If you’re like me, you know roughly when every major event happens at Ulta. You can always brush up on my overview if you do not. When I received my latest catalog, I noticed Ulta was launching a new event. From 01/03/16-01/23/16, Ulta will host The Glowing Skin Event. In previous years, the event was held only once a year on a smaller scale, and called Love Your Skin. Of course my predictions starting going into overdrive. I am guessing this will be held twice a year like its sister events, The 21 Days of Beauty and the Gorgeous Hair Event. Those are each held six and five months apart, respectively. That means this event will likely repeat in June or July. My guess is June, because late July usually brings 20% off prestige for Platinum members and 10% off for UltaMate members. Then again, the end of January always sees a 20% off prestige coupon, so it will probably release after this event wraps around the 24th. There is no reason a July event could not immediately precede the prestige discounts. We also see a 20% off prestige offer right when the spring 21 Days of Beauty wrap.
New birthday gifts are available every quarter at Ulta in 2016. Remember to check all birthday offers before your birthday arrives, because many retailers have great offers. Every quarter when the next gift announces, I will update this (and the main post). If you have not joined the UltaMate Rewards Program yet, join before your birthday to receive your free gift. Joining with a referral link will also give you $10 off your fist purchase.
Platinum members receive a $10 coupon on their actual birthday (in addition to the standard gift), which is good toward anything without a purchase minimum. This coupon is valid in store or online. It will work once in store AND once online, because the codes are different. If you have questions about any Ulta Coupon, I go over all types. You will not pay anything in-store if your purchase is $10 or less. There is a free shipping minimum (usually $50 but it does lower at times to $35 or even $25) for online purchases, so only order online if you’re going over it. Shopping in store is the only way to redeem the standard and Platinum gifts at the same time.
All members get 2x points on every purchase the entire month of their birth. Yes, this offer combines with others. There is a simple breakdown of how points multiply on my Ulta Page, which also covers everything there is to know at the UltaMate program and shopping at Ulta. It is not as simple as adding them together, because base points and the Platinum bonus never multiply. The easiest way to look at this is you get a bonus point for your birthday, because the first point is something you’d get anyway.
I’ve heard wonderful things about Kiko Milano, the lipsticks in particular, but I’ve never owned anything from the brand. Someone was kind enough to alert me to a promotion (which is still running). There are so many items on sale. Most of the sale items are over 50% off. They were even offering free shipping with any order when I placed this order on 12/21/15, but there is a $15 minimum now. The code WELCOMEKIKO takes $5 off any order.
Pay-to-Shop programs allow us to get paid to shop online. We are already spending our money, so we might as well get some of it back, right? Online shopping makes finding the best deal very easy. No driving all over town to compare prices. The cost of gas will eat into or completely erase your savings anyway. If you’re not getting paid to shop online, you are not getting the best deal. Many pay-to-shop programs exist. They affiliate with the retailers and get paid a percentage your subtotal for the “referral.” They are easy to use and completely legit. Getting paid to shop online is not a scam. Ready to get the best deal in every way possible?
Some of you may have already read my Birchbox Gifting Series where I sent Birchbox subs to all the women in my immediate family. My family is not small, so it was a big project that I mostly enjoyed. There were parts that were less enjoyable but sharing my love of a box filled with surprise goodies with people I love was awesome. Apparently, I made an impression on one. She liked her boxes so much that she wanted to return the favor. As I am already an avid Birchbox lover and collector of all pretty things, she decided to make a box of her own for me by browsing my articles to see what I like and do not already have. Her gift was very thoughtful, because it screams me and she put a lot of time into the research.
See 2018 VIB Promotions.
Sephora and hakuho-do collaborated to create a revolutionary line of brushes from the Sephora Pro team and traditional Japanese craftsmen. These stunning red, black, and white brushes caught my eye immediately. I usually avoid white bristled brushes, because they can look dirty even after they’re cleaned. The craftsman at hakuho-do create stunning works of art. All of the brushes from this collection are synthetic, which helps make them a lot cheaper than traditional hakuho-do brushes that use natural hair. The collaboration makes them more expensive than brushes in the Sephora Pro collection.
See all Birchbox Man articles.
Birchbox Man gives at least four beauty samples a month $20. The price is double the Woman’s box, because of the added lifestyle item, which usually retails for over $20 by itself. As long as the lifestyle item is something you’d want, you should always get your investment back. You will get an email reminding you to select your lifestyle item. Respond as soon as you can, because the more desirable lifestyle items can go out-of-stock.
All beauty samples are chosen based on the answers to your profile questions. For every review on an item received in your box, you get 10 points, which is equal to $1 in the shop. A five item box, like this one, usually gets my husband $5 back. He can also share his box on Facebook for an extra 10 points. That will usually give him a total of $6 back to redeem toward future purchases.
