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Post in Besides Beauty

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

I like Ulta better because I can rack up some points and then use those points to get a discount. I like Ulta better because you can actually use your points for something useful like a free haircut or manicure. I don't like how at Sephora, you "spend" "$100" for a mini or "$500" for a bunch of minis. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Totally agree with you, Andy. Although I shop that Sephora, I have been hitting up Ulta way more. I get my foundation there as well as a ton of lipsticks (NYX is awesome!) and eye shadows (again NYX and even the Ulta brand). Also, I always have a coupon to use. And I've never had a problem finding an associate to help me, but that could just my store.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Have you ever gotten one of those "free" haircuts? Because I wouldn't recommend that to anyone I liked. Maybe someone I didn't like though Smiley Wink 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I cannot stand shopping at ulta. They never have the GWP available,there always sold out . I always have to search the store for someone to help me, and most of the time there's three girls working the whole store . There return policy is crap. There drugstore make up is crazy over priced, even with there weekly sale and coupons, the only good one is the 40%off.  I can go to walmart or HEB and get the same drugstore make up for way less, I think they should have a coupon for either the whole store or for none of the store, instead of making there coupon avaible for there prestige products one month and then the next month the same 20% coupon is only for drugstore brands. The most comman question I hear when I'm at ulta is, can I use this coupon for this brand? I think they need a better system. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I do occasionally shop there, but I totally agree about the coupons! Here's a coupon for 20% off your entire purchase! But wait just kidding, everything you wanted to buy is actually excluded from the coupon!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Just like Sephora has its sales where you can get a percentage off everything a couple times a year, Ulta does as well.  The difference is Ulta's is 20%, however, you get only one or two coupons.  I got one in the regular mail, which I used on 04-07-14 (during chic week when I also got Sephora items for 15% off).  It was right after the Days of Beauty.  I got another one in the email, which I used on 04-09-14.


I realized I forgot couple of things, so I had to pay full price for the items I forgot at Ulta on 04-10-14.  I did use $50 of my rewards dollars to soften the blow though.  You can purchase as many times as you want during chic week at Sephora, so I prefer that.  However, it was only for 15%.  


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Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I'm two hours from the nearest Sephora, so Ulta is a lot more convenient for me. Still, I don't shop there much. The main reason is that the Ulta near me doesn't provide any samples for many of their products, and to make things worse, they don't even provide testers for many of the products.


In addition, the Sephoras I've been to have had stands with mirrors, cotton swabs, mini makeup sponges, makeup remover, etc. At my local Ulta, even finding a mirror is difficult, and forget about anything to apply or remove the samples. Plus, unlike at the Sephoras I've been to, the local Ulta has poor lighting.


I don't know if this is standard at all Ultas or whether it's just my local Ulta.


I do like the fact that Ulta has many affordable brands that Sephora doesn't have.



Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I feel like I've contributed to every Sephora v. Ulta thread on here (possibly this one too, lol) but I'll chime in again. Smiley Tongue


+ Sephora:

high end paradise

better CS with knowledgeable SAs

brands like Kat Von D, Tocca,Nars, etc..

flash shipping

faster shipping (compared to Ulta anyway)

custom samples in stores

VIB events

BT Smiley Happy

great return policy



awesome rewards/platinum program

frequent bonus point opportunities

earn points on drugstore purchases

excellent GWPs (usually online)

annual "21 days of beauty" deals

no promo code necessary for GWPs!!


For me, Sephora definitely has more  + points than Ulta, but Ulta's perks are still very competitive. In fact, I was looking at each of my accounts and I've spent almost the exact same amount at each store (which combined would have been enough to put me in VIB Rouge, and then some. Yikes!) I'll always love both; I'm not sure I could ever give up either of them!




Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I don't love Sephora, but I don't love Ulta either. 

I have their membership but I never actually go or order from them. 

For drugstore brands, going to target or CVS is closer and easier, durgstore . com ships faster. I don't buy much mid end brands, and for high end brands, I look for GWP from nordstrom, macys, etc and come back to Sephora if there isn't anything around. Ulta just never occurs to me. 

plus their shipping is super slow, and they don't have a lot of stores. 



Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I love my Sephora, they carry my favorite makeup brand Kat von D, and well, they have more Benefit products, and a few other brands that Ulta doesn't have. But when it comes to brushes and stuff, I typically go to Ulta for that, not to mention they always have deals going on, some kind of discount. When I bought the lorac pro palette I was able to use some of the money I had accumulated for previous purchases and not waste a lot.. and let me tell you, I haven't even bought much there, so that was wonderful. Not to mention I like their GWP. I got a cute benefit makeup bag when I bought the big easy foundation. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Well, sephora wins fir me since we have no ulta.  My guess is our closest thing in Canada is SDM.  sephora still wins cause I appreciate the shopping experience as much as I do the products.  

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I have to say that my local Sephora has gotten SO MUCH BETTER over the past 4 or 5 months in regards to customer service. Looks like those surveys are actually making a difference.


I would always get ignored. I mean, it was just a given. I would be rummaging through over stock underneath the displays trying to find a product and STILL wouldn't be helped. And this was not in a crowded store! The SAs were often huddled together having conversations while I frustratingly couldn't find a product because, yet again, the sample was missing from the display. But I've noticed a total turnaround! (OK sometimes it's a little overbearing but they're trying and I really appreciate it!) Smiley Happy

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I have to say, I LOVE Sephora more than ever for the LUXURY brands they offer.  Although on the front end Sephora carries prestige brands like Benefit, Urban Decay, and Stila, much like other retailers such as Ulta and department stores, I like the idea of being able to get 10-20% off of things like Givenchy, Armani (my location carries this IDK if this is all Sephora stores), YSL, and Dior cosmetics twice per year.  I hate to sound like a snob, but I'm definitely more about quality over quantity, and if I'm getting $$ off of anything you can bet your bottom dollar I'd rather save on luxury goods vs. drugstore and prestige brands that you can get almost anywhere. 


It also doesn't hurt that Sephora is really technology driven.  I'm a techno nerd at heart and I feel like I spend a lot of my life online sadly lol. I love being able to go on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, or and look up the latest tutorials for beauty trends and general advice about products.  Thank you for all that you do Sephora! Keep being great!!!!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I've only ever been ignored in a Sephora once, and that store has totally redeemed itself.  I love going their now.  The ULTA I go to ... I'd usually stop in when running other errands and wearing jeans, tee and Chucks ... dressed down, but not sloppy.  I nearly have to beg someone to help me.  Their customer service is so lacking, and my experience at other ULTAs has been similar.  


I love perks and rewards, but it's not why I'll be loyal to a place.  I'm loyal because of customer service, and while Sephora sometimes lacks consistency, they're usually fair to great.  ULTA has been consistently awful and I now do all my shopping with ULTA online.  And, while I love Sephora, it would be great if they would step up to the level of Nordstrom which is consistently a great and pleasant experience, no matter what store I go into, and no matter how I'm dressed.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I prefer Ulta. I redeemed $250 dollars in points over the holidays and used it with a 20% off coupon. For some reason they still gave me points for my purchase. 


Their GWP bags are awesome too. I got so many over the holidays. One of my favorites is the red and white polka dot one that splits in the middle with a snap enclosure. It has clear zips on both sides. Best makeup bag yet. Their 21 days of beauty is awesome too but terrible for my wallet.


I spent double the amount at Ulta compared to Sephora. I only buy what I can't get at Ulta from Sephora. And even then, Nordstrom has 90% of the items that I buy that Ulta doesn't carry and I prefer their customer service.


I don't mind if other people don't like Ulta as much. Even though they get stock in every week, shelves get ravaged. Hot online specials sell out within hours. I'd prefer it if less people shopped at Ulta actually Smiley Wink

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I think Sephora is hands down the BEST! have you looked at ultas twitter feed lately? It's nothing but apologies To customers who complain about their local store, try to call CS and get nothing so they have to resort to a very public shaming to get someone from Ulta to respond. I shop mostly online eventhough I have both stores within 10 minutes driving, I  usually only visit the store to make returns. My local Sephora store is always really friendly and helpful and never give me guff about what I'm returning or the fact that I rarely have a receipt. The ulta store here needs your blood type, birth certificate, passport, packing slip and emailed receipt just to let you exchange something. Also, at Ulta, all the demos are beat up, half the pans on palettes are empty or people just stick their dirty fingers right in to it and everything's always a mess. I feel like Ulta is Walmart and Sephora is Nordstroms. Also, ulta gives you smart post shipping for $50; smart post is the worlds slowest shipping method. They use ups to get the package to your region and then give it to the stupendously unreliable US Postal Service to make final delivery. Sometimes their packages take 7 full business days to deliver. Sephora gives 3 day UPS shipping and ships within 1-2 biz days For the same MO.... And they give really good samples. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

