Ulta: The Ultimate Stop for Cosmetics

January 22, 2009 § Leave a comment

Two months ago, I shopped for the first time at Ulta Beauty. Ulta Beauty is a department store that sells only beauty products. They don’t just sell high end beauty products like Peter Thomas Roth and Boscia, which I personally love. Ulta Beauty also showcases all the drugstore brands like Neutrogena, Jergen’s and St. Ives. In short, it’s a little bit like heaven.

Ulta is located all around the country, and I recently visited their South San Francisco location at the newly renovated Tandoran Shopping District. The beauty store is about the size of a department store and stocks nothing but cosmetics and salon goods.

Ulta also has their own in house certified professional salon, another plus in my book. I haven’t used its services but after checking the menu, their prices look decent and worth a try. I’ve secretly wanted to get a perm. Yes I know “gasp, a 1980’s-looking perm.” Ulta’s stylists charge only 80 bucks for medium length hair, so I’m seriously contemplating making my 1980’s fantasy hair become a reality.

My favorite feature is their one-stop drugstore/salon shop advantage, so I signed up for the Ulta Club Card. It’s free and after each 50 bucks is spent, members can redeem free gifts. So far, I’ve received free mascara and a cool luggage tote bag. Think about all of the q-tips, shampoo and conditioner that you purchase at drugstores that never come with gifts.

Their employees are all “cosmetology trained or actual estheticians” according to their website. I like to get free advice, so I’ve been chopping up their time for new tips.

Their Yelp reviews don’t do the store justice. The ratings are low on customer service. “How can you complain when the store offers such great free gifts,” I thought to myself.

Comments such as, “the sales girls are total snobs” and “the cashier gave me attitude,” shouts horrible customer service. They have been nothing but helpful to me, but I can see how some might think their sales facade is less than bubbly.

Some would compare Ulta to Sephora, but the most distinguishable difference between the two stores is their offerings. Ulta’s website has a plethora of online discounts and part of Ulta’s philosophy is to “offer value through constant money saving promotions, free shipping and samples with each purchase.”

Another plus is the product line selection. Sephora houses so many great brands, but I don’t like to gamble with skincare products and they carry several new product lines that I’ve never heard of that are almost always over priced in over the top packaging. Ulta Beauty carries familiar salon shampoos and conditioners, drugstore brands and tried and true fragrance lines.

Ulta Beauty’s superstores have been around for less than a decade but have transformed the cosmetic and salon buying experience. Their innovations in reinventing cosmetics retail have even garnered them with the “Hot Retailer Award” from the International Council of Shopping Centers and their CEO the “Achiever Award” by Cosmetics Executive Women!

Peter Thomas Roth’s Sulfur Cucumber Facial

January 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

I highly recommend visiting your local Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care expert. While I’ve always been a fan of going cheap on makeup and skin care, I’ve recently discovered that going cheap on blush and other extras can wreak havoc on your pores.

I was lucky enough to be treated to a Peter Thomas Roth Clinical Skin Care facial. Clay was used for the facial mixture and it was made of two layers: sulfur and cucumber. Sounds a bit toxic right? It wasn’t. The clay was gentle, a product feature PTR Clinical Skin Care highly values. As gentle as it was however, it left a massive refreshing sensation that penetrated several layers of my skin. The sensation reminded me of what Sea Breeze made my skin feel like, minus the burn from the alcohol. The line doesn’t use alcohol.

The treatment was followed by a face massage and some pretty intelligent chatter from a PTR product expert, Vanya who operates in San Francisco. My skin was left looking better than it did before – no redness either. I’ll definitely go back for this treatment.

Reinvent Your Shopping Experience with Your Phone

January 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

During a recent stroll through Westfield of downtown San Francisco, I wanted to find the best price for a blush applicator. With so many cosmetics counter options in this galleria and Union Square, I wanted to avoid hitting every shop. So I took advantage of my new iPhone application, Where to Shop. It’s a product / store finder that uses GPS to locate whatever you’re shopping for, within your vicinity. It’s a pretty decent tool considering it’s free.

I found a variety of brushes ranging from 45 to 10 bucks. Not bad! The application loads photos of products available, store name, distance and store phone number. However, I highly recommend calling to confirm whether the item is in stock. Some retailers can be a little behind in updating their online inventories.

After a few clicks, I decided on a brush at Sephora. It was a bargain among the several comparable items listed at nearby stores. This shopping application saved the day. It made my shopping search relatively easy. Plus, it saved my feet and new stilettos from stomping from store to store.

The Bay Area’s Nails La’moure

January 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

I’ve made a habit out of getting my nails done regularly. I’ve been doing it for years for a few reasons. One, it makes my hands look pretty and two, I like to treat myself to a little pampering sometimes. Everybody should do it. Self neglect is the leading cause of bad moods, you know. So to avoid being a groucho, I get my nails done. It makes me smile.

At a recent visit to the nail salon while one hand was getting worked on, I was texting away on my newly gifted iPhone 3G – the device I’m using to write this entry.

It’s an amazing little handheld computer with full access to the internet, iPod capabilities and applications ranging from health news updates to time killing games.

One of the manicurists shuffled through my music and played my disco selection. It totally changed the vibe in the room. Hm, never have I met a group of women that liked disco as much as I did. I even got some free nail designs. In the wise words of Martha Stewart, “it was a good thing”.

Random Project Runway Encounter in SF

January 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

During a stroll on Valencia in SF; I wandered into Retro Fit, a vintage shop located near 20th Street. Product inventory ranges from a t-shirt bar and cosmetics counter to classic vintage pieces.

Lights shimmering from the sequence of a very familiar runway dress grazed my face. It was a Project Runway dress! I went to the counter for details and found LeMay, the queen that strutted the dress down the catwalk on last season’s Project Runway.

We talked for a few minutes about his experience on the show. He was more than happy to appease my inner reality tv loving child.

Stop in if you’re in the area. Retro Fit is owned and operated by the infamous LeMay and his shop has some interesting must see vintage pieces.

Where Am I?

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