January 11, 2018

Ulta Accused of Selling Used Makeup

beauty news

Is that eyeshadow palette you’re buying at Ulta brand new? Maybe not! Ulta has been accused of selling used makeup this week by a former employee on Twitter who claims her managers instructed her to resell returned makeup and to put it back on the show. Allegedly they even instructed employees how to clean used makeup with alcohol, allow it to dry overnight, and proceed to repackage it and pop it back on the shelf.

The employer, known as Fatinamxo on Twitter, said, “They even taught us how to clean eyeshadow palettes and let it dry over night so it can be repackaged and sold the next day,” “Managers would get pissed if they saw items in the damage bin that looked resell-able.”

She also reached out to Ulta corporate about the situation and was told the following, “I contacted corporate and I was surprised to hear her say “well when it comes to mascaras we definitely want to be hygienic “ I immediately cut her off and said what about lipsticks? And foundation? They are reselling everything that they can clean up and make “new” again.”

Wait, hold up, let’s go back to, “well when it comes to mascaras we definitely want to be hygienic”. Are you telling me that someone at corporate sort of confirmed they do resell mascaras?! It certainly sounds that way.

Ulta has since tweeted a reply about looking into these allegations but it’s still rather concerning that they might be reselling returned/used makeup. No one wants an eye infection or something worst like herpes.

I know that when I hit up the drugstore people tend to open packages right in front of me and start happily swatching away. I’ve even seen employees see them doing it and not say a word about it. Typically I’m super careful to make sure everything is sealed before I buy it.

I’ve run across maybe on or two items at Sephora that I stupidly didn’t check which were used. I don’t think they put those items back from a return pile it was likely someone that that doesn’t care about the tester right in front of them and decided to just open up a new one and start swatching it without a care about anyone else.

Ulta I haven’t had that experience but really, if they are making it look all new and shiny like the images this employee posted I’d likely never notice which is downright scary.

I’m sure there are many of you that work in the beauty industry at counters or stores like Ulta that can share some insight about this being a false accusation or entirely true. I’d be interested to hear your stories.

Do you think your favorite makeup and beauty stores are guilty of returning used makeup to the shelves?

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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  • Kish

    Hmmm…makes me want to stop shopping in store and just get stuff online instead.

    • CL

      Shopping online doesn’t guarantee you won’t get used items. It has happened to me.

      • Agona

        Me too. I bought an eyeshadow quad online from Ulta that has been swatched.

        • Kish

          Wow ladies, that sucks so much. Thanks for the info. I’m going to be extra careful about checking everything now.

  • Carolina

    Wow! That is simply gross if that is true. I don’t return used makeup as a rule, even if it is a not- so-perfect match. I just try to find a way to use it up. However, I have wondered if it gets put back into circulation as opposed to being destroyed.

    But even if it’s destroyed, I’ve seen those dumpster diving videos on YouTube and know those items can still find a “second life.” Guess I will try to buy my mascaras in those sealed packages at the drug stores from here on out.

  • Danielle

    Wait what??!! Ok that’s gross if that’s the case won’t order from them again

  • Emily

    I worked at Ulta and we destroyed everything that was damaged or returned. Not saying reselling doesn’t happen at other Ultas, I’m sure it does, but not at mine! One good egg at least.

    • Isabella Muse

      I imagine there are plenty of stores that don’t do this. Lord knows if this information is even real. It would be hard to prove as she could be snapping these photos in her living room for all we know!

      • Maggie Liu

        I can confirm it was true as of two years ago at a local Ulta. My BFF worked there and warned me.

  • Christina D.

    I think I had told you an experience I had about a year ago returning something to Ulta that I had purchased on line. It was a set containing Lorac Pro 1 and 2 with bonus eyeliner and mascara; there may also have been a lippie but I don’t remember. Anyway, one of the palettes was shattered so I went to the nearest Ulta to return the entire set, including all the bonus items. The cashier called a manager over, approved the refund for the return, and then the manager instructed the cashier to print out SKU stickers to put on all the undamaged items — including the freebie liner and mascara — and put them all out on the shelves for sale. Granted, they were unused but it did strike me as being a tad unethical. What do you think?

