Thumbs-Down: Ulta Super Blender Sponge

I’ve been wanting to buy this item for a while.  I don’t want to spend what a Beauty Blender costs, but I want something more eco-friendly than the (often disappointing) cosmetic “wedge” sponges I generally use.  I’m really glad I didn’t buy this in every variety (they’re in my wishlist!) because WOW this is a disappointment…

Pros:  Inexpensive.  Nice contours that fit various face parts.

Cons:  Smells very chemical/plastic-y.  Made in China.  Doesn’t say latex-free, so I’m not sure if it is. (???)  Too hard/inflexible to do the job right.  Absorbs as much makeup as competitors (maybe even more).

In Summary:  The Earth Therapeutics makeup blending sponge is SOOOO much better than this one!  And it’s about the same price.  Seriously, buy that one instead.  I honestly feel like this was a waste of $5.  I don’t even want to bother cleaning it.  Maybe I can use it for craft projects…

Rating:  1 out of 5 stars  1-star

Price:  $4.99 (USD)

Available at: Ulta

Made in: China

ulta sponge





Have You Heard?

FINALLY Ulta is going to have a rewards program I like.  In the past, your spending has determined what free item you’d get after each quarterly spending period.  There wasn’t a birthday gift (who doesn’t love a free birthday item?), and you had to wait for your rewards certificate to come in the mail – a certificate that could only be used in a certain time frame – usually for stuff I didn’t really care about.  Here’s a quick rundown of the changes, according to the information in the most recent Ulta advertising flyer

Birthday Gift.   Members will receive a free birthday item and double points during their birthday month.

Platinum Status.  Spend $400 in a calendar year and get upgraded to platinum status, which earns you points faster, and they never expire.

Better Rewards.  You can use your points toward anything in the store, not just a selection of a half dozen items.

No More Certificates.  You won’t have to wait for your reward certificate to come in the mail, and you can redeem your points when you want. (Points are good for a year.)

So, Basically:  Ulta is trying to compete with Sephora by having a much better rewards program than they’ve had in the past.  I’m very happy about this because I shop at Ulta more often, since they carry “drugstore brands”, have a clearance section, and offer coupons for store purchases – sometimes even on “prestige” brands.

Unknown:  I’m not sure if points can be used in-store only, or you’ll be able to use them for online purchases as well.  Unfortunately, the Ulta Rewards website still has the information about the old rewards system.

Important Info:  This program is only available with e-mail signup.  Make sure you have your birthday listed in your profile information to get your birthday gift. All current Ulta Rewards members will be moved to the new system on February 23rd.


Thumbs-Down: Ulta Beauty Wedges

I must say that I’ve been using this product for quite a while now.  I’ve even recommended them.  The last time I reviewed them, they got 4.5 out of 5 stars.  I was running low on them recently, so I went to Ulta and picked up another package.  When I opened the package yesterday, I could tell they had changed…

Pros:  Made in USA.  Affordable. Latex-free.

Cons:  Formula has changed and they’re now more “spongy”, lightweight, and less durable.  Change in density causes “warping” of the sponge, making it harder to manage.

In Summary:  I no longer recommend this product.  The change to it results in more foundation (or other product) being absorbed into the sponge, which will end up costing you more money.  Maybe this was an intentional ploy by Ulta to try to get people to use more makeup.  Clever, but not cool.  (And annoying enough that I’ve left a negative review on the website!)  So, now I’m stuck with 95 more of these sponges.  They’ll probably end up in my crafting supplies like all the other beauty wedges I didn’t like…

Related Post:  Review of Up & Up Brand wedges:

Rating:  2 out of 5 stars  2-stars  (only because they’re made in USA)

Price:  $1.99 for 8 ct., $2.99 for 32ct., $6.99 for 96 ct.

Available at:  Ulta,

ulta beauty wedges

OK, Last Chance, Urban Decay Fans!

Last time I posted, it was about a great deal on Urban Decay (20% off total purchase at I’ve been e-mailed another one-time-use coupon code, so if you’re interested, e-mail me at! (It expires Saturday!)

