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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

They accept PayPal.  I'm not sure if they have an Ulta in Canada. Sorry, I live in Alaska where there is no Ulta or Sephora store, so I do everything online. 


Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

No Ulta in Canada. Smiley Sad I had an order I wanted to make from Ulta with a US credit card and shipping to a US address and their site still wouldn't take it because I was making the order from Mexico! I called their customer service and was basically told "too bad". I haven't really gone back to look at their site since, it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I spend WAY too much on beauty products/make up, yet I always end up buying from Ulta. I do like Sephora quite a bit more with their higher end brands and knowledgeable staff, but with Ulta's superior rewards program and bi-annual "20% off your entire purchase" coupon I rarely head to Sephora anymore. However, if Sephora started sending out the occasional percent off coupon I would throw my Ulta card out for good! 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

This might be sacrilege to say here, but I LOVE Ulta. Part of the reason is because the only Sephora in my city is one of the super small one's in JCPenneys. Pretty lame. But, I also just love the variety I get at Ulta. They carry my Philosophy and Juice Beauty products, plus Urban Decay and a HUGE Bare Minerals section. The salon is great, I love the girl who does my hair, and the selection of salon products is amazing. The drugstore brand section is great for me since there are products that I have a hard time finding anywhere else and the selection is amazing (like NYX, which I am addicted to). Ulta has pretty much everything. Add their amazing sales and rewards program for Platinum members (which is yearly, not quarterly) and it's perfect.
It's great that the associates, while not super knowledgeable, at least don't work on commission so they don't try to force products down your throat.


Sephora is good for a larger selection of high end products, and I do feel like their sales associates are a bit more knowledgeable. Maybe if they had a larger store nearby I would go more often.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I shop at both stores for different reasons.  I tend to go to Ulta to pick up drugstore brands, certain brands of nail polish, and the great deals they have on salon brand haircare products.  I will say that I think their higher end rewards tend to be  better (think 500 point perk)  such as  $40 off any fragrance purchase.  Still, I much prefer to shop at Sephora because I get better service and advice from their staff.  As far as I am concerned, is far superior to Ulta online.  I like Ulta but my beauty <3 belongs to Sephora.  Smiley Happy

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

So so true about the website. I come to Sephora's site pretty much everyday. I go to Ulta's when they have new GWPs listed.


I would shop at a Sephora brick & mortar store more often if (1) there was one closer than 1 hour away and (2) that local store wasn't terrible. I've actually come to dislike going into my nearest Sephora. The first store I went into, and the one that stole my heart, was so SO much better in nearly every way. Better service, bigger, better layout, testers were even in better condition. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I agree that the sephora website is leaps and bounds more well designed than Ulta's. Ulta is revamping their site now (they sent platinum members a preview link to the new site) and I am sad to say it isn't any better in the newer version, either.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Very valid points!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I shop at both, and both have their benefits.


I prefer to buy drugstore brand products at Ulta rather than drugstores because of the testers and generous return policy. In addition to the drugstore brands, there are good brands that Ulta carries but Sephora doesn't. Some examples are Dermalogica, NYX, Cargo, Body Shop, Laura Geller, and La Roche Posay.


Sephora in turn carries many brands that Ulta does not.


Ulta does sales more regularly, especially with the drugstore brands. They sometimes have amazing one-day deals. Two months ago, for instance, a full size Tarte Maracuja Oil ($45) was on sale for $26 at Ulta, for one day only.


The Ulta website often gives me problems when trying to order.


In terms of loyalty programs, Sephora's is hands down better. Ulta does it by the quarter, so you can't carry over points from a previous quarter.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict



Yes, they use it to track your purchases- which you can then see in your "Loves" and access if you wanted to know which shade of lipstick you purchased five months ago or so.


In addition to that, for each dollar you spend at Sephora, you earn 1 point.  You can accumulate points and redeem deluxe samples of products you love, or want to try out.


To become a Very Important Beauty Insider, you have to purchase $350 or more worth of products in one calendar year.  Being a VIB gives you special access to "better" deluxe sample codes upon online checkout, and longer sales days (chic week for VIBs were 2 days longer than it was for BIs).  I'm sure there's much more and a moderator can elaborate on but I think it's very much worth it!  Free things for spending money! ;D

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

serioustree-- thanks for answering. Another question then-- this "LOVE" thing here on the site. I've been using that to basically bookmark items that I want to learn more about. Do other people see that? I wouldn't want someone to think I "LOVE" it when I didn't even use it. (I'm referring to the red heart symbol that you can click)

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Oh yeah, I forgot that they split it up, you can click on loves and on the left hand side, you can click on purchases. I like to see all of them together, so I think I found a way to add my "purchases" to my "loves" 



Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I feel the same way!


I love the many different brands and products Sephora has, which Ulta has a limited selection of.


ALSO I feel like I can trust the sales associates more at Sephora because they always have BEAUTIFUL make up on.


Sometimes, when I'm at Ulta, I hesitate to ask for an opinion when a sales associate has a foundation on two shades too light or overdid their bronzer... (I know I'm so judgemental I'M SORRY, I'll punish myself by not snacking on chocolate today..)




But just as a disclaimer, I do still love and go to Ulta for most of my nail care needs.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

It wasn't really THAT judgy. Go ahead-- have the chocolate Smiley Happy

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Stupid Question Alert-- Please bear with me since I'm new to the forum.


I've never ordered anything online from Sephora. I use the site all of the time to learn about products, ask questions, and read reviews, but because I'm away from home a lot I don't order because I never know where I'll be when the package comes.


I shop in Sephora stores very very often in states all over the country. My question is-- you all keep talking about this VIB thing and perks and whatnot. Is that why the sales people always ask me if I want an Insider Card? I always say no  because every store seems to want you to have a card and I find them a pain to keep track of and I didn't realize there was a benefit. I thought it was just so they could track your purchases.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

It is really worth it and it's not complicated. Get one! Warning: it's addictive.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I love reading about all the Sephora loyalty!  I personally have never visited that other store, but reading all your experiences about shopping there, I don't plan to anytime soon.  Thank you all for being loyal Sephora clients and we hope you enjoy the offers coming your way!   Smiley Happy -Laura

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I enjoy shopping at both stores for different reasons.


I go to sephora for specific high end brands and for most of my general makeup purchases.


I go to ulta when I need to also purchase things like razor blades, sunscreen, makeup wipes, candles, stuff like that.  I also LOVE their nail polish selections... one by me just started carrying deborah lippman!  I love their sale bins.  I find they often have very nice GWPs on certain high end brands.


Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Sephora all the way. The customer service, return policy, perks, etc. I love it all. Also every time I'm shopping in Sephora stores everyone is so helpful Smiley Happy

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Sephora all the way! the best thing is the exchange policy at least for me, at sephora its a no questions asked easy return and it makes my life very simple. if i take home something that was 40$ and i don't like it i don't have to worry about wasted money. ulta asks a million questions and all these forms its like why? i just don't like the product. i bought alot of things i disliked one month and they wouldnt let me return more then 80$ of product, so i was stuck. plus sephora just feels classier. sephora offers the hundred and 500 pt perks, and the free samples, and promos and ulta has none of that, every month they'll send me a coupon for 3 bucks. not worth it to me. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

MAJOR "agree" with the cleanliness at Sephora vs. other brands.  My last stop at Ulta made me feel like I needed to go wash my hands.  Oh, and their packaging/boxes were all dented and just messy.

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