    • Isabella Muse

      I’ve never experienced this in all honesty. The only time I’ve run across used makeup is when idiots are swatching it in store and putting it back on the shelf and I purchase it stupidly without checking it first. But whenever I returned something I’ve never actually been privy to them putting it back on the shelf. But then again, I rarely return anything either but I don’t doubt your story. I think it boils down to who is managing the store. Perhaps they have pressure put on them about returns and if they have too many it lowers their overall store score or whatever judgement they are facing from the higher ups. I’ve read from a lot of BBW employees that having too many returns is an indication they are someone performing poorly. Maybe management is put under pressure about returns and there idea is put it back on the shelf and that will make things look better somehow for the team, themselves, and the store they manage!? Who knows. It sounds dangerous to me if it really is happening!

      • Karen

        Glad to finally understand why the Ulta Staff gives an “evil – you are scum of the earth” look when you do try to return unused and sometimes still sealed makeup & hair products. My young niece got a little carried away at Ulta, charging/spending way too much – at some point once home she realized what she had done and returned most of what she bought (unused/ even some unopened) & they staff was downright hateful to her. Think what your saying about staff receiving performance down grade on returns is true. Thanks

  • Laurie

    One of the things I like about certain drugstore brands of mascara is that they are sealed into packages, and/or have that little plastic zipper running along the side of the tube that tells you it has never been opened. OTOH, I have bought $28 tubes of Lancome on HSN and none were sealed, which is also a problem when you try to see how fresh it is (am I wrong in thinking sealed mascara will last longer than just a tube of the stuff?). I wish they should shrink wrap all cosmetics. I returned NudeStix because some were sealed but others weren’t, only to be told by the company that at that time, they didn’t seal all of their products. That’s almost worse than sealing none of it.

  • Janessa

    This is disgusting and terrifying. I have had 2 instances recently that have me wondering – I got the Chocolate Gold palette from Ulta’s website and when my sister opened it on Christmas, she handed the palette to me and it was clearly swatched previously. I got a Becca Light Chaser highlighter delivered from Sephora yesterday, the package was the correct color I ordered, but the actual highlighter inside was a different color and also used…

  • Rachel Gay

    I went to ulta to return a nyx palette a few weeks ago and the girl called her manager over her ear piece and said “it looks barely used, should I put it back on the shelf?” I couldn’t hear the manager’s response but I was pretty horrified. I personally had not used it besides a few swatches but she did not know that. She also swatched it herself while waiting on the managers response! So yeah, I totally believe this could be true. In my opinion they could re-sell barely used makeup but maybe label it as used and sanitized and maybe have it super discounted??? Just a thought..

    • Karma Rose

      I was just about to say the same thing, if it had a label you would at least know what your getting. Cosmetics are expensive and if I pay full price for the product I expect it to be new and hygienic.

  • kjh

    I think our little Sephora def does not. I returned foundation. They asked if the color was wrong. I said that I did not know, as the ingredients had been incorrectly listed online, and I had an allergy, so had not opened the box, much less the container. They said it did not matter, out it would go. I hope they at least let an employee have it. That is a waste of an unused item. Big S: did get more than one ‘sampled’ product there…not ‘refurbished.’ It got so that I checked everything before I left the store, it happened so often. Some SAs would be pissed at checking, but if one in ten or greater is ruined, wtf? I never go there anymore. Had no problems with Ulta….that I know of. I shop mostly online after reviews. Do they actually have re-shrink wrapping machines instore? I know the clearance stuff is ‘touched’ in general, but they do not pretend it is not. Pretty much the same as TJX Cos. It’s as-is, take your chances. Frankly, as gross as this is, much of it is a direct result of generous return policies. Anybody who did not select the appropriate color..or just did not like it….BACK! And considering their online color representation SUCKS, they invited that one. Off topic: I work at Dollar Tree at night for my MWJ. A woman returned 24-30 used drinking glasses. The absolute gall! You donate them and take a charity tax write off. And think of the people who return a worn once special occasion dress to a decent dept store. Many people are dishonest, narcissistic swine. It’s all about them. Why should we be surprised that refurbishing makeup becomes a corporate policy? Caveat bloody emptor. Eeeew. Sure makes the idea of the stuff less appealing!

  • Sarah

    Honestly? I can take pictures of my used makeup too and say I got it that day from Ulta. Can even pose it with Ulta boxes to make my argument convincing.

    I have never got anything that was used from Ulta. And I know Ulta has gotten to the point where they lock their dumpsters to keep divers from hauling thousands of dollars worth of product that has been returned. I don’t think she has much validity to her claim, and if her claim is correct, it may be an issue at one store. It’s definitely not a pandemic.

