August 15, 2016

Ulta Strives To Become A Better Version of Sephora

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ulta better than sephora

Ulta continues to strive to become a better version of Sephora lately. They haven’t quite reached the realms of high end glory that Sephora has but they are well on their way and I’ve been taking notice. Recently, they started carrying Estee Lauder which surprised me plus many Lancome makeup and skincare products are available!

Ulta is working hard to become your one stop beauty shop and here’s how!

Ask anyone if they are an Ulta or a Sephora person and you’ll get mixed replies but the consensus lately seems to be that Ulta is the better of option of the two. Personally, I’m in the gray area and haven’t quite reached a point in my makeup life where I’m willing to give up either one but many beauty addicts will be agree that the Ulta Ultamate Rewards program that gives users points back that have cash value for in store or online use sure does top Sephora’s VIB and Rouge Membership which gives points but no actual cash value but a mere deluxe sample or sometimes an exciting gift set such as the Sephora Marc Jacobs Beauty 1,000 Point Reward. Most will argue that the fact you almost always get a free gift with a fragrance purchase at Ulta makes them the ideal spot for fragrance purchases. And of course, let’s not forget you can purchase both drugstore, mid-range, and a few higher end items at Ulta where as Sephora you cannot. There’s also the fact that Ulta sells brands like Shea Moisture, Catrice, many Korean brands like Goodal, SkinFood, plus many niche brands like Lipstick Queen. are sold at Ulta.

Ulta has also been getting early dibs on releases from Lorac, Too Faced, Tarte, and more lately. Tarte’s new Hrush Palette launched at Ulta first and hasn’t appeared yet at Sephora.

I find Ulta’s evolution refreshing and I’m liking what I see from them lately. They aren’t a replacement for Sephora quite yet in my opinion but they are well on their way to getting there with the introduction of many higher end brands such as Estee Lauder! I don’t know if they will ever replace Sephora completely but I think the that they have been making make them a very appealing place to shop.

What do you think of Ulta lately?

Have you noticed the exciting changes?

I receive a small commission if you shop through my link.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

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Comments

  • Nikki

    I prefer Ulta over Sephora. Ulta’s reward system is the best, I currently have $56 worth of credit to cash in! I also use a lot of drugstore products and prefer to get them at Ulta when they run their sales and I use a $3.50 off $15 coupon every time I shop. I strategically plan my purchases to save the most money and get the most points when they do bonus points. We don’t have a Sephora here, just the little one inside JCP. I ordered something online from them once that was an exclusive and I couldn’t get it anywhere else.

  • Christina

    If Ulta would give out samples of their higher end products like you can get of almost all products at Sephora, I’d be all in at Ulta. That one thing keeps me going to Sephora

    • Nancy

      I absolutely agree! It frustrates me that Ulta does not offer samples of their high end products.

      • Randi MacDonald

        I save my little sample containers from Sephora and just make my own sample at Ulta. Its a “tester” and who says you can’t take some to test out later.

  • diane

    I prefer Ulta to Sephora, I just feel I get so many more benefits as being part of their loyalty rewards program. For starters the points, and then when we cam get bonus points- 3x or 5x and their 20% off prestige coupons are even given out more times a year than Sephora for their VIB Rouge. The only things I will buy in Sephora are brands Ulta does not carry such as Josie Maran and Sunday Riley. If I want a product both stores have, I always go to Ulta. =)

  • Allie

    I heart Ulta. I wish they would carry Kat Von D though. I love their program, but would make it better is if Plaitum members got free shipping. I also wish they took better care of their displays. I do like the direction they are going and hopes it continues. Their website needs improvement.

    • Alie

      Agreed- Ulta listen up!!! Platinum needs free shipping or at least the $10 once a year flash shipping option!

  • Rachel

    I love Ulta’s point system 1000x more than Sephora’s… BUT, their customer services leaves a lot to be desired. They just can’t beat Sephora in that regard. Also, I feel that Sephoras sales reps are much more knowledgable about product, newest launches, etc. Also, flash shipping is awesome. It’s not Amazon prime level, but it’s pretty good. It’s give and take for both. Although I’m a Platinum member at Ulta and Sephora Rouge, so it hasn’t stopped me from spending lots of money at either!

