The 14 Best Things to Buy at Ulta If You Only Have $20
That's like four lattes
It always starts out innocently enough. You pop into a nearby Ulta during your lunch break to get something you actually need (like eye makeup remover or nail polish) and you walk out with a new curling wand, an exfoliator mitt and three lipsticks you probably already have. Trust us, we get it—which is why we put together a list of some of the best products (some new, some classic) that come in at $20 or less so you can get a little something for yourself without too much guilt.
BH Cosmetics Eye Shadow and Highlighter Palette
Curated by Carli Bybel (of YouTube vlogger fame) this sleek compact of shadows and highlighters has a cult-like following—it’s easy to see why. Even those who are unfamiliar with Carli will appreciate the versatility of each of the 14 super-pigmented shades that can be used on lids or cheekbones.
BH Cosmetics ($15)
Leaders Sheet Mask
The cheeky name is what initially piqued our interest, but the skin-saving results (seriously, it helps to camouflage a multitude of sins from late nights—be it from Netflix or alcohol binges) are what make us buy these sheet masks over and over again.
NYX Cosmetics Lip Cream Set
Because long-lasting lip colors that fit easily in your purse are always a good idea.
NYX Cosmetics ($12)
Yes to Cucumbers Facial Towelettes
As are travel-friendly face wipes. This formula is great for taking off stubborn makeup but is also gentle on skin (thanks to soothing ingredients like cucumber and aloe vera).
Yes To ($3)
Essie Gel Couture Polish
This polish checks all of the boxes: It comes in great colors, glides onto nails without streaking, has a glossy finish and doesn’t chip for days. (Seriously, we’ve gotten up to 12 days of wear with this bad boy.)
Tony Moly Hair Pack
Even though we should be using a hair mask more regularly, it’s often difficult to justify spending the extra time to do so. This cute little squeeze bottle makes the whole process a tad more appealing—and leaves our fried ends super silky afterward.
Tony Moly ($17)
NUXE Shower Oil
A cult-favorite product in France, this shower gel smells better (think orange blossom mixed with magnolia and hints of vanilla) than anything we've ever used. Plus, it leaves the faintest golden shimmer behind on skin.
Shea Moisture Curl Smoothie
There’s a reason why this styling cream wins tons of beauty awards year after year. Applied to damp strands, it cuts down on curly hair’s biggest enemy: frizz. Smoothed over dried ringlets, it rehydrates them without weighing things down. (An extra tip: Start sparingly as the pudding-like texture is super rich.)
Shea Moisture ($12)
E.L.F. Cosmetics Lip Exfoliator
You know how lip scrubs (or any type of scrub, really) tend to be a bit messy? Well, this one comes neatly packaged in a bullet so you can just run the grainy tip across lips to get rid of flakes with minimal cleanup afterward. (Seriously, a simple swipe with a tissue will do the job.)
E.L.F. Cosmetics ($3)
Essence Eyebrow Gel
Though some steps in our beauty routine are optional (namely, contouring of any sort), others (like filling in our brows) are non-negotiable. Luckily, this tinted gel makes the whole thing easier with tiny little fibers in the formula that fill in gaps—while the fine-toothed wand sweeps unruly hairs into place.
Joico Hair Texturizer
If a volumizer, texturizing spray and a hairspray were to have a lovechild this would be it. Just make sure to give the bottle a good shake before spritzing it onto your roots (to give them lift) and onto the lengths of your hair (to give them that beachy, second-day hold that’s amazing for curls and braids).
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water
Some nights (and pretty much all mornings) call for less suds and splashing—and more ease in our beauty routines overall. Which is why we’re taking another cue from our French friends and swiping our faces with a micellar water-drenched cotton round instead. Apart from removing makeup and oil, it also tones and hydrates skin so it’s left feeling super clean and soft (without a sink).
Makeup Revolution Baked Highlighter
After a certain Kardashian (hey, Khloe) called this highlighter out as one of her favorite products, the Internet exploded. (OK, not really, but it did lead to massive sales.) Given the insanely reasonable price and the otherworldly sheen it leaves on our cheekbones (seriously, you could see that glow from a mile away), we’re converts.
Makeup Revolution ($6)