We feel a bit like Alice in Wonderland every time we walk into Ulta Beauty, mainly due to the flood of joy and fear that fills our bodies. Joy because of the vast array of products before us just waiting to be tested and swiped and a twinge of fear for the damage soon to be inflicted on our wallets. Luckily, there are a few key shopping secrets that will lessen the last emotion. Whether you are an Ulta Beauty regular and have separation anxiety with your Ultamate Rewards card or have only ventured into the megastore once (or never), we hope you’ll find this guide helpful. After all, the more you save… the more money you have for other beauty products, right? Or, you know, something like that.
Looking to score some deals at your favorite one-stop makeup shop? Keep scrolling for eight Ulta shopping secrets everyone should know.
Gifts with purchase are one of our favorite parts of the Ulta Beauty shopping experience—like buying a cake then having someone be like, “Here, take some ice cream too!” Not every gift with purchase may be advertised in store, so make sure to take a look at this section of Ulta Beauty’s website to see all the promotions before stopping in. Another tip? If you get a gift with purchase then end up returning the original purchase, you can keep the gift, according to Ulta Beauty’s return policy (which is also great in and of itself—you can return all products within 60 days of purchase). Does this mean you should only buy beauty products only to get the gifts with purchase, then return them all? Definitely not—just think of all the hassle. Instead, simply think of it as a gesture of goodwill—one that you wouldn’t want to take advantage of lest it gets taken away.
If you prefer to buy your beauty products from the comfort of your couch, we’ve got some motivation for you to get off your butt. According to this Ulta Beauty employee, stores may mark down certain products (up to 75%!) that aren’t selling well to make way for new inventory—price reductions that aren’t usually reflected online.
To stay on top of the newest products, it may actually be best to go the old-school route: by checking Ulta Beauty’s advertisements. You’ll find them in the pages of your favorite magazines, but also feel free to find them all in one place right here.
Ulta Beauty is always, always having a sale—even when it’s not having a sale. What do we mean? There are always discounted products in the store—you just have to take some time to look for them. Or better yet, ask an associate to show you. In terms of major sales, always check in during Ulta Beauty’s 21 Days of Beauty sale, where one item is marked down at a greatly reduced price for one day only (this happens twice a year, usually during spring or fall). There’s a high chance you’ll find one of your favorite luxury products marked way, way down.
Coupons might bring to mind images of old ladies furiously clipping and snipping pages of newspapers, but guess what—they’re still totally relevant, and Ulta Beauty has some great ones. If you sign up for its Ultamate Rewards program, you’ll most likely get mailed the much-coveted 20% off coupon at one point or other. (Also make sure to sign up for its emails since the brand will often send email-only coupons). Ulta Beauty also accepts some third-party manufacturer coupons (i.e., coupons from the beauty brands, which you can find in magazines or newspapers), which you can pair with an Ulta Beauty store coupon to save even more. Just imagine the money you’ll save (and beauty products you’ll accrue).
To make sure you always have the most recent Ulta Beauty coupons, you can always download the free Ulta Beauty app.
We know we’ve already said this, but we’ll say it again: You should really get an Ultamate Rewards card. You’ll get one point for every dollar you spend, and with more points, come more discounts. One little-known fact: Whatever beauty products you buy during the month of your birthday will be counted as double points. So treat yo’self.
We know we’ve talked about Ulta Beauty’s sales, but the clearance section will save you major money too. Don’t leave the store without taking a look at its clearance section, which will usually house a wide variety of products. Want the first pick? Ulta Beauty stores do inventory a few times a year, and that’s when newer items go to clearance. To find out exactly when, just ask an employee. Another fun fact: Your coupons apply to clearance items too.
The best way to save money at Ulta Beauty? Just ask the employees. When you’re checking out, always ask if any of your products qualify for a gift for purchase—don’t expect that they’ll always tell you first. Ask employees about clearance items, inventory dates, current promotions and coupons, and more. Do not hold back—that’s what they’re there for, after all.
Keep scrolling to shop some of our current Ulta Beauty favorites.
Want more Ulta beauty tips? Check out these six beauty shopping secrets from an Ulta VP.
This story was originally published on March 4, 2016.