    • Xin

      I have to agree with Rachel – in store experiences at Ulta leave a lot to be desired. The Ulta employees aren’t as friendly and they don’t seem to always know what Ulta carries.

      • Lori Pease

        Exactly! I hardly go into my Ulta store because the SA’s are either ignoring you or surprise, surprise you know more about the product than they do. A new Ulta store has opened in my area and they are giving the old one a run for their money in the being friendly department. Sephora will always get my money first because they treat my elderly mother, when she comes for a visit like a queen. It’s the intangibles that get my attention,

      • Alison

        It’s completely opposite where I live. One of the Sephora ‘s is straight up garbage. Terrible service 100% of the time. You are eithet flat out ignored, treated like an inconvenience or a crook. The other hit and miss. More miss than hit lately. Actually had someone look me in the eye while I was walking towards him a d he quickly turned and walked away from me. Yikes! At the Ulta near me everyone is super friendly, are pretty well informed about major events and launches. A few know me by sight and or name and always make a point to let me know abput promotions, launches, events and other exciting news they know I’ll be excited about. Always have 200% or better service. So for me Ulta is the clear winner for me with a very few reluctant purchases at sephora for things ulta doesn’t carry or are Sephora exclusive colors (some ud vice lipstick for example)

    • Debbie Rogers

      Customer service at Ulta truly lacks something, unless you’re under 35. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into an ulta store only to be ignored by their much younger staff. I then started watching and sure enough, the younger customers got the attention. Older women expect the same level of service as those who are younger. It’s a shame ulta can’t acknowledge that. Everyone ages! Isn’t that why they sell those high dollar anti aging creams in the first place?:)

      • Alys

        Oh I get ignored too, but I actually prefer that. I typically go there on a weekend and I look a total “mess.” At Sephora I feel like they’re breathing down my neck and that bothers me. I just want to browse.

      • Nicole Leblanc

        The witches at my Ulta are very attentive. They are constantly aware of how mean, ugly, spiteful, and rude they can be. They DONT believe in the saying beautiful inside and out. They are also as nasty on the outside as they are on the inside. No products can hide that

  • Tammy

    I love Sephora and plan to maintain my VIB Rouge status, but Ulta gets a lot more of my money these days. Their rewards program is just so amazing!!

  • Deb

    Ulta needs to improve their website badly. It pretty much sucks. And their shipping is slow. The stores in my city have improved their layout and displays. But they just don’t carry enough variety of brands that aren’t sold in drugstores. Sephora has them beat hands down for the amount of brand options available.

  • Tara

    I love Ulta! Unfortunately they aren’t in Canada, and don’t ship here, otherwise they would be my go-to

  • Colleen

    Love Ulta for the rewards program . If they offered Nars and 2 day shipping I wouldn’t bother with Sephora at all.

  • Heather

    Ulta has a better rewards program. However, Sephora has a superior level of customer service and a very knowledgeable staff. Plus, Sephora’s website can keep me entertained for hours. Team Sephora!

  • Agona

    Sephora’s website has better filters. If I select a filter option, I know it’ll accurately filter my options. I hit something as simple as “pressed powder” at Ulta’s website, and it filters everything but 2 options. -_- But their rewards options are better. Sometimes I use Sephora to browse but buy at Ulta if they carry it.

  • Jane

    I no longer buy enough to care about rewards, but Ulta keeps losing on a number of fronts: they have testers, but never remover and their staff is less than attentive/knowledgeable.

  • Lisa

    Every time I go into Ulta, it is disorganized, messy, barely any product is in stock, and the customer service/knowledge of the staff is a joke. I love the fact you can get drugstore brands but it’s just not worth it to me to go near that place unless I absolutely have to. Don’t get me wrong, Sephora’s rouge status is an absolute joke. But their service is amazing and the samples of any product is just too nice to beat!

  • Brian

    I agree with just about everything above. If Ulta improved their website and customer service, I would shop there much more. Their “Find in Store” option always seems inaccurate whenever I use it. Whenever I ask if something is in stock at Ulta, I usually get a blank stare or a look as if I have three heads lol

  • Liz

    I don’t have a favorite yet, though I do absolutely agree that Ulta’s website could improve. My local Ulta began stocking LancΓ΄me and Clinique lately, which is pretty exciting.

