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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'll just leave this here since it's not really a gwp and the "all things ulta" thread seems unused (oops pun). there was someone saying exactly this in the other thread too. uh-oh ulta!

RE: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Ulta’s rewards program is nice but they don’t carry any brands I’m interested in. I will occasionally restock on a handful of ABH and Origins products there, but that’s pretty much it. So between the two, Sephora gets most of my business, but then I also spend quite a bit of money on green and luxury brands that Sephora doesn’t carry (then it’s fair game - whoever offers a better deal gets my business). I also like a couple British retailers for European brands - they tend to be significantly cheaper there.

RE: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I’m in Canada. No Ulta here sadly. And ordering online I won’t do from them.. minimum $50 and then when the package arrives you have to pay customs and duties fees. No thanks. I live about 5 minutes away from my local Sephora store! It’s great! I enjoy shopping in store for items I really want to swatch before buying like lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, foundations. But for everything else I order from their website. I love the promos they offer online, like the sample bags! Love em! And my orders arrive in 2-3 days. I’m Rouge too so free shipping is nice. I do hear that Ulta’s rewards system is wayyy better, so I do hope one day Ulta decides to open stores in Canada though!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I like ordering stuff from Ulta more than actually browsing the store in person. the last time I was there the heat was turned way up, makes for sweaty shopping! so far all my orders always come with the right type of samples (I prefer fragrances), although sometimes they send the same samples again. Sephora just straight up gets it wrong with the samples, they should let you know ahead of time when something's run out so that you can choose another sample. I couldn't even shop at Sephora online before they corrected the site's script errors.

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For me, Sephora is still the place getting 99.5% of my bu...

For me, Sephora is still the place getting 99.5% of my business. Makeup and beauty whatnots are my only non-work-related hobby anymore, so it's safer, wallet-wise, to focus my shopping at a store centered on that and not Macy's or Nordstrom's! Even though I do most of my Sephora shopping through the app it's nice to be able to drop by on the way home from work, or go downtown if there's a special event.


Returns aren't what they used to be, but honestly I only care about getting store credit. I was going to spend $x on that mask/palette/highlighter/travel bag anyway, it's just this particular one that isn't working for me after all.


For the points/rewards angle, it's easier for me to keep all my spending (and banked points) inside one program, even if it's a little tighter with the comps. Frankly, if keeping a high point balance gets me marginally better treatment/perks in-store, I'll keep leaving them in the bank and just focus on getting freebies with online ordering. I do care a lot about those, so I appreciate that there is a lot of variety in the online Beauty Offer bucket right now, and I'm thankful that my orders have always come through without the missing item/shipping delay issues other people encounter. One example: I signed up for a class at an out-of-town store, and afterward the cast member packed me the sweetest little gift bag with samples based on our side conversations, not even just the demos. And yes, sometimes employees act differently after they read off my points balance at the register. Maybe it shouldn't be that way, but it is, and I would be diluting my... investment? cred? (eye-roll) by splitting up my purchasing among a few different department stores just to chase a few coupons here and there.


I also travel a fair amount, and Sephora is better on that front too, location-wise (and I buy myself souvenirs that I actually use now!). I went to Vegas the week of Thanksgiving, and checking out the five(!) different Sephora storefronts on the strip was a fun scavenger hunt. I am sure I'd feel differently if I still lived in a part of the US where I couldn't throw a rock without hitting an Ulta, or if I only bought prestige brands once in a while, or if my only experiences with Sephora were online orders. But if I'm their target market, they're doing a pretty good job on multiple fronts, and I'm not going anywhere.

Holy wall of text, Batman! Apparently the app strips out...

Holy wall of text, Batman! Apparently the app strips out line breaks. Sorry, y'all.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I’m platinum at Ulta and always felt more comfortable walking into an Ulta store versus Sephora for the longest time. I have $161 in Ulta reward points right now and think the reward system is so much better than Sephora’s. However, Sephora is a treat for me and carries products I like that aren’t carried by Ulta. I try to exclusively purchase Sephora only products from Sephora and everything else from Ulta.

