I confess. I’m a beauty junkie. For most of my childhood, my mom owned a beauty boutique where the shelves were lined with lotions, fragrances, shampoos, and soaps. I fell in love with beauty products and never looked back. If you’re similarly beauty-obsessed, you know that your beauty habit can break the bank if you’re not careful. And because I don’t want that to happen, I thought I would share some tips for saving big on your beauty hauls at two beloved beauty chains, Ulta and Sephora.
Related: How My Career in the Beauty Industry Made Me a Smart Shopper
How to Save Money at Ulta
Ulta’s most common coupon is $3.50 off a $15 purchase. These are relatively easy to find in sales circulars, in the Ulta app, or on the homepage of Ulta.com. You can also use this coupon more than once by doing multiple transactions totaling at least $15.
Sign up for emails
Once you’ve signed up to get emails from Ulta, You’ll receive special coupons, info about local Ulta events, free shipping offers, free product samples, and advance notice about sales events.
Buy More, Save More
Check the Buy More, Save More page on their site. There are deals happening all year long, from BOGO to percentage-off deals.
Gift With Purchase
The Gifts With Purchase page is a gem, too. Like with Buy More, Save More, this page features deals year-round.
Before checking out, pay the Coupons page a visit. At the time of this writing, you can save 20 percent off your entire purchase!
Become a member
Joining Ulta’s rewards program, ULTAmate Rewards, is a great way to save money. It’s fast and easy to sign up for, and you’ll receive a discount code within a day of registering. You earn points for every dollar you spend on products and salon services, which you can cash in for a dollar amount off your purchase.
Here’s how the Ulta rewards break down:
100 points = $3 off
250 points = $8 off
500 points = $17.50 off
750 points = $30 off
1000 points = $50 off
2000 points = $125 off
In addition to points, members receive perks like a birthday gift, double rewards points during their birthday month, and a $10 birthday coupon.
Get an upgrade
Spend $500 in a year and you’ll become a Platinum Rewards member; $1200 earns you Diamond Rewards status. Platinum and Diamond members receive more points-per-dollar spent plus the added benefit of points that never expire. Diamond members always receive free shipping, and they also receive an annual $25 rewards card to use towards beauty services in the salon.
Standard shipping is free with any online purchase with a $50 minimum, but keep an eye out for emails that feature free shipping for purchases of only $35. Other ways to get free shipping include shipping an item to your local store (click “check availability” on the product page), or if your local store is out of a product, request that it be shipped to you for free.
Earn points at the salon
Services at the salon will earn you points, but try to schedule your services to coincide with the 5x rewards points event to really rack up points. This promotion happens 3-4 times per year. Sign up for emails to get the details or ask a sales associate.
21 Days of Beauty
Mark your calendar! This big biannual sale happens in spring and fall (typically March and September). It’s 3-weeks of steep, 24-hour discounts (we’re talking 50 percent off!), even on prestige brands.
Other Ulta sales events
January: Love Your Skin (skincare deals) and Jumbo Love (AKA “Liter Sale” with deals on bulk-sized hair products)
May & October: Gorgeous Hair Event (deals on hair tools, accessories, and products)
June and July: Jumbo Love
November: Black Friday/Cyber Monday
December: Jumbo Love and 5 for $5 stocking stuffers
Save on Wednesdays
Every Wednesday between 10am and 2pm, Ulta.com features a special online-only deal. It’s usually a brand-specific gift with purchase for prestige products, so if you’re in the market for something a little more luxe, wait to order until this timeframe and see what you can score!
How to Save Money at Sephora
Coupons and Promo Codes
Make a habit of checking out the Sephora Beauty Offers page on Sephora.com before heading into the store or loading products into your online cart. It lists all of the discounts, deals, freebies, and events happening online and in-store.
Become a Beauty Insider
Like Ulta’s ULTAmate Rewards, Sephora’s Beauty Insider program offers a lot of perks just for signing up. Members earn 1 point per $1 spent online and in-stores. After 500 points, members earn $10 in Beauty Insider Cash. Other perks include extra savings on Sephora’s seasonal savings events, a birthday gift, and bonus points during shopping events.
VIB and Rouge Members
While anyone can become a Beauty Insider, those who spend past a certain threshold qualify for the two higher tiers of membership: VIB (annual spend of $350) and Rouge (annual spend of $1000). These tiers offer benefits like free shipping with an order of $35 or more (VIB) or free shipping without a minimum purchase amount (Rouge). There are also exclusive monthly GWP’s from luxury brands and more.
Unlimited Free Shipping
Standard shipping for orders over $50 is always free at Sephora. But for only $15 per year, members of the Sephora Flash program get unlimited free two-day shipping. Standard shipping for orders under $50 would typically cost you $5.95, so this program pays for itself pretty quickly. It’s also great for splitting up your orders into several smaller orders, thus capitalizing on the 2-free samples offer multiple times.
Whereas Ulta has one different birthday gift each month of the year, Sephora gives its Beauty Insiders three options to choose from for their special day. And if you’re a VIB or Rouge member, you’ll also get an extra online-only option that’s often from a prestige brand. You can technically ask for your birthday gift any time of the year, which is great if you have a busy birthday month and can’t make it in.
Another fabulous thing about Sephora; with an online order, you can choose two samples from a list of 10 or more options. The selection often features prestige brands and exclusive celeb collaborations, and
And if you’re in-store, don’t hesitate to ask for a free sample of virtually any product. You’re allowed up to three samples per “department”: skincare, fragrance, and beauty.
Sephora’s Sale Page
The Sale page on Sephora.com is a treasure trove of deals. Products by brands like KVD Beauty, FENTY BEAUTY by Rihanna, and Marc Jacobs can be found at 50 percent off.
A cult favorite is Sephora’s Perfume Sampler Set. For about $70, you get 13 mini-size samples of the most popular fragrances, a collectible gift box, and – best of all – a voucher to redeem for a full-sized perfume. This value is excellent, especially when you consider that you get to test drive the scents, use them as travel products, or give them away as little gifts.
Sephora’s talented associates are happy to offer complimentary 15-minute makeovers ranging from brows to contouring to perfecting your smokey eye (Ulta charges a fee for their makeovers). Ask your makeup artist for pointers as they work, and you’ll be on your way to a fab new technique. No purchase necessary.
Black Friday Deals
Black Friday at Sephora stores is often a madhouse. After all, they’re known to offer hot gift sets for only $10! But if you want to skip the chaos, download the Sephora app and access the deals early – and continue to buy them anytime between Black Friday and the holidays (while supplies last, of course).
Cyber Monday Deals
Sephora.com gets in on the sale action with their Cyber Week sale. Big brands like Urban Decay, Benefit Cosmetics, Too Faced, Tarte, and more can be found at prices as low as 50 percent off. Pro tip: To make the most of the deals (and avoid returns/exchanges around the busy holiday season), head into a Sephora store and jot down favorite shades for any products you’re eyeing. That way, you won’t have to waste precious Cyber Monday minutes deciding which color fits you best. Plus in-person is more accurate than on-screen.
Sephora has a very generous return policy. You can return any less-than-half-used item anytime for any reason. Even if your receipt is long-gone, you’ll still receive store credit.
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