Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I've been a VIB for a few years now, and my local Sephora is within walking distance of that "other" brand. I've heard rave reviews about their rewards program, most especially about their generous giving of free product with each new level reached and not samplers.

 

Today, I headed to my Sephora store for the VIB event, got my bag loaded up, and then...went to Ulta. I was actually there to get a tube of NYX lip gloss since I've heard so much about it, but I went through the whole store out of pure curiosity.

 

The verdict? While Ulta does carry drugstore brands and their rewards are pretty lofty in comparison...Sephora has my heart. Ulta felt too "superstore-ish". No offense, but a little...below...the standard and prestige of Sephora.

So, Sephora, heed our call! Amp up our VIB rewards. Tidy up the shelves and demos in your stores (our store is a tad lacking in that dept.). And, keep up the great work! = )

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

I frequent both Ulta and Sephora but I definitely enjoy my experience at Sephora much better. I feel like I go through phases where I enjoy one more, then the other more, but lately it's been a constant Sephora kick. There are pluses and minuses to both. Everyone was referring to Ulta's rewards program and how it's nice that you can use the rewards as money toward your purchase. Ulta sadly has two DIFFERENT programs though, and how you get into one vs. the other is beyond me, but the program I am in is that they track every dollar spent. Every three or four months they send you a book telling you what level you got (level 1 is spending at least $50, 2 is at least $100 blah blah) then each level has a list of items and you can pick one as your freebie. The positive in this is that I always end up with the highest level which entitles you to up to $40 toward a bottle of perfume, which is nice cause it's definitely a huge gift compared to getting little sample items with Sephora points, BUUUT how much perfume does one person really need. I am drowning in bottles of perfume and even though I've considered gifting them...again, only so many times you can do that. While the perks at Sephora are travel size, I kind of enjoy that fact. I like being able to try something before buying it. I also like that I can actually FINISH it since I have so much makeup I couldn't use it in 12 lifetimes. Returns at Sephora are SO much easier! I feel like Sephora also has a ton more brands. Most of what I would go to Ulta for, I can just go to Sephora for. I only really find myself going to Ulta lately for IT Cosmetics and NYX since no other store sells them. I use drugstore products too and while its nice to get it all in one spot, I find drugstore products to be more pricey than other stores. In terms of every other brand I can get at either store, it usually comes down to two things: 1) do I have coupons and 2) if it's a new product, what store released it first.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

It is by location.  I love having the points although I rarely let them roll over.  I've heard of people going on massive free shopping sprees, but I can't resist cashing them in all the time.  It's nice to usually have minimum $3 off my purchase at all times.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

The different programs are based on location. I'm in Club too & hate it. My store never has any decent offerings (the ones advertised on the flier/e-mail is not what they have in store), and I usually go to Ulta 3-4x a year. Our levels don't roll-over, so every quarter you have to start new. 

I've heard that all stores will be switching to the points system, so I wonder if I'll shop at Ulta more when they do. Of course Ulta doesn't carry a lot of the brands I shop at Sephora for, but Nordies & Bloomies does Smiley Tongue 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

I have the points program in my area, but I've read about yours and people have been able to use a combination of the smaller gifts if they wanted those more/get sick of the ones in your bracket. So if you were a level 7 (or whatever it is), you could pick a gift from levels 1 and 6, or levels 2 and 5, etc.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Ulta had a great free gift today.  The email came in as "Free 7pc-Full Size Lip Collection" Limited Time only starting at 10 a.m. with a $50 purchase.  Free shipping.  Opened it up and looked great.  An exception noted all 7 pieces were NOT full size as the subject line of the email stated, 5 were full size 2 were deluxe samples.  Nonetheless, I have been waiting for a good promo code and was going to buy a few items that I have been wanting from Sephora and waiting on.  At 11:30 I went to add the free gift to my basket.  Its Sold Out!  Really?  They did say "while supplies last".  No purchase made.  This is one of the differences between Sephora and Ulta.  Sephora understands the demands of their special offer gifts.  They don't run out in in under an hour.  They stock accordingly.  Ulta offered this from 10-4.  One of their weekly specials.  This really bugs me.  If you can't provide the stock, don't make the offer.  Its not like it was 3 p.m. and they ran out, it was under an hour.  I feel like I am drawn in hoping to make a purchase anyways.  Sephora you are and always will be my favorite. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I just got the same email from Ulta and was disappointed that they went out of stock so quickly! That said, I do think Ulta is still usually better about stock. (see below comment on Disney palettes and distribution of promos)

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

you obviously were not around for the Ariel collection then if you feel that way about sephora. Smiley Happy And, sephora is also known to not send every offer to every customer making receiving offers extremely unfair unless you know to look on beautytalk. It's really a pick your poison type of deal when choosing where to shop.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

ATTN: Sephora. Corp.  I don't know if you sent out a big, giant memo on store cleanliness, but my local store has REALLY improved tidying their demos, etc.  Really noticeable!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I shop at both Sephora and Ulta, usually for totally different things, and I see no reason to have to choose between the two.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I do love both of these stores but I think I prefer Sephora better because the atomosphere is more upscale, the store assistants are friendly and cheerful and always ready to help while the ulta i'm close too the sales assistants can't stop hounding you with questions and following you around the store, like seriously sometimes people just want to be left to look around.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Sephora will always be my #1! Once in a while Ulta has deals too good to pass up, during the 21 Days of Beauty, I got an awesome Cargo shadow palette for only $20 & UD Grindhouse for $5!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

I love both these stores, but lately I've been on a Ulta kick. I've gotten two 20% off coupons just this month and I was able to use on prestige brands, so instead of waiting for Sephora's F&F sale in November, I got a bunch of things on my list ( and got some pretty awesome GWPs). The only thing I don't like about Ulta is their return policy, at my local store you can only return without receipt 2x a yr. That policy especially sucks when most of their drugstore makeup are sealed and can't be swatched. 