Influenster gives free trial products of everything from beauty products to household items. To qualify for programs, you fill out quick product surveys. Once you’ve qualified, they mail the products. Try them and tell people what you think in person and on social media. Complete a short exit survey and review the product(s) on Influenster. The more active you are the more programs you qualify for. Everything received from Influenster is free, so they never collect payments for products. If you are unfamiliar with Influenster, you can read my overview.
See recent Birchbox articles.
Birchbox sent unique promo codes for $10 off a $35 purchase in the December box. Even though that is a tick shy of 29%, which is a little over 1% less than the amazing Black Friday special, I was very happy with this deal. For one, I received 70 points for reviewing my December box and sharing it on Facebook. Those points pushed me over 200 giving me $20 to spend in the shop. Without those points, I could have saved an extra 1.43%, but I would have needed to spend an extra $10 to do so. I also would have missed out on the beautiful gift box. Waiting served me well.
Never procrastinate. I will get to why procrastination is bad after I am bad for a few minutes and procrastinate yet again. First, I need to explain the root of this procrastination. Cooking and baking are not my things. Once a year, I push my desire to refrain from using the oven aside. Why? My boys love making cookies. No, store-bought cookies will do around Christmas time. Only home-made cookies they helped make are acceptable. Once a year, I can play the traditional Christmas Mom who gets in the kitchen to bake. After all, I love my kids enough to do anything, even battle the oven.
The 2016 Sephora Birthday Gifts and Rouge Qualification gifts have officially been announced. Remember to check all birthday offers if your big day is approaching. People with birthdays late in the year can sometimes get the gift for the new year (if they choose). That is because gift redemption is a four-week period that includes the two weeks before your birthday and the two weeks after. You will usually see a pop up banner online or get an email notifying of when your gift is available. Click through either link, and you will be fruitful.
Today only! Use code 20GIFT at Birchbox for 20% off women’s annual gift subscriptions. You will also get a deluxe makeup sample bundle for yourself. ‘Tis better to give than receive but always the best when you get something when you gift! You can even gift a subscription to yourself if you’re done shopping. It is no surprise I love Birchbox, so I may gift a subscription to myself.
Wal-Mart Beauty Box is a subscription box delivered once per quarter. The items are given to you free of charge, and you pay $5 for the shipping. Your first $5 charges when you subscribe, and a box from the current season will ship to you within a few weeks. Future boxes will incur the $5 charge as the box ships. My winter box arrived yesterday. There is usually some variety in boxes based on the age of the recipient. If you’re unhappy with your box, you can try adjusting your age up or down before canceling.
I love collecting the Julep birthstones, so I collect them all and not just my birthstone. December’s offering is a topaz blue. Birthstones are usually only available in the Secret Store from the 1st to the 3rd of the month. If you purchase during this period, you generally have to pay $11.20 (the Maven price). Julep extended its amazing YAYTODAY promo code for 50% off for two days past Cyber Monday. On the 2nd, I decided to see if the birthstone happened to release early to the main site. A search for the December birthstone showed it available and on sale for $9.99.
My older son informed me about two months ago that he no longer wants to use baby products. It was really overdue. We opened a Sephora account for him. I knew we would start with drugstore items, but I wanted him to have access to better skincare as needed. Hopefully, we have a few years before he needs mid range things for his skin. In case we do not, his account is ready. Having his own account not only allows him to spend any of the points he earns on his own, but it also qualifies him for a birthday gift. Ulta also offers free birthday gifts, but they only offer feminine gifts. If they ever offer gender neutral or masculine gifts, I will open him an Ulta account as well. Remember to check all birthday offers if your big bag is coming.
See recent Birchbox articles.
I started with Birchbox in February of 2014. Though all boxes have not completely rocked my world, I have not received any I’ve hated. Most were good, some were great, and only a few brought feelings of indifference. It is my favorite subscription and no other subscription I am aware of has its wonderful rewards program. In April of 2015, I added two subscriptions (month specific and general) to send gift subs to all the women in my immediate family. I completed ordering subs in June of 2015, so I could have canceled in July. Canceling the extra boxes proved hard.
Every year Sephora awards Beauty Insiders with gift cards. It almost always starts at the beginning of December. These are similar to actual gift cards, but they do have a purchase minimum of $50. Beauty Insiders get $15, VIB clients get $20, and Rouge Clients get $25. If you keep your purchase right at $50, the discounts come in at 30%, 40%, and 50% respectively. The best part is you enter the number into gift card field, so you can redeem the promo code of your choice. That makes this offer better than straight discount codes that you fill into the promo code box. It is the single best deal of the year at Sephora.
Dates printed on beauty products without clear terms before or after are confusing. Sometimes, they are manufacturing dates. Other times, they are expiration dates. There are times when numbers look like a date, but it is not a date at all. I use checkcosmetic.net or checkfresh.com to see when something expires. Some brands do not take part in those verification sites and batch numbers are not always available on the brands that do. Read more about expiration dates on cosmetic products.