RE: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Sephora; I really can’t get into Ulta I don’t know if it’s how the website is set up, or the lighting in the store or what but I just don’t shop there often.

RE: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

Sephora hands down. Ulta boxes always come beat up! Sometimes their product boxes inside the shipping boxes are beat up too... makes me wonder.

Re: RE: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

yeah, i've had products leak a few times. but cs is pretty good about dealing with it!

2 months ago I would have said ulta. i dont live close to...

2 months ago I would have said ulta. i dont live close to a sephora (its a 40 min drive to the closest one) but a friend wanted to go there and I had been meaning to since kat von d was sold there (which I am now ADDICTED to lol) ulta does have a good reward system but its very easy to see its down side.. for example I had a coupon for 4x points on UD items. I went in and ended up with over 400 points. I then exchanged the points online for a brush set on cyber Monday. a week later I decided I dident like the pallet I got so I returned it... so now I am -( thats right NEGATIVE) 250 points which means I have to spend 250 before I start getting points back. funny think is I echanged it for a more expensive pallet.. all in all I might keep getting my shampoo and small stuff from ulta but sephora is my go to now

Re: 2 months ago I would have said ulta. i dont live close to...

wait, is that how it works? I haven't redeemed any points yet but I assume I should only use them on things I know I'm gonna keep. But it's good to know jic!

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I just became Rouge not too long ago. I had already paid for flash shipping this year...both stores are probably 3 hours from me. I don't get there a ton, so it works better for me to order. I like the two day shipping for ten bucks. BUT....I moved from a town that JUST had an Ulta, and now has a Sephora in JCPenney. I think after becoming Rouge- I am fine with just being platinum at Ulta. I love that you actually get money back to use on future purchases ( I have about 3300 points @ Sephora....) that I never redeem because all of the good rewards are always sold out. I always make sure to get a premium sample with my order plus the 3 regular samples, and also am a play those are often the same "gifts." I guess basically I have realized this year, that Rouge isn't worth it. The 20% off is nice, but then no premium sample as only one offer code is available at a time. 

Not complaining- just stating that all my hard work Smiley Wink and hard earned money may not be worth Rouge status. Also- bonus 50 point card with Play! box, doesn't really help much when it is 3 hours away. I think Ulta Platinum gets my win for the next year. 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I am Rouge at Sephora and Platinum at Ulta, I love them both for different reasons. I shop mostly online and love the online gifts with purchase deals from Ulta. I love certain brands that only Sephora carries so I can't pick just one.

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I'm actually moving closer to liking Ulta more now. Especially now that Sephora has changed their return policy! 

Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

How did sephora change its return policy

BrwnSugaG wrote:

I'm actually moving closer to liking Ulta more now. Especially now that Sephora has changed their return policy! 


Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

they changed it to 60days to get your money back and after that only in-store credit :/

RE: Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

What did they change it too?

Re: RE: Re: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

they changed it to 60days just like Ulta. 

RE: Sephora vs. Ulta - The Verdict

I am Sephora forever! I tried the "other" place and found that I can get 95% of the stuff they sell a lot cheaper at Walmart! Plus the other place doesn't sell the products I use and buy at Sephora, or at least the one near my home does not sell the brands I use, I was told by one of the sales ladies they don't sell what I use because it was to "high end" for them to sell! Everything I looked at in Ulta, was what I buy in Walmart like hair color and every item was 2 to 4 dollars cheaper! I don't know why, in my opinion, any one would pay so much for something you can get cheaper, elsewhere. That's just me! I use to buy my shampoos and conditioners in Ulta when they had their "buy 2, get one free" and it would be the large size bottles but they changed it to the smaller sizes so I have stopped going there. Also, each time I went in to Ulta looking for particular items, the sales people knew nothing about what I was looking for or what it was! Then I would find what I was looking for and it was always more expensive. I'm not going to pay more for a product I can get cheaper just because of the store. But then this is just my own personal opinion!
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