How to Get the Most Out of Ulta aka Why I Prefer Ulta to Sephora

Dear Mimi,

When you become old enough to start buying makeup, you may think Sephora should be your first stop. But nay! Steer towards Ulta. Always steer towards Ulta if possible, unless there’s a specific brand which ONLY Sephora carries, and Ulta doesn’t (which aren’t relatively many). Otherwise, Ulta all the way. And here’s why.

Not too long ago, I received the Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette ($49), Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette ($42), Tarte Shape Tape Concealer ($24), and an eyelash serum ($50) FOR FREE!!! (Well, I payed $7 for the eyelash serum, but still!) How did I do it? One word: points.

Sephora and Ulta both have a points system that works in similar ways. You sign up for their rewards program (this has to happen in order for any of this to occur) and you get one point for every dollar you spend. However, Sephora only allows you to redeem your points on samples or sample sets, never on full size products.

Ulta, on the other hand transfers your points into dollar amounts which can be used towards the purchase of ANYTHING you buy in the store or on their website.


As you can see, 100 points translates to $3 off, 250 points translates to $8 off, and so on. If you have, let’s say, 350 points, that would translate to $11 off ($3 + $8)

But here’s the thing, and this is crucial (I’ve underlined, bolded, and italicized it, so you know it’s serious). ***Wait until you’ve reached 2000 points.*** You will get more money to redeem that way. How? Well suppose you have 1000 points and redeemed it for $50 off, then a few months later, you get another 1000 points which you redeem for another $50 off. Now if you add it up, you had a total of 2000 points and you got $100 off.

Now, if you had just waited until you had 2000 points at once, you would have gotten $125 off, instead of $100. My point? It pays (literally, pun intended) to wait. Be patient and just save up those points. Do not redeem anything until you get to 2000. And only redeem in increments of 2000, no more, no less. Even if you have more than 2000 points, only redeem 2000 at a time. Leave those other points to start saving up to your next 2000.

You may be wondering, do I really need to spend $2000?! No way! In fact, just last week, I myself only had 350 points, and this week I have 1370. Let me tell you, I did NOT spend upwards of $1000 in the last week. There’s definitely easier and cheaper ways to get more points.

  1. Become an Ulta Platinum Rewards member. This is a step up from the basic rewards, (think Sephora VIB or VIB Rouge) and you have to spend $450 in a calendar year to be eligible. I know it seems like a lot, but it comes to $37.50 a month. I know lots of people that spend wayyy more than that on makeup each month, so it’s not impossible.


The great thing with Platinum is then you’ll get 1.25 points for every dollar you spend. So when you spend $4, you’ll get 5 points instead of 4. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but it makes a big difference the more you spend.

A couple of other benefits with Platinum? Your points never expire, so you can keep collecting away! (Regular rewards member points are good for one year). In addition, you get exclusive offers and discounts. Ulta often sends out 20% off coupons or $10 off coupons for Platinum members, which can be used on most things in the store, even prestigious brands (which isn’t the case with most of their coupons). Members also get early access and sneak peeks for certain products.

Platinum members are also always getting free deluxe/travel size samples of amazing products: skincare, foundations, eyeliners, mascaras, bronzers, lipsticks, highlighters, blush, you naaaame it! (Boom, #UNameItChallenge in a blog post). I haven’t bought a mascara in the last 2 years, yet I have all the “nicer” ones, including, but not limited to, UD’s Perversion, Too Faced’s Better than ***, Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Flashes, Smashbox’s Full Exposure, Benefit’s They’re Real (mascara and lash primer), even Dior’s Diorshow Mascara. I have the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer, Laura Geller Lip Liner, Lancôme’s Youth Concentrate, Buxom’s Wildly Whipped Lipstick, Clinique Chubby Stick, and a Japonesque Highlighter. Yes, they’re all sample sizes, but I like them better because I know that I’ll actually finish the product, and hey, if I absolutely hate it, 1) I got it for free, and 2) it’s a small size. Sometimes though, you can get a full size product, absolutely free. A few months ago, I received a coupon for a full sized Clinique foundation, any one I wanted! After that, I got another coupon for any Butter London nail polish I wanted too!

2. Start purchasing everything from Ulta. Unfortunately, Ulta doesn’t stock toothpastes or mouthwash in their stores, but they do almost everything else. Instead of purchasing toiletries like nail polish remover, cotton balls, face wash, or acne cream from Walgreens or Walmart, buy it from Ulta and stock up your points. Ulta also carries most drugstore makeup brands! You’re going to spend that money anyway, might as well get some points out of it (and it’ll help you get to Platinum).

3. Wait for 2x, 3x, or 5x the points offers. Several times a year, Ulta will offer 2, 3, or 5 times the points on certain brands or items, and twice or thrice a year, on any product you buy (usually 5x the points are for Platinum members only). If you can, wait until this promotion comes, and then buy all your items at once. Heck, you can do what I do and buy extras for when things run out. This way, instead of getting only 20 or 25 points on a $20 purchase, you’ll get 60 or 125 points. Big difference.

Plus, if you’re waiting for a specific item, even in makeup, wait til the offer comes from those brands or products you’re looking for. You just need to have a little patience. 🤗

Okay so here’s where things get interesting. Remember how I got all those things for free? Well, if you add up the value, it comes out to $165, which is more than the $125 limit with 2000 points. Did I use more points? Nope! I only redeemed 2000 of my points. Then how? Can you guess?

Ding, ding, ding! I used a coupon! Again, one must be patient, but it will pay off. Wait until you have a 20% off coupon, that way you’ll get even more value. For example, the total of everything I wanted was $165. 20% off of $165 is $132. $132-$125 (from the 2000 points) is $7. And that’s the $7 I paid for the eyelash serum.

So there you go Mimi. If you shop smart, you can really save A LOT of money, and still get the things you want. All it requires is a little planning and some patience. Good things come to those who wait (and act smart).



***This is NOT a sponsored post. So many people asked me how I got so many high end products for free and I thought I would share! Girls gotta help each other out, makeup is expensive!💄 ***


One thought on “How to Get the Most Out of Ulta aka Why I Prefer Ulta to Sephora

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s