Underrated Products, Ulta Edition: Lip Products (21 Days of Beauty)

To continue my review of Ulta products for the 21 Days of Beauty sale, I bring you a review of their lip products. These are on sale for $3.50 each on Thursdays during this event, which means September 15th and 22nd. (They are usually $8-9.) Lip products are actually the first things I bought from the Ulta line, and I’ve tried many varieties. What I’ll show you below are probably half products I’ve bought, and half products that were a gift with purchase, hence the smaller sample sizes. Overall I think Ulta’s lip products perform well, but I do have a few reservations with certain products and formulas. Nothing in their line (that I’ve tried) is terrible, but as always there are some products that perform better than others.

So let’s start with the star of the show: Ulta Beauty Butter Balms. I’ll also talk about the Mineral Lip Gloss in this section as well, since it is similar, but I definitely prefer the Butter Balms to the Lip Glosses. You can see why below.

The Ulta Beauty Butter Balm is a moisturizing lip gloss that reminds me a lot of the NYX Butter Glosses. It is not quite as opaque and creamy, it’s a little shinier, and it doesn’t smell like dessert(!), but this is the closest comparison I’ve found. It is a nicely pigmented lip gloss, sheer enough to provide a wash of color but pigmented enough to show up on its own. According to Ulta’s website, it contains vitamins and antioxidants to protect your lips, though it does not specify which in the description. It does feel great on the lips, doesn’t get messy or slide outside of the lip line, and it actually has relatively good staying power for a glossy product–it will hang on for a few hours, and even when the glossiness has worn away, some color remains. It also wears evenly instead of getting patchy or splotchy, which is a big deal for me. Since I am in and out of classrooms and meetings, I need something that looks good even if I don’t have time to touch it up. And they are named after fairy tale (not just Disney) princesses: I have the shades Aurora (I have loved Sleeping Beauty since I was a child!) and Belle.

In the swatch photo below, Belle is on the bottom–it is a sheer iridescent gloss that can work on its own or as a lipstick topper or a highlight in the center of your lips. On its own it is just a step above a clear lip gloss, and is not overly shimmery. It is great for a no-makeup or minimalist day. It came with the Ulta Beauty Hello Beautiful Deluxe Palette, which I’ve reviewed here, but it is also part of their regular line. In the middle is Aurora, which is a gorgeous pinky coral gloss, and is probably one of the top five most-used lip products in my collection. The color is just perfect and would suit many skin tones and undertones. Then on top, I’ve swatched the Mineral Lip Gloss in Sheer Opal. This is a very pale shimmery peachy nude, and actually looks a lot like a mixture of the Butter Balms in Belle and Aurora. It is a little pale for me, and it has enough pigment that it doesn’t work particularly well as a lipstick topper. Its heavy shimmer gives it an almost white cast on the lips, which is really unflattering, at least on my light/medium skin tone.

The Mineral Gloss has a nice formula that is similar to the butter balm. It’s differences, however, are significant flaws for me. The Mineral Gloss is slightly thicker and stickier that the Butter Balms, so it is less comfortable on the lips. Basically, you are constantly aware that you are wearing it, which I find distracting, as I’m worried that its slipping around and making a mess. Not great if you’re constantly in front of people, and if you’re in front of people talking, the stickiness is a huge issue. Also, the sample I have came with a brush applicator, which I find less user-friendly that the doe-foot or sponge applicator that comes with the butter balms. Online, though, it looks as though the full size mineral glosses have a sponge applicator, so if you want to try them, definitely check that out in store. Perhaps they reformulated, or the sample is different. But overall, the Butter Balms are amazing, and I highly recommend them. The Mineral Glosses are fine, but I probably wouldn’t purchase another.

Now that we’ve covered shiny things, let’s move on to some matte lip products!

I received the Ulta Beauty Matte Lipstick in Mulberry in the August 2016 gift with purchase, and the Ulta Beauty Matte Lip Cream in Striking in the Hello Beautiful Deluxe Palette. You can see my review of the Matte Lip Cream here, but in short I will say that I like this product. It is a slighter wetter formula than the NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams, and does not dry down as quickly or as matte, which I’m actually okay with. It feels moisturizing on the lips, and the staying power is maybe 4 hours. Like the NYX products, it won’t last through a meal, but it will last all morning or afternoon, so you can feel pretty safe that your lipstick looks good as you rush throughout your day. And it is far easier to reapply than a traditional liquid lipstick. I know some colors are more opaque than others, however, so do make use of the testers in store to check how these apply before buying. In general, lighter colors are safer, but I love this deep berry shade and it is quite even and opaque. As you can see in the swatches below, the berry shade (on top) has a uniform application and is very true to color.

The star of this pair, however, is the matte lipstick. This is a really great product. It glides on so smoothly, and the swatch above is one stroke. That’s it. It has such an even, uniform application, and it does not stray outside the lipline one bit. It doesn’t have the staying power of a liquid lipstick, but it will get you through a normal morning or afternoon without trouble, and it is easy to reapply if needed. This Mulberry shade is a stunning fall burgundy-berry shade. I will probably live in this come October. I definitely plan to go back and buy more–it is one of the silkiest mattes I’ve ever tried, and such a hidden gem!