When it comes to nail polish, I am a huge fan of Julep’s five free formula. These polishes chip less than most, and the polishes themselves are a good deal when you have a Maven membership. They are quality polishes, so I would probably purchase them at $14 each if I did not have my Maven membership. Luckily, I do not have to pay that much. The color selections and polish finishes are more vast than almost any other nail polish line. Every month, they release nine new colors. I have not skipped a box since I first subscribed in May 2014, because I find something I want every month. More often than not, the nail polishes are what draw me in, but I like to try Julep’s beauty products as well.
Smiley360 is an online community. It consists of influential consumers who try products and experiences for free. Brands give their products to Smiley360 who matches them to qualified community members for testing. Based on past missions and your profile, new mission opportunities go on your dashboard. Members take part in the mission if their short qualification surveys line up to what the study is looking for.
The more missions you complete, the more points you earn. Members with more points usually get first dibs at new missions. You choose your level of activity. Pardon my pop culture reference, but “your mission should you choose to accept it” is to take part in the studies that interest you. To complete missions, you must give honest reviews on social media. If you’re unfamiliar with Smiley360, you can read more about my first Mission.
I got into the skincare game late in life. Prior to age 33, I had never used a traditional serum. Essence was not introduced until very recently at 35. Though I’ve had traditional facials, I did not get them as often as I could have. My first at-home sheet mask waited until I was 34. Regular facial masks and exfoliation are things I skimped on until recently as well. Genetics play a role in making me look older than I really am. Is it too late to take care of my skin? Reversing damage is difficult and even the most expensive, promising treatments have a harder time reversing damage than preventing it.
Essentielle Beauty is a company that focuses on Korean and Natural Skin Care. With a Beauty as Ritual motto, it aims to find the best beauty global trends and traditions. Although skincare is the focus, there are items from all beauty categories from skincare to makeup and everything in between. Prices are naturally lower than most competitors and as a small business, every order gets a personal touch. Those who love surprise items can purchase Beauty Boxes to receive full-sized items above and beyond the cost of the box. If you’re just starting out, it is a great way to build your collection for a fraction of the cost.
The 2016 collection went live online 12/20/15.
I look forward Sephora’s Pantone collaboration for Color of the Year. The 2013 color, Emerald, did not impress me. Radiant Orchid from 2014 impressed me a little too much, so I picked up every item from that collection. Marsala from 2015 was a little too amazing. All the items I wanted from the collection sold out by 01/03/15. Despite items being listed as in stock at stores, my treks over the said stores were unfruitful. That meant I ended up with nothing from the Marsala collection, because the only items left were items I was not interested in. When the 2016 colors were announced, I was less than thrilled.
Other than my Sephora Black Friday order, which I actually placed on Thanksgiving, I sat out of Black Friday Deals. I’ve only braved Black Friday crowds to shop in person one time, and I did not enjoy it. A lot of online retailers place items on sale over the weekend or on Cyber Monday. Those appeal to me a lot more, because I save on gas, do not have the bear the cold, the crowds, and in some cases can get cash back on orders. Getting cash back on Amazon is tricky, so I did not get anything for this order unfortunately.
Who does not love mystery samples! Okay, I know some people do not or more people would have Subscription Boxes. I have a love/hate relationship with mystery samples. Sometimes I find gems I never would have picked if I got to choose. Other times, I get the leftovers no one wanted. After passing on the last Sephora Cyber Weekend Mystery Sample Bag, I decided to partake this year. The bags will be available until stock inventory runs out, but they are available now using promo code SURPRIS3 with a $25 purchase.
Every month, I review my empty products. Some products are not worth thinking about once the month is over. Others are wonderful and seem like they’re made for me. Those are FabuFinds, and I generally devote a little more time to discussing them. They are items I have repurchased and will continue to repurchase even at full price if I could not find a good promo code.
To eventually spotlight all of my FabuFinds, I will never repeat items already mentioned in a past article. That does not mean they lost their magic. It is also possible an item not spotlighted in a past Empties article may get promoted as I try it more and fall deeper in love. Other times, it is because I had a lot of FabuFinds in a previous month and had to condense the article. There were five products I consider FabuFinds in my November Empties that I have not discussed yet.
When the new month starts, I toss everything I finished the previous month. I give a mini review of each item. Items I love are usually repurchased, so some of them appear in the Empties Series a lot. If I like or am indifferent to an item, I will not rush out to repurchase, but I would be willing to use or try it again. Items that are not for me may not always be empty. Generally, I finish them but do not use them again in the future. If they’re really awful and new samples find their way to me, I give them to someone else unopened. For items I really love, I do a separate product spotlight to discuss them in more detail.