Underrated Products, Ulta Edition: Blushes and Illuminators (21 Days of Beauty Sale)


Along with my love of drugstore and affordable makeup comes a love of trying out products I never really hear anyone talking about. It seems like so often the same products are hyped all over YouTube and blogs, and while they are typically very good products, they’re certainly not the only products worth trying. I love it when many beauty bloggers talk about a similar product–more good recommendations from sources I have come to trust means I’m more likely to try it. But many brands that don’t get this kind of recognition still have some excellent products. Due to some great promotions and giveaways, I’ve tried many Ulta Collection products and overall, I’ve been very impressed. Impressed enough that I’ve gone back to buy the full size or more shades of many of them. So this “Underrated Products, Ulta Edition” series is sort of a subcategory of my regular “Underrated Products” series. I’ll describe some of the products I’ve come to love, products that have become staples in my makeup collection. (I’ve already posted my review of Ulta Beauty’s Lip Primer, the first post in this series.)

You’ll see a lot of these posts over the next week or two because, as you probably know, yesterday began Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty sale, a 21-day event that features Beauty Steals (high-end products that are on sale for one day only) and Ulta Collection sales (different product groupings that are on sale every Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, etc., of the 21 days, so there are three chances to get each type of product on sale). Almost all of the sale products are at least 50% off. I’ve linked the schedule for the sale above. There weren’t too many high-end products I was really excited about this time (though this may be different for you, so be sure to check out the schedule!) but I am always looking for an excuse to try more Ulta products! I always buy them on sale, and these sales are fantastic–it is a great to to try out this brand if you haven’t before.

So I’ll be devoting many of my posts this week to Ulta Collection products that are on sale that I would recommend, and I’ll do it early in the event to give you a better chance to find them if you like. We’re going to kick off this series today with the Ulta Collection blushes (both their Velvet Blush and their Mineral Blush) and illuminators. These are on sale, along with their bronzers, every Monday of the event (September 5, 12, and 19).

I was first introduced to Ulta’s blush formula in their Hello Beautiful Deluxe Palette, which I have reviewed here. I loved the blush in this palette, which is a soft matte peachy pink. My next Ulta blush came in their most recent free gift, and is a dark brick red with light gold shimmer. Again, this is a gorgeous color, unlike anything I have in my collection, and it really sheers out on the face so it would suit many skin tones. It reminds me a bit of the bronzy tone of Benefit’s Dallas or theBalm’s Balm Desert, but with light shimmer. Unfortunately, the gift palettes do not tell you the name of the blushes, or if they are part of the permanent collection or created for that palette. Since I loved them so much, however, I ran to Ulta to pick up a few of their regular collection blushes while they were on sale for $4 (they normally retail for $9-12). Though their selection was pretty well picked over by the time I got there, I found three colors I’d been wanting to try, one of which is a pretty close match to a very popular high end blush (more on this in a second). I chose two shades of the Ulta Mineral Blush (regularly $12): Tulip and Tiger Lily. I also picked up one Velvet Blush (regularly $9), in the shade Honey Bunny.

In the photo below, I’ve swatched (starting from the bottom): Ulta’s Illuminator in Yellow Diamonds, Ulta’s Illuminator in Pink Diamonds, Ulta’s Velvet Blush in Honey Bunny, Ulta’s Mineral Blush in Tulip, and Ulta’s Mineral Blush in Tiger Lily. As you can see, most of Ulta’s blushes have some shimmer, but it is not chunky or glittery shimmer. They are actually great if you don’t think a highlight is appropriate for your workplace, but you want some sheen, especially if you’re like me and have dry skin that gets somewhat dull in the fall and winter. But it is good to note that if you like matte blushes, Ulta’s line may not be for you.


