When I purchased the Ulta Collection 12 Days of Beauty advent calendar, I did so with the strict intention of 1) treating myself to something I've never done before (a beauty advent calendar!) and 2) testing to see if everything in it was absolutely worth the price tag.
Luckily, this calendar wasn't particularly expensive: full price, it cost $18, but I bought it on sale for $13.50. That's a right bargain, really, for 12 new beauty products! Even Ulta's collection, which is quite affordable, you couldn't buy that many products for that total.
In this review, I want to answer the question: was this advent calendar worth it? I define worth in a few ways: firstly, is the value of the calendar the same as or more than what I paid for it? Secondly, are the products things the average person (or, in my case, a 29-year-old mother) would use? And thirdly, was it also fun?
Let's jump right in!
1. Metallic Lip Gloss ($9)
This was an exciting first day surprise! Metallic lip gloss (and lipstick and liquid lips) are very popular this season, so this was a fun find. I wore it over my favorite liquid lip, Rebel Rose by Wet'n'Wild, and really loved it. It is definitely on the stickier side, but it's very pigmented and very metallic.
I couldn't find any metallic lip glosses on Ulta's website, which is a little odd, but this gloss is a lot like the Color Rush lip glosses (which I have used before and really love). It is quite close to the color Carrie and so I have valued it at around $9 for a full size.
2. Gel Bounce Eye Shadow ($8)
I really love this eyeshadow. It's a bronzey-gold shade with a slightly greenish tint. It's not super pigmented, but great for packing on top of another eyeshadow to make it into a more glitzy night look. It's also something I would use during the day to highlight my inner corner. I did find it transferred quite a bit if I wore in on my eyeliner, but a better primer might be necessary.
This is another product that I couldn't find an exact match for on Ulta's website, but it is very close in color and texture to the Glitter Eye Top Coat in the shade Bronze Bombshell.
3. Glitter Tears Eyeliner ($10)
This definitely falls into the "fun, but not something I would use category"! It's quite cool; it's a glittery gold eyeliner that is surprisingly easy to use. I could see myself putting it on top of black winged eyeliner for a party look, but not something I would reach for every day.
So this eyeliner is actually the same as was in a kit, sold earlier in the year, and is the exact same as Ulta's Liquid Eyeliner in the color Gold Glitter. (The only difference is the bottle shape.)
Just like the glitter eyeliner, this is something that is very fun (glitter!) but not super practical. As a mom, I just don't need to be covered in glitter all the time! It is quite fun though and if I was younger, I would mix it with lotion for a summer day out. This definitely went into my bin of things to donate to my husband's students (they will love it, honestly).
This is one of the few things I found an exact match for on Ulta's website.
5. Tinted Glossy Balm ($9)
After 2 days of mild disappointment, I was so excited to get something I genuinely love. I'm a lip balm freak and I love tinted balms; this one is on the glossy side, but still hydrating (and doesn't have peppermint oil, thank goodness). It is a pretty berry color: a little bright, but quite pretty.
However, this was another product I couldn't find an exact match for on Ulta (making me incredibly suspicious that this calendar was just repackaged leftovers), but quite similar to the Butter Balm Lip Gloss in the shade Poppsy.
5. Duo Chrome Illuminator in the shade Fairy ($10)
Aha, another exact match! Finally! I was so excited to see this. It's not a traditional highlighter, but rather an illuminator; it is like the Hourglass Afterlight powders that you put in for lowlight looks. More strobing than highlighting, really. This color is very pretty: icy pink that shifts blue-lavendar. I've been wearing it as highlighter over my blush and loving it.
7. Matte Lip Cream ($9)
I love matte liquid lips and I quite like Ulta's matte lip creams, so this was an exciting day! This color is also lovely. Another exact match (we're on a roll!), although since the tube isn't labeled, I have to guess the color. My guess is either Artistic or Bombshell. However, the color is really, really lovely: right up my alley as a medium-toned, mauvey pink!