  • Mei

    I agree with all of the comments on Ulta’s customer service. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into a nearly empty store and not one of the associates bothered to greet me or ask if I needed help finding anything. One specific incident that really bugged me was when I had entered the store was looked at up and down by one of the girls who worked there, she didn’t say a word to me and continued to do her makeup using the display products. And it wasn’t just that one Ulta where I’ve had that experience, I’ve been to at least four in different states and have been met with the same experiences. I also worked at one for two hours but that’s a story for another day.

  • Tracy Dallessando

    I love Ulta more than I like Sephora! You have high end. You have low end. Rewards are 10 times better! They are a lot less snobby and I don’t have someone asking me if I need help every 5 minutes. I am a makeup artist, if I need their help I’ll ask them.

  • Lori

    I’m Ulta alllllll the way-the rewards are SOOOO much better. I’m always Platinum and whenever I get bonus point offers I stock up on things like razors, facial cleansing wipes, micellar water, cotton rounds, shampoo, etc…can’t do that at Sephora. It’s stuff I need anyway. I shop on both sides of the store. I do like to go to Sephora once in a while and look around (my best *impulse* buys were Too Faced Bon Bons and Tarte Rainforest of the Sea eye shadow palettes) but Ulta is my go-to. My local Ulta is pretty good customer-service wise, although I see plenty of stories to the contrary on social media. It can be a bit of a mess in busy days, but I feel like that says as much about how piggy the clientele can be as the employees.

  • Cindy

    Lately I’ve been loving Ulta better than Sephora. Especially since the Sephoras near me took away the sale sections in store. Now I can only get sale items online. And Ulta’s reward system is 1000x better than Sephora’s. I will always love Sephora for their customer service and samples.

  • Adrienne

    Wow. Everyone has such valid points and I have had many of the same experiences. I love Ulta because of the rewards and nail polish (I’m a nail polish junkie too). They don’t have a lot of samples and freebies BUT because I am in there all the time they hook me up. Sephora doesn’t do that for me often, even when I was rouge. I love the flash program at Sephora but agree the points you earn and spend often are not worth it, they are often not as big as deluxe samples. Ulta now has a credit card which is one step ahead of Sephora

  • breyerchic04

    I’ve lived my entire life in makeup hell. I live in a midwestern college town with 100,000ish people, and yet we’ve never had a sephora, an ulta, and our Macy’s only has Clinique and one other counter (I forget what, it sprays perfume and I stop breathing). Honestly the very best place to get stuff has been Urban Outfitters followed by H and M’s selelction! But we are finally getting an Ulta late this year, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am. For travel and online orders I’d always been a Sephora girl that uses a few MAC basics, but it seems like I’ll be able to get most of what I need at Ulta the day I want it without having to drive an hour and a half!!!

  • Joanne

    While I do like Ulta, I still prefer Sephora overall. I am perpetually on the search for an even better foundation, and you cannot get samples at Ulta.

  • Christina D.

    I like Ulta but love Sephora. I’ve had way too many bad customer service experiences in-store with Ulta. After a particularly frustrating incident, I even told the idiot behind the register that Sephora is waaay better than Ulta. Ulta’s phone customer service has improved but they still have a long way to go.

    And of course, the higher-end brands that Sephora offers get far more of my money than the overall selection at Ulta. I’m Platinum at Ulta and VIB Rouge at Sephora, and one of my favorite things is free shipping on everything from Sephora. Ulta should do the same and offer free shipping on any order for Platinum since I’d much prefer it to their rewards program.

  • KatyCT

    I don’t have either store very close so I do most of my shopping online. I hate Ulta’s website. It hasn’t changed in years and it difficult to navigate. The one Ulta store that is near me hasn’t always been a fun place to visit. Recently I was there on a Friday afternoon with a rare 45 minutes of me-time to spend. The store was very empty and the sales staff was hanging around talking about party plans BUT that didn’t stop literally six people from asking me if I needed help finding anything. They were doing the perfunctory asking if I needed help without anyone actually paying attention to the fact that they had all approached me in a span of 15 minutes. It ruined by little outing.