    • Jodi J.

      Makes me wonder about her motive for the post. Was she fired? If so, how long ago, etc.? I’ve shopped at my Ulta for years and have never gotten anything that looked suspicious.

  • Michelle

    I bet if they’ve done that with makeup, they’ve done it with skincare too. No scruples.

  • Adrienne

    Say it ain’t so! We all commented before on what we saw at places like Marshalls, TX and Nordstrom Rack but I thought places like Ulta and Sephora would be ok. I know at CVS I have grabbed the wrong color and never used it and she told me they damage all of those items she didn’t care that it wasn’t used and didn’t check.

    Maybe ordering online where it comes from a warehouse might be best.

  • Christiane

    These stores are raking money in. They should be able to handle returns and throw used products away without endangering the health of their customers. I don’t even try on makeup in the store because even if the testers are “cleaned” with alcohol they are still teeming with germs. For shame if this accusation it true.

  • Rachael

    I recently returned the Tarte Clay Play II. I purchased it online as soon as it launched, before the controversy. When I opened it for the first time an eyeshadow pan fell completely out. I didn’t touch the palette, even to swatch, and returned it for that reason. I told the CS rep that it was unused (she asked) and so she marked it to be put the on the shelf. It even said it on my return receipt. I personally didn’t dwell on it, since I hadn’t touched it, but now this makes you wonder…

  • Shelbs

    This has happened to me a bunch of times. I bought a product that they didnt carry in that store ( so I shouldnt know it was a return from a different store ) and it was totally used. I went back two days after I returned it for being used and saw it back on the shelf. I even got a used product in an online order! They replaced it but still. I now check the items in my car before I leave and return them if they are used.

  • Pam

    I had to return an item to Ulta because it was used. I thought it was tampered with by an in store customer. I will now stick to buying my makeup from QVC. Never had a problem with them.

  • Christina

    I hope this isn’t true, but if more than one person has spoken up, that’s very discouraging.

    I used to work at a cosmetics counter at a department store, and you can definitely tell when something has been used, no matter how well it has been “cleaned,” so we would obviously damage those out. The particular counter I worked at sealed all of their skincare, so that was never an issue. Sometimes we did get makeup that truly wasn’t used and would put them back on the shelf, but that was really rare. Thankfully, most people are pretty truthful and let you know that they’ve tested the product out.

    Things like this are why I’m a mindful shopper. I always check to make sure everything is brand new before bringing it home.

  • Anais Bon

    There was a thread on reddit about this and it basically boiled down to poor management.

    • Isabella Muse

      After reading several articles I thought the same thing. It’s likely just the managers in that particular store and not something more widespread!

  • Susannah

    I don’t believe this. Ulta would be open to a lawsuit before this and would lose everything. This woman is bitter and there is no way to prove these used items were sold at Ulta.

    • Isabella Muse

      it’s possible ulta is utterly unaware what the managers are doing! But yes, def would be a major lawsuit if news broke any of this was actually true!

    • Lacy

      I’m with you Muse! now I will geeked out and question every purchase online and in store…
      Jelena that is awful!
      And I was planning to go to Ulta this weekend and get new concealer but not now! I’m horrified.

  • Natalie

    This is why I ALWAYS buy everything online. I was scared of this exact thing and I am a germophobe. I worked at several cosmetics counters through college and I can say with confidence I never ever resold something that was used/returned and I’m pretty sure none of my coworkers did either. YUCK!!!

    • Moemoe

      Buying everything online does not solve the case sadly. 🙁 I bought a lot of cosmetics online (Sephora & Ulta) and sometimes when i open my eyeshadow palettes, you could see it has been swatched. (It is not just Ulta that sells reused makeup) It is so gross, so I always try to buy in stores. But before I purchase the item in the store, I would make sure it is not touched or swatched beforehand.
      I think makeup stores should have stricter return policies in general. I never return any makeup i buy even if it’s the wrong shade. It just feel like its not fair for the company and for everyone else. But in the end, stores should NEVER resell used makeup. It is totally unethical and disgusting. If the stores have great return policy, then they need to be prepared that some people will fully take advantage of this system and return alot of products which will decrease profit. Ulta shouldn’t risk the health and safety of their customers by trying to make up their loss in sales.

    • CL

      Buying online is no guarantee that you won’t get a returned product. It has happened to me.

