How Our Beauty Editors Spend A $100 Gift Card At Ulta

Ain't no beauty superstore like the Ulta Beauty superstore. Sure, like many of its competitors, it has just about everything one may need across every category — but no other retailer marries mass and prestige in quite the same way. A $2 eyeliner right next to the latest $400 blowdryer? The megastore seems to have it all, at nearly every price point, making it the perfect spot for our next $100 holiday gift-card challenge.

Those lucky enough to fall within the "hard to shop for" category may find themselves faced with a similar conundrum. But spending a glossy gift card isn't as simple as it may sound. Just like when our editors were set loose at Sephora or Target, the answers ahead might surprise you.

Some of us went big — opting for gift sets and hot tools — while others loaded up on drugstore staples we love. In which aisle would we find you? Click ahead for editor-approved shopping inspiration...


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Cat Quinn, Beauty Director
Total spent: $99.98
2 of 43
"NARS just hit Ulta and the entire beauty world collectively lost their shit. This concealer is simply the best — it covers acne and dark marks, while still looking radiant and glowing on skin."

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, $29, available at Ulta Beauty.
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3 of 43
"I used to have to search the dregs of the internet for this stuff, which is why I’m so excited it's now at Ulta. I’m leaving all my dead skin in 2016, and starting 2017 fresh."

Baby Foot Original Exfoliant Foot Peel, $25, available at Ulta Beauty.
4 of 43
"This creamy, bronze shadow is perfect for NYE. It looks gorgeous on the eyes and lasts all night — I know, because I already tested it through one holiday party."

Maybelline Color Tattoo Eye Chrome in Bronze Sheen, $7.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
5 of 43
"Every time I wear this texturizing spray, my boyfriend buries his nose in my hair and tells me how good it smells. Oh, and it also adds all the body to my hair without looking at all sticky. That's nice, too."

Drybar Triple Sec 3-in-1, $26, available at Ulta Beauty.
6 of 43
"These liquid lipsticks have insane color payoff, last forever, and don’t dry the living eff out of your lips. Buying them in a set of three is the way to go. This trio includes My Party Lip (purple), My Day Lip (light pink), and My Date Night Lip (burgundy)."

Nyx Soft Matte Lip Cream Set in Seoul, Milan, and Prague, $11.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
7 of 43
Lexy Lebsack, West Coast Beauty Editor
Total spent: $
99.66


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8 of 43
"This iron is the gold standard (visual pun intended) in the hair world: reliable, versatile, effective, durable, and affordable. It's these things that make it the iron in nearly every pro's kit — and I'd happily add it to mine, too."

Hot Tools Gold Curling Iron 1-1/2 Inch, $49.99 $39.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
9 of 43
"I recently discovered this dry shampoo — which allowed me to not wash my hair for an embarrassingly long stretch — and am 100% obsessed. You better believe I'll have this guy in my cart as soon as my travel size runs out."

Not Your Mother's Clean Freak Dry Shampoo in Original, $6.19, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"This eyebrow pencil is the truth. Not only does it beef up brows in a natural-looking way — thanks to the smooth, cool-toned, long-wear formula — but it's crazy-affordable and comes with a spoolie, too. I just bought two at Ulta in Ash Brown a few weeks ago, but I'd definitely buy another for safety."

Nyx Micro Brow Pencil, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"The perfect red to put all others to shame — and I've tried dozens."

OPI Classic Nail Lacquer in Big Apple Red, $10, available at Ulta Beauty.
12 of 43
"And while we're at it, I'd pick up my perfect pale neutral. Topless & Barefoot is a creamy, totally opaque beige that makes fingers look longer, nails look chic as hell, and delivers a sexy, '70s vibe — not a pale, princess feeling, like many light pinks and beiges."

Essie
Nail Polish in Topless & Barefoot, $9, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"The perfect lightweight moisturizer that won't mess with your actives, like serums, anti-agers, or spot treatments. I can never have enough on hand for easy, fuss-free hydration."

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+, $14.50, available at Ulta Beauty.
14 of 43
"I've never tried this thickening spray before, but after celeb hairstylist Christopher Appleton told me it is the product he swears by, I have been jonesing to get my hands on a bottle. Seriously, I need to order this, gift card or not..."

