10 Things to Buy With the Sephora and Ulta Gift Cards You Forgot About

shopping at sephora

Last Updated on June 27, 2024

For as long as I can remember, I’ve gotten Sephora and Ulta Beauty gift cards for pretty much every Christmas and birthday. The people in my life have long been aware of my love for all things beauty, which makes shopping for me pretty easy. So much so that people love drawing my name when we pick Secret Santa during the holidays because it means they won’t have to look far to find me the perfect gift. 

While I’m usually quick to use my gift cards on new products I’m dying to try, life gets hectic and sometimes said cards get stashed away and forgotten. Such was the case last week as I was bringing my new Marc Jabocs Candy Pink Mesh Tote into the purse rotation and found a lovely little stack of gift cards I had completely forgotten about in my wallet. It’s a great problem to have, sure, but with a massive world of beauty products out there, it can be hard to choose which goodies are worth maxing out your gift cards. As a teenager, I relied on advice from magazine beauty editors when figuring out what to buy. Now, I’m the beauty editor (my teenage self is giddy to write that!), and it’s up to me to do the leg work and find products that are worth your gift card dollars.

When considering what to spend gift cards on, I look at a few factors – what I need, what I want, and what will give me the most bang for my buck. The easiest thing would be to stock up on necessities – for me, it’s Cetaphil cleanser, Neutrogena Makeup Removing Wipes, and Evian Natural Mineral Water Facial Spray, to name a few. And while it’s wise to make sure you have the things you need, this is also a great time to pick up those “wants” you’re less likely to buy for yourself because your money goes towards rent, groceries, and kids who are constantly growing out of their clothes. 

Here are the ten things I chose and why they should also be in your cart:

Rare Beauty Find Comfort Body & Hair Fragrance Mist – $28

I’m a self-proclaimed fragrance connoisseur, and while I generally favor sweet, fruity scents that make me smell like I just walked out of a candy store, this one went viral on TikTok, and I just had to try it. It’s my first Rare Beauty purchase, and after wearing this for a few days, it definitely won’t be my last. The scent is warm and woodsy but delicate and, dare I say, sexy. It’s basically the scent equivalent of a soft cashmere sweater you want to wrap around your body on a cold winter’s day. At $19, this scent is a must-have for your perfume collection. 

The Ordinary Skin Care

The Ordinary offers luxury quality skin care at drug store prices, so using those cards to create a new skincare routine is something you can do for under $100. Here’s what I picked up from the brand: 

Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA Hyperpigmentation Serum  $11.10

I got this serum because I got a pretty severe case of melasma when I was pregnant with my daughter, and nine years later, some of the spots have yet to fade. This product takes a while to work, so I’ll check back in later to let y’all know if it worked, but I’ve heard great things. 

AHA 30% + BHA 2% Exfoliating Peeling Solution $9.50

This exfoliating mask was a restock because I’ve been using it since I saw it on The Today Show, but I love it! It does burn a little, so I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive skin, but if you can handle a little sting, this is great for removing dead skin and impurities as well as evening out fine lines. It’s almost like a vampire facial in a bottle, and if you use it twice a week (Wednesday and Sunday for me), you’ll notice a difference within a month. I certainly did.

Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA $14

I’m always in the market for a good moisturizer, and this one contains a healthy dose of hyaluronic acid, so I have high hopes. So far, I love how lightweight the formula is and that it pairs well with my L’Oreal True Match Foundation.

Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez Discovery Eyeshadow Palette – Give Yourself Grace $29

When it comes to eyeshadow palettes, I love a neutral moment, and this handy little palette certainly delivers. The powders are richly pigmented and blend like a dream, plus there’s a perfect mix of matte and metallic shades. I’ve had this palette in my hands for about a week, and it’s quickly become my go-to when I’m short on time. 

Drybar Prep Rally Prime & Prep Detangler $27

This detangler and heat protector in one is great for naturally curly hair that’s prone to dryness and tangles. I use this on wash day before jumping in the shower to make the washing process a little less tedious or when refreshing my curls to separate the clumps without making my hair frizzy and frayed at the ends. It also smells lovely. 

Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Salicylic Acid Serum $35

In my teenage years, I always treated blemishes with a healthy dose of Noxema and Clearasil, but I’m in my early 40s now and need a product that will clear occasional acne without contributing to fine lines and wrinkles. That’s where this holy grail product comes into play. The serum is hydrating and improves the appearance of your skin with healing ingredients like Willow Bark and soothing Green Tea Leaf. I like to use this as a spot treatment at bedtime because I wake up the next day with a huge reduction in redness and inflammation. 

Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Luxury Facial Oil $38

I’ve been dying to try out this viral brand, and while this is the only product I’ve tried from the line, I really like it thus far. I love facial oils, and this is easily the best one I’ve ever used. The silky formula is ultra moisturizing without being overly greasy, and I like how it sits on my skin and makes it glow without making me look like I covered myself in Crisco. I haven’t been using this long enough to see any dramatic changes in my skin yet, but I’m definitely feeling more hydrated and dewy. 

Fenty Beauty Diamond Bomb All-Over Diamond Veil $42

Did I want this product? Yes. Did I need this product? No. Do I regret buying it? Also no. Nothing makes me feel fancier than a poppin’ highlight that makes my cheekbones visible from space, and this product does just that. I got the shade Rosé Rave, and the golden pink hue is perfect against my warm undertones. It’s hands down the most beautiful highlighter I’ve ever owned, and in my scientific opinion, it’s worth every penny. 

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Jet Set $30

This travel set includes the Brazilian Bum Bum cream to lift and tighten your booty, Brazilian 4 Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel to keep your skin clean and silky soft, plus a Cheirosa 62 Perfume Mist to seal the deal and keep you smelling good. Sol de Janeiro offers a wide range of fragrances, but this is their signature scent. If I could describe it in a few words, I would say it has a sunny, tropical vibe that makes you feel like you’re sunning your toasty little buns on a Brazillian beach. 

MAKEUP BY MARIO Ethereal Eyes Eyeshadow Palette $68

We all need a little splurge now and then, and if you’re going to do it, then do it right and treat ‘yoself. This stunning neutral palette has mattes, metallics, and even a few glossy shades when you want to glow from head to toe. Everything is long-wearing, blendable, and, to put it quite simply, absolutely gorgeous. And sure, $68 is a lot to pay for one palette, but these neutral shades are versatile, so you will get a lot of use out of them. Trust and believe I will use this thing until I hit pan on every shade. 

NUDESTIX NUDIES MATTE All Over Face Bronze Color $35

I tried this creamy bronze stick on a whim, and now I can’t live without it. I use this to contour my nose, temple, cheeks, and jawline, and it blends seamlessly. It even has a blending brush on the other end for maximum convenience. It comes in seven shades, and for reference, I’m using the shade Manila on my mid-tone Latina complexion. 

Now that you’ve seen my beauty haul, I would love to see yours. Tell me all about what you bought with your gift cards; you may even put me on to something new for a future article!

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