Saturday, August 13, 2016

Under $10 Favorites from Ulta Beauty


I have a fun post for you today, dear readers! I'm sharing with you some longtime favorites and newly-discovered favorites, all of which can be purchased at Ulta (in-store and online). I have teamed up with Ulta to bring you this post--they provided me a stipend with which to select and purchase some products to share with you, and I thought it would be fun to limit myself to products that do not retail for over $10. In fact, everything featured here (except for one bonus item at the end) retails for under $10 at Ulta.

(Click the links below to go directly to the item listings on the Ulta website for more info.)



You've seen me rave about Vitabath body washes before, but this one in particular is my favorite lemon-scented body wash of all time. Vitabath doesn't get mentioned a lot in the beauty community but I think their body wash formula is wonderful--not drying, great lather for a sulfate-free product, and the scent of Luscious Lemon Creme is to die for. It smells JUST like lemon cake. If you love gourmand fragrances and you love lemon, you need this. Oh, and Vitabath happens to be BOGO1/2OFF at Ulta as of the time of this post. 



I love, love, LOVE this little multi-tasker! This should come as a surprise to none of you, since you know I love Freeman in general. But there are some things about this product in particular that I really love. For one, you can use it as a mask, exfoliator, or exfoliating cleanser. I've used it in all capacities and I enjoy them all. The consistency is creamy, but not as thick as other Freeman masks. So it's easier to spread on the skin if you're using it as a mask (just make sure your hands aren't too wet or it will break down too much to be a mask). As an exfoliator or exfoliating cleanser, this product far exceeded my expectations. I'm always afraid when a product is creamy that it won't be abrasive enough (I like a nice "scrubby" exfoliator; no gentle stuff for me!) but that's not a problem here. It's totally abrasive enough to slough away dead skin and it leaves my face incredibly soft and a little bit glowy, but not dry or tight.

I do want to mention that this may leave your skin a tiny bit dry/tight if you already have dry skin. I have very oily skin and since I've been using this during the summer when I'm extra oily, the clay and the apple cider vinegar have been wonderful for pulling all of the excess oil from my skin. But if your skin is already dry, this could be too much, and it may be better for you as a mask. I also want to mention that the scent of this product is absolutely delicious. It smells like fresh, crisp, Red Delicious Apples to me (no vinegar note at all). 




So you know I'm obsessed with hand creams. When I reviewed the Shea Moisture Zanzibar Marine Hand Cream a while back, some of you mentioned that you really liked this honey formula. So I basically had to run out and get it after your recommendations. And now I can confirm that I too, love this stuff. 

This formula is similar to the Zanzibar Marine hand cream, but to me this one's a bit thicker, and it seems to last on my hands a bit longer. It keeps my hands so soft and hydrated throughout the day, with no sticky or greasy residue, and the scent is wonderful. I don't get much honey here, but I get fig, and maybe a touch of cedar with a tiny bit of honey. It's an earthy scent that could be unisex since it doesn't smell overtly feminine in the traditional sense. It's quite lovely and I think I prefer it over the scent of the Zanzibar Marine (which I also love).




One of the first products I ever reviewed on my blog back in 2009 was Batiste Dry Shampoo in the Original scent. Batiste is still my holy grail dry shampoo because the main ingredient in this formula to absorb oil is rice starch, which works so well for my oily hair when compared to the main ingredient in other dry shampoos (lots of dry shampoos use aluminum starch or tapioca starch, but neither work as well to absorb the oils in my hair as rice starch). Another thing I adore about Batiste is their fragrance range. In addition to the Original scent (which I love--it's clean and lemony), I have been using the Cherry scent for the past few years. But when I recently tried this limited edition Neon Lights scent (pomegranate and jasmine), I fell in love. To me, it just smells like a really luxe, expensive hairspray, if that makes sense! Fresh, clean, a bit floral, a bit fruity. It's perfection and it's exactly how I want my hair to smell. 

Also, I want to mention that Batiste is my holy grail dry shampoo not only because of the ingredients and scents, but also because it never weighs down my hair, it doesn't leave a white cast, and it doesn't feel as powdery or chalky as some other dry shampoos I've used. It's 100% dependable for me--it never lets me down.



