If you're a self-described makeup junkie, the first thing you'll likely notice about Ulta's fragrance-free Artistry Eye Shadow Kit is that it looks very similar to another product, namely Hourglass Cosmetics' Modernist Eyeshadow Palette. So is Ulta's option a more budget-friendly version of a high-end offering (the Modernist Palette costs close to $60)? In some ways, the answer is yes…though this has enough drawbacks (including some it shares with its higher-end cousin) that it's a largely disappointing option.
Like the Hourglass Modernist, the shades for Artistry Eye Shadow Kit are arranged in a wave-like pattern that's flat-out gorgeous; it truly does resemble sand art! However, one of the biggest differences between the two products is the packaging. The Artistry Eye Shadow Kit comes in a cardboard container that includes three separate palettes with five shades each; the Modernist Eyeshadow Palette consists of a single, larger palette of five shades.
Pretty packaging and embossing aside, how does Ulta's Artistry Eye Shadow Kit perform? Though the texture is soft and easy to pick up on a brush (it isn't overly powdery), getting color to show up, even with the most intense shades, takes a bit of work. The initial application is quite sheer if you don't use a primer, and requires multiple layers to get visible color. Once the color does show up, it lasts for about seven hours without fading.
The three palette options offered in the kit are very attractive; they include a set with plum and bronze shades, another with forest green, soft brown, and gold shades, and one with navy blue, gold, and chocolate brown tones.
The color combinations are compelling, but each set offers at least two glitter/sparkle shades that flake and fall out as the day goes on. We found flecks of glitter under our eye and on our cheekbones by the end of its wear time, and even some fallout as we were applying them (this is an issue with the Modernist Palette as well). If you're going to rock a glitter eyeshadow, the least it should do is stay in place!
Though Ulta's Artistry Eye Shadow Kit is pretty in the pan, its sheer application and the inclusion of several glitter-flecked shades that flake mean that even for its bargain price, it's far from the best option available. You'll find superior products on our list of Best Eyeshadow Palettes.
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.
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