Of all the beauty retailers, Ulta is the most democratic. You can pick up a two-pack of Real Techniques beauty sponges for a little over $10 and then go a few aisles over and splurge on our favorite wrinkle-smoothing, SPF-infused moisturizer. It’s akin to the way I shop in real life. My beauty essentials are a mix of high-low, an unspeakably expensive moisturizer paired with an unfussy, $8 cleanser. It’s about balance, after all. That’s why I’m excited about Ulta’s Black Friday sale, which promises big discounts on a wide range of beauty buys. The sale kicked off last weekend, and continues through November 26. If you’re counting, that’s a week of deals, with discounts up to 50 percent off.
This year, we’re prioritizing products we’ve written about and tested before — like Amanda Seales’s favorite deodorant from Kopari, which also happens to be our favorite natural-deodorant option for kids. There’s also a very good deal on the best-selling Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel, a consistent Strategist favorite that’s been recommended for a host of skin types from oily to mature.
We’ve rounded everything up below and broken them down into categories to make things easier to shop. And in case you have more shopping to do (a mattress, perhaps?), check out our big Cyber Monday hub.
Note: We’re done updating this post, but you can keep shopping the deals below all weekend long. Keep in mind that deals might change or prices might fluctuate during that time. We’ll be back on Monday with updates and new deals.
If you were a YouTube fan from 2013 on, then you were lusting after Morphe’s massive eye-shadow palettes, which were a status symbol in their own right. Though the buzz has calmed down a bit, they’re still a solid option, delivering creamy mattes and silky shimmers at an affordable price.
We previously named Estée Lauder’s iconic Double Wear the best full-coverage foundation for mature skin because, despite its high coverage level, it still gives skin a natural-looking matte finish. It also has an expansive shade range (56 and counting), ensuring most everyone can find one that works for them.
You can snag a travel-size version of Too Faced’s popular “Better Than Sex” mascara, which we’ve said is the best option for dramatic, but not clumpy, lashes.
Lots of M.A.C is on sale, including its iconic, best-selling Ruby Woo lipstick. It has been a makeup-kit staple since its debut over 20 years ago in part because it looks good on so many skin tones. It’s also the the go-to red for many celebrities: Angelina Jolie wore it on the cover of Vogue in 2017, it has been T. Swift’s go-to shade since 2009, and Rihanna has been known to rock it, too.
RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Alaska Thunderfuck told us about the highly pigmented Dipbrow Gel from Anastasia Beverly Hills, which thickens and defines eyebrows in just a few strokes. “I will never be seen without this product on my eyebrows,” said Thunderfuck. “It lasts the whole day, and I even sleep in it.”
Also mined from the celebrity-recommendation archives: this nourishing semi-matte lipstick that’s formulated with castor oil and vitamin E. We learned about it from Movita Organics founder Tonya Lewis Lee (who also happens to be Spike Lee’s wife). “The nude lipsticks are great natural shades; they add a little color to my look,” says Lee.
Beauty editors, beauty enthusiasts, and short-lashed people agree: Grande Cosmetics Lash serum is very good. A quick Google search will turn up rave reviews of the seemingly magical gold tube, with many calling it life-changing. The serum is packed with peptides, vitamins, and amino acids, is said to work in just four to six weeks with consistent use, and makes lashes longer and thicker. Rio recently tried it after a freak accident with an eyelash curler, and said it did in fact lengthen her broken-off lashes and helped new ones to grow.
If your skin needs a boost of hydration, Vichy’s Mineral 89 serum is a solid, affordable option. In addition to hyaluronic acid, it also uses Vichy’s signature mineral-rich volcanic water, which acts as an antioxidant and protects the skin from environmental stressors.
Rio first alerted us to this hydrating under-eye cream from Kiehl’s in 2017 when she detailed the products she uses to get rid of raccoon eyes, saying that it’s “worth trying if you need a little lift to your eyes and don’t want to put on concealer.” Since then, it has been mentioned by Kaley Cuoco, who says it’s her No. 1 eye cream and her go-to when she has saggy, puffy eyes.
Dermaflash allows you to remove peach fuzz at home, mimicking an in-office dermaplaning treatment. Senior editor Crystal Martin wrote about the tool in 2018 for the Strategist, telling us about its glow-making abilities. Dermaflash has since improved upon the original design. Now, the blade is finer than before, producing even better results. It’s a pricey gadget at nearly $200, but the sale makes it a more manageable splurge.
