Ulta vs. Sephora-Which is Your Favorite? I’ll Tell You Mine, Tell Me Yours!


This is an age old makeup lovers question. I debate this with friends at length. I have a favorite. I am firmly in one camp and I have been for a while now. I’ll tell you briefly why the turnaround. I’d love to hear from you why you have a favorite-as always we don’t have to agree but I really like to hear what you think! Part of my preference does have to do with my local stores. That is something I can’t control but has helped tipped the balance most definitely.

Sales-I love them but who doesn’t right? Well one of these places has a sale on something/anything constantly and the other doesn’t. Ok when they do its a special occasion but like my momma says who needs a special occasion to say I love you? By the way I associate makeup sales with love don’t you?

Store Employees-This is a hard one to express. I like talking to people. I end up gabbing with people all the time about anything. I think I’m friendly and polite but do not hound me in a store please. Part of the fun of makeup shopping for me is wondering around and forgetting everything else. The guy that cut me off on the exit fifteen minutes ago and how chunky my thighs feel currently. I would love to say hi back to you and then if I tell you I’m just looking around…please don’t follow me. Don’t tell me something about each thing I pick up for the next few minutes. I pick up EVERYTHING. Please drift away because I’ll get a look on my face that I can’t control. Its the “do I look like I need help girlfriend?” face. It’s not a nice one and I don’t like pulling it out. I feel horrible about it but your ruining it for me. I just wanna have a little look around and swatch things and find something pretty!

Merchandise-I love a little bit of everything but above all keep getting new brands in the store why don’t ya? I don’t expect several new brands every month but if a brand is good and competes with other product lines you carry bring it on IN. I want to see it…like yesterday! It really works for both of us. You want to be my one stop shop? Then carry both brands of concealer I’m considering. There is a good chance that I’ll walk out with one of them right?

So who’s my favorite after having said all that? Ulta. I used to be a die hard fan of Sephora. I used to live for and love the place like cooked food. Now…I’m all about Ulta. There’s always a sale at Ulta. I do get confused with those 20% off coupons with exclusions (and figuring out what they mean) but hey at least I’m gonna save on something! At my local Ulta they roll by you in store say hi and ask if you need help. It’s a drive by and I love it. They all do it and even if several employees do it you don’t mind cause you barely have to look up from what you are doing. They give “essence of employee” and I love it. You know they have people working cause you’ve kind of seen them but no one has gotten in your face and noticed that you have a few blackheads you should have covered up before you left the house.

Ahhhh and the merchandise. They are good about that also. Putting Mally, It Cosemetics, Jane, and even the Kardashian’s has kept Ulta interesting for me. Oh and Perricone MD-that was a genius move!

So tell me your favorite and why if you’d like! I’d love to know what things are like at your local store or if you prefer one or the other when buying online. That’s a whole other post topic ha!

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  1. Heather USA says

    My favorite would definitely be Ulta. I love my drugstore makeup as much as higher priced brands so I love that I can order both or either on Ulta. Now, I just wish I had a store near me *Wah*

  2. cca says

    Sephora, nordstrom. walgreens look boutique (chinatown dc). I like the customer service at both.

    I dont live near Ulta.

  3. Tonya says

    I was just talking to my sister about this same topic! I love Ulta. I like that I can pick up some cotton balls, a makeup mirror, get my brows waxed and pick up some high end makeup all under one roof. I also like the coupons and where I live Ulta is closer and the parking situation is good.

  4. Tara says

    I love Sephora. My Ulta is very snotty! They are always acting like they are do busy.. Busy looking at the salons customers getting there hair done. Uhhhh remember me the paying customers?

    Sephora gets a

    • LaLa says

      I agree with you Tara! Honestly I have had my share of bad experience, the Ults by me has employees that do not know what a PRIMER is!!???? It’s sad that they do not get trained and have knowledge sephora employees tend to have. I just got my VIB ROUGE card!! Crystal are you there yet?

  5. Melanie Y. says

    I really love both, for different reasons. My Sephora is super cramped, so I am constantly bumping into people and trying to squeeze through. And I can never find employees there to help me. I do love their high end stuff though. Ulta is great, just a bit of a drive. Selection is great, love the drugstore stuff. I HATE getting harassed non-stop by employees too!

  6. Asia C. says

    Funny enough, I’m not a fan of either, but if I had to choice, it would be Sephora because they carry more of the brands that I buy. I don’t really buy drug store makeup, in plus Ulta isn’t close to where I live. I will admit that I did drive the distance last month for the $11 Anastasia clear brow gel (bought the last two…SCORE). So the sales are a huge benefit, just wish they carried more of the brands I use. My fav store is Nordy’s and Saks. But Nordy’s definitely wins out. I’m love that I can FINALLY buy the full TF line online and their new pilot beauty rewards program. Similar to Sephora, but I now I get points for being a card holder and extra points when I buy beauty items…..BOUNS!!!!

  7. Destine2grow says

    I like them both for different reasons. I like Ulta because of the drugstore products. Most of the high end make up that Ulta sell I don’t use. Also I hate that they exclude most of the high end products from their sale! I love Sephora because they carry more of the brands I use. I also love their perfume selection! Most of the perfume I wear I can not purchase at Ulta! If I have too choose, my choice would be Sephora! Especially some they do not exclude their high end brands from their sales!