  • Diana

    Ulta’s multiple 20% offs per year for platinum members won me over in 2011. Since then the only things I buy at Sephora are things I CAN’T buy at Ulta.

    • Diana

      Oh, and cash back at Ulta for their points. Love. I almost always find the Sephora point perks a waste. And they sell out super fast. And my local inside JCP NEVER HAS ANY GOOD POINT PERKS. So… Pass! There’s nothing better than buying seriously nice palettes with points at Ulta. Free naked palettes anyone?

  • stephanie

    Sephora for sure. I have been shopping at Ulta for about 15 years and have NEVER understood their points/rewards program. And none of the workers there can explain it to me. Plus I hate their website. At Sephora I get free shipping!

  • Jennifer

    I’m Platinum at Ulta and Rouge at Sephora and I shop both for different reasons. Sephora has certain brands that Ulta doesn’t, so I definitely go there for those. When ordering online, I prefer Sephora because I get the Flash 2-day shipping, while Ulta always sends my packages Smart Post (is there anything more annoying than that??) and they take like a week to show up. But Ulta has the better rewards program for sure and I love that they have such a wide range of brands to choose from, plus harder to find brands such as Laura Geller, Mally, Lipstick Queen, and Lorac. I’ve never had an Ulta near me, but they’re opening one a few minutes away in Danbury, CT (in the mall). I’m SO excited!

  • Emily

    It’s like choosing a favorite child. I just can’t. Each has their place, and hopefully, each inspires the other to do a little better. It is terrific, the way the rewards at Ulta add up, especially once Platinum, which is super easy to achieve. Only thing I didn’t like was my birthday gift, hairspray, which I just do not use, ever. It’s nice how Sephora offered a choice of skincare or makeup.

  • kellly

    Ulta’s reward system beats Sephora’s, no question. But the Ulta stores seem to be so messy and out of stock so frequently, they lose points with me. Do you hear me, Ulta? You need to clean up your store and don’t let it become such a mess! And keep your products in stock, especially the Ulta brand products.
    Sephora used to give me small sample gifts with any purchase (not points gifts) but they no longer do that. Sephora’s store lighting is horrible! They could definitely upgrade the lights so you could actually see the colors and what they look like without having to wear a miners lamp in there! The points perks at Sephora are usually so lame, miniature sizes of stuff they get free from the companies anyway, so I currently have about 1500 points because it’s not worth using them on samples of stuff I can ask for in the store and get for free anyway.
    I like the fact that if the store doesn’t have something in stock, Sephora ships it for free. Ulta tells me I can order it online and incur the shipping costs, which doesn’t impress me. I could always have ordered online and paid shipping. Then what’s the point of going in to the store? Ulta could clean up their act on this.
    I LOVE the fact that Sephora has testers!!! I can sample anything I want in the store to see how it looks and how it applies. That is THE.BEST. Ulta could learn from that. Their testers for their house-brand products are generally a mess, half of them aren’t in the right places, and if they’re not missing entirely, they are dirty, used up, broken, smeared, and not inviting at all. They keep their Q Tips and lip sample sticks way over on the other side of the store, and are usually out of tissues and makeup remover.
    I still shop both stores because they carry different lines. I like Sephora’s house brands as well as some of the higher-end products they carry. I love the fact that I can test everything and get samples to take with me to see how things work in other lighting over a few days before a purchase.

  • Kathy Agel

    Ulta, only because it’s 15 minutes from my house and the nearest Sephora stores are an hour or 90 minutes away, respectively. Customer service sucks — call them and ask if they’re getting a product in, and they say no — and the next time you go to the store, there it is, prominently displayed at the entrance. Their associates ignore you if you’re not young enough to rate their attention. Ask a question, and you’re lucky if you receive a bored answer. Browse the store, and not a single associate will come to ask if you need help (which can sometimes be a good thing when you’re not in the mood for a hard sell, but not so much when you’re looking for something specific and can’t find it). If the associate doesn’t like a product line, they’ll push you to a product they like better, whether it suits you or not. And many aren’t properly trained in applying the makeup they sell. And the sad thing is,, I know more about some of their makeup lines than they do. But I like that they have BareMinerals as well as NYX (I love their waterproof automatic lipliners)

  • Christina D.