After much thought and review of this thread, this is my conclusion. Disregarding customer service (it depends on the area/people) and online service (never tried it), I'd say Sephora wins by a hair because they make in-store samples. Smiley Happy  It was pretty close, though! Both stores offer a great range of brands, rewards, and services. Sephora has more high-end brands, deluxe sample rewards, and makeup consultations. Ulta has a range of drugstore, mid-range, to high-end brands, dollars off purchase rewards, and skincare/salon services. I go to both often, and the only complaint I have about both is that I wish the organization of the store was more consistent and intuitive.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I think it is a toss up (some people are lucky and have nice customer oriented employees at either/ both of their local Ulta's or Sephora's). Me personally, I am loving Ulta more lately. I have been getting a bunch of e-mails fore free items with any in store purchase. Where I live, my rewards program is switching to their new points program, so I can't speak to that. But on their old program, I loved how I could get my haircuts and color counted towards my spend total. It was so cool getting my D&G light blue practically free with my certificate. I found a great hairstylist at a local Ulta and I have been seeing her for 1.5 years. My closest Ulta has really stepped it up on the customer service side. They are always popping in to see if  I need help and make sure I am greeted (this never really happens to me at Sephora).


I love Sephora for the wide variety of products they carry. I will always shop here. But the customer service in my Ulta is consistently good (for the most part). Rarely do I get samples in store at Sephora, and the few times I have needed help, I didn't get any. I even had an SA recently try and argue that the Nars blush I wanted to return was not returnable because they didn't carry the color (Taos) and I bought it at JCP so I had to go there. Even though I was exchanging for $90 worth of product, he acted like he did not want to do the return. It left a sour taste in my mouth.


If I shop at Sephora, 90% of it I do online because I have been so turned-off by the in-store experience. Whereas with Ulta, I prefer to shop in store. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I tried to use my rewards but their workers were not knowledgeable.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

You know, I had an issue just this weekend with their Rewards certificate. I know the new points system is in place, but I managed to snag enough to earn a rewards coupon before that system ended and got a basic level two. I saw they added Revlon nail enamels to the list for level 1 and figured I'd get two matte top coats. I was in the aisle and double, triple, and quadruple checked pricing to ensure I was getting one in the basic "nail enamel" line and the the Top Shine/Speed or the new scented ones which cost more.


I get to check out and the gal who rings me up is scanning to list to see if the item is on the rewards voucher list, scans the items, gets a manager to approve the code to void out the items yet somehow they ring on the current buy 1 get 1 50% off deal for Revlon products which made no sense if she were to have scanned my coupon and entered the exact amount for both polishes. She then tries to argue that the matte top coat is not part of the deal which I explain it's classified as their enamel (same with their base/top coats, colors, and glitters), she doesn't believe me, runs off to check, suspends my transaction, hands me over to a manager who then asks me for my receipt (uh....I never even checked out) which she then realizes one never existed, tries to argue again that the polish is not part of the deal, whips out a calculator for who knows what (again, scan the item, say it rings for $4.99, scan the rewards coupon, punch in the value to redeem/remove at $4.99 and we wouldn't have the problem of it activating the BOGO deal), and then huffs a "Uh, I GUESS I'll give it to you" and overrides the system!


You GUESS????? Um, NO, the polishes are a part of the rewards so there is no GUESSING.



Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

My local Sephora has the nicest SAs I've ever met at any beauty store/counter anywhere. They're always loading me up with samples I don't even ask for, and we all just stand around giggling and gossiping and gushing over new makeup and skincare products. They're always the sweetest things!


My local Ulta has snobby, overly made-up, mean girls. As in, Mean Girls. They ignore you when you walk in, and I've heard them talking to each other about other girls' makeup who are in the store at the time. I actually witnessed them saying something rude about how a girl's face looked like it needed a cheese grater to get the acne off, and SHE heard them too, and she dropped all her stuff on the ground and walked right out. I've tried going in a few more times, but it's always the same. I've never once completed a purchase there, just because I can't stand how the people working there act.


I don't mind that they carry drugstore brands, and I don't think that one particular store is better than the other, but as far as staffing goes, I think that locally, Sephora spends more time and care in selecting good SAs to work for them. But I've seen a lot of people say the same thing about Sephoras in their area, so maybe I'm just a lucky one.