TONYMOLY I'm Real Rice Mask Sheet and Red Wine Mask Sheet ($3.75 each, one sheet per package)

If you're new to Korean sheet masks, I think that the TONYMOLY I'm Real Mask Sheets are a great place to start. They're well-loved among sheet mask fans, and I really enjoy the masks in the I'm Real line--the Rice and Red Wine formulas in particular. They smell lovely and they come with a TON of essence (essence is the precious liquid that the sheet masks are soaking in). That means there's plenty of essence to smooth onto your neck, décolletage, hands, etc., in addition to your face when you're using them. You definitely get your money's worth with these.



Years ago, a friend of mine went to Canada and brought me back some soaps and lotions from Canadian brand, Upper Canada. I haven't seen this brand much here in the US over the years, so I was super excited to see that Ulta now carries some Upper Canada beauty tools (mirrors, makeup bags and a few other things). When I saw this mirror at my local Ulta, it called out to me. I mean, how cute is this?


It's made of sturdy metal (not plastic) and there's a regular mirror on one side, with a 2x magnification mirror on the other. For $4.99, it's such a cute little mirror to keep in your purse.



When people talk about the Makeup Revolution Vivid Highlighters, they usually talk about the shades Radiant Lights and Golden Lights. But Peach Lights, which is sort of a neutral shade with pink undertones, is so gorgeous that I think it deserves a mention. For $6, this is an absolutely lovely daytime highlighter. In my swatch below, you'll see that it has excellent pigmentation and it's extremely shimmery but, once you blend, it leaves a very subtle glow to the skin, which is perfect for daytime. This powder is not chunky, nor does it have a lot of fallout. It's beautiful and if you don't have many highlighters with a pink undertone, I think it's one to consider. 


I'm sure many of you already own some of the Makeup Revolution The Matte Blushes, but I'm relatively new to them and I now understand why they have almost a 5-star average rating with 200+ reviews on the Ulta site. The texture of these powder blushes is so smooth and buttery, they almost feel creamy to the touch. They're finely milled and packed with color, but it's color you can easily control and they blend very nicely on the skin. They also have good staying power on my oily skin, which is always a plus. For $5 a pop, these are gems and certainly worth considering.


Peach Lights, Dare, New Rules



What kind of budget-friendly post about Ulta would this be if I didn't squeeze in some NYX? I decided to try two of their newer lip color lines, and neither one disappointed.


The Lip Lustre Glossy Lip Tint is an interesting product and it took me a bit to figure it out. Let me be clear that I can only tell you what the shade I purchased is like (Antique Romance) because that's the only one I have tried. This product smells like berries (I've heard that other shades smell like vanilla cake) but there's very little flavor--it's basically flavorless.

When you first apply this product, it has a slight cooling sensation that I was not expecting. That goes away after a minute, and then it feels like a cushiony serum on the lips (not sticky or tacky at all). The texture sort of reminds me of YSL Volupte Tint-in-Oils, but it does not look like a tint on the lips. This is an opaque product that looks like a very pigmented glossy liquid lipstick on the lips. It's shiny and quite saturated with no translucency. 

The shine of this product sticks around for about 30 minutes for me, and then it does fade to a tint/stain as promised. The stain of this particular shade lasts on my lips for a few hours, which is longer than I expected. Overall, I really like this product because I love the feel of serums on my lips (something about that cushiony feeling is so addictive to me) and I adore stains/tints, so this combines those two elements at a very affordable price point. 


I have been dying to try one of the new NYX Velvet Matte Lipsticks and when I saw the colors in-store at Ulta, I knew that Charmed had to come home with me. I am a sucker for pinky-brownish-berry shades and this one is absolutely gorgeous (my pics do not do it justice). On my medium-pigmented lips, this actually turns into a My Lips But Better shade. I thought it would lean a little dark on me, but it's totally wearable for daytime. It's not light, but it's not dark either--it's medium-toned on my lips, and it's one of those shades that can easily take me from daytime to nighttime. I already know that I need a back-up, if that tells you how much I love this color (I will be wearing the heck out of it this fall).

