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Ulta vs. Sephora: Which Beauty Store is Better?

By Mariela
May 31, 2023
7 minutes

beauty Skincare is fast becoming a well-embraced culture among women across all races. Albeit, as demand for more beauty products increases, so do the beauty product manufacturers and stores .

When it comes to buying beauty products, especially ones that have to do with applying to sensitive areas such as your face, then you may want to pay attention to a subtle factor that may determine the quality of the product you purchase.

This is because purchasing the wrong skincare product could wreak havoc and in the long run damage your skin. Pretty sure, you do not want to be a victim of a bad product who then turns an outpatient to the dermatology clinic.

So, bearing this in mind, this article will focus on two major beauty store brands, compare and contrast them and also come up with a well-rounded summary that would help you inform your decision.

Sequel to this, we would compare two of the most popular beauty retailer stores – Ulta and Sephora Beauty Stores. We would also highlight what makes both beauty stores unique and also mention their major selling point.

If your hands are not too busy, grab some snacks to munch on as we take a quick ride into comparing these two stores to know which is better.

Enjoy!

When it comes to beauty products, Ulta and Sephora are the top leads in the game. It’s no brainer why they continue to expand their brand across the globe. However, each brand remains in fierce competition as each keeps rolling out awesome products for its customers.

We would begin by outlining their general features and then continue comparing and contrasting them in a table.

Ulta vs. Sephora Beauty: Brand History

Kickstarting this section, we begin by giving a brief background history of both brands. This includes their country of origin, how they came to be, and how well they are performing in the market currently.

Ulta

Sephora

Country of Origin: United States of America (USA)

Country of Origin: France

Headquarters: Bolingbrook, Illinois

Headquarters: Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris (old)

Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris (new)

Year founded: 1990

Year founded: 1970

Brand Owner: Richard George and Terry Hanson

Brand Owner: LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton

Product History: Previously known as Ultra Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance, Inc., Ulta Beauty is a retailer of different types of beauty products in the US. Their product caters to satisfy both the lower and higher spectrum of their customers. In 2022, their total stores across the United States stood at 1355 stores.

Product History: Based on its history, Sephora started out as Shop 8 where they oversee and produce a tiny perfumery in Limoges, France. The main intention of Dominique Mandonnaud was to offer a location where buyers could test the products before making a purchase which was a concept that didn’t exist before the time. Instead of brand, products were placed together by type. They opened 12 additional outlets by 1979.

The 38 Sephora-branded stores Mandonnaud would subsequently acquire are part of the UK’s Boots PLC business, which has its origins in Paris. This chain of boutiques collaborated with Nouvelles Galeries, a company of department stores.

Services offered: Skincare, haircare, cosmetics, fragrances, and salon services.

Services offered: Beauty services such as hair & skincare, Make-up, bath and body, and fragrances.

Reputation: Ulta Beauty prides itself in their ability to sustain their brand irrespective of the population size. This is observed in the operations in the United States which shows that the company is able to sustain retail in such a progressive country with a significant population size.

Reputation: Sephora Beauty prides itself as an omni-retailer whose exceptional growth has birthed 2700 stores across 35 countries of the world.

Performance: Ulta Beauty is one of the top leading beauty retailers in North America with a sales revenue of $8.6B in 2021 and $10.2B in 2022.

Performance: As of 2022, Reports from luxury daily showed that Sephora was the biggest U.S. beauty retailer store.

Ulta vs. Sephora: Products Offered

Outwardly, both products appear to offer generic-themed products in the area of skincare and beauty products. However, with a closer look, we begin to observe the different products they offer just as we show below;

Ulta

Sephora

Bestsellers

  • Tarte Double Duty Beauty Shape Tape Contour Concealer
  • BareMinerals Original Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15
  • Lengthening Mascara
  • Ulta Shiny Sheer Lip Gloss
  • Urban Decay Cosmetics 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil
  • Urban Decay Cosmetics All Nighter Liquid Foundation
  • NYX Professional Makeup Liquid Suede Cream Lipstick
  • Lorac Front Of The Line PRO Liquid Eyeliner
  • Pureology Hydrate Shampoo
  • BareMinerals Matte Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Foundation SPF 15
  • Ofra Cosmetics Nikkietutorials Glazed Donut Highlighter
  • Facial Cleanser
  • Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+
  • POREfessional Face Primer
  • Ulta Eyeshadow Single

Bestsellers

  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Cleansing Scalp Scrub
  • Rare BEAUTY Soft Pinch Liquid Brush
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Brightening eye cream
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Cheek and Lip Tint
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Size Up Mascara
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION All Day hydrator
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Cream Lip Stain
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Lip Stain Liner
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Big definition Mascara
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Waterproof colored felt liner
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION High Precision Eyeliner
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Matte Perfection Powder Foundation
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Best Skin Ever Concealer
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Waterproof Kohl Eye Liner
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Intense Ink waterproof liquid eyeliner

Others

  • Redken Color Extend Blondage Color Depositing Purple Shampoo
  • NYX Professional Makeup Soft Matte Lip Cream
  • BareMinerals Blush

Others

  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Retractable Brow Pencil – Waterproof.
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Clean Eye Mask.
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Organic Cotton Pads.
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Clean Face Mask.
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION All Day Makeup Setting Spray.
  • SEPHORA COLLECTION Ultra Glow Serum: Glow + Strengthen Vitamin C Serum

Ulta vs sephora

Ulta vs. Sephora: Prices

The main determining factor of purchase lies in the price. The reason is that you may like a product but might be pricey. So, in this section, we compare the prices of similar products of both beauty brands.

