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The Beginner’s Guide to Smart Beauty Splurges and Steals

The Beginner's Guide to Smart Beauty Splurges and Steals

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We all want to know when it’s the best time to splurge or save on beauty items. Often when you’re shopping at Ulta, you can get some great steals with BOGOs (buy one get one) deals, which make it the best time to stock up on brands or products you like. Othertimes, there are really great items that are worth a splurge, such as a multi-purpose palette. Today I’ve got a great splurge, as well as some awesome steals for you. I was presented with a gift certificate to Ulta by Coupons.com, which inspired this post.

All eyeshadows are swatched on Gosh eyeshadow primer. First up, my splurge!

tarte aqualillies palette swatches review Aqualillies for Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eye & Cheek Palette – $38

When it comes to a splurge the tarte Aqualillies for Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Eye & Cheek Palette is definitely worth it! With 6 eyeshadows, a blush, bronzer and a highlighter, you can create multiple full face long wearing looks. You’ve got 5 lovely neutrals and one pop of bright with the turquoise. My favorite eyeshadow shade in this palette is actually Bikini. It’s a beautiful peachy-gold with pink shimmer and I love how it brightens up the eyes.

tarte aqualillies palette swatches

My Take
turquoise blue shimmer

golden peach
My Take
peachy-gold-beige with pink shimmer

champagne rose
My Take
creamy pearl

chocolate brown
My Take
deep dark bitter chocolate brown

light brown
My Take
milky chocolate brown

golden nude
My Take
shimmery tan

champagne highlight
My Take
pearly highlight

warm peach blush
My Take
peachy apricot blush

Park Ave Princess
My Take
bronzer, but works as a contour if you use a light hand

tarte Aqualillies palette tutorial

Wearing the tarte Aqualillies palette. See the video tutorial.

tarte Aqualillies palette tutorial

The tarte Aqualillies eyeshadows in Bikini, Barefoot, Sundeck, Hammock, Poolside and Parasol. See more!

I also love that there is blush, highlight and contour all rolled into this palette. I found Captivating to be a very flattering blush shade on me. Champagne works perfectly as a highlighter. As long as I used a very light hand, I could contour my cheeks a bit with Park Ave Princess.

The colors in the tarte Aqualillies palette are definitely worth a splurge because they’ll be flattering on many different skintones. You also get versatility with the 3 cheek products and the 6 eyeshadows. There’s not a single dud in the entire palette.

Now on to my steals! All are swatched on Gosh eyeshadow primer. I bought several of the Nyx Love in Rio eyeshadow trios as they were on ‘Buy One Get One 50% Off’, which it looks like Ulta still has them BOGO. I picked up 3 trios that looked like they would contain reasonablly close eyeshadows to the tarte Aqualillies palette and 1 super fun trio.

Nyx Caipirinhas on the Beach, Sizzling Samba, Moonlit Skinny Dip, swatches, Review

Ciprinhas on the Beach – $4.79
sky blue, teal, deep blue
My Take
pale sky blue, rich midtone teal, deep sea blue. The middle teal is the PERFECT shade of teal. Love it!
Sizzling Samba – $5.99
shimmery gold, champagne, deep bronze
My Take
rich metallic gold, pale sparkly champagne gold (it was a bit crumbly, hard to get good color payoff), red-based bronzey brown with gold sparkle. The metallic gold on the left is my favorite in this one.

Nyx Caipirinhas on the Beach, Sizzling Samba, Moonlit Skinny Dip, swatches, Review

Moonlit Skinny Dip – $3.00
off white, toffee, dark brown
My take
pale creamy beige (it was hard to get this one to show up), light tan brown, deep chocolate brown

Nyx Nightime in Rio Swatches, Review
Nighttime in Rio – $3.00
hot pink, bright violet, sparkling black
My Take
vivid hot pink, vivid purple, soft sparkly black. I LOVE these colors!

Nyx Nightime in Rio Swatches

Upcoming Tutorial with Nyx

Upcoming Tutorial with Nightime in Rio, Sizzling Samba and Moonlit Skinny Dip.

I’m not exactly sure why one of the eyeshadow trios was $4.79 instead of $5.99, but regardless, getting 2 of the trios for $3 each was pretty awesome! I ended up paying a total of $58.62 including tax and Ulta.com has free shipping if you spend over $50. These are definitely steals for the price because the overall quality is nice in the Nyx Love in Rio trios.