  • Renee

    Absolutely! I’ve had stuff come from Barney’s online used multiple times, although done tastefully with a little corner of a lipstick marred by a lip brush so it would be difficult to notice. I’ve also received makeup used from Ulta online (not sure how, but it looked like it.) I’ve also wondered when asked by cs at TJ Maxx and Ulta if I had “used the products,” if I said, “No,” then they would put them back on the floor, since both places seem to have a history of this.

  • Faith

    I got a body shop lip trio as a gift one year for Christmas the kind in the pots. I opened it and noticed one of the three pots did not have a seal and when I opened it there was clearly a big ole dip where someone had put their finger. I thought it was just an oversight at the time but now I don’t know….not encouraging to say the least.

  • Ashley

    Oh Ulta….
    Now that I think about, there has definitely been a time or two when I’ve ordered a product online, looked at it carefully in the light on my vanity, and thought, “Hmm…”. At times, it’d seem like there was swatch-swipe in an eye shadow pan, or a lipstick that seemed blemished at the tip. With products like liquid lipsticks and glosses, I always look at the clear rim where you pull the wand out to tell if the product has been opened. That’s what I love about
    products that are shrink wrapped or sealed. It’s scary to think that you spend all this money for a company to send you a used product, but I know Ulta is not the only company that does this or has done this in the past. This is definitely something that we beauty guru’s and fanatics should monitor more closely and speak up about on social media. It’s disgusting, and and should not be tolerated.

  • Brian

    This is why I carefully examine packaging of items to make sure I am getting a brand new product. I purchased a Tarte lip paint that had clearly been used from Ulta because I had noticed that even though it did not look like it had been tampered with, the tube was halfway open, there was already an abundance of product build up around the wand when I opened the box, and there was lipstick residue all over the inside of the box.

  • Tearoseh

    I also received a swatched Naked palette from Ulta (ordered online). I emailed them and they apologized and sent me a new one right away.

    I have also received a used palette from ColourPop. Their customer service was not as polite and told me I can send it back at my own cost. It was a $16 palette, so I just cut my losses. Not impressed with ColourPop at all.

    • Saspant

      Me neither. I have had real issues with their customer service reps and hate the fact you can only communicate with them via email.

  • Carol

    I will chime in with my experience: I worked at the Clinique counter at Macy’s for a little over two years. When a return came back we were instructed by the counter manager to look at it and if it wasn’t used to put it back in the drawer to resell. Now, I can honestly attest that there were things that would be iffy and we would go around to other employees at the other makeup counters and say “Does this look used?” If the consensus was it did not look used then back in the drawer it went to be sold. The reason: their policy was dumb. If your counter took the return it came off your total sales for the day. And that’s even if it wasn’t bought from your store. So, for example, our store was about 15 miles from one of the more upscale Macy’s. Customers would purchase many products at that Clinique counter but then return them to our counter because a lot of times people were pressured into buying more than they wanted and they would be embarrassed to go back to the original store to make the return. So if you are having a slow sales day and you take a $100 return, that comes off your daily sales goal which can be detrimental to your weekly goal if it happens several times in a week. Thus the reason why the counter manager told us to salvage anything and everything. Even perfume. If someone used it once or twice and decided they didn’t like it, we would look at the bottle and if it looked almost completely full we would resell it. This is my experience. So I totally believe that this sort of thing happens. It’s all about money and sales goals and the managers are under a lot of pressure to make their goals. And make them they will, no matter what.

  • Kelly

    A few months ago I purchased a lipstick in-store, got home and it had noticeable marks across the top. Returned it – couldn’t exchange since they didn’t have another in that color. The next day I went to return another product that I’d tried and didn’t like – a double-ended lipstick/lip gloss. I very clearly told them I’d used both ends. While in store I checked for the first lipstick. They had one. Sure enough, it was the one I’d returned still with noticeable marks in it. So out of curiosity I went back the next day and the stick/gloss product I’d returned was on the shelf. So grossed out! No response from trying to report it. This was at a virtually brand new Ulta so someone had trained/told them to do it.

  • J

    I’m an Ulta employee & we never do this at our store! If something has been used (and customers will lie and say it hasn’t even though it clearly has been swatched), it gets damaged. If it clearly hasn’t been used we can resell, unless it’s a lip or eye product. Those get damaged no matter what unless it is factory sealed & the seal is intact. It boils down to crummy management!!