Now, on to some products I’m not really a fan of: The Ulta Beauty Lip Butters. Now, these aren’t awful. They’re not the worst lip products I’ve tried. (That prize is currently held by the Wet N Wild Velvet Matte Lip Crayons, in case you’re wondering. They might be the only Wet N Wild product I’ve tried that I didn’t like. I thought about writing a review, but since the lip products kept breaking and falling on my bathroom floor, I just tossed them.) Anyway, back to Ulta’s Lip Butter. I tried these out last summer because I loved Revlon’s Lip Butters (now discontinued) so much. If you like the Revlon lip butters, be warned: These are not even close to the same formula. They are much thinner, do not feel as moisturizing, and the staying power is maybe an hour, tops. I have found that if you apply them over the Ulta Beauty Lip Primer, which I’ve reviewed here, the staying power at least doubles, so if you find a shade you like, I’d recommend picking up the primer as well. (The lip primer will also be on sale on Thursdays during the 21 Days of Beauty event.)

I chose three shades (above, left to right–sorry, the swatches below do not correspond to this order): Dainty (a shimmery reddish orange), Fairy Tale (a sheer mid-toned pink), and Encore (a shimmery berry). Swatched below, you can see Fairy Tale on the bottom, then Dainty in the middle, then Encore on top.

So apart from the formula and staying power, my other issue with this product concerns the shimmery shades. These are not a pearly finish; there is full-on glitter in the product (which you can see in the photo of the lipsticks themselves), to the extent that it feels sort of bumpy or gritty when you apply it. Not rough like a lip exfoliator, but on that spectrum. It’s an odd sensation. And while your lips don’t look glittery, and there are no visible chunks of glitter on your lips (as you can see in the swatches), even up close, they look very shiny. This may be a finish you prefer, but I find it a little strange for me, especially for the office. It isn’t inappropriate, especially since the colors are sheerer, I just prefer a more typical cream finish if I’m going to wear these shades. Fairy Tale (the only non-shimmer shade I chose) is a gorgeous sheer blue-toned pink, and if you just want a hint of color–and don’t mind lots of reapplying–this would be a great choice for you. If you are in middle school or high school, or have a young daughter, this is a great way to start wearing lip colors that are not just lip balms. I personally love it on no-makeup days, like heading to the farmer’s market on the weekends or if I need a bit of a boost before yoga. (I can’t be the only one who feels like my downward dog is better with a touch of mascara and lip gloss.) So this one is a hit, and the others I wear only occasionally. I wouldn’t purchase more, though, especially since the Ulta Butter Balms are so much better.

Finally, the Ulta Beauty Contour Lip Liners. I received this dual-ended lip liner in the August 2016 gift with purchase. I think they are sold separately in the actual Ulta collection. I don’t wear lip liner that often so I may not be the best judge, but here are my thoughts. (Sorry for the stains on my arm in the swatch photo–those Ulta matte lip products don’t come off easily!)

I actually really like these lipliners. They are a drier formula and there is a little bit of drag in the application, but I prefer this over a super-creamy formula, which to me feels thick and less stable on the lips. This is a matter of preference, though, so you can decide for yourself which formula you prefer. If you typically fill in your whole lip with liner, this may be more of a problem for you. I just line my lips, so I don’t mind the slight drag.

The main issue I have with this lipliner (the bottom one) is its name: Flesh. Really, Ulta? It’s 2016 and we still have to have the “not all flesh tones are the same so please stop calling makeup items flesh” conversation? I mean, I know we also have nudes, but any cosmetic line’s nude lip products typically range from very pale to very deep shades. Ulta has its own line of nude lipsticks, and they would suit many skin tones. But I have yet to see a medium or deep nude lipstick or liner referred to as “flesh.” That term seems to be reserved for only the palest shades. There is some history behind this. For the longest time, American makeup companies did not cater their products to people of color, and it is only recently that we’ve begun to see a shift. Now more companies are producing foundations and concealers in a wider variety of tones, including deeper tones, that could suit a more diverse array of people (although many, both drugstore and high end, still have a long way to go). We need the naming process to catch up. And really, companies have gotten very creative with naming their shades–why can’t they come up with a more creative term for a pale nude lipliner? I mean, Sand, Peach, Opal–any of these convey pale without suggesting that only one skin tone is “flesh.” So while this may be one of the best pale lip liners I’ve ever tried, I have real issues with repurchasing something that seems so culturally tone-deaf in name. I probably won’t, honestly, for this reason alone.

Final Word: Try the Butter Balms and Matte Lipsticks, skip the Lip Butters and Mineral Glosses, and for crying out loud, Ulta, rename your pale lipliner. I mean, even if you just called it pale, that would be an improvement. But Ulta has some great lip products, and I’d recommend checking them out!

(Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored in any way, and all products were either bought by me or came as a gift with purchase with others products bought by me.)

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