It’s no secret that both Ulta and Sephora are wonderful, magic-filled stores for makeup and skincare enthusiasts. With bold eyeshadow pallets, sparkly eye glitters, and face masks galore, it’s easy to spend hours upon hours in these stores. While each store has their own benefits, there are tons of differences between the two. Now, keep in mind. As a former Ulta employee, my opinion is a bit skewed and biased. The following are some pros and cons for both:

Ulta Pros

Killer Rewards System

Ulta is one of the few companies yet to disappoint me. One of my favorite things that Ulta offers is their reward system. It gives you points that are then turned into actual cash that you can use toward items in the store. I once had a coworker who saved up enough money in Ulta points to buy Christmas gifts for her family and friends just based on her points alone.

A Variety of Different Levels of Products

Ulta also offers both drugstore and high-end makeup and skincare. To me, this is a huge deal. I don’t like having to go to multiple beauty supply stores if I can avoid it. Ulta seems to be a one-stop shop.

Salon Service in the Store

They also offer professional salon services. Their hair stylists and skincare specialists truly know what they’re doing. I’ve never had someone do such a phenomenal job on my hair as the stylists at Ulta. They also helped me achieve my skincare goals with regular facials.

Amazing and Helpful Staff

Their staff is also super helpful and knowledgeable about products. It is always a goal of theirs to speak to everyone in the store at least once. My experience working at Ulta showed me that independent research on brands in the store is commonplace. It is often why employees are so knowledgeable about the many products offered in the store.

Free Stuff and Good Customer Service

Ulta also always has coupons for drugstore-based products. Sometimes they will have deals with earning more points on your purchases. The one thing I adore dearly is free gifts with purchases. Who doesn’t love a goodie or two when purchasing a favorite product? It really sets a great tone with the customers and leaves them with a new product they may not have tried. Ulta really cares deeply about their customers and goes above and beyond to give great customer service. 

Ulta Cons

Stressful Store Fronts

Even though I speak super highly of Ulta, they of course do have some flaws. The one thing that was a constant the entire time I worked there was that no matter how much front facing and cleaning I did, the store was always disorganized and messy. It was a nightmare to keep clean.

No Free Samples

While we would give out free goodies, we did not offer samples. This to me was always something that was a constant headache. Customers sometimes are on the fence about if they want to purchase one foundation over the other. Giving them samples of both could leave them with options they could try if they couldn’t pick between one or the other. 

Sephora Pros

Higher End, Luxury Products Also Offered

While I love Ulta immensely, Sephora has some amazing qualities as well. The one thing I love is that they carry a wide variety of higher-end items that we didn’t sell at Ulta. It makes me feel like I’m shopping for luxury items every time I buy something at a higher price.

Organized Shopping Space

Not to mention, all of their stores are heavily organized and clean. It’s super easy to find everything you’re looking for with how well the stores are laid out and organized. I never feel overwhelmed whenever I go shopping there.

Free Samples All Around

Sephora also offers free samples. As listed above, this is great for indecisive people like myself. It’s always best to take a few foundations home and play with them in natural lighting to see how they mix with your skin.

Awesome Birthday Gifts

As silly as it sounds, Sephora’s birthday gifts tend to be a bit better as well. You get to choose between two travel sized items, compared to only getting one option at Ulta. I like the options that Sephora gives the majority of the time, and they never seem to disappoint. 

Sephora Cons

Not a Great Rewards System

Sephora can be a bit of a let down whenever I’m not shopping for a specific product. I honestly can say their point system is really disappointing. It is super hard to earn enough points to receive free goodies. And when you do reach those free goodies, they aren’t great. Normally, they give sample-sized items and you never get money back towards other purchases in the store. Overall it is not great for the customer experience and needs a revamp.

No Free Gifts with Purchases

They also do not give free gifts with purchases. This to me is not great for the customer experience. When I receive free goodies at Ulta, It makes me feel like my time at their establishment was well spent and that they appreciate me as a customer. I don’t feel this way when I leave a Sephora store.

While each store has its benefits and downfalls, I still have a habit of shopping at both whenever I need specific products or just want to look at new products. Both Ulta and Sephora have their own specialties that still grab my attention when I’m out and about. When comparing the two, it also feels like Ulta has an unfair advantage due to the fact that they offer so much to their customers. Sephora is definitely not out of the running by any means, but just doesn’t compare to how amazing Ulta is. 


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