Anyone? Anyone?

OK, due to my recent semi-convalescent state, I’m not doing much shopping.  However, I have a great coupon I’d like to share with someone – anyone – who can use it…

Here’s the deal:  20% off total Urban Decay product purchase at through Saturday.  It’s a one-time-use code, so I’ll e-mail it to the first person who e-mails me requesting the code.   Just so you know, it’s not linked to my account or anything.  (I experimented with adding U.D. items to my cart and entering the code without checking out…)

Interested?   e-mail me at

My New Weapon in the War on Dirty Brushes

I have tons of makeup brushes, partially because I hate the cleaning process.  I used to buy cheap brushes and just throw them away, but in an attempt to be more eco (and budget) friendly, I started buying better brushes that will hold up to repeated cleaning.  Now, I’ve made the process as easy as possible…

Background:  I had been using Ulta’s “Professional” brush cleaner – until I read the ingredients and found out it contains parabens.  I got one of those cool 20% off anything” coupons from Ulta and decided to use it to buy a huge bottle of Japonesque brush cleaner. (Review here:

japonesque brush cleaner

16 oz. bottle for $30 at Ulta

Bad Luck:  I have terrible luck when it comes to spray bottles.  It seems that no matter what kind I buy or what I’m using them for, they don’t last very long.  Also, the bottles I was using for brush cleaner made the stuff spray all over my sink and faucet, which is a waste of brush cleaner!

More Background:  A while back, I bought Misto brand sprayer to use with my Urban Decay De Slick oil control spray.  (They’re marketed as “olive oil sprayers” and I have a couple in my kitchen as well.) It didn’t work so great for the De-Slick.


Misto Olive Oil Sprayer. Approx. $10.

Solution:  I use the Misto sprayer for brush cleaner.  It’s SO much better than the regular pump bottles for several reasons:  1.  It hasn’t broken yet.  2.  It allows you to create an aerosol spray that’s easier to control and gets into brushes better.  3.  It’s reuseable and eco-friendly because it uses air pressure to create the aerosol – not chemical propellants.

In Conclusion:  I’m glad I kept this sprayer around.  After using it (unsuccessfully) for the De-Slick spray, I didn’t want to use it in the kitchen, so it was collecting dust in my bathroom for a while.  Luckily, it works perfectly for cleaning makeup brushes.  Totally worth the $5 I spent on it!


Review: Ulta Ultimate Pure Color Shampoo

I recently took my daughter to get her hair colored at Aveda Institute.  Since I had over 2 hours on my hands and there was an Ulta store nearby, I decided to go over and see if they had any sulfate-free shampoo to protect her new color (because I paid for it!).  I picked this one up because it had a Buy One, Get One Free offer…

Pros:  Sulfate-free.  Still lathers, which some sulfate-free products don’t, and which can be off-putting to some people.  Affordable.  Eligible for all Ulta coupons, which “prestige” brands are not.

Cons:  Odd, menthol/medicine-y fragrance.  Didn’t notice any extra moisturizing effect (but I only used it once – after all, it wasn’t for MY hair…)

In Summary:  If you’re looking for a sulfate-free shampoo, this is one of the least expensive ones you can find.  It seems to be on sale on a regular basis, too, (currently Buy Two, Get Two Free) which is a plus.  I don’t love the fragrance and I’m sure there are better shampoos out there, but if you’re on a budget and want to protect your color, this is probably an excellent choice.

Rating:  3.5 out of 5 stars  3.5-stars

Price:  $6.99 for 9.25 oz

Available at: Ulta


This is a bad photo of the product. The one on Ulta’s website is of the conditioner, for some reason…



Thumbs-Down: Ulta Extreme Wear Gel Eyeliner

Since Ulta was having a Buy One, Get One Free deal on their brand of products, I recently picked up the rather horrible Whipped Eye Shadow (read review here:  and this Gel Eyeliner.  As I often say: a good deal is only a good deal if you’re getting a good product…

Pros:  Made in USA.  Moderately inexpensive.  Has a nice “sparkle” to it.  Paraben-free. Stays on pretty well.