    IMO the Ulta points/rewards system in no way compensates for having to spend a minimum of $50 for free shipping most every time. It especially irritate me when Ulta gives out the 20% off coupon and, if that reduces your total amount to under $50, you still have to bring the price up after the discount to $50! Nothing Ulta offers me can compete with free shipping for VIB Rouge from Sephora. I spend enough money at Ulta that they should offer free shipping on everything to Platinum members.

    • Isabella Muse

      I agree! Around the Holidays it is $25 for Free Shipping but yeah that $50 sucks it! Also they use the cheapest possible shipping option (sure post) which means my boxes end up destroyed :-/

    • KatyCT

      Totally agree. It isn’t savings if I have to buy things I don’t want or need just to get free shipping. Free VIB shipping is the main reason I go with Sephora but I think I actually end up spending more with free shipping in the long run because I make smaller but more frequent purchases. With VIB shipping I don’t just try to fill up my cart to tick the free shipping mark like I do at Ulta so I buy what I really want even if it ends up being more in the long run.

  • Deby

    I also prefer Ulta over Sephora. I find the sales people at Sephora to be too hovering. This may sound silly considering where they work, but I also find the salespeople to be overly made up (which feels unapproachable to me) compared to Ulta sales people who seem more natural and real. I wouldn’t emulate these overdone makeup looks in my daily life, therefore I would be hesitant to accept makeup advice from them, thinking they would make me up to look like a clown. None of them seem to know how to rock a natural look, its all heavy winged eyeliner and dark lipstick which I think looks totally fake as for a photo shoot and no one’s real life (at least among the people I work with!) Ulta also has better specials!

  • Chrissy

    I prefer Ulta because I don’t have to go into the mall to shop at their stores but I think Sephora has better and cleaner displays. My local Ulta is a bit messy and sometimes products are out of stock for weeks. Sephora wins with online purchases because shipping is so fast even without the 2 day flash shipping. If Sephora had the same point system and the same flash email deals I’d probably shop with them more.

  • Deb

    I would shop in Sephora, more often, if the music is the store did not make your eardrums bleed.
    I love Ulta because of the points and sales but the store near my house, in the valley, is a disaster zone. The store is a mess, there are too many out of stocks and the sales staff is dreadful but this seems to be the norm for the Ultas in this area.
    We have a fairly new Ulta, in Prescott, which is clean, neat, well stocked and customer service is Sephora-like. Normally, I do not need or want help but the last time I was in I need some help with finding lipsticks that didn’t make my teeth look whiter (new ulta-ulta white dental work), it was a 45 minute group effort for two lipsticks. I either wait to shop at this one or buy on-line rather than deal with the stores in the valley.

  • Alys

    I tend to go to Ulta more. Like many people have said, I like that they have drugstore brands too, so I can stock up when they have a sale. I also prefer that the Ulta sales people aren’t breathing down my neck although at times I feel I get ignored because I’m not “fancy.” I typically know what I want and enjoy the hunt of finding it and I love testing all kinds of stuff while I’m there. Also a big factor for me is that the closest Sephoras to me are in annoyingly busy locations so it’s easier for me to go to Ulta.

  • Chynna

    It must depend on your location. The lighting is usually much better in Ulta than in Sephora stores, which I like. But I find the Ulta stores near me tend to be very disorganized. Things are often out of place and the testers are usually not as well maintained as the ones at Sephora. The Ulta stores near me are also poorly staffed, so it’s hard to find someone to help me when I want help.

  • Jane

    If only they shipped directly to Canada! I would definitely purchase from them based on other reviews of their rewards system and customer service etc, but sadly can’t.

