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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 go to ULTA every now and again when I need a specific drug store product, but I definitely don't like it anymore.

1. I don't see the point in getting weekly coupons if they can't be used on half of the items in the store.

2. Shipping takes forever, and the last time I ordered something online (a hair mask) it came busted, and was all over everything else I ordered.

3. I haven't met one helpful SA in an ulta.

4. The stores are slightly too disorganized for my liking.


And there are other reasons I can't think of right now. I like how I can use my points towards a future purchase, but that's all I like. 

Sephora definitely has problems too, and can use better rewards and whatnot, but i'm still hooked on it. I mean I buy stuff every few days and actually ENJOY (almost) every trip I make to any sephora. That says a lot.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Sephora definitely has a better layout and more helpful employees in general.  The Ulta near my house is nicer than most of the other ones I've seen though.  That said, the nicest Ulta barely seems on par with the weakest Sephora.  


I do not care which store is prettier or which SAs are more helpful though.  For me, the deal rules.  Sometimes it can be found at Sephora.  Other times it can be found at Ulta.  There are plenty of times when neither of them have a good enough deal for me, so I shop at a number of other reputable dealers.


I have spent far more at Ulta than Sephora this year and last, so I guess Ulta wins my business more frequently.  Last year, Beauty (online) beat them both though (didn't realize this until today when I tallied everything up).  This year, Ulta is beating both though.  Who knows, maybe Sephora will win next year.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

@notcreative...Wow, I was just perusing this post after it was bumped and you nailed my opinion right on the head, the deal does rule!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

The deal always rules, which is why Beauty online won 2013, Ulta won 2014, and Sephora did end up winning 2015, just as I predicted two years ago.


Ulta is currently in the lead for 2016, but Ulta was in the lead mid-year in 2015 before Sephora overtook it in the end. 


We'll see who wins 2016. It should be fun!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I shop at both and definitely prefer Sephora because of the brand selection, knowledgeable sales people, and samples. The ULTA stores in my area are very disorganized and many of the things that can be opened have been tested by some classless people who open up brand new products because they don't want to swatch something that has already been tested. However, I do like their rewards program and they do have more sales and specials than Sephora does, even on products that are considered higher end. I used to get my NYX stuff there, but since Target has been carrying NYX I go there instead.


I do wish Sephora offered more GWPs and weekly sales. Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, etc have GWPs so I'm not sure why Sephora doesn't.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I want to like Ulta, but I always feel disloyal to Sephora when I shop there.

Sephora is Number 1 in customer service and all of their stores are organized and well managed (even those in JCP).

In the past, I've met very sweet girls that worked at Ulta, but if I want the best advice/recommendations for skincare/makeup, I'm going to go to Sephora for the same sweetness, but the expertise of well, experts..

Even though Ulta has nearly weekly 20% or $3.50 off deals, it doesn't apply to higher end brands and I can usually get a better deal at CVS.

There's a handful of brands that I wish Sephora carried so I would not even be tempted by Ulta, but sometimes the value sets are too good to pass up.

My verdict: Sephora is the best.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I'm not a huge Ulta shopper mostly because I think they are disorganized! I can't stand their website - it is much too cluttered and hard to find things easily for me, especially coupons. Their stores are not much better and just seem trashy half the time (at least the ones I've shopped at). I'm not a member of their rewards so I can't really comment on that. In short, I would rather buy drugstore brands at the drugstore Smiley Happy


Sephora is pretty good but I am annoyed you can't use more than one coupon code at a time, and the GWP aren't just automatically added. Otherwise, I much prefer them to Ulta. 


I also do a lot of shopping through brand websites and department stores - I find they both have better GWP's and usually good customer service. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I also agree, Ulta's website appears very disorganized, confusing and not to the same standard as Sephora.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I'll take a disorganized site with working promo emails (Ulta) over a pretty site with an email system that doesn't work right and even seems to be getting worse (my promo emails are now VIB instead of Rouge and I didn't change anything). 

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

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