Tigi Bed Head Superstar Queen For A Day, $19.99 $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Alix Tunell, Senior Beauty Editor
Total spent: $105.98
16 of 43
"Trying product after product is the name of the game when you're a beauty editor, and I work to always keep an open mind (but it can be trying when the packaging sucks), but as far as I'm convinced, no other dry shampoo will ever touch this one — they can all quit now.

"It's the only one that never leaves my hair feeling dry, powdery, and chalky; instead, it makes it silkier and softer. And yes, I'm usually a skeptic, but this formula's technology actually does clean the buildup, dirt, and odor, rather than just mask it."

Living Proof
Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo, $22, available at Ulta Beauty.
17 of 43
"When I can't think of a fun, seasonal color I'm down for trying, this is the perfect sheer white that I reach for year-round at the salon. I like having an extra bottle at home for touch-ups."

Essie
Nail Polish in Waltz, $9, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"I go through pads like these, which have glycolic and salicylic acid, way too quickly, because I use them after every shave and on the days between to keep ingrowns and irritation bumps at bay — and man, do they work!"

Completely Bare
Bikini Bump Blaster Pads, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
19 of 43
"While I don’t have body acne, I do suffer from shaving irritation (if you couldn’t already put that together from my last selection), so I like antibacterial and toning body washes. This one has a bracing minty-tea-tree-lemon scent, which wakes me up and feels like it’s getting me really, really clean."

The Body Shop
Tea Tree Body Wash, $15, available online only at Ulta Beauty.
20 of 43
"I feel like all I do is stockpile peel pads, and yet, I never have enough. Give me all of them, please. These are from my favorite drugstore skin-care line. I saw much smoother skin and a reduction of dark spots and faint scarring when I used them for a couple of months — which is exactly why I'd stockpile more with this gift card. I'm like a peel-pad doomsday prepper."

L’Oréal
Revitalift Bright Reveal Peel Pads, $19.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
21 of 43
"I’m not as much of a loyalist to blush as I am to concealer or foundation, but I do know that every time I run out of Orgasm or bring a different one on a trip, I yearn for it until I get my hands on another."

NARS
Blush in Orgasm, $30, available at Ulta Beauty.
22 of 43
Maria Del Russo, Beauty Editor
Total spent: $
101.99


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"May I tell you a fairy tale? There once was a girl who had one too many martinis on a date on a Wednesday night and woke up the next morning with a hangover so vile she could barely look at herself in the mirror. But after washing her face, she popped on this mask and in just 15 minutes her skin looked like she’d spent the night getting her beauty rest instead of boozing.

"It was brighter, more moisturized, and her skin tone was more even. And she lived happily ever after. (That girl was me, FYI. Don’t drink on Wednesdays, kids.)"

Leaders Daily Wonders What Happened Last Night? Revitalizing Mask, $9, available at Ulta Beauty.
24 of 43
"I have a wandering eye when it comes to lipsticks, in that I never stick to the same one for too long. So when I saw that UD’s Vice lipstick palette was on sale, I immediately added it to my cart. It gives you 12 of the brand’s go-to shades in all three of its finishes, so you can mix, match, and play to your heart’s desire."

Urban Decay Blackmail Vice Lipstick Palette, $35 $25, available at Ulta Beauty.
25 of 43
"It may seem super-basic, but I can’t get enough of this brush. It never tugs or tears my strands, and it smoothes out my mane while I’m blowing it dry. Plus, it comes in a bunch of adorable colors, like this watermelon — always a bonus."

The Wet Brush Wet Original Brush, $11.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
26 of 43
"After dyeing my hair from brown to blond — and back again — over the summer, to say my strands were in need a little TLC may possibly be the understatement of 2016. This sumptuous oil helped them bounce right back. I smooth it into damp strands before I blowdry, and it leaves my hair so silky, you can’t even tell I recently bleach-fried it within an inch of its life."

Redken Diamond Oil Glow Dry, $32, available at Ulta Beauty.
27 of 43
"I am a big proponent of the bushy brow, which is why I tend to get them tinted instead of filling them in myself. But, like with most things in life, I sometimes become delinquent. That’s when I reach for this Benefit brow pencil. It distributes just the right amount of pigment, and has a handy spoolie for if you get a little too heavy-handed."