Our favorite facial cleansing brush (which is admittedly quite pricey) is also up for grabs. It uses gentle, easy-to-clean silicone bristles to scrub the skin and pulse 8,000 times per minute to clean out pores. Dr. Corey L. Hartman is a fan, especially for patients with acne. “It’s not a direct treatment, but it’s a way to get your skin more thoroughly cleansed and let your active ingredients penetrate better.” It’s also pretty low-maintenance — a full charge lasts for months.
For a moisturizer that does a bit more, there’s this Exuviance moisturizer, which also made our list of the best moisturizers with SPF. It’s a bit of a splurge, which is why I’m excited to see it in the sale. It uses vitamin A (also known as retinol) and vitamin E, along with peptides, to really repair the skin.
This OG face cream is a favorite of B.J. Novak, who learned about it from a makeup artist while working on The Office. It’s ultra-lightweight but moisturizing and fragrance-free, so it’s good for a range of skin types, including those sensitive to fragrance. It also has SPF 30, an added boost of SPF protection for skin.
If you want something a bit lighter (but no less hydrating), there’s a sale on a version of the Neutrogena Hydro Boost moisturizer, one of the most popular products among Strategist readers. It’s a dermatologist favorite too, and has been recommended by experts for oily skin, mature skin, and for nighttime, too. This is a bit lighter than the gel-cream formula, and ideal if you’re looking for something ultra-lightweight. It’s already affordable, but the sale makes it a good time to stock up on a few.
If Morphe’s eye-shadow palettes were emblematic of the YouTube makeup-guru era, then the Revlon One-Step Volumizer is the patron saint of the TikTok beauty obsessives. The blow-dryer brush is beloved for its ability to mimic a silky blowout with minimal effort and its versatility for lots of hair types. We’ve been singing its praises for a few years, even dubbing it the best affordable blow-dryer brush on the market.
The Hot Tools curling iron is a favorite of hairstylist Kendall Dorsey, especially for textured hair, because of its quick heating mechanism and high heat threshold (it goes up to 430 degrees). It comes in lots of barrel sizes, so you can pick one that works best with your hair texture.
If you only want to deal with one tool, we recommend the T3 curling iron, which comes with interchangeable ceramic curling barrels that can be easily swapped out. The set comes with three barrel sizes — one inch, 1.25 inches, and 1.5 inches. It also has five adjustable heat settings, from 260 degrees all the way up to 410 degrees.
And if you want a curler that does some of the work for you, there’s the Beachwaver S1, which rotates on its own to produce effortless, beachy curls. It first came recommended to us by Alison Freer, who discovered it while working on a set. “It helps me start my day with a slightly tighter curl that falls nicely throughout the day, just like the women on TV,” she says.
Pattern Beauty launched in 2019, and since then, it’s become a favorite of those with curly hair looking for nourishing products that don’t weigh hair down. Lots of its products are available, including the treatment mask, which has a spalike scent and offers everything you might want in a hair treatment: slip, curl elongation, and definition. Its main ingredients are rice water and moringa seed extract, which help to simultaneously soften and strengthen hair.
TonyMoly has a penchant for cutesy, novelty packaging. There are contour sticks with an adorable cat head, a whale-topped eye cream, and hand creams shaped like fruit. The peach one is a favorite of writer Molly Young, who describes it as lightly scented and nongreasy. It moisturizes using shea butter and peach and apricot extracts, and contains anti-aging ingredients to keep hands smooth and line free. Of the cute packaging, it’s also reusable: Young uses it for gum, Advil, and vitamins.
This aluminum- and baking-soda-free deodorant is a longtime Strategist favorite due to its simple, effective formula that delivers effective results. Strategist writer Latifah Miles uses it on her son. “The scent is very light, which is nice for a child, and a little goes a long way.” It also came up in Amanda Seales’s favorite things. The comedian likes that it’s natural, but gets the job done and doesn’t need to be reapplied.
If you’re in between appointments or simply interested in waxing at home, this kit from Bliss comes with everything you need. It’s a hard wax that works similarly to sugaring (you just smooth and tug) and is made from paraffin, beeswax, lanolin, and resin. Brittania Boey, the chief commercial officer at Harry’s and Flamingo, says it’s especially good at grabbing fine hairs, so you’ll get a close, smooth finish.
Post-wax, there’s the ingrown-annihilating Fur oil, which we’ve written about before. It’s specifically designed for moisturizing pubic hair and skin, and is a favorite among skin experts for combatting razor bumps. It helps to soften hair and the regrowth, and contains antiseptic and antimicrobial ingredients that help to keep skin bump-free.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.