Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mini Ulta Haul! - Michael Todd, e.l.f., & More!

A few weeks ago, I needed to pick up a new toner. I thought about just repurchasing my favorite, the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner, but being me, I wanted to see what else was out there. I was already on Ulta's website (that's where I get my Mario Badescu products from), so I looked around and a toner from Michael Todd caught my eye. It was online only, so I had to purchase it from the website, which meant that I had to add more products to get to the $50 threshold for free shipping...and then I had to add more products to get free shipping after using my coupons and, well, now you get to see a mini haul!
One of the reasons why I placed this order when I did, besides the fact that I almost out of toner, is that there were a lot of freebies available with an online purchase from Ulta.
I got my standard free samples; Ulta is really bad with these. Unlike Sephora, which lets you pick three samples out of a collection of ten or so, Ulta only lets you pick if you want skincare samples, fragrance samples, or a variety pack of samples. They used to give you three, but they've only been giving me two samples per order for a while now. I always pick variety since I like variety and don't want to get fragrance samples, but more often than not, if I don't still end up getting fragrances, I end up with samples from Benefit and Smashbox, so I was pleasantly surprised to get these Hask haircare samples.
One thing that Ulta does better than Sephora is offer a ton of freebies; Sephora does have a lot of free samples with $25+ or $35+ orders, but if you're buying anything cheaper than that, you only get the regular foil packet samples. Ulta seems to have a ton of freebies; some are only if you purchase a certain amount from a particular brand, but they also have a lot of freebies that you can get with any purchase. Sometimes you can even stack them, like in this case! The first freebie I got is a travel-sized bottle of Redken Triple Take extreme hold hairspray. The bottle is labeled as a sample, so you can't return it for credit or anything, but it's the same exact size as the $11 travel bottle.
The next freebie I got is a sample of the new Superhero mascara from IT Cosmetics. This mascara is supposed to have 'Elastic Stretch Technology' to make your lashes look fuller and longer, along with peptides, biotin, and collagen to make your lashes stronger and look healthier (there's no claim of any long term benefits, but it sounds like that's what they're trying to imply). I'm curious to see how this mascara preforms, and I prefer using these deluxe-sized minis since I'm more likely to use them up before I feel like it's time to throw them out.
The last freebie I got was a deluxe sample of the Too Faced Chocolate Soleil bronzer. It looks like Too Faced changed the packaging of these samples; it's the same size as my older ones, but it's significantly thinner (which is a trend with Too Faced packaging). I know I've been giving away all my Chocolate Soleil bronzer samples because I had a full size, but I ended up throwing it out because it was getting old, so I'm especially happy to have this as a replacement!
Here's the only item I initially intended to purchase; I'm really bad at planning Ulta purchases, but I will take my time when I do want to order something to make sure I'm getting the best deal possible. As I said above, I was just going to repurchase the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner, but this Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner from Michael Todd caught my eye. I'm extremely picky when it comes to toners, and I don't want to use on that contains alcohol. It's surprisingly difficult to find alcohol-free toners, both in the drugstore and from high end brands, so that alone tends to limited my selection. I also don't want to pay too much for a toner; the Mario Badescu toner is well priced at $18 for 8 oz, so I wanted to see if I could find something at a similar price point. While I do love my Glycolic Acid Toner, it's not perfect; I don't mind that it has parabens, but it has added fragrance and dyes, which can be irritating. Surprisingly, I did find a toner that fit my criteria--this one!
It even comes in an opaque pump bottle, to help protect it from air and light, both of which can degrade products and lower their effectiveness, which is something I don't think I've seen with other toners (most come in clear bottles that you squeeze, gently shake, or mist).
This toner is alcohol-free, and it is also free of any added dyes or fragrance (it also doesn't have parabens, for people who are trying to avoid them). I was initially a little wary of using a Michael Todd product since they don't often have the best reviews (I had a serum once that a lot of people expressed concerns about since the ingredients were photo-reactive and could possibly cause more damage in the long run), but the only ingredients that I see that could cause a problem would be the citric acid and the lavender extract (the last two in the ingredient list). Since there is no added fragrance, this toner does have a very herbal, natural scent which can be a little off-putting, but it fades quickly. I've been using this for a few weeks, and, so far, I haven't noticed any negative effects. I also haven't noticed any obvious positive difference in my skin, but since it's about the same price as my Mario Badescu toner ($19 for 8.4 fl oz for the Michael Todd, $18.00 for 8 fl oz for the Mario), if it performs exactly the same, I'll be happy (especially since it has other positive differences from the Mario toner).

And now everything else I added to get my order as close as possible to $50 without going over in order to get free shipping...which is kind of sad since I bought $30 worth of extra products to save like $9...hmm.
One product that caught my eye is the Bliss Mask-a-peel Rubberizing Mask. This is one of the first modeling masks that I've seen from a non-Asian brand and I've been interested in trying one.
This is a powdered mask that you mix with water to form a paste that you then apply to your face. You let it dry, and then you peel it off in (hopefully), one thick layer. Modeling masks are kind of like a hybrid between a clay and a peel-off mask; they've been available from Asian beauty brands for a while now (you can find a bunch at Memebox) and they're about the same price as regular sheet masks. Since this is from Bliss, this mask was slightly more expensive at $10 for this single-use 'travel size', but I ended up paying around $8 since all of Bliss was on sale. If I end up liking this type of mask, I'm going to purchase a bunch of Korean ones since they're much more affordable (and probably just as effective).
Not the most exciting thing, but along with a toner, I did need to pick up another hair removal product for my face. My skin is really sensitive to waxing/tweezing and I end up with really bad bumps and irritation, so I prefer to use hair removal creams. My favorite is the Olay Smooth Finish duo, but that's $25 a kit, so I wanted to see if I could find something that worked just as well but was less expensive. A lot of people recommend trying one of the Sally Hansen kits, and this seemed the most similar. I am a little surprised at the differences in instructions, especially since this kit says that you can't use any soaps or cleansers for two hours before and two hours after using it, while the Olay kit says nothing about not using soaps or cleansers. Normally, I use my Olay remover right before I take a shower, but I won't be able to do so with this kit. I'm going to at least give it a try, but if I don't like it, I'm going to spend the extra money and get the Olay kit.
I also got some e.l.f. brushes! I originally intended to only get the contouring brush, but I needed a new kabuki brush and the Beautifully Bare blending brush got really got reviews. All three of these brushes were $6 each, and, even though they're super inexpensive, I've heard good things about them and have had good experiences with most of my other e.l.f. brushes. On a side note, I'm glad the Ulta started to carry e.l.f. since it makes it super easy to add $1 or $2 worth of products to order if you're just under the free shipping threshold.
Finally, I picked up a rattail teasing comb. This was mostly because, with my coupon, I dipped just under the $50 free shipping threshold, but I did want to get another rattail comb since I'm not sure how long my current one is going to last. I went with a teasing comb instead of just a regular fine tooth since I rarely use the comb in the first place (I mostly have it because the tail helps me keep my hair part under control), and a teasing comb will likely be more useful in the long run if I want to do any hairstyles that involve teasing (for obvious reasons).

And that's my haul! It's not huge, but for only $50, I'm pretty impressed with the amount and variety of items I was able to get.

Thanks for reading! <3

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