  • Lindsay

    I work for Ulta. If anyone even so much as swipes a finger on a palette or pumps one bit of product out of a bottle it goes straight to damages. It really depends on the store. Some are managed poorly.

  • susan

    I recently returned the new Stilla glittery liquid eye shadow to my local Ulta and told the manager (who I am friendly with) to give them to her grandchildren to play with as I did not touch the wand to my eye lid. She said, “I have to throw this out, all returns have to be thrown out” so hopefully my local Ulta store is throwing the returns away. This is really upsetting info to hear that they would re-stock used stuff. I’m sort of creeped out now

  • Linda Whitener

    This is hair-raising if true. Like you, I’ve often seen customers open DS makeup and swatch it – or I’ve seen the evidence of it (broken seals, foundation smudged on the exterior of the bottle). For that reason, I often order DS cosmetics online from Ulta – on the assumption that makeup from the distribution center has not been subjected to customers’ grubby hands. But if returned merch is going back into stock, I don’t know WHAT to think.

  • Heather

    We’ll, I ordered the new Urban Decay metallized eyeshadow palette online from Macy’s as an in store pickup, after I got it home, I saw that it was used. It had obvious swatch marks, you know how you rub the shadow to swatch, that’s exactly what it looked like, and the packaging it was it had seen better days. So Macy’s is definitely guilty of reselling used items.

    • amy

      I bought that same palette inside Sephora/JCP, and there was a shade that looked a bit “off”, but since the box was a PITA to open, and it was just the one shade (Amp), I’m comfortable with the thought it was just the way it was pressed.

  • Anonymous

    I work at Ulta and can confirm what is said in this article. My first week there I saw a manager put a set of hot rollers back on the shelf that a customer returned. So, SO gross!

    • amy

      Hot rollers are different, IMO, than makeup/skincare. Generally, with hair tools, one can tell if it’s been re-boxed.

  • Jean

    No surprise. This is why I always look at whatever I buy. If it has any imperfections, I look carefully if it looks like a finger print, brush, or from manufacturing. I look to see if the surface resembles the rest of the shadow. I do it before I buy in store and right after I receive stuff in the mail. I’v bought expensive shampoo from Ulta that were partially used. And employees have told me my returns will go back on the shelf (although I tell them I never touched, used, or even breathed on them, which is true). I NEVER buy anything liquid from Sephora or Ulta, especially lipstick and mascara. And if I do, I do my best to inspect it. But I haven’t bought anything liquid other than foundation in forever. Why aren’t makeup sealed anyway??

  • Cheryl

    A customer in my local Ulta opened a Benefit gimme brow and looked at the brush in front of an employee. She did not touch swatch it or otherwise touch the product, but the associate asked the customer to give her the one she opened because she could not sell that one. The customer was very rude and just said, “ok”, handed her the product, and left. Hopefully, that encounter is demonstrative of their hygienic practices.

  • GayleGalor

    I order online mostly and haven’t had this issue – yet. But I’ve seen it in so many stores countless times, which is why I always open the package in-store and check. Several months ago I was in an Ulta looking at UD’s All-Nighter foundation and they only had one in my shade. I opened the box and it looked used. I even opened up a couple of other boxes in other shades to make sure and sure enough there was visibly less product in the bottle and you could see where product had been pushed through the pump. There was a functioning tester right in front of it, so no one should have opened it for that. I pointed it out to an employee (who really didn’t act surprised) and she told me she was going to put it in the bin to destroy it. Who knows if they did or not.
    I’ve had to return a few products before, but I always show them if I’ve used it or if it’s still unused. I once accidentally grabbed the wrong lip shade to buy and noticed it in the car, so I brought it right back in to exchange and the girl practically gave me the third degree about it. She opened it and carefully inspected it and was treating me like I was being shady. I had to tell her, “I literally was here 5 minutes ago. That girl right there checked me out. I haven’t touched it. I just grabbed the wrong box.” Maybe if they were that diligent all the time, they wouldn’t be going through this negative publicity. I agree with what someone else here said – that if they want to sell the gently used makeup, they should sanitize it and mark it as used. I know a lot of people buy this kind of stuff online, so they’d surely be able to sell it in-store.