Item

Official Ulta Price

Official Sephora Price

Bath and Body

$20

$44

Fragrances

$58

$95

Haircare

$23

$47

Makeup

$19

$33

Shaving

$18

$72

Skin Care

$29

$56

The price range for the highly competitive product category.

Products

Ulta

Sephora

Body (makeup)

$23

$38

Eyes (Makeup)

$16

$26

Face (Makeup)

$25

$38

Lips (Makeup)

$15

$27

Beauty Sets

$26

$34

Ulta vs. Sephora: Social Media Presence

With the event of global change, it is important for businesses to embrace the changes that come with such a change. In such a technologically inclined world as we have now, each business has witnessed tremendous changes that can greatly affect their business. Hence, the importance of technology allows for easy transmission of business services and eases their mode of operations. Businesses no longer have to wait on customers to walk into their stores before they can make a purchase. Businesses can decide to tow the e-commerce path. Also, the need for an online presence is essential to push sales and generate revenues for businesses. Hence, in this section, we consider the social media presence of both companies and observe which has a stronger social media presence.

ulta ins

Sephora ins

Ulta’s Social media presence

Sephora’s Social media presence

Instagram – 7M followers

Instagram – 21.4M followers

Facebook – 377.9K followers

Facebook – 19.2M followers

Twitter – 687K followers

Twitter – 2.3M followers

LinkedIn – 393.1K Connections

LinkedIn – 1.8M Connections

YouTube – 87.1K Subscribers

YouTube – 1.37M Subscribers

Pinterest – 676.3K followers

Pinterest – 1M followers

Snapchat

Snapchat

TikTok – 442.9K followers

TikTok – 665.2K followers

From the table above, we observe that both beauty brands are having an equally balanced social media presence however, Sephora seems to have the upper hand in terms of followers and in turn revenue generation. Perhaps we could infer that it is so because Sephora has been in business long before Ulta. Notwithstanding, Ulta still stands neck-to-neck with Sephora in terms of Market competitiveness.

kardashian perfume ulta

Celebrity Partnerships

Ulta: The Kardashians

In 2018, Ulta partnered with Kim Kardashian for brand promotion for their fragrance. In the same year, they also collaborated with Kylie Jenner (Kim Kardashian’s half-sister) to promote a new cosmetics line. These acts boosted and influenced buyers’ choices positively and in turn, resulted in an increase in sales across all their stores.

Sephora: Dana Alexia, Gym Tan, Rachel Hilbert, and Karalynne Call

In 2019, celebrity-endorsed products from Addison Rae and Hyram Yarbro’s beauty lines from its stores were enlisted while ‘Selfless by Hyram’ was launched directly on Sephora in June 2021.

Other celebrities namely, Dana Alexia, Gym Tan, Rachel Hilbert, and Karalynne Call also endorsed Sephora. In addition, TikTok content creator Nyma Tang partnered with Sephora to help build the Sephora incubator program. Thus, giving the brand additional publicity and exposure both online and offline.

Ulta vs. Sephora: Uniqueness

Sephora Whilst Ulta may appear to be constricted to just the American audience however, its uniqueness stands out in the area of its products which is the skincare, haircare, cosmetics, fragrances, and salon services. Also, they offer different products at varying prices to suit each end of their customer spectrum (that is, either low-income or high-income earners). Similar to Sephora Beauty, when it was still known as Shop 8, they indulge the inclusiveness of product trials. With Ulta, you can try out their hair and skin products before making a purchase. This means that, if you want to purchase any of Ulta’s skin or hair products and you are not comfortable with how it makes you feel, you have the free will to move on without making any purchase in the end. Well, you would only enjoy these benefits using any of Ulta’s skin and hair products. We can’t say the same for other products outside the skin and hair section.

On the other hand, Sephora showcases itself in selling high-end products and offers promotional prices in the form of discount sales, and other enticing incentives to loyal customers who purchase their products. Also, Sephora has invested vastly in its social media presence as such, we could say their uniqueness outshines others in the competition in this area.

On the whole, several factors need to be considered while making a purchase decision. However, we hope all you’ve read so far in this article would serve as a pointer when making your decision.

While we are in no position to enforce a particular product brand on you, however, it would greatly benefit you if you carefully consider the different buying components such as product quality, price range, and how well the product works for you before making a decision.

Keep in mind that you would also need to pay attention to your skincare ingredients and also indulge in additional treatment practices before applying those skin products of any beauty brand of your choice.

Till another time,

Stay Flawless!

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