Ulta Eyeshadow is one of the brand's most popular products, and with the enormous shade selection it's easy to see why people are curious about them—especially because (in the better-maintained Ulta stores we visited) the in-store display is stocked with a tester for every color! Ulta Eyeshadow is available in three finishes: Shimmer (SH), Matte (MT), and Glitter (GL).
Although there are some very good options available in each of the finishes, the overall quality is not to be trusted because of the inconsistency of the textures within each category. For example, some of the Matte shades have a beautiful smooth finish, while others are grainy and rough, making application difficult.
The Shimmer (SH) shades are recommended more highly than the shades with Matte (MT) or Glitter (GL) finish because the Shimmer shades offer the most pigment and the smoothest application. The shimmer finish is actually a very subtle satin finish and is still an option even if you have crepey or wrinkled eyelids.
The Matte (MT) finish shades tend to blend poorly, which can result in uneven application. Pressed-powder eyeshadows should be smooth enough to apply with even a substandard brush or, in a pinch, a cotton swab—but the majority of these matte shades lack this enviable smoothness.
We suggest avoiding the Glitter (GL) shades because the gritty texture of the glitter makes it difficult to blend—it must be patted on. You'll likely notice some flaking, too, meaning the glitter doesn't stay in place very well.
- Large range of shades in three distinct finishes.
- Shimmer (SH) shades are color-rich, apply smoothly, and the shine is subtle.
- The Matte (MT) shades apply unevenly and are difficult to blend.
- The Glitter (GL) shades are ultra-shiny, tend to flake, and are tricky to apply.
- The majority of the shades don't apply as smoothly as they should.
Since Ulta was founded in 1990, the company has continued to carve out a unique position as a specialty beauty store by offering a large selection of upscale and drugstore cosmetics in all price ranges, all under one roof. There are currently over 675 Ulta locations across the United States, and, like Sephora, Ulta sells its own product line right alongside more familiar brands such as Revlon, Murad, and philosophy.
The Ulta Collection offers a variety of basic makeup products, from foundation to eye shadow to lip gloss. Nearly all items in the Ulta Collection are inexpensive, and its lower price point is a major draw.
As with most cosmetics lines, Ulta has its share of good and bad products; however, it seems for every good to great makeup product the line has two average-to-poor options. Testers may or may not be available, so choose wisely.
Among the safer categories of Ulta makeup are the eyeshadows, many of the mascaras, brow products, and most of the foundations, particularly the cream-to-powder and powder formulas.
Despite our enthusiasm for Ulta's large selection of eyeshadow, the quality is inconsistent, especially when it comes to texture and how they apply, even among different shades in the same category. The best way to shop this line is to pay attention to which products we've reviewed favorably and to take extra time to play with the products in-store (assuming the Ulta you frequent keeps testers available).
In recent years, Ulta has branched out from makeup to skin care. Their namesake skin care has the same affordable price point as the makeup, and some of the products are actually quite good. Skip the cleansers, ignore the moisturizers in jar packaging, and forget about the pore-tightening products...the rest is worth exploring, but again, this is not a brand to shop without some knowledge of what you're buying and how it performs.
For more information about Ulta Beauty, visit www.ulta.com.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.