Ulta vs Sephora – Which Is The Better Beauty Store?

Ulta vs Sephora – Which Is The Better Beauty Store?

Beauty products usually give women the chance to look the way they prefer through different products. The beauty world is all about expressing your beauty through hair care, perfumes, deodorants, cosmetics, and more. When shopping for beauty products, two significant stores usually come to mind. Ulta and Sephora are the two that stand out. While Sephora sells luxury beauty brands, Ulta is considered a drugstore retail store. These two stores are not so different in their selections, beauty services, and more. However, have you ever wondered what the differences are between these two? In this Ulta vs Sephora comparison, we’ll evaluate the key features of each store. Ensure you read through to determine which is the better beauty store before going on your next makeup shopping spree.

What Differentiates Ulta vs Sephora

To begin the distinction between the two brands, it’s essential to check out their foundation and history.  Ulta was founded in 1990 and has grown to become one of the largest beauty retailers in the country; The store has over 1000 stores scattered all over 50 states. This beauty brand recently launched Ulta Beauty in over 100 Target locations across the United States. Ulta sells over 20,000 products from over 600 brands. It also has a foundation known as the Ulta Beauty Charitable Foundation. This foundation has donated over $20 million to non-profit organizations. The focus of the foundation is significantly improving the lives of women and girls. 

On the other hand, Sephora first opened its store in 1998, and it was in New York City. However, today the store has over 500 stores across the country. Like Ulta, Sephora sells over $20,000 products but from 340 brands that are lower than Ulta. Sephora is also into improving women’s lives and has helped over 200,000 women and girls by donating products. It can achieve this through its partnership with Project Glimmer. The company has also launched a Charity Awards initiative aimed at supporting organizations that provide essential aid in its community,

Why You Should Shop at Ulta Beauty

There are so many reasons why you should check out Ulta when you’re looking for beauty products. Below are some things we liked about shopping at Ulta that give it an edge in the Ulta vs Sephora comparison.

The Atmosphere

To expand its customer base, the brand caters to those looking for high-end products and those searching for drugstore products. When a customer walks into an Ulta Store in any location, there’s usually a helpful associate available who greets you. There’s a laid-back vibe in the store, and you can find brightly-lit merchandise in every corner. The beauty store is also quite approachable and gives customers a mix of high-end and drugstore vibes.

Salon Services

Ulta is more than just a store you go to fulfill your retail needs. This beauty store is a one-stop-shop that also offers you hair and skin services. Ulta Beauty’s salon provides customers with cuts, texture and conditioning treatment, makeup lessons, wax services, and many more. Appointments at the Ulta Beauty Salon allow you to try out products before purchasing them.

The Virtual Try-On Experience

Most people can’t figure out the right makeup color for them. It’s even harder when you’re shopping online, and Ulta remedies the issue with Ulta’s Gamelab. The lab helps customers enjoy a virtual try-on experience. It also takes the guesswork out when you’re shopping for new products. You can scan QR codes around the store to try on thousands of products simply through your mobile phone. 

Strong Initiatives

In addition to its foundation, this beauty store recently launched Muse 100, an initiative to uplift, support, magnify and empower black voices in beauty. This brilliant initiative usually recognizes 100 black makeup artists, authors, activists, and even a hairstylist with a grant of $10,000 each. The brand also has a category in its store that highlights cruelty-free, eco-friendly, and sustainable brands.

Its Return Policy

We also love shopping at Ulta because of its return policy. If you don’t like what you purchased, you have 60 days to return the product to the store. You also have to go with the original component to enjoy an exchange or money back. Additionally, the brand helps those who lost their receipt locate them using the Ultimate Rewards membership ID. Sometimes, the return policy also allows you to enjoy in-store credit when you return a product.

Why You Should Shop at Sephora

Like Ulta, there are several reasons why you should consider shopping at Sephora. Below are some of the top reasons that give Sephora an edge in the Ulta vs Sephora comparison.

A Focus on Inclusivity

Sephora’s main aim is to be a store where everyone feels welcome. It was the first major retailer in June 2020 to commit to the 15 Percent Pledge. This pledge meant that Sephora dedicates 15% of its shelf space mainly to Black-owned brands. The brand has also evolved its Accelerate brand incubator program over the years. Today, its focus is exclusively on BIPOC brands.

Product Expertise

Sephora has beauty advisors who they consult when it comes to expertise on all types of beauty products. No matter the question you might have, Sephora beauty advisors always have an answer for you. They offer you tips and expertise on application tips, products, trends, and even the ingredients used in a beauty product. The best part is that online customers are not left out of this expertise. You can always contact a beauty advisor on the live chat and get real-time advice.