  8. Aurora says

    I love Sephora. They send to Puerto Rico, free shipping (VIB ROUGE), free samples and coupon codes for delux samples, it does not get better then that.

  9. Anya says

    My reasoning is based entirely on location. My Sephora is only 10 minutes away but in a shopping mall that is the biggest hassle every. I am stressed even typing it thinking about it. I never, ever go there. I live in a traffic nightmare part of the country, so a lot of my destination choices are based around parking and accessibility.

    On that alone, I have to pick Ulta.

    On products, I would pick Sephora. I feel like I know every single product my Ulta sells. I could be staff member.

    On sales clerks, I pick Ulta.

    On sales, I pick Ulta.

    So, Ulta it is!

  10. The Single Nester says

    I completely agree! With manufacturer coupons and ULTA coupons and buy one get one 50 off, you cannot beat it. I print out a few ULTA coupons and keep on getting back on line. Sephora is overpriced.

  11. Lisa C says

    For me, it’s Sephora all the way! True, Ulta has the great Bogo sales all the time, but you can never ever use a 20% off coupon on the higher end brands. And if I have my eyes set on something, it’s a little disappointing that I can’t use the coupon. There are always exceptions for what you can use those coupons for. The other thing that bugs me is that the points expire after awhile if you don’t use them.

    I guess I’m pretty lucky with my Sephora – they never bug me unless I ask for help. They’ll ask if I’m finding everything ok and then leave me alone. Plus, if you get real chummy with some of the employees they can always give you a card to use for their F&F discount. Like the one I just got :) That was a nice surprise!

  12. says

    I love Ulta. I too feel a bit hounded at Sephora – and honestly, I like the rewards program much better at Ulta! This likely has to do with the fact that they have more variety in brands like you mentioned – because of this if I’m looking to pick something up that is carried at both stores, I’ll probably go to Ulta because there are likely other things I might want to check out that Sephora might not carry. So I end up spending more money at Ulta which means better rewards. And I can use coupons on lots of things. And I don’t have to go into a mall, which adds extra time and temptation passing all these other stores!!! :)

  13. Mary says

    Wow, that’s a tough call. BOTH Sephora and Ulta are a bit of a trek for me, but there’s a Sephora I really like on the bus route home from work. The Ulta closest to me was renovated and it’s super nice. AND with Ulta adding more and more high-end lines the choice is even harder. I DO have a makeup artist store walking distance from my house and we get a “locals” discount. I find myself running there more. So…. eenie, meenie, miney, moe….. I’d have to say Sephora – mostly due to location.

  14. Lisa says

    Aaahhh I want to say Ulta so badly because of the convenience of having higher end and drugstore products all in one place but I may have to say Sephora because of the employees/customer service. I have yet to find an Ulta employee who knows what they’re talking about *side eye to the girl who grumpily told me they do not even carry Benefit products while I was looking for the new (back then) Fake Up concealer…the display was 3 ft behind her.*

  15. meka says

    I much prefer sephora and Nordstrom for my beauty purchases. Generally speaking, Ulta’s customer service is the worst. With one exception, I’ve rarely been offered help at Ulta–the SAs prefer to talk amongst themselves. So I usually walk out and spend my beauty dollars where people at least acknowledge my presence.

  16. 80sChicwithglasses says

    Sephora! I love drugstore makeup too, but I usually stalk CVS (extra bucks) or Walgreens. The closest Ulta is 25-30 minutes from me. I was so pissed too because my sister loves Ulta! She bought something for me that didn’t work. She sent the reciept as well, so I drove out to exchange it (after calling ahead). When I came in the door I had a bag and receipt I was going to ask if I could leave at the counter to shop around. The lady was checking out another customer and told me she’d be with me in just a second. As I’m waiting on the side of the counter 2 other customers get in line in the checkout area. As the worker finishes helping the one customer she proceeds to wave the next person in line up. I said “excuse me” “I’ve been waiting for you”. She tells me, since I’m not in line she has to take these customers first. She should have told me that, and she had NO clue what I came in for. I was pissed…I stood there for a few minutes waiting for her to finish the first lady, now I’m told I’m not in line for service? I bit my tongue and got in line. When she got to me she proceeds to say “Sorry about that”. Really??? I hand her my stuff and told her I wanted a refund. She saw my receipt and asks if I found what I wanted to exchange. Really??? You KNOW I didn’t go through the store and you’ve pissed me off. I got a refund and refuse to shop there anymore.

  17. chasity says

    Ooohh this is hard I’m gonna go with Ulta and the only reason they win is because I can get my brows done and a facial if nothing tickles my fancy as far as makeup.

  18. marquita says

    I like sephora for the variety of brands, vib sales and they give samples.
    I like Ulta that the point system is money off.
    The closet full Sephora is about an hour away.
    And my Ulta is never, never in stock of what ever I want. Most of the time it looks empty. They always get the drugstore products late. By the time they get it, I have already purchased them from cvs or walgreens. And I dislike that when I order online and want to return something, I have to go back and print of my order from my account.

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