Benefit Cosmetics Goof Proof Brow Pencil Easy Shape & Fill, $24, available at Ulta Beauty.
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Kelsey Castañon, Beauty News Editor
Total spent: $
95.98


29 of 43
"This creamy CC cream is everything you’d want from a foundation — without feeling like one on your skin. It covers up all my imperfections, but has a lightweight texture that never looks cakey. Oh, and the fact that it’s loaded with SPF 50 is just icing on the proverbial cake."

It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream, $38, available at Ulta Beauty.
30 of 43
"I already love Yes To’s gentle formulas, but this new micellar water — a first for the brand! — takes it up a notch. Bonus? The cozy cotton scent is comforting and homey."

Yes To Cotton Comforting Micellar Cleansing Water, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
31 of 43
"I don’t wear nail polish often, but if I had to choose a signature pedicure shade for the rest of my days, it’d be this classic Tiffany blue. Because, really, who doesn’t want to feel like Audrey Hepburn every chance they can?"

OPI Breakfast At Tiffany's Nail Lacquer, $10, available at Ulta Beauty.
32 of 43
"The makings of a perfect concealer: lightweight, yet buildable, budge-proof, and cheap. This one checks all the boxes and costs less than 10 bucks."

Maybelline FaceStudio Master Conceal, $8.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
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"Sure, I like that this rubbery mask is loaded with tea-tree oil and willow-tree extract to help nix shine and deactivate flare-ups, but here’s the truth: It’s just damn fun to use."

Bliss Mask-A-'Peel' Complexion Clearing Rubberizing Mask, $30, available at Ulta Beauty.
34 of 43
Sam Sasso, Beauty Editorial Assistant
Total spent: $90.50
35 of 43
"Kind of like my colleague Kelsey, I’m that person who will buy anything if Audrey Hepburn is somehow associated with it. For example, I didn’t start eating Magnum ice cream until they featured a scene of her in the commercial. When OPI came out with polishes inspired by her timeless role as Holly Golightly, I was immediately on board. Plus, this set is everything you’d ever need for a glossy, at-home manicure."

OPI
Breakfast at Tiffany’s Infinite Shine Set, $27.50, available at Ulta Beauty.
36 of 43
"There are only a few products that I’ve had on my wish list for over a year — and this is one of them. The everyday palette is what matte dreams are made of: Every hue is smooth on its own, but they blend seamlessly with one another to create tons of looks."

Lorac
Pro Matte Palette, $28, available at Ulta Beauty.
37 of 43
"If a fluttering lash look is your Achilles heel, then you’ll go weak getting your hands on this set from Tarte. Lame lashes will never be a concern again with this powerful pack."

Tarte Lash Lovelies Eye Set, $35, available online only at Ulta Beauty.
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38 of 43
Mi-Anne Chan, Beauty Writer
Total spent: $99.98

39 of 43
"Although I try a ton of different lip balms on the regular, I always creep back to the classic Burt’s Bees. It’s the first lip balm I ever fell in love with — and for good reason. It hydrates my lips and has a matte finish (perfect for layering under lipstick, as it won’t change the finish). Plus, my dad and sister love it, too, so I'd share the wealth."

Burt’s Bees Bounty Classic Kit, $9.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
40 of 43
"I’m a huge fan of alphabet creams, and this is one of my favorites. It offers medium-to-full coverage that’s buildable, hydrating, and dewy."

It Cosmetics CC Cream, $38, available at Ulta Beauty.

*No, you're not seeing double — two of our editors picked this product! We cannot tell a lie.
41 of 43
"I can’t go to Ulta without snagging a tube of waterproof mascara. This one is volumizing, lengthening, and always holds a curl."

Maybelline The Falsies Waterproof, $6.99, available at Ulta Beauty.
42 of 43
"This 12-pan palette is one of the best I’ve tried in 2016. The shadows are creamy, pigmented, and have very little fallout. Plus, the shade range is a neutral lover’s dream."

Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Palette, $45, available at Ulta Beauty.
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