 

Obviously I love Sephora (I made Rouge when it first rolled out) but I feel like I can get a lot of the brands at different stores (Nordstrom's especially) and lately the 100, 500, VIB perks don't seem to interest me. I'm still holding out hope that Sephora will do something freaking awesome during the holidays. 

 

Sorry for the long rant, the verdict is Sephora has my heart for the long haul but other stores have my attention right now Smiley Happy

 

 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

That is interesting that you say your store only takes 2 returns without a receipt a year. I had always known Ulta's return policy to be that if you had the receipt, you would get your money back within 60 days. After 60 days you would get store credit. If you didn't have a receipt at all, you would get store credit. When was moving earlier this year, had some returns I wanted to make, but with all of the action of moving, they totally slipped my mind. It had been a while but I didn't mind getting store credit because I knew I would use it. I was then told oh woah we can't return this, we don't do returns after 90 days. Um...what? Where did 90 days come from and since when was there a time that they no longer accepted returns? They were like nooo that's always been our policy, meanwhile the signs at the register and the back of their receipts all say otherwise. I contacted corporate and was told that stores are within their rights to designate specific return policies, which defeats the purpose of having Ulta return policies all together. That is definitely one area that Sephora has Ulta BEAT.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

I have never had a problem with returns at Ulta.  Then again, I always keep my receipts for a a month, because I usually know in 30 days or less if a product is going to be a keeper or going back.  

 

I can't blame them for limiting returns without receipts though--I can see where some would abuse that.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

[ Edited ]

Store wise I prefer Ulta because I use both drugstore and prestige cosmetics and the store is on my way home from work so it's really convenient.  Although there are two Sephoras nearby there, I only go in if they are having a VIB event or something.  Online shopping wise, I love Sephora.  I definitely do more shopping with Sephora because of the free samples and promo codes.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

[ Edited ]

 

I have been to ULTA like 3 times. I have been to Sephora like 3.0.0 times.

So I guess you all know my answer Smiley Happy. Yes, I love love Sephora. Smiley Happy

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

I have love for both of these stores. I'm top tier at both- and if Ulta had a Rouge level, I'd be that too (caveat: I'm a cheater since I often get my hair done there- easy to pile up the $$$).

 

At Ulta, I love that I get points worth actual dollar amounts, and the 21 Days of Beauty with all of the steals/GWPs is incredible.
 Some of new favorites (Lipstick Queen) are there only, and it's very convenient for me.

 

At Sephora, there are more prestige brands, and I feel a general warmth from the stores. It's an inviting place to play. I'd never swatch it up at Ulta, for example. I love the perks- but I'd like some $$ off codes, too. Samples are far better at Sephora, too.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

I've only ever been to Sephora because there's one in the mall on the other side of town. I was going to agree with all the people posting how they only go to Sephora because they don't live anywhere near an Ulta, but while double-checking to make sure I found out today that one opened last month in a shopping center that's even closer than the mall! I'm excited to go check it out and make a comparison.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

[ Edited ]

They both have exclusive brands. They share most of the major brands and products.  They both have makeup artists/cast members.  Returns by mail or by store are easy for both.  They both have special events in store, though it seems like Ulta has more of them.

 

I like Ulta's rewards as they can be redeemed for cash off your purchase.  I've been on several $100 shopping sprees on the house courtesy of Ulta.  Plus, it's a lot faster to earn points at Ulta than Sephora.  Ulta has drugstore brands, but Ulta also has an awesome return policy.  So I'll go to Ulta if I want to try out a drugstore brand because I can return it without hassle if it doesn't work out.  And it is convenient to pick up hair and body products at the same time as I get my makeup--saves me a trip or tow.

 

On the down side, Ulta's points expire whereas Sephora's do not.  The coupons that Ulta sends out are a joke as almost all of them can't be used towards non-drugstore brands--there's only one or two a year that can be applied to the prestige brands.  Orders from Ulta's website can take up to two weeks to arrive (I kid you not!).  

 

I'd say they're a little like apples and oranges. Or like green apples and red apples.

 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

(0) Hearts

If you are a platinum points member your rewards never expire, and if you have earned several $100 shopping sprees, you should be at platinum level.  I order things from Ulta online all the time and they usually arrive in two or three days.  

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

From my experience, Ulta does send 20% off coupons, but some people can't use them on "prestige" cosmetics but others can. And some people (like me) don't get those coupons at all.

 

I live more than 1 hour away from Sephora and Ulta so most of my shopping is done online. I choose to buy more products from Sephora.com because it's easier to return items if I'm not satisfied with them. Yeah, I have to wait 2 weeks for my return to be processed by mail, but I have never had a problem returning anything to Sephora and that keeps me coming back.

 

I like that I can choose my own samples at Sephora. I've gotten samples from Ulta that I have thrown in the trash because I can't use them on my skin or hair type. I do love that Ulta has way more GWPs, but if there is a color face product in the GWP, sometimes there's not an option for darker women. But overall, I think that some of their GWP are better than Sephora's. For example, Gucci Premiere is on my wish list. I could buy it from Ulta and get a nicer GWP.

 

I do think that Ulta's point perk program is a good idea because I would rather have money off than a small sample. But I don't shop there enough to earn enough points to get $125 off, or to even make Platinum. Platinum members get those 5x and 10x point offers. The only bonus offer that I have been offered is 2x.

 

Advanced
You must be signed in to add attachments