Cons:  Not deeply pigmented.  Formula is too thin.  Doesn’t go on smoothly.  To get a dark line, you have to “dab” it into place, which forces you to use a LOT of the product.

In Summary:  I gave this product two chances.  The first time, I was using a brush (angled eyeliner brush) that I had been using with black eye shadow, so I thought the powder leftover in the brush messed up the results.  The second time, I used a brand new brush, and got exactly the same results.  Both times, I ended up going over the gel eyeliner with black eye shadow to “fill in” the pale, streaky spots.  As with many other products I haven’t liked, this one got good reviews by other people.  Maybe I’m too picky.  Maybe I expect too much for $10.  Maybe I should stick with using black eye shadow to do my liner…

Suggestion:  If you like this type of eyeliner, you should try Stila Smudge Pots ($20) or L’Oreal’s HIP Cream Eyeliner ($10).  I’m also tempted by the L’Oreal Infallible Gel Lacquer Liner ($10), but I haven’t tried that one.  Maybe when I have a coupon, I’ll pick one up…

Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars  1.5-stars

Price:  $10

Available at: Ulta stores and website

ulta gel eyeliner

Thumbs-Down: Ulta Extreme Wear Whipped Eye Shadow

Ulta had a Buy One, Get One Free sale on their products last week (as well as a coupon and a “free item with purchase” deal).  I haven’t been impressed with the few Ulta brand products I’ve tried, but I wanted to try this eye shadow, since I’ve liked the cream eye shadows I’ve tried in the past (Revlon).  So, I picked it up in “Strawberry Cream”.  I should have found a different product instead…

Pros:  Inexpensive(ish).  Good variety of colors.  Made in USA (at least this color is). Paraben-free.  “Not animal tested”, according to the Ulta website.

Cons:  No ingredients list on the package. Color not very vibrant (doesn’t match up to color it looks like in the container). Apply too little and you can barely see it, apply too much and it looks really bad.  It’s a little bit too creamy – it’s more like a lotion than an eye shadow.

In Summary:  I really, really don’t like this stuff.  I doesn’t go on very well.  I believe the “extreme wear” claim, but who cares how long it stays on if it looks horrible while you’re wearing it?  I ended up removing it and applying another product.  I didn’t like how chalky it looked on my eyelids.  Since the color is so light, it made it look like I had flaky, dry skin on my eye area.  It got good reviews on, so maybe there’s some trick to applying it that I don’t know about.  I guess I’ll keep it around in case I find a use for it, but I suspect it will get tossed out in my next “bathroom purge”…

Rating: 1 out of  stars  1-star

Price: $8

Available at: Ulta

ulta extreme wear whipped eye shadow

Review: Ulta brand Beauty Wedges

I use beauty wedges (or “makeup sponges”, as I call them) every time I apply liquid foundation.  They allow for better coverage in those definitely-needs-more-coverage areas.  I’ve tried many brands of “makeup sponges”.  My opinion of them has ranged from “meh” to “horrible!”  (Despite my love of Target, I pretty much hate their Up & Up brand makeup sponges. Read review here:  Here’s my opinion of these…

Pros: Latex-free.  Hypoallergenic.  Made in USA.  Very affordable.  Washable.  (allegedly – I haven’t tried it)  Not so “sponge-y” that it soaks up all your foundation and/or makes “texture” marks where you try to use it.

Cons:  Bigger than the normal cosmetic wedge, which makes it a little harder to use in some areas.

In Summary:  I’m actually impressed with these wedges. (To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much – I was out of makeup sponges and needed some ASAP on a day I happened to be at Ulta.)  They  are pretty much the best ones I’ve ever tried.  I’ve found similar-quality ones, but they were at bargain stores and I couldn’t find them later when I wanted more.  I don’t like how big they are, because it makes them harder to use and it seems kind of wasteful, but the texture is very nice for the kind of foundation I use.

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 stars 

Price:  $1.99 for 8, $2.99 for 32, $6.99 for 96

Available at: Ulta