The Nyx Love in Rio trios are great steals, especially when they’re BOGO, while the tarte Aqualillies palette is an awesome splurge. With just under $60 you can create countless look combinations with my picks.

What are your favorite splurges and steals from Ulta?

Check out our Blog Hop and the other Beauty Bloggers who are taking part in the Coupons.com Giveaway.

Also, we’re holding a $300 Sephora Gift Card Giveaway! Enter through the rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    • 15minbeauty

      Great Swatches!  I’ve been wanting that Tarte for a while now…

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        15minbeauty It is so worth it.I’d been lusting after it for weeks.

    • autumntrinity

      I would probably use sephora because i am most familiar with it whereas with ulta, the coupon codes like 10% off aren’t applicable to prestige brands. Favorite look is the Tarte ft. aqualillies palette- really nice to see it in action on the eye, instead of only hand swatches. i like the NYX love rio trios as dupes and would probably pick those to try instead of Tarte since last time i tried tarte, i found even with primer, the shadows faded :(

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        autumntrinity I’m glad you like the tarte look!

    • LilaZucker

      For me it would be a toss up between Sephora and Ulta, but ultimately I’d probably choose Sephora. I shop at Ulta the most since I love the drugstore brands but I’ve been seriously lusting after a few Lip Tars (Nylon & Anime) and the Kat Von D liquid lipstick in Backstage Bambi (I loved your post on it!). 
      I would probably choose the NYX dupes since I don’t really use face products, $38 seems a bit pricey for a few pretty, but not unique eyeshadows.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        LilaZucker I really wish Ulta would carry Jesse’s Girl Cosmetics! To me the reason the tarte palette was worth the splurge was the inclusion of blush, highlighter and bronzer (contour) that I could use. So easy for travel.

        • LilaZucker

          Phyrra oh my gosh, that would be the best! I love Jesse’s Girl Cosmetics, especially their loose eyeshadows. That makes sense with the Tarte palette, it’s so pretty it makes me want to splurge on it :)

    • HollieHaradon

      I shop equally at Sephora and Ulta. I love shopping at Sephora for high end and Ulta for brands like NYX…they also have great gift with purchase every few months which are usually loaded with deluxe samples. I love your Tarte look. I have really been into neutrals with a pop of color liner lately.

    • KellyLoganGould

      Beautiful, as always!!!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        KellyLoganGould aww thank you!

    • Icequeen81ma

      No experincy with none, but ulata have great prices

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Icequeen81ma they really do!

    • makeupcomapatient

      Those blue shades in NYX palette look great

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        makeupcomapatient They’re so nice!

    • janneyt

      Love to find dupes, NYX makes quite a few of them, love Ulta coupons

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        janneyt Me too :)

    • cbott3

      Tarte set looks great.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        cbott3 I think it’s pretty awesome :) I’m so happy with it.

    • http://www.onachalkboard.blogspot.ca ShawnaOhPlease

      sephora for sure!!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        ShawnaOhPlease :)

    • MamaElf

      I have been drooling over that Tarte palette for a month, it’s definitely at the top of my “want” list! I love the look you did with it, it’s gorgeous! I got turned off of Nyx shadow palettes when I bought one from Love in Florence (I think that’s what it was called?) that had very weak pigmentation, but I’ve been eying several of the Love in Rio trios–might have to take the leap!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        MamaElf as soon as that palette came out I wanted it but I delayed and delayed. Some Nyx shadows are hit or miss. The trios I got were pretty good.

    • maggiew23

      Sephora for sure! But I do shop at Ulta sometimes.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        maggiew23 I definitely shop at both.

    • Psyche24

      I love this post! I am always wondering how I can save money while still being able to experiment with new colors and brands.

      • Psyche24

        I love Ulta because of thew variety of lower-cost beauty products as well as high-end brands.

        • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

          Psyche24 And the Ulta house brand is cruelty-free, last time I checked.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Psyche24 Yay glad it helps!

    • XtineBee


      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        XtineBee I gotta admit, I love being a Sephora VIB.