Pigmentation is excellent with this color and it's completely opaque after a few swipes. This lipstick transfers at first, but after about 10 minutes on my lips, I get very little transfer to my coffee cup. After 30 minutes, no transferring at all. The texture of this lipstick is a little on the dry side, but it's not super dry. It's drier than the Maybelline Color Sensational mattes, and also drier than the Rimmel Kate mattes, and it does tug slightly during application. That said, I do not find the formula to be drying when it's on my lips, and it doesn't get cakey. Also, since it's not a super emollient formula, this color looks very matte on the lips (much more matte than what you see in my swatch), which I think will make you happy if you've been let down by other lipsticks that claim to be matte but actually have more of a satin finish. This lipstick also has good staying power (I can get 3+ hours of wear, which is great for me when it comes to matte lipsticks). 

One more thing: the flavor and fragrance of this lipstick are almost nonexistent to me. At first I didn't really detect a flavor or a fragrance, but after using this lipstick a few times, I did start to notice a very, very slight coconut scent and flavor (so subtle you may not even notice it). 

Antique Romance, Charmed

BONUS ITEM:



I know that the theme of this post is "favorites under $10" but I didn't think you'd mind ONE thing that's over $10 . When I saw the end-cap display for the new Tartan + Twine Minnie Mouse collection at Ulta, I just had to grab the brush set. 


I knew going into this that this set was probably more of a novelty item geared toward Disney collectors. The length of these brushes is somewhere in between full-size and travel. The handles are made of plastic and they're light and hollow inside (I was pretty much expecting that). But what surprised me about this set is that I can actually get some good use from these brushes. 

The stippling brush is quite small in circumference (the head is about the size of a nickle), so it's not something you'd want to use for foundation or face powder. But I am having very good luck with it to apply blush. I love using a stippling brush to apply extremely pigmented powder blushes, since you can really control the amount of product you're applying when you use a stippling brush. And this brush works great for that. The bristles are soft, not spiky or scratchy, and they're dense enough to apply powder blushes, no problem. The angled buff brush is nice for blending blush, as well as for blending highlighters and bronzers. Again, the bristles are soft and more dense than I thought they'd be. The small size of this brush works quite well for cheeks.

The concealer brush doesn't really work for me when it comes to applying or blending concealer (I'm super picky about concealer brushes) but it's firm enough to work well for smudging eyeliner or applying shadows to the inner or outer corners of the eye. Again, the bristles are soft and dense. So all in all, this set exceeded my expectations when it comes to novelty products. They don't just look cute; they can be handy, too.


I hope this post helps give you some affordable ideas for your next Ulta haul. If you have any questions that I didn't cover above, please comment below and I'll do my best to answer them.

One more thing:

If you missed my previous post about this, I want to mention that Ulta now has their own credit cards. With the Ultamate Rewards Credit Card, you earn 1 additional point for every dollar when you shop at Ulta Beauty, which is double the points. When you reach 2000 points, you can redeem your points for $125 worth of free products (that’s 6.25% back). With the Ulta MasterCard, you also earn 1 point for every $3 you spend when you use the card on purchases outside of Ulta Beauty (that’s like earning 2% back). For more information, click here.

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This is a sponsored post. Products in this post were selected by Nouveau Cheap and supplied by Ulta Beauty. For more information, click here.
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42 comments

  1. Love this post. Thank you for always posting thorough and honest reviews, even on a sponsered post.

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    1. Thank you so much for that, Sarah! I really appreciate the kind words. I try very hard to be as thorough as possible (even with mini reviews, which can be challenging since they're supposed to be "mini" but hey, I'm wordy!). So I appreciate you taking the time to read this post since I know it was a long one. ;)

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    2. Seconded! You = reliable. I have trusted your reviews and made purchases happily based on them for a few years now!

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  2. Loved this! Very informative posts laying out all the pros and any cons too...I didn't feel like I was reading an ad. Thx for all u do! I will def be picking up some of the matte blushes- they're on sale right now! Also getting the Freeman acv mask and both he NYx products. Oh! And I still haven't tried the makeup revolution highlighters so I'll prob grab a couple of those, as they're also on sale. Thx again, love your site!!

