Sephora Vs Ulta
While department stores are seeing a steady decline, the beauty industry is in the midst of a boom. Spending on makeup and personal care is growing more quickly globally through social media, digital marketing and technology. Sephora and ULTA are the top two beauty retailers that are in the midst of growth and competition between the two is as fierce as ever. The ultimate beauty question remains the same: Sephora or ULTA?
If you're an avid shopper of all things beauty, you've probably been to a Sephora or an Ulta — maybe even both. As one-stop shops for everything from makeup to skincare to haircare and all else in between, many people compare the two stores.
Sephora has a reputation for selling more luxury beauty brands while Ulta has long been considered a retailer for drugstore brands. The reality is that these two stores aren't so different. With competitive rewards programs, strong selections, beauty services, and more, both stores offer a great shopping experience.
Wondering where you should go to get what? Below we've covered the membership programs, rewards, product and brand selections, ways to shop, and how to decide which store is best for you.
Brands and product selection
Both stores carry a wide range of products across all price ranges, and there is a lot of overlap between the two when it comes to brand selection. Generally, Sephora stocks more high-end brands and Ulta more drugstore options.
Sephora: Sephora carries hundreds of brands, along with its own private label. Sephora Collection, the store's in-house line, offers affordable beauty products starting as low as $1. The store also stocks a host of mid-tier brands, as well as high-end ones like Dior, La Mer, and Chanel. Fenty Beauty, Huda Beauty, and Charlotte Tilbury are some of Sephora's standout brands you can't find at Ulta.
Ulta: Ulta Beauty Collection is the store's in-house label offering affordable beauty products — prices start below $1 for a sheet mask — with everything from skincare to beauty tools. Like Sephora, you can find plenty of mid-tier brands, but what stands out about Ulta is its curation of budget beauty brands. NYX, e.l.f. Cosmetics, and L'Oréal are some of the drugstore brands you can't find at Sephora.
Sales and deals
Both beauty stores have online sale sections and limited-time deals. Ulta tends to host sales more often, but Sephora gives greater savings during singular events. And like many retailers, the sales are even greater when you enroll in their membership programs.
Sephora: The beauty retailer has weekly sales on trial and mini sizes, and with online orders, you can choose two free samples at checkout. Sephora also hosts a massive annual spring sale where Beauty Insiders can save big on popular brand names. If you sign up for the rewards program, you can use an exclusive promo code to take 10% off nearly every product Sephora carries. And for Rouge and VIB members, the deals are even greater — saving 15% and 20% off, respectively. Right now, everyone can get free shipping with the code "FREESHIP."
Ulta: Constantly releasing coupons, buy more save more deals, and sale items, Ulta makes it easy for people to shop discounted beauty products both in-store and online. Its big sale events — like the 21 Days of Beauty, the Gorgeous Hair Event, and the Love Your Skin Event — are notorious for featuring Beauty Steals, where customers can shop up to 50% off top brands like Tarte and Glamglow and the deals refresh every 24 hours. These events come and go quickly, so you can sign up for Ulta Beauty emails to stay in the know for big upcoming events.
Both stores offer membership programs that reward shoppers through points programs, granting them special access to promotions, and more.
Sephora: Beauty Insider is Sephora's membership program. There are three levels of membership: Beauty Insider, VIB, and VIB Rouge. Any shopper can become a Beauty Insider since there's no minimum spend necessary. To become a VIB member, you must spend $350 a year, and to become a VIB Rouge member that number goes up to $1,000 a year.
Ulta: Ultamate Rewards is Ulta's membership for loyal shoppers. There are three tiers of membership: member, platinum member, and diamond member. There is no minimum spend required to become a regular member. You must spend $500 a year to become a platinum member and $1,200 to become a diamond member.
Rewards program benefits
Both the Beauty Insider and Ultamate Rewards programs offer great perks to shoppers, whether you're spending lots of money at the store each year or none at all. Sephora offers its members more promotions while Ulta offers more birthday perks, but ultimately both programs reward shoppers very similarly.
Sephora: There are many benefits of becoming a Beauty Insider. One of the most notable is the points system, which turns your spending into points that you can redeem at the Rewards Baazar in exchange for products. Here's a rundown of the rewards you get, at every membership tier:
-Insider: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 10% off during seasonal savings events
-VIB: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 15% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase
-VIB Rouge: 1 point for every $1 you spend, 2 free birthday gifts, 20% off during seasonal savings events, exclusive gifts with a monthly purchase, free standard shipping, access to exclusive events, first-in-line for new product launches
Ulta: Ultamate Rewards members get lots of benefits that make future shopping hauls more affordable. Unlike Sephora where points are redeemed as products, at Ulta points are redeemed as cash discounts on future purposes. Here's a breakdown of the rewards at every level:
-Member: 1 point for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month
-Platinum: 1.25 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire
-Diamond: 1.5 points for every $1 you spend, free birthday gift, double points during your birthday month, $10 birthday coupon, points never expire, everyday free shipping on orders of $25 or more, annual $25 beauty service reward card
Both Sephora and Ulta have well-organized stores where you can find (and be tempted by) thousands of products on display. Both also offer pretty similar online shopping experiences, though Ulta offers an incredibly convenient in-store pickup option.