  • Me

    This is not surprising to me at all!! Ulta I won’t even go in any longer. The employees and Manager are horrible rude. Also their makeup testers are so gross and filthy used I won’t touch them!! I am talking GROSS!! — If the Health Dept would see that mess and filth of the testers I would think they would be shut down or reprimanded. awful!!

  • Jean

    Sephora does the same thing and their testers are also nasty. I never touch them and if I happen to I make sure to wipe my hands with alcohol then find a bathroom to wash them. I used to swatch lipstick by taking a piece at the very bottom. I saw the same dented lipstick a year or two later! Probably still there if I checked again. I heard in Europe makeup is sealed and if you open it, it’s unreturnable. Here if they enforce that it won’t work because American consumers are spoiled and will fight non stop until they get what they want. I’ve seen it happen at Walgreens where a woman got a refund even though she was past the date because she wouldn’t stop.

    • wendy

      did you see the article where a lady returned a dead christmas tree and got a full refund?

      • Kish

        They need to post a picture of her and shame her on all the news stations. People are vile.

      • Silvia

        Lol! I did see in the news. Just giggle it girls if you want to laugh. Ridiculous! Even the reporter was saying and all the pine needles mess to clean in the car, etc. I almost screamed totally dead, big tree and a month later? Ayyyy! ‍♀️ After reading these I’m not going to hate as much that sticky sealer they wrap beauty products with at Walgreens. I hate that tape it leaves a sticky mess but maybe it is safer that way. I hardly return any makeup item only a Jergens leg tanner that didn’t do a thing but itch. Lol! It makes me feel so scare now. I will open the item before heading home from now on in the store after paying.

  • wendy

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1 This is awful. I’m going to have to rethink my relationship with ULTA

  • Dee

    I thought it was indicated on the return receipt that you sign, not the one you get for proof of return. Doesn’t it say “unused/return to shelf”? Maybe that’s not where I saw it, but I’ve seen that phrase. Out of all my online orders I’ve only had one item delivered that appeared used. Since it was from a warehouse I found it strange to see. Maybe a warehouse employee did it? Otherwise, how did a used product get mixed in? I’m not aware that used items would ever get shipped anywhere. I thought they always stayed with the store. And this accusation/revelation isn’t new to the industry. Not that long ago I saw a similar post from a Sephora employee, I just don’t remember thiers having pics.

    • Adara260

      When you purchase items online, sometimes it comes from a warehouse sometimes it comes from a nearby store. I used to work at a sporting goods store, we’d get online shopping orders that if we couldn’t fulfill we’d get dinged for it.

  • Ari

    I worked at Ulta, and anything that was returned even just swatched went straight into damages and was later completely destroyed and disposed of by one of the managers. Any employee caught taking used products home could be fired, and the rules of disposal were quite strict. Only products that were still obviously sealed could be put back on the shelves.

    I always found it heartbreaking and disgusting to see products go to waste like that (which is why I try to avoid doing returns myself unless something was extremely expensive) but at the same time there was no way, hygienically or ethically, that you could resell something when it’s already been touched so there isn’t any other option. So it’s shocking to hear about stores that would condone this behavior!

    I will note that sometimes, if there wasn’t a tester available some customers would break open a fresh box of the product and either put it in the tester slot or, more reprehensibly, put it back in the box after swatching (or steal it), and we would have to be on the lookout for situations like that when we were restocking and cleaning shelves. So that may be part of the problem that people are mentioning above about buying products in store but finding them used. But if employees are knowingly putting used products back on the shelves that is a totally different matter!

    Obviously I can’t speak to every store or employee, and it’s really sad to read so many comments on here of people that have had a bad experience with this kind of store behavior! 🙁

  • Denise M

    I have purchased palettes online from Ulta, QVC and Sephora that had been swatched.

  • Deanna

    Well, reading all this will certainly help me with my 2018 low-buy resolution.

  • Shubana

    I can imagine many stores have practices like this to save on costs and SOMEONE (head office) put pressure on this manager to save that makeup because no one would think of doing something like that if it isn’t their own dime.

  • Christina

    Thanks for posting this.

    I just went to Ulta last week to get the Lorac Mega Pro 4 on sale. There were two left and I grabbed one. Standing in line I noticed the place where the original $59 price sticker on the corner was empty and there was fuzz and dirt adhered to it. Like someone purchased it as a gift for someone who ultimately returned it. I was shocked. I went and grabbed the other one which looked perfect and after I bought it, opened it while still in the store to carefully scrutinize that is was brand new. It was perfectly OK with no swatches or finger prints.