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    1. Thank you so very much, Kaylah! I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this post and found it useful--that was absolutely my goal. I would LOVE to know what you think of those matte blushes, and also the Freeman mask and the NYX lippies (I love that Charmed shade SO much). And if you end up grabbing the MUR highlighter, I'd love to know what you think of that too! xo

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  3. Lots of great suggestions! Thanks!

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    1. You're so welcome, Susan! So happy to hear that you enjoyed the products I selected! :D

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  4. Thank you for doing this review....I love that you shared some great products that are very affordable! I really want to try those Makeup Revolutiom blushes & highlighters! The peach one looks gorgeous! It seems like every time I go into Ulta, I could spend hours in there looking at everything! I am super happy they came out with their own credit card (which I got) and I can earn more points with it! I REALLY like the rewards system at Ulta, it is nice to get $$ off your purchases! To me, it beats Sephora's rewards by a long shot!

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    1. You're so welcome, Susan! Thank YOU for reading! :) And I hear ya about going into Ulta. I can never get out of there in under 30 minutes, even when I tell Mr. G that "I swear I'll be in and out in five minutes...I'm just getting ONE thing and I know exactly where it is." Thirty minutes later and I still don't have that one thing I came in to get in my basket. Ha!

      I'm glad to hear you're enjoying the credit card and the rewards program! I would love to know what you think of that highlighter when you get it. Please keep me posted?

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  5. I remember I first started following you around the time you raved about the Lemon Vitabath and I knew I had to try it! It's totally one of my faves (it's currently in my shower) along with their Beach Blossom scent (it smells like suntan lotion and flowers!)

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    1. Aaah, thank you so much for staying with me for so long (that was quite a while ago!). I'm so glad you love it too--it's so yummy, isn't it? I must try that Beach Blossom scent! I love the lemon and the cherry so much, I just keep rotating between the two. I need to branch out!

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    2. Is there anything on the Vitabath bottle about being cruelty-free? Just curious - thanks!

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  6. Ok. �� I just read this clicked over to Ulta and bought it all. ALL.!! I love makeup and bath stuff and just being a girl in general. However I am on a serious budget due to a recent (nasty) divorce. I love drugstore makeup. No one can tell the brand when its on your face anyway. Everything you posted here is right up my alley. Thank you for posting your favs. We have similar taste it seems so I am sure i will love it all when it arrives!

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    1. Oh my goodness! Lol! Well you know I would LOVE to hear what you think of everything when you get your order! Please keep me posted? Fingers crossed that you love everything here as much as I do! Since you said we have similar tastes, I am hopeful! xoxo

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  7. I love batiste and all their scents. Now I've got to run out and grab this LE one! I also love that you can use the Ulta coupon with batiste!

    So curious about that Freeman mask now. I may have to put it with some batiste and make a mini haul!

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    1. Yep, Batiste is the bomb! And you can use the Ulta coupon with everything in this post. Yay!! :)

      I would love to know what you think of the Freeman mask if you try it. Please keep me posted? xo

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    2. Will do! I know I'm going to end up loving the apple scent!

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  8. Great tips. Those TONYMOLY I'm Real Mask Sheets are great. But I got a better deal at Amazon for $10.50 for 10 sheets of mask with free shipping and they are 4 for $10 at urban outfitters.

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    1. Thanks! And yep, I have an Amazon banner in my sidebar to that TONYMOLY deal. :) I wanted to include the individual packets here in this post though, because if anyone's new to Korean sheet masks, it's a great way to try a single mask without committing to a set, and you can get instant gratification since they're available in-store at Ulta. I love that we have that option, too! :)

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  9. Love this post! Great idea to do under $10 items.

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    1. Thanks so much! So happy you enjoyed it! :D

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  10. I just picked up the Freeman apple cider vinegar mask/cleanser and am so glad to see it comes highly recommended! It was one of those spur-of-the-moment purchases that I hadn't really researched, so couldn't remember offhand which variation was the must-try. I also got the charcoal & black sugar mask and love them both!