  • Randi MacDonald

    I think there is room for both and I do visit both( in my town) frequently. In fact, I just went to Ulta last night because I received an email for a free Clinique Matte Crimson lipstick. Of course when I got there, they were “out”. This morning, I got another email for a free Tarte bronzer. Let’s home they have that when I get there late. I did pick up a Zoya Naked polish for 2.97 on clearance. I love Ulta’s clearance and their 3.50 coupon( although it can’t be used on clearance anymore and they upped it from 10 to 15.00). I don’t buy much at Sephora IN STORE, rather I buy online so I can get a deluxe freebie and my samples. I do use Sephora for sampling, which I love. I’ve bought a lot of products based on my obtaining a sample first( Bite Agave lip mask for one, MUF foundation for 2) I don’t like that Ulta wont give u samples.( sometimes I make my own : )

  • Merry Rower

    I think the two of them leave a lot to be desired, and I live in the heart of LA with plenty of both stores nearby. I am VIB Rouge at Sephora, and do most my shopping on-line due to the wide product selection, free and fast shipping, nicer bonuses and sample availability. The website is fun to use and filled with useful tips, suggestions and reviews. I do my returns in-store without problems. When I am in-store, I generally find them cluttered and messy, and the expertise of the SAs unreliable. The points program is a fun little bonus, but not special enough to be motivating in and of itself.

    In comparison, Ulta is a train wreck. The stores are ugly, dirty, poorly stocked and disorganized and I go out of my way to avoid them. The brand selection is second-rate compared to Sephora, and the fragrance department is barely better than CVS. Even their mailers are cluttered and unpleasant to read and the restrictions on their coupons annoy me. The SAs are typically friendly but useless, and the Ulta website is not even friendly. I can’t get beyond all their short-comings to care enough about their rewards program. I don’t know a brand more in need of new creative direction and better management.

    So I ignore Ulta and purchase from Sephora, but I swatch, seek advice and sample from the higher end department stores (Nordstrom, Bloomies, Saks, N-M). The counters in those stores are always gorgeously sparkling, generally uncrowded, fully stocked and staffed by helpful and knowledgeable SAs. There is no comparison really.

  • Bonnie

    I have been an Ulta customer forever and have never been inside a Sephora I don’t believe (I stay out of the mall). I used to visit Ulta once every five weeks when getting my hair done nearby, but since I’m not getting my hair done anymore those visits have ceased. Now there is an Ulta opening in the town where I work; I fear this spells trouble for my budget! I find that all too often there are products out of stock, and often they are still out of stock the next time I visit. ?? I tend to be more low-end with my purchases but do buy some IT and Benefit products as well as salon hair products. I enjoy some of the “out of the way” lesser known products Ulta carries. I probably would never see some of them any other way.

  • danadoo

    Where I live, it’s about an hour drive to Ulta or Sephora so I usually end up shopping online. It’s not that it’s so far of a drive, it’s the fact that the drive is basically on the highway to hell! People drive like psychos, and horrible accidents are frequent, by the time I get there, my hands are killing me from gripping the steering wheel, and I need a Xanax for my nerves! Ugh. All in all, I spend my money at sephora because I greatly prefer their website.

  • Deanna

    I love having the option of shopping at both! Ulta has terrible shipping and their website needs improvement so I like to shop in store as much as possible. I like being able to shop both sides there and they just have SO much to look at and play with. Their points program is the best. I’m always getting money off my purchases and using their weekly coupon for nail polish, hair products, face wipes, etc. I love getting daily emails with 1/2 off deals and 3x points offers. I do wish they would be more forthcoming in store with the gift w/purchases, you always have to ask for them and ask them if you have rewards money available to use. Sephora has a much better website and super fast shipping, especially with flash. I love getting to pick 3 samples and an extra deluxe sample with each order AND then my reward perk on top of that when I have points. I tend to browse and get testers in store and then place my order online to take advantage of the perks. I usually only buy Sephora exclusive products there now since the points program is better at Ulta to buy everything else. I used to be afraid to step into Sephora thinking it was going to be like a Mac store or counter but I have come to love it and their exclusive skincare and foundations. Sephora associates seem way more knowledgeable about their products and you can barely find someone to help you in Ulta the majority of the time. I’m glad I have both near me so I can always find what I need and want! πŸ™‚

  • vanessa

    Theres no Ulta in Canada. If they want to be better than Sephora, they need to branch to CAnada. Right now, most Canadians love Sephora. THeyre always opening new stores left & right.