    This never happened to me before so I was dismayed but forgot about it and figured it was a one off incident. When I saw this article I couldn’t believe it. 🙁 Terrible to think this is systematic.

    That’s just wrong. Stores shouldn’t create return policies that are unrealistic and put other consumers at risk. Sometimes I think the YouTube beauty community has created a culture where people believe that buying things irresponsibly and returning them is acceptable. I don’t agree with that. It’s a problem on both sides. I agree with everyone else who doesn’t return things willy nilly. It just personally makes me feel awkward and dishonest. I have only returned something if the product itself is bad quality.

    At the end of the day store employees are consumers too so it’s hard to believe they would do that. It’s so disrespectful. We should all be more thoughtful and careful. Honestly you don’t have to be a germaphobe to find it gross!!

  • amy

    I wanted to purchase several NYX lippies a while back, and all but one had the plastic wrap on them. The SA set it aside *immediately*, and told me she couldn’t sell it to me. Admittedly, I did notice that the wrapping was off, so I opened it and inspected it thoroughly, but it wasn’t touched. I told her I was willing to buy it anyway, but she told me due to health/safety issues, she could not allow me to buy it. Apparently, it was put out as a “Tester”, but noone even swatched it.

    I think a lot of products that are tampered with aren’t necessarily due to returns, but just impatient customers who want to swatch something. At my local Sephora locations, the testers all end up at the makeover table, and ULTA doesn’t always have testers available. If there are some items that have been swatched, there are other explanations.

    Finally, we have to consider the fact that Tweet was from a *former* employee, and we don’t know the entire story as to why that is. The same goes to those who replied with similar stories… I’m not saying these things don’t happen, but there’s often three sides to any story…

    • Isabella Muse

      I agree about the tweet being from a former employee, we don’t really know the entire story! Not saying she is lying but who really knows the entire truth!

  • Taylor

    Oh, man – I literally just came from Ulta and watched this in action. I went in to use the current $10 off $30 coupon for Smashbox products (that part was pretty exciting), and I specifically wanted the Golden Hour eye palette. I had read this on the blog, and there was only one packaged palette left, so I thought I’d check just to be safe. One of the corners was folded in, indicating that the palette had been taken out and slid back in, first red flag. I opened the actual palette, there a finger swipe clear as day on one of the shades and a small chip out of another shade. So an employee comes up to ask me if I need help with anything, and I asked her if they had any more of the palettes in stock because this one appeared to have been opened and used. I described why I thought that, pointing out the finger swipe. She disappeared for a little while, came back (with the palette), and said this was the last one. While I was standing there looking at the lipsticks, she PUT THE PALETTE BACK on the shelf. I opened it back up just to confirm – yep, same used one. I should have said something to the manager, but I’m terrible at confrontation, so thinking of writing a letter or calling. Be wary!!!!!!!

  • genevieve

    I wouldn’t be surprised.
    Here is aus there is a pretty strict no returns policy on opened makeup items, so you have to be sure and I would say department stores would not let you return used makeup items either.

  • Penny

    This is truly depressing…If I do happen to get anything from Ulta it is usually online…I will be looking at any future purchases with a magnifying glass! 🙁

  • Sarah

    This is really why all cosmetics should come sealed like drugs and foods. No seal? No sale. Especially, when your buying stuff that is either expensive enough for the store to have a tester or cheap enough to toss if you end up not liking it.

    Interestingly enough I think almost all the Korean makeup I’ve bought comes sealed like this, and I think I’ll stick to importing my makeup.

  • Dena

    I was told to my face in a Bath & Body Works store that they do the same thing. I told her I didn’t want to buy the little beauty bag because I didn’t like all the scents. She said, “Oh don’t worry, you can return it.” I said, “I really don’t want to use it and bring it back. That seems wasteful.” She proceeds with, “Oh no, we just resell it. Girl could you imagine how much money we’d lose if we just threw it out?” I was speechless to say the least and now I always think of that every single time I lather up with my B&BW shower gel. So gross!

  • Jing

    I shopped for the first time on Ulta online in a very long time last week because they have Colourpop. I bought 2 single eyeshadows, and it came to me with the pigment cracked. But the container itself was not damaged. When I opened the box however, it looked like it was definitely used before. There were finger smudges on the outside of the eyeshadow container and I remembered this post.