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    1. Oh yay! I think you're going to love it. :) And yep, I love the charcoal and black sugar mask too (I reviewed it here a year or two ago). I don't really like it as a mask though--I prefer it as a scrub. :)

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  11. Thank you so much for making this post! This has given me some ideas as to what I want to get the next time I go to Ulta (I plan on going on my birthday next month).

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    1. Happy early birthday!!!

      And I'm so glad I was able to give you some ideas for your next Ulta haul. I'd love to know what you think if you end up trying some things in my post! :)

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  12. YES! G you are so right about the Makeup Revolution blushes! I have oily skin and my blush always fades by the end of the day. I found that high end blushes like Too Faced and The Balm do last longer but now that I've have MR matte blush in Beloved, I don't need any other blush! It looks almost exactly the same after a 10 hour work day! I am amazed! For the price, I'm going to get more shades!

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    1. Yay!! I'm soooo glad you love those blushes too! The staying power is great, isn't it? And the colors are so so pretty! Such a great drugstore gem. :)

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  13. I love, love, love Tony Moly's Masks! Amazon sells a 11 pack for $10 that I've gifted to basically every person I know.

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    1. Hey Ally! So glad you like those masks too! I just responded to a similar comment above but I'll repeat it here: I have an Amazon banner in my sidebar to that TONYMOLY deal. :) I wanted to include the individual packets here in this post though, because if anyone's new to Korean sheet masks, it's a great way to try a single mask without committing to a set, and you can get instant gratification since they're available in-store at Ulta. I love that we have that option, too! :)

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  14. I bought a sample packet of the mask when you first posted about it. It smells amazing! I love it so much!
    Side Note: Received my Ulta card in the mail on the 1st.. promptly went and spent $200.. Paid it off today, thwn spent another $75. Now I think I need to place another order. Sigh.

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    1. So glad you're loving the mask!! And wow, you're putting that Ulta card to good use already! Lol! ;)

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    2. I tagged you in a IG post. I spotted a new (to me) mask at Wal-Mart today. Not sure if it's really new though. Apparently it's for men, but I have no shame being excited to use it. Haha.

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  15. My dearest G, thank you so much for this post. I love hand creams and I purchased the Shea Moisture and I also got the blush in New Rules and the Freeman mask. I probably would have never noticed these items so thank you again!!!

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    1. You're so welcome, Tamiko! I am so excited to hear that you got the hand cream, the blush, and the Freeman mask! I would absolutely love to know how you like everything once you dig in and start using them. Please keep me posted? xoxo

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  16. Has anybody seen the bonus points from using the Ulta card yet? I haven't seen them in my Ultamate rewards. I am Platinum so I'm not sure if that means I am exempt from the bonus credit card pines. Couldn't find anything at the website or mailed information about this. Thanks! xx

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    1. I believe I saw somewhere that they will post to your rewards account monthly...?

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  17. Thank you for this posts! I love inexpensive high quality products & I haven't tried any of these! I added some to my favorites & I am excited to try them!

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  18. Thank you for this post! So many goodies that I haven't heard about, but I would like to try. The hand cream, the lemony body wash! And that multi-tasking Freeman mask sounds amazing. I like how thorough your reviews are. ^^

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  19. You go G!! All your recommendations and reviews sound awesome. So great of you get an opportunity with Ulta!!! Hope you get many more.


    Btw .. I ordered my Tangle Buster when you originally posted it. Then he hubby tried it and I gave it to him, cuz I don't want gel on my hair, so I ordered anothr one for me.

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  20. These are totally amazing picks. The makeup revolution highlighter looks stunning.

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  21. Have you tried tree hut scrubs? I feel like they should be in this list ... They are affordable, effective and often on sale. And they smell toooooo good!

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  22. I loooooooved this post! I definitely added a few of these things to my Ulta wish list. I must have the lemon body wash! My favorite scent at Bath & Body Works was Lemon & Vanilla & of course it was discontinued. I'm so excited to have found something similar! I think you should do these under $10 posts on a regular basis! ;) XOXO

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