” bonus offer popped up. Hooray! My $27 purchase would now get me 135 points! It was worth the wait, and the concealer IS great.
The Best Bonus Offers
In my opinion, the best deals available in Bonus Offers are….
- 5X points on Salon Services – This seems to come out twice a year, but since I get my brows waxed at Ulta I always take this offer. $21 service becomes 105 points, and I was going to get my brows waxed there anyways? Yep. Take the deal.
- 5X points on ______ brand – This will be a bonus reward across the entire brand, and they are usually Prestige brands. That meants the expensive brands. The reason this is important to me is…if I’m going to shell out $30 on a product, then I definintely want 150 points!
- 2X points (or 3X if you are lucky) on a category – things like “Haircare” or “makeup”…these are huge wide open categories where if I’m stocking up on shampoo (more on that later), then it’s worth it to get the extra points
- 2X points on your entire purchase – I think this is only an offer during your birthday month, but it’s an important one to note! If you are about to make a purchase and it’s getting close to your birthday month, hold off on the purchase. Unless of course there is a better offer (like the 5x ones) available now.
But wait. There really is more! It’s time to stack the deals. Big time.
Stack. The. Deals.
If you aren’t familiar with Ulta, they have basically two sides to the store, “drugstore” and “Prestige.” The coupons and offers (except your rewards points!) are only applicable to the drugstore side. So here is how you can stack the deals.
- Bonus Offers – I’ve already gone into that, but make sure to activate them if there is a relevant one
- Buy 1 Get 1 40/50% off – On the drugstore side, a lot of the whole brands will be either “Buy 1 Get 1 40% off” or “Buy 1 Get 1 50% off”…if I know I need two things, I refuse to pay full price for both
- Coupons! There is almost always a “$3.50 off of $15 purchase” coupon available on Ulta.com/coupons….again, this only applies to the “drugstore” side, but it really can make a difference.
Example of Deal Stacking
I love the Not Your Mother’s Naturals Blue Sea Kale and Coconut Water Line. I’ve only seen it at Ulta and Walmart, and with the combos I’ve disucssed, I’m able to get it much cheaper at Ulta than Walmart. Here is how: I waited until Not Your Mother’s was on Buy One Get One 50% off. since I know I LOVE this line, I actually bought one shampoo, one conditioner, and two mousses all at once. I was able to get 50% off two of those items, then apply my $3.50 coupon. Oh, and did I mention that “hair care” was 2X bonus rewards? Yea….that meant that instead of paying $35.96 at Ulta (or $33.96 at Walmart if you are curious), I actually paid $23.47! See the photo for my math on this. But what’s even better? I also got 46 (or 47? I don’t remember if Ulta rounds up) rewards points for this. So I paid way less than I had to, but got more points than if I had paid full price for everything! Note that this does mean I had to buy quite a bit at once. If you’re all about changing up your products, then make sure to at least get one of these options (either the BOGO or coupon).
SAVE YOIUR POINTS FOR SOMETHING GOOD.
Patience and knowledge are key here. Your points add up to cash value, which I’ll show in the image below. The more points you have, the more they are worth. There is also an increment for 250 points (it’s $8) but it doesn’t show up on here. Not sure why. Now, I’ve never gotten beyond the 750 points. Why? I don’t actually like to spend very much money, and that means even if I got 5x points on everything, I’d still be spending over $150 to get there. Realistically, I probably spent closer to $250 to get there. But that’s certainly better than spending the full $750 if you didn’t use Bonus Offers! For a combo of hair care, skin care, and makeup…that isn’t bad. I also buy makeup at Walmart/Target depending on sales. Do not force yourself to go to Ulta “for the points.” That’s a waste of money if the price is better elsewhere!
I only spend my rewards dollars on Prestige items. They are the only offers that work on those brands, so it’s nice to get the discount where you can. I also make sure to save it up for a time if something I’ve wanted actually goes on sale. Sales for the Prestige lines are few and far between, so make the most of your rewards $ and wait for them!
21 Days of Beauty (or Hair)
The exception to the “Prestige items don’t go on sale” is within the Ulta ads or the 21 Days of Beauty/Hair sales. This is where I think you will get the best value from hoarding those points you’ve earned through the Bonus offers and other deals. The 21 days of beauty have daily deals that are usually around 50% off Prestige items. This event is between 2-4 times a year between the hair and beauty ones. There are some good deals that last all 21 days, but the best discounts are on the daily deals. THIS is where I was able to get the Anastasia Brow Wiz for $1.50 and the Lorac PRO Contour Palette for $2.50. Ulta lets you use the rewards points you’ve earned towards these already deeply discounted Prestige items.
But also, don’t be afraid to pass up the 21 days of Beauty! If nothing screams your name, then don’t waste your points/money. Wait for that new palette, or use it towards your favorite foundation. Don’t feel obligated that you HAVE To get the best deal out of the points. Just make sure you use them towards something you really want! I got lucky with the Lorac PRO contour palette. That has been on my wish list for literally years, but I like my ELF contour palette (which costs a whopping $6 full price) enough. So when I saw this deal, I knew it was time to cash in my rewards.
Do note something REALLY important. The points DO expire in a year if you are a basic member (that means spending under $400 in a calendar year. I’ve always kept under that and been basic). So if you think you are getting close, you do want to spend the points instead of hoarding them so long that you lose them. My go-to the only time I got close was to redeem my $8 towards an eyebrow wax. Like I said earlier, that’s where I get my brows done regardless, and I didn’t feel pressured to put out money towards a product I didn’t need.
If you use Ulta rewards points wisely, they can save you a lot in the long run! My biggest advice? Be intentional with your purchases. Make sure you will use whatever it is you are buying, and make sure you get the most bang for your buck! Let me know if this helped you find some better deals at Ulta, or if I missed any other thing to do to get the best deals at Ulta.
There are no affiliate links posted. The $10 offer is the general “Invite a Friend” offer than any Ultamate Rewards Member can use. If any of you claim the $10, I get a “$10 off $30 purchase” coupon.
Hi, my name is Rachel Smith. I’m a personal finance nerd, Aldi connoissuer, book lover, yoga enthusiast, and budgeting wiz. I was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska but currently call Michigan home. I want to help people with their finances and eating healthy on a tight budget (no matter what your cost-of-living area is!)