    • JenniferZhou

      I love Nyx as any sort of steal because they have so many choices! As for a splurge, I bought some Too Faced bronzer and love it.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        JenniferZhou Too Faced makes one of the top rated bronzers :)

    • PinkSith

      L-O-V-E these dupes! And I do love me so BOGO deals too1 I’m book marking this post for future reference!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        PinkSith BOGOs are awesome!

    • AnnamariaCekoKyriazis

      Ulta for brands like NYX…they also have great gift with purchase every few months which are usually loaded with deluxe samples. I love your Tarte look.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        AnnamariaCekoKyriazis Thank you!

    • http://www.cinseven13.blogspot.com/ cinseven13

      Love affordable dupes!  Great job finding similar shades.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        cinseven13 Thanks Cin :)

    • briggsjackie

      Love seeing dupes for high end brands or unique shades like club from MAC. Usually Ulta has everything I’d need.

    • http://msbrittanythomas.com/ ClumpsOfMascara

      Whooooa, I love Nighttime in Rio!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        ClumpsOfMascara I thought you might :)

    • http://lacqueredpaintedpolished.blogspot.com/ Jessi M

      I LOVE your beauty splurges and saves. I wish we could find a dupe for Bikini though… that shade is gorgeous. I regularly shop at Ulta, Sephora, and drugstore.com depending on the brand I want and if there are any coupons!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Jessi M The only eyeshadow I’ve seen similar to Bikini was from the Smashbox palette that I purchased that said it was cruelty-free but it was not. It’s similar, not exact. I think BFTE makes a similar shade, I want to say it’s called Beautiful.

        • http://lacqueredpaintedpolished.blogspot.com/ Jessi M

          Phyrra Jessi M I know exactly what palette you’re referring to because I went gaga for that one shade in that palette too. I’ll have to look into the BFTE shade. Thanks!

    • http://www.glitterglossgarbage.com glitteryglossy

      Those are some nice dupes! Great looks as well!

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        glitteryglossy Thank you! :)

    • MystryJones

      Normally I would say Ulta (mainly since I’m familiar with their products, store, and website), but recently I have been having a ton of trouble with Ulta both in-store and online, so I’ve been dying to check out Sephora – I’ve never shopped with them before! (:

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        MystryJones Ulta’s site was down for me the other night. I think they were doing server upgrades. Definitely check out both :)

        • MystryJones

          Phyrra I do love Ulta’s BOGO’s – especially when they do Buy One, Get Two – of their brand. If Sephora has anything like that, too, then I’m in trouble, ha. Not enough $ in the day for all that fabulous makeup! :b

    • Marcia beauty info zone

      I’m going to have to take a look at these trios the next time I order or go to Ulta. I haven’t been buying ones this nice looking. The Tarte is fabulous and perfect for you.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        Marcia beauty info zone The Nyx website has color descriptions up if that helps.

    • KelliHoffman

      I am so loving teal/turquoise/aqua shadow right now. You got some great shades :)
      I have never bought anything from Sephora or Ulta. I tend to just buy drugstore stuff or stuff off Amazon. I would like to try some NYX, I didn’t know they had that at Ulta…so for the rafflecopter question, I’d use the Ulta code for $3.50 off of a $10+ purchase.

      • http://www.Phyrra.net/ Phyrra

        KelliHoffman You can totally use that coupon for Nyx stuff from Ulta. Tarte and Urban Decay are often excluded.

    • RebeccaRussell

      I’m kinda a newbie to Ulta since I’ve never lived near one and now I have one down the street so I’d definitely use an Ulta coupon. I saw this Tarte palette when I was looking for the Lorac Glo-getter palette but couldn’t bring myself to spend $38 when the other one was only $20; it’s so gorgeous!

    • MilaXX

      I like checking the bins near the cash register I like trying new lip balms. I put them in all my purses and keep one in my car.

    • Amberlicious

      I’d use the Save $3.50 off $10+ Purchase at Ulta to buy some of those lovely eyeshadows!

    • jessilikewhoa

      I’m always a fan of the $3.50 off $10 Ulta coupons.

    • JenniferMathews

      I love the Tarte Aqualilies palette! Both looks are great on you. I like that you put the turquoise shadow on the bottom only. That looks cool!

