After working at Ulta Beauty for a few years, I learned which brands and products are worth the money and excitement as well as which ones to live without. If you have never been to an Ulta Beauty store, definitely stop in sometime. Whether you are only beginning in the makeup world or you are a cosmetic guru, this store suits just about everyone! Some of these products or brands are only carried in specific makeup stores such as Ulta or Sephora while some can be found in both these stores and drug stores such as Walgreen's. Most of these cosmetics I got on a whim or decided to get based on YouTube reviews and ended up constantly restocking when I ran out. As a reminder, some of these products may not work for everyone's skin type —oily, dry, or combination.
1. Estee Lauder Double Wear Maximum Coverage Foundation
I am a full coverage kind of girl. Throughout the pubescent years of struggling with acne, this foundation became my go-to and still is today. Due to the price and portion, I try to only use it when going to important events. Aside from being the most full coverage foundation I know of, some of the other benefits include longevity performance. Like anyone, I have smaller lines under my eyes and a single, extremely noticeable line across my forehead that seem to take any chance to show themselves when I wear foundation.
However, this foundation reduces the look of those lines, leading to a porcelain-finished look. In addition, it blends well with any applicator of your choosing. I am a beauty blender girl, however, some prefer brushes which ends up looking all the same with this foundation. As a warning, it has a thicker consistency, which may lead to breakouts, should you leave it on for excessive periods of time. For example, overnight. This brand or product can be found in most higher-end department stores such as Dillard's, Macy's and Nordstrom as well as in specific Ulta Beauty sites for around $42.
2. Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette
The name of this eye shadow palette truly embodies every shade within it. This is my go-to palette for a variety of reasons aside from the color options. As a quick mention, the colors are based on neutrals but add a modern touch with the slight use of pinks throughout. ABH is known for their formulas — they blend nicely and have little fallout, keeping the palette itself as well as your under eyes clean after application. Some of the shades are metallics, meaning they have a slight shimmer while some are mattes which means they go on more flat. If it is a more exciting event I'll accent my look with some shimmer but with everyday looks, I typically stick with mattes. Overall, I have found this palette to be worth every penny. This palette can be found at most Ulta for around $42.
3. Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz
Eyebrows have always been tricky for me as I have not yet figured out the natural shape of mine yet due to over plucking or the opposite, overgrowing. However, when I do go a little power hungry with the tweezers, the ABH Brow Wiz has truly been a saving grace. Like most ABH eyebrow products, there is a larger variety of shade ranges which follows through with this product as well. The one thing that I learned about the Brow Wiz is that a little goes a long way; the point I am trying to make is that it lasts for a while if you know how to use it.
Granted, some prefer more of a full look than others, but I personally only fill in where needed. I have tried to find duplicates of this product, but contrary to popular belief, most have not performed up to par. It is a mechanical eyebrow pencil with a duo comb on the other end, which adds to the ease when using it. The major benefit to this product is how thin the pencil actually is; the user has control of where they want to apply it and with how much force. Other eyebrow products offered by ABH include the Brow Pomade and the Brow Definer, each with their own individual benefits. The Brow Wiz can be found at Ulta Beauty or a Sephora near you for around $21.
4. NARS Blush
It has always been a challenge for me to find a blush that does not make me look like Bo Bo the Clown. Due to my fair skin, I prefer lighter tones when it comes to the colors of blush that I use. For a while, I simply just avoided applying blush as I could not find one that worked for me. It was not until I received the NARS Orgasm Blush as a gift from my managers at work before heading off to school.
To this day, I swear by this blush as it is the perfect rosy color that even has hints of highlighter infused in it. It stays on well and can be blended effortlessly. Similar to most prestige cosmetics, a little goes a long way, so if you plan on giving this product a try make sure to build on how much you put on or else you will be scrubbing for a little while. This blush can be found in most Ulta Beauty's and Sephora's for around $30-$40.
5. Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray
There have been many setting sprays that have come out recently with the single promise that is a duplicate for this product, however, you cannot beat the original. A little insight in case you are unsure of the purpose behind this product, setting spray is applied after a makeup look is completed with the sole purpose of extending the time and quality of your look. Urban Decay was not kidding when they named this product "All Nighter." After lightly misting your face with this spray, your makeup sticks up until you decide it is time for your post-GNO shower. This product comes in a variety of sizes as it is needed even when you travel or if you need to stay within a budget. This blush can be found at Sephora and Ulta Beauty ranging in price from $15-$32 depending on your chosen size.
6. Revlon Colorstay Foundation
I recently gave this foundation a try after finding that as a college kid, prestige foundations were not in the budget for me. After watching what seemed like hundreds of makeup duplication videos, I decided to try this Revlon Colorstay foundation. One of the benefits to this foundation is that Revlon made two different kinds; one for individuals with normal/dry skin and one for individuals with combination/oily skin, like me. Depending on your skin type, each one has a different outcome in terms of a finished look.