I have now tried them each on my face several times, and can provide a thorough review. In short, these are all excellent blushes. They apply smoothly and blend easily. They are pigmented but not so pigmented that you have to use a very light hand, something I really appreciate in a blush in particular. The last thing I want to is to fear looking like a clown every morning, especially given that the lighting I use to apply my makeup is not always the best. As far as the shades, Tulip is a nice soft pink with some peachy undertones. I like it now, but I think it will be even better in the late fall/winter when my skin is back to its usual pale self. Tiger Lily is a gorgeous peachy nude with light shimmer, and I cannot get enough of it on days when I want to go for a soft makeup look. It also reminds me very much of a shimmery version of Tarte’s popular Amazonian Clay blush in Exposed. It is not a dupe given the difference in finish (matte v. nude) but the shades are quite similar.

The blush I cannot stop using, though, is the Velvet Blush in Honey Bunny. I honestly only picked it up because I wanted to try both lines of blushes, but holy moly it’s stunning. Isn’t that always the case–the makeup item I’m least excited by in the pan becomes my favorite, can’t-put-it-down product? Or is that just me?  Anyway, this is a sort of tawny peach shade with some light shimmer, and it is particularly suited to tan or medium skin tones, though it would work for anyone. It is a great transition-to-fall shade, as there is still some brightness to it but it shifts more toward cooler, deeper fall tones. I can’t get enough of this one.

The other thing I love about these blushes: the wear time. They last all day, regardless of heat or activity. (Same goes for the illuminators, which I’ll get to in a minute.) My face makeup basically looks the same at the end of the day, say 9 pm or so, as it did when I got ready at 7 am. I am very, very impressed. You can bet I’ll head back to Ulta next Monday and try to find a few more colors when they’re on sale again. But to be perfectly honest, I do think these blushes are good enough that they are worth the full price. The only reason I’d shy away from paying full price is that they are on sale so often that I’d just try to save money because, you know, who doesn’t like to save money? Not a comment on the quality of the product, just a general life skill.

I also picked up both shades of Ulta Beauty’s illuminators: Yellow Diamond and Pink Diamond. While they were swatched pretty heavily in the photo above, below I’ve showed them sheered out on the skin:

As you can see, they both sheer out to give a soft, warm, uniform glow. They are subtle, though they can be built up to achieve a stronger impact. They provide a sheen but are not glittery or chunky in the least. They create an almost wet look on the skin–like you’re just glowing, or your skin is that good. You know how your skin looks when you first put on a good moisturizer or facial oil? It look like that, but with makeup. Due to their creaminess, they would be great for aging or textured skin, as they do not accentuate texture as some highlights can. They make my skin look so smooth–the light sheen is just enough to actually blur any fine lines. It’s youth on a fan brush.

I also wanted to point out another important difference between the illuminators in the free gifts, if you have any of those, and the ones you can buy in Ulta’s collection. The most recent free gift (August 2016) contained the Yellow Diamonds illuminator in the palette. This is the same illuminator that is sold on a regular basis. In the Hello Beautiful Deluxe Palette, however, the illuminator is not a shade regularly sold at Ulta. I’ve swatched them below: On the left is the Deluxe palette illuminator, and on the right is the Pink Diamonds illuminator that is part of the regular collection. As you can see, the palette version is a cool-toned pink, while Pink Diamonds is a more neutral pinky-gold. They are very different, and they look that different on the face. Both are gorgeous, though as a warm-toned person, I’m obviously more likely to use the Pink Diamonds. But you can’t go wrong with either.

If you’ve been watching the release of Becca’s new highlight shade, the Shimmering Skin Perfector in Rose Quartz, you might notice that the shade in the Hello Beautiful palette looks pretty similar–a nude pale pink iridescent pearl. Mix it with the Pick Diamonds Illuminator, and we may have a dupe on our hands.)

Final Word: Overall, this was a highly successful venture into the Ulta Beauty line! I can’t stop wearing the blushes and the Ulta Illuminators might be my current favorites. They are the only highlighters currently in my makeup bag, and I keep getting compliments on my skin, particularly when I pair either of the them with the Velvet Blush in Honey Bunny. These products will be on sale again September 12th and 19th if you want to try them out! For $4, I highly recommend it.

I’ll see you tomorrow for my review of some Ulta foundations, the Wednesday sale of Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty event!

(Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way, and I purchased all products mentioned on my own.)

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