  • Felis

    Ulta’s stores are perpetually disorganized and messy and their testers for everything look like someone colored on the walls with them, probably because someone did. They’re endlessly out of stock on two thirds of what I come in looking for and it’s a crapshoot as to whether I will find an associate who actually knows more about the products and releases than I do. Their coupon restrictions piss me off and they never have the promo stuff they advertise. Their website is janky as hell. That said, they also have a broader range of products and I can find good stuff there if I’m willing to hunt for it like a Neolithic tribesman. I never order from their website because it’s crap and the shipping pains me.

    Sephora is pricy, and their rewards system is pretty paltry. Their salespeople are also a mixed lot – I seem to find friendly, helpful OR knowledgeable, but not all three at once. The lighting sucks. BUT I love them and shop in-store and online frequently because of their product range, widely available testers and samples, awesome website and excellent shipping options.

  • devon

    I adore my Ulta! There is one SA in particular that knows exactly what I like, will always throw in samples and gifts into my bag, and sometimes even tell me to wait to buy something until the brand rep is there because of the gifts and perks! My Sephora girls are very nice for the most part and definitely know who I am and what I like, and because I am a regular I am often left alone when I come in (which I love! just let me swatch in peace :]) Ulta rewards far outweigh Sephora also :]

  • Katmary

    I just went to a new Ulta near me and it was such an awesome store. I asked for help with something and the saleswoman spent a decent amount of time with me comparing foundation and concealer colors, and another saleswoman came over and joined the conversation. I was also curious about a hair product as my hair was just cut way more that the 4 inches I’d asked for, and a hairdresser who had a cancelled appointment spent a good amount of time with me going over various products and why one would work better than another for certain styles. We then “played” for awhile and I found a small Tarte palette I was looking for that the other saleswomen thought was sold out that’s been misplaced and scored the last one. I spent way more money and time than I should have, but it was a huge, well-designed store that was very spacious and everyone was very friendly. I would’ve spent more time if I’d had it, but was traveling in the morning and getting last-minute items.

    I agree Sephora’s definitely the better website. I’ve only ordered from Sephora and without problems each time. I can’t comment on this new Ulta as far as holidays, but the other two that are closest to me are insane at Christmas, to the point of waiting up to an hour to get items once it’s December, which I no longer will do. I haven’t been in Sephora for quite some time, so I won’t rate those experiences as it was years ago, I’ll just say Ulta this last time was a lot of fun and very helpful. Even other customers were talking with us which made the atmosphere very friendly. I don’t feel like I’ve purposely been treated badly at either, more that they’re understaffed at times and spread thin, and I usually either know what I want or prefer to browse alone or with my friends/Mom/SIL.

  • SusanT

    Hey, Muse, wassup? Daisy says hi & sends you kitty kiddies. Okay, I’m going to sound crabby, but I don’t like either Ulta or Sephora; I much prefer Nordstrom for my makeup needs (points, y’all). Whenever I read about a product and hear it’s at Ulta, I go there and they never have it in stock. Don’t get me started on crummy customer service. Sephora? Always full of annoying pre-teens being so obnoxious, blocking the aisles & being rude as hell. Something both stores have in common? Crappy lighting by the cosmetic counters. Bah humbug, huh?

  • Pandora

    I have mixed thoughts as well. I love the brands at Sephora, their website, points perks, and flash shipping. I have renewed VIB status two years in a row, and take advantage of their winter sale and gift sets. With Ulta, I’m a little bit annoyed. I have noticed a competitive change, along with many other things that I’m actually not a fan of. Like the fact that they changed their $3.50 coupon promo to a $15 in-store minimum, and didn’t really inform everyone correctly.
    I also feel like they aren’t regularly doing their 40% off drugstore brands sales as often, and to be honest, I really hate the shape of their stupid shopping bags. lol. Platinum membership is $$$ too. And to put it all out there, I’m kinda ticked off that September birthday ladies get a full-size Urban Decay shadow, while May got a teensy-tiny hairspray sample. :/
    I do however really like the variety of brands, that you can use manufacturer’s coupons, and their 21 days of Beauty sale is mostly decent.

    Pheww.. Sorry for the rambling. Wanted to get some thoughts out.

    • Isabella Muse

      ramble away Pandora! I love to read everyone’s opinions on Sephora vs Ulta πŸ™‚