Shopping Convenience

There are different ways you can shop at Sephora; you can choose the in-store experience or online shopping. You also have various options like curbside pickup or same-day delivery for deliveries. This beauty brand recently launched 200 Sephora stores at Kohl’s location. You can ask to use an AI tool that helps you match your complexion in these stores. This AI tool called Color IQ helps customers find their perfect makeup shade. This tool factors in depth, saturation, and even undertones to help you make the right choice

Prestige Products

Sephora caters more to high-end customers as it offers you exclusive products. You can get Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez and JLo Beauty products at the store. There is a wide selection of luxury lines to explore at Sephora’s store because it focuses on higher-end products.

Ulta vs Sephora – In-Store Comparison

If you love to shop beauty items, then there’s a chance you’ve been to an Ulta or Sephora store. Both stores are one-stop shops for everything you need including makeup, haircare, and skincare. Therefore, most people want an Ulta vs Sephora comparison to determine which is the best beauty store.


The in-store atmosphere at Ulta is bright and welcoming. When you start to head to the back of the store, you’ll have access to different skincare, haircare, and drugstore product. There are different sides to Ulta, and it all depends on how much you’re willing to spend. While one side of the store provides you with budget and drugstore makeup products, the other half focuses mainly on luxury products. However, we love that you can always find products on sale at the store.

We also find their vast range of products unique. As long as it’s a beauty product, Ulta is a one-stop shop for all your needs. You can always pick up your necessary makeup products and other drugstore products from the store. The best part is that you get a reward for every purchase you make. At Ulta, new and popular items get sold out quickly. This feature can be frustrating, especially if the product you’re looking for is a popular item. The staff at Ulta are pretty friendly and stay out of your way while you fulfill your shopping needs.


Walking into Sephora always makes the customers feel like they’re in a more high-end beauty store. The walls are framed with modern black and white wallpaper. This beauty store offers you a large variety of high-end makeup brands. Additionally, each display is styled to match the brand it is displaying. The collections in this store focus on its luxury makeup brands. The perfumes are along the sides of the store, while skincare products are towards the back. 

In the center of the beauty store, you can find their most popular products on display. To help you shop more efficiently, beauty products are categorized into type and popularity. On top of these designs, you can always count on Sephora’s employees’ knowledge of different products. The store is also more hands-on than Ulta as it also provides customers with a color matching tool that helps you find the ideal foundation shade. Another feature you’ll love is the ability to get samples of products before you make a purchase. This allows you to test new products to ensure you love them before purchasing them.

Ulta vs Sephora Rewards Programs and Perks

People love rewards, especially for their loyalty to a beauty brand. In this Ulta vs Sephora comparison, it is clear that both stores understand how to win customers’ hearts. Ulta has a reward program that allows customers to earn a point for every $1 they spend on the product and services at the store. When your purchase is up to $500, you automatically reach platinum level increasing the points you earn for every dollar. The higher you spend, the higher your level of the loyalty program. 

Some of the perks you get to enjoy are double points on your birthday month as well as a gift on your birthday. Customers also enjoy member-exclusive communications and offers, and you can track your points using the Ulta Beauty App.

On the other hand, Sephora’s reward program is called the Insider Program and features three membership levels. Each level provides members with points for their purchase, and you can redeem these points for various products. Additionally, being a part of the Insider program allows you to access promotions and savings events throughout the year. When you reach the highest membership level, you can attend special events and receive gifts. In addition, you’ll also get first access to limited edition products.

Alternatively, you can use these points to support charitable organizations through the Charity Reward Program. When you utilize the Sephora App, you can check your level and access promotions. 

Ulta vs Sephora: Sales and Deals

These beauty stores usually have limited-time deals and online sales. While Ulta tends to have more sales, Sephora gives you a higher chance of saving when it runs a sale. Additionally, their membership and reward programs give customers a chance to save more.

Sephora runs weekly sales on trial and mini-sized products. When you shop online, you can choose two different samples when checking out. This beauty store also hosts an annual spring sale where its members can save big on luxury brands. Depending on your level on their reward program, there’s usually an exclusive promo code to take 10 – 20% off your cart.

On the other hand, Ulta continually releases coupons and offers ‘buy more to save more’ deals to customers. Its many sale items allow people to shop for discounted beauty products in the store and online. There are also significant sale events like the 21 Days of Beauty, Love Your Skin Event, and many more where you can get up to 50% off on top brands’ products. These deals refresh every 24 hours but sell out quite quickly. You can sign up for their promotional emails to receive notifications about big upcoming sales.

Final Thoughts

It’s impossible to go wrong when you choose either Ulta or Sephora for your shopping needs. This Ulta vs Sephora comparison shows that these brands stack up nicely regarding the crucial things. If you’re looking for luxury brands and sophisticated employees, you should check out Sephora. However, if you would prefer a beauty store with all the beauty services you need and affordable drugstore products, then Ulta is at the top of the list.

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Ulta vs Sephora – Which Is The Better Beauty Store? You can’t go wrong with these brands. Check out this Ulta vs Sephora comparison for insight into the better beauty brand.
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