    • petitepanoply

      I’d use the Ulta $3.50 off of $10 coupon. I can always find things to buy at Ulta! Those NYX eyeshadows look amazing!

    • jennmasters76

      I’d use the Ulta $3.50 off of $10 coupon.  I love to hit their clearance, that let’s me justify I big haul! I love the look of that Tarte palette, I have been eyeing some of their products for awhile now.

    • lvnangel05

      I love the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils! They give off such great color and they are always on sale!

    • MykiMerritt

      I too used the bogo’s frequently from ULTA.  I also like to look at retailmenot to see if there’s 5% off everything etc.  NYX was something I picked up this last time, I love their jumbo pencils.

    • livinglocalnh

      Definitely NYX and Essence at Ulta!

    • ariellez1

      Love the steals at ulta. The BOGO sales are great and drugstore brands have really upped their game lately!

    • Constanza Oller de Moore

      crossing my paws =)

    • AunyaScroggs

      The Sephora 30% code is calling my name!

    • JenPrewitt

      13314 I’d use that code for the $3.50 off $10. I really need to go to Ulta. I haven’t even stepped foot in one in probably 3 months./ :(

    • MicheleClarkPowell

      I’d use that code for the $3.50 off $10 from Ulta and or the Sephora 30% 0ff code!

    • tamar948

      wow… about ulta – but there is so much i would love to try @ sephora too.

    • ChristineAnneL

      I used to live by Ulta and would always pop in just for fun :)

    • amyorvin

      Sephora 30% code

    • jencendiary

      Back when Milani was phasing out their original packaging and going to the new “Runway Eyes” packaging, I grabbed about 15 eyeshadows on clearance for around $1.50 to $2 each. I still have all of them, though I’ve hit pan on a few. I wish I could find the original Mango Tango blush somewhere, though.

    • mitten1031

      I would use the free shipping code ( 100751) at Ulta for the tarte Aqualillies palette

    • shifrahpoetry

      I would go for the 50% off sephora by OPI. Gotta love nail polish sales :)

    • http://corviddreams Corviddreams

      $10 of $60 at Ulta, or Save up to 30% at Sephora.

    • http://www.prettymaking.com/ Mandy-E

      I love finding MIlani, LA Splash, and Prestige cosmetics at Ulta. :)

      • http://www.prettymaking.com/ Mandy-E

        Also, when I visited the Coupon Code page, I couldn’t find any specific codes that I could use for Sephora or Ulta (not sure why!) but if I wanted to save a few pennies I would use their free shipping for Drugstore.com and stock up on some drugstore cosmetics like Wet N Wild.

    • cmalmat

      Either the $3.50 off $10 or even the $10 off $60 from Ulta would be my picks, and I think I could be convinced to spend that much, haha.

    • trinashere

      I’d use the coupon code READYDUO to get a free deluxe sample of Bareminerals primer and solid mineral foundation with a $25 or more purchase. I’ve heard such good things about these products and would love to try them out for myself!

    • 4loveofmakeup

      I’d use the free deluxe sample with $25 purchase at Sephora.  Yay for samples!

    • lizbengtson

      Ulta has amazing deals on drugstore stuff!!

    • JungTanyajung88

      I would use the Free Deluxe Sample Of Bareminerals Primer & Solid Mineral Foundation With $25+ deal

    • MichelleGaynor

      I’ve never actually been in an Ulta store, never had one in my city tool a month ago, but now I think I really need to go. :D

    • boundtobeauty

      I would definitely use the  Free DiorShow Mascara deluxe sample with $25+ purchase coupon and buy the Naked 2 Palette…it’s the only UD Naked palette that I still haven’t purchased and I really want it. I love neutral smoky eyes and it’s the perfect must-have. Thanks for the giveaway!

    • Beauty2244

      I would so use the Free Deluxe Sample Of Bareminerals Primer & Solid Mineral Foundation With $25+, I’m addicted to BM!!

    • MsSwank

      I’d use the 30% off coupon to buy a fun new palette with some of these pretty Summer shades!

    • iDreamofJenn

      I’d get the free deluxe sample with $25 purchase at Sephora.

    • crystesmom23

      I’d use the $10 dollars off $60 at Ulta. This is a great giveaway; thank you for hosting and giving us ideas for how to make the best of ,if we should win.!

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