Today I’m finally going over the details of my massive January Ulta haul! I posted about this on my Instagram stories but it just took me a while to put down all the details of what I bought, how much it cost vs. what I paid, and how I regularly bring home these giant boxes of beauty goodies for a fraction of their retail value. (This is not sponsored by Ulta, BTW, I’m just spilling the beans because I love shopping there so much!)
Okay, so for photo reference, here’s everything I got. The value of this Ulta haul: $400+. The grand total I paid? thirty-four cents. If you’re thinking, “THERE’S NO WAY”, read on, and I’ll show you how I did it.
For a quick rundown, here’s everything I bought:
- Love Your Skin Ingredients That Matter sampler, $98 value, typically retails for $50, on sale for $15
- Love Your Skin All Your Favorites sampler, $96 value, typically retails for $50, on sale for $15
- Ulta Charcoal Nose Strips, $7, on sale BOGO half off ($10.50 total for two)
- Feeling Beautiful Hydrating Glacier Water + Pink Peony Gel Cream Mask, $1.99, on sale BOGO half off so a total of $6.37 for four
- Montagne Jeunesse 7th Heaven Coconut + Clay Peel Off Mask, $1.99
- 3-pc. StriVectin sampler, $45 value, free with purchase
- StriVectin Moisture Matrix Melting Cleanser, $35 value, free with purchase
- Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Scalp Care Anti-Thinning Shampoo and Conditioner, $39/$40 value each, on sale for $19.99 each during the Ulta liter sale
- AG Hair Smooth Smoooth Sulfate-Free Argan & Coconut Shampoo and Sleeek Argan & Coconut Conditioner, $58 value each, on sale for $19.99 during the Ulta liter sale
- AG Hair Remedy Spray, $26 value, free with purchase
So altogether, that’s a grand total value of $518.95, and if you wanted to buy these items individually at their retail values, you’d be shelling out a little over four hundred bucks. That is a lot of cash by any standard!
Now, with the sale prices, the total for the order would have been $128.82, which is already a huge savings compared to the value of what you’re getting. (That’s like getting 75% off.) However, I also added a $3.50 coupon, which knocked it down to $125.82; then I redeemed 2,000 rewards points for a $125 value, leaving me with a $0.32 bill + $0.02 tax = $0.34 total. Cha-ching!
Okay, now that you’ve done the mental math, how did I pull this off?
And how can you also get a massive Ulta haul for hardly any cash? Just follow these steps:
- Sign up for the Ultamate Rewards program. Seriously, it costs you nothing, and this is what gets you access to the sales, freebies, coupons, and bonus points (more on that in a minute).
- Don’t buy anything for full price. If you look at my list, you’ll notice I bought exactly one item for full price, and that was the $1.99 Montagne Jeunesse mask that I threw in just to round out my cart to the right price to apply my coupon and still have $125 left over to cover with my points. Ulta holds so many sales throughout the year that there’s almost no reason to shop at full price—unless you’re using tip #3.
- If you must buy full price, do so during a bonus points event. Ulta offers these all year long, with members getting double, triple, 4x, 5x, or even 10x points. (YES!) And those bonus point offers can be stacked, which means I’ve gotten as high as 15x points on products on some of my orders in the past! All of those points can then be used to get a few bucks off your order—or, if you’re smart, you can…
- Save up all your points and redeem in bulk. Compare: 100 points will earn you $3 off an order, but 2000 points will get you $125 off. So if you redeemed 100 points twenty times, you’d get $60 in value, but if you save up your points and redeem ’em all on one Ulta haul, you’re going to double the value.
- Keep an eye on seasonal sales. Ulta holds their liter shampoo/conditioner sale in January; they also hold semiannual skincare and color cosmetic sales, when you can get up to half off prestige brands like Tarte, Too Faced, Dermalogica, IT Cosmetics, and more. They offer tons of flash sales before Christmas, a members-only appreciation sale in August, and various other sales throughout the year. I plan ahead and stock up.
- Use coupons. Seriously, it’s easy, they’re on the Ulta website. Ulta also sends out members-only coupons by email. (Note: they usually don’t work on prestige brands, but some of the members-only coupons do, and they’ll earn you up to 20% off your order!)
- Load up on bonus gifts. For starters, Ulta often offers free gifts with certain brand purchases. On this order, I got a free AG Hair spray oil for spending a certain dollar amount on AG Hair shampoo and conditioner. Also, Wednesday is my favorite day to order, since that’s when Ulta offers their “Beauty Breaks”, when you can scoop up free gifts with purchases of a certain dollar amount for a limited time. (Usually 10 AM to 2 PM CST.) Plan your Ulta haul accordingly! You’ll notice that I actually scored two free gifts on a Beauty Break with this order: a StriVectin sampler for loading the cart with $45 worth of merch, and a face wash for hitting the $60 mark.
OKAY! So now you’ve seen all the tactics that I use to save on items throughout the year. You can also see how I earn tons of extra points, which I then redeem for one massive, already heavily discounted order, so I get it practically for free.
But I’m sure some of you are still thinking, “Okay, so you got one massive discounted box. So what?”
The thing is, this isn’t a once a year goodie for me. I want to show you how I use these tricks to not only score massive savings at Ulta throughout the year, but also manage to score two or three giant (practically free) Ulta hauls every year.
In 2018, I spent a total of $722.51 at Ulta. (Side note: this was enough to keep me certified Platinum in the Ultamate Rewards tier, which opens up certain sales and bonuses for me. You have to spend at least $450 per year to stay Platinum; $1,200 spend per year earns you Diamond status.)
$700+ sounds like a lot of money, until you consider the total value of what I bought. I went through the slips for every old Ulta haul and including all of the sales, samplers, and freebies, I scored roughly $2,100 worth of goodies from Ulta, which is basically like getting 2/3 off my whole order history. That includes all of my own beauty goodies, gifts for friends, plus gifts to last through Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, and birthdays for 2019!
And these aren’t cheap items. I’m getting stuff from Juice Beauty, Tarte, Pacifica, Urban Decay, IT Cosmetics, and more. I got fancy skin care kits, prestige colognes, and the hottest color cosmetic items. I do like some lower-cost brands too, but I point this out because people often say “How can you afford this bougie stuff on a budget?” Well, here’s my exact step-by-step of HOW.
And yes, that includes a total of two of those point-earned freebie hauls, plus one in December 2017 and this one in January 2019—so that’s FOUR HUGE HAULS that cost me basically natch within a period of fourteen months. I don’t want to brag, but that’s not too shabby.