I discovered that this foundation has the buildable coverage that I was looking for while also being quite blendable. This foundation also has 24-hour wear, which is perfect when taking on longer days. In addition, they also a wide shade range which has not been common in most prestige brands, so big props to them! This product can be found in Ulta Beauty as well as most regular stores for around $14.
7. Real Techniques Beauty Blenders
As I previously stated, I prefer using a beauty blender rather than other applicators. There are many different competitor brands to choose from, however, I found that Real Techniques is extremely trustworthy when it comes to applicators. This brand sells a variety of beauty blenders all with a different purpose. Some are used for blending your base makeup, some are used for exfoliating and some are used for highlighting. They also come in an abundance of shapes and sizes depending on what suits your needs.
Recently, this brand came out with cases and stands for the blenders which emphasize the sanitary aspect of these applicators. Like brushes, beauty blenders need to be cleaned and will wear out after a long period of use, so it is recommended for your health to eventually dispose of them. Aside from beauty blenders, Real Techniques also sells brushes and accessories for your applicators which I would also recommend. This brand can be found at Ulta Beauty as well as multiple drug stores. The prices will obviously range depending on what you are interested in, but compared to other brands, they are extremely reasonable. Most of the original, regular-sized beauty blenders from this brand are around $6.
8. L'Oreal Telescopic Mascara
When I began my interest in makeup years ago, this was the mascara I depended on. Fast forward ten years and it is still my go-to mascara. Most drug store formulas are similar in consistency and ingredients, however, I found this mascara to rarely flake and coat quite nicely on my lashes. One of the major selling points for me as a consumer when trying a new mascara is the wand. After years of heavily depending on this cosmetic item, I found that my preference lies with the plastic wands as opposed to the pipe cleaner or fibrous wands. The pipe cleaner-style wands tend to collect mascara and waste the product while simultaneously clumping my lashes at the same time — no thanks. Plastic wands only collect the amount of formula needed to make one coat on your lashes and from there you can add more. These wands also have better lash separating qualities, which is always a benefit — who likes clumpy lashes? The wand also helps to accentuate your lashes through lengthening while adding a voluminous look.
From an aesthetic stand point, the packaging is pleasing to the eye; for reference when looking for it, this mascara is in a gold tube and is thinner than a normal mascara tube. L'Oreal has recently launched new mascaras with this name, however, I recommend giving the original a shot first. I have found this product in many places including Ulta Beauty, Walgreen's, and in the cosmetics section of most grocery stores for around $8.
9. Models Own Tea Tree Healer Concealer
Surprisingly, this is one product that I cannot seem to live without. In fact, I did not even know it existed until recently. Models Own is a newer cosmetics brand that I never really took interest in as I usually stick with brands that I know. While working at Ulta Beauty, I noticed that we were constantly restocking this brand and was given multiple recommendations to at least try their products from various customers. Models Own sells a similar variety of products when compared to brands such as Maybelline, L'Oreal, and Revlon; with this brand being so new to the market, however, the variety of shades and styles are limited.
As I had said recently, I struggle like everyone else with minor break outs that can never seem to be covered up or when covered, cause an even worse breakout. There are many prestige brands as well as some drug store brands that attempt to help your skin with the application of their products, but the success rate is too low for my liking. Before finding this product, I already enjoyed using tea tree masks, body washes, and essential oils — I guess you could say that the tea tree is what sold me on this purchase. This concealer comes with a stick applicator and has a creamy consistency. It is buildable, but I found that a little goes a long way and although it is a smaller tube, it lasts for a while. After opening, the smell of tea tree is evident and it even goes on with a cooling effect. The Healer Concealer blends smoothly while also minimizing your breakout in the process. I typically only put this product on any breakouts that I have as it is mainly used for reducing blemishes, but that is also up to the discretion of the user. Due to Models Own being new to the beauty world, I have only seen it at Ulta Beauty and online — so keep an eye out! In terms of price, this product is around $8.99.
10. Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter
If your face wasn't dipped in highlighter a few years back, what were you doing? Today, many have toned down the highlighting while some still enjoy being shiny. I was one of the YouTube fan girls that owned the highlighter palettes and realistically only used one. I still add a little highlight on the upper edge of my cheekbone, but not as much as I used to. With the increase in demand for these products came a decrease in quality. For a while, I was unable to find a highlighter that lasted, matched my skin tone, and was easy to blend. Not to discredit the prestige brands, as I said I owned multiple palettes, but I the Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter truly outdid itself. By selling each highlighter individually with one tone, I was able to limit how much I was wasting and enjoy what worked.
Out of the many products that we sell at Ulta Beauty, I found this product to be one of the most popular among younger groups. This highlighter does exactly what I was looking for; it blends well, lasts for hours, and I was able to decide which color would best match my skin tone. Makeup Revolution is a brand that continues to surprise everyone with the quality of their products and many act as duplicates for prestige brands. The Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter can be found at Ulta Beauty as well as Walmart for around $15.
No matter what your cosmetic preference is, I am sure that these products will satisfy each one. As I stated within each description, many of these products can be found in stores near you so take the chance and give them a shot!