Sephora: Sephora's shipping offering is pretty standard. If you spend $50 or more, you're eligible for free, standard three-day shipping. For orders less than $50, this same shipping costs $6.50. To get two- or one-day shipping, you'll pay $10.95 or $16.95, respectively. If you shop online at Sephora often, it may be worth it for you to enroll in its flash shipping program. It costs just $15 a year and gives you free shipping for the entire year, no minimums required.
Ulta: Ulta's shipping rates and policies are pretty standard too. Regardless of how much you spend on your order, standard shipping costs $5.95 (3-8 business days), expedited shipping costs $9.95 (3-4 business days), and premium shipping costs $16.95 (2-3 business days).
If you want to avoid shipping costs and live close to an Ulta store location, use Ulta's in-store pickup service. All you have to do is choose "Buy Online & Pick Up in Store" as your purchase option. When your order's ready, you'll get an email from Ulta — just head over to the chosen store with that email confirmation and an ID, and you're good to go.
Sephora or Ulta? It's one question every beauty lover gets asked (and has asked themselves at one point). Both stores feature walls stocked with everything the average beauty guru could want, and the expert advice to back it all up. At one point, Sephora was for high-end products and Ulta was mainly for drugstore brands. However, the lines keep blurring between the two as they both offer a multitude of different brands, exclusives, and services. So the newest question is, which is the better bang for your buck? Which can get you looking perfect without breaking the bank?
Now if you look at the product range alone, Sephora has more than 300 brands, while Ulta has more than 500, including high-end and drugstore. Along with that, each of them have some irresistible exclusives! Most recently, Ulta came out with WandaVision themed sets and Sephora came out with the exclusive Brother Vellies makeup bag collection. So the question remains, which store will your wallet love more?
Ultimately, Ulta has the best deals. At their core, Sephora and Ulta Beauty have a lot in common. For online orders, both stores offer free shipping on orders over $50 and lucrative loyalty programs. But when it comes to said loyalty programs, Ulta has Sephora beat.
Both companies reward customers with points for every dollar spent. Sephora's Beauty Insider program affords customers a free birthday gift, small samples and, if you occupy a higher tier within the program, you can get access to special store events and products (via Sephora). Ulta's Ultimate Rewards program, however, gets straight into discounts, ranging from 100 points, which equals $3 off your purchase, all the way to 2,000 points, which equates to $125 off. As for discounts, Sephora is quite sparse, while Ulta offers coupons in easily accessible weekly ads (via Ulta). So, with the wide range and discount deals at every corner, Ulta offers the biggest bang for your buck.
Truthfully, it's up to you. You can't go wrong shopping at Sephora or Ulta. For many shoppers, it's a matter of what they know. Another factor in choosing where to shop is looking at what you want to buy. If e.l.f. Cosmetics is your favorite brand, go to Ulta — Sephora doesn't stock the brand. If you love Charlotte Tilbury, you'll want to go to Sephora, as Ulta doesn't have it. Luckily, both Sephora and Ulta stock a number of popular beauty brands like Nars, Clinique, and Too Faced, among others — so if that's what you need, you're set wherever you go.
Ulta Beauty offers customers prestige & mass cosmetics, makeup, fragrance, skincare, bath & body, haircare tools & salon. Check the most popular sales event at Ulta Beauty here by clicking. If you’re addicted to everything ‘beauty’ you’re going to be addicted to everything Ulta! Sign up for emails and download the app to stay in the know about Ulta big events, including 21 Days of Beauty, Gorgeous Hair Event, and the Love Your Skin Event. You can check the Ulta Beauty Sales Calendar here to saving you the most money on the products you’re searching for — from the perfect shade of gloss to a tool for pin-straight hair.
Sephora is a French multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products. Featuring nearly 3,000 brands, along with its own private label, Sephora Collection, Sephora offers beauty products including cosmetics, skincare, body, fragrance, nail color, beauty tools, body lotions and haircare. Sephora has many beauty sales around the year including Daily Deals, Holiday Savings, Black Friday Sale. Check the Sephora Sales Calendar here and find your favourite beauty deals.