8. Clear Brow Gel ($7)
I'm not typically a "brow girl", as I say, but I was excited to try this product. I have natural brows that can be quite unruly and I've been meaning to try a brow gel for ages... but just never bought one. Ulta pushed me into it! This brow gel is quite nice, keeping my brows in line without looking fake or feeling too stiff.
9. Bouncy Blush ($9)
I'm a sucker for blush! I love blush! And this one is no exception although it is quite sparkly, which is my only problem with it. Not for everyday use, but the color is lovely and it makes an excellent eyeshadow shade as well.
Again, I couldn't find an exact match, but the Ulta Velvet Blushes look very close. The shade Pink Out is very, very close, although I feel like this blush is certainly a little sparklier.
10. Brow Pencil ($10)
As I said, I'm not someone who typically does my brows, so brow products tend to be a waste on me. But this pencil is quite lovely and matches my hair perfectly, so maybe I'll morph into a brow person!
As well, this is another not-exact match because in the calendar was a sample size without the spoolie on the end (so the value isn't exactly the same, of course).
11. Eyeliner & Shadow Crayon ($8.50)
This shadow crayon is lovely! It is quite thick though, so I can't imagine using it for eyeliner (except in my waterline), but as a shadow, it's lovely for a single color look or to cover the lid after doing a transition shade. The color is a bronzey color with a subtle shimmer.
The closest I could find from the Ulta Collection were their Cream Eyeshadow and Liner Crayons, which are a twist up product (while this is a stick product you have to sharpen). The closest color is Mauve on Over.
12. Body Jewels ($3-5)
This is an item I couldn't find on Ulta at all; there are non-Ulta brands that had them, but not Ulta. I estimated the value of this item. This is another item I'll be donating to my husband's students because I genuinely can't see myself wearing body jewels anytime soon!
Was It Worth It?
So the big question: was this calendar worth it in the end? Let's go through the factors.
1. Was it worth it monetarily? Yes! If you bought all of these items in the closest match possible in the store, it would cost $100.50. Yes, some aren't exact matches, but the closest thing. But still, for $13.50, you could not buy 12 items (especially these 12 items). That's an absolute win to me!
2. Was it worth it in terms of wearability? Basically, are these items wearable? Yes. Mostly. There are 3-4 things I would most likely never use (the glitter, the glitter eyeliner, the body jewels, and the brow pencil) or buy myself. However, those items are still wearable for some people--just not for me! I will be donating anything I definitely don't see myself using.
3. Was it worth it in terms of fun? Was opening the calendar each day fun? Absolutely! It was exciting and I only found myself disappointed 2 or 3 times (and you know which things that was for). I received quite a few things that I can see myself using over and over (the illuminator, the liquid lips, the eyeshadow crayon, and the eyeshadow especially), and possibly repurchasing.
So, final answer, was this calendar worth the purchase? Absolutely.
But I do want to talk about some downsides.
I enjoyed this calendar. I had fun! I like almost everything!
But, Michelle, you wonder, we're talking downsides, here? Yes, we are.
While researching each item to link here (because I want you guys to be able to purchase these items that I post about and talk about!), I found a lot of older blog posts featuring these exact items... that are no longer on the Ulta website. The main culprit is the Glitter Tears eyeliner, which was sold (in that exact bottle) in a kit.
I started to suspect, about halfway through my research, that a lot of these items are either:
- discontinued items from past collections
- items that have been discontinued in favor of a rebrand (such as the Bouncy Blush becoming Velvet Blush)
- items from kits that didn't sell.
Basically, I started to wonder if this was a calendar of leftovers.
Absolutely, I would prefer a brand to sell a calendar of discontinued products rather than putting them in dumpsters or landfills. But it makes it very difficult to link to those products or repurchase them if you like them. It feels like it lacks transparency.
I'm still quite happy with the calendar and I'm glad I bought it. I just wanted to share what I found out (and what I'm mulling over!)
Did you purchase a beauty calendar this year? I'm already keeping my eyes peeled for ones for next year!