I absolutely love Ulta stores. I probably go 5-6 times a month to shop and I never buy any of my beauty products anywhere else. Ulta is like my 'happy place' besides my home.
Reasons why I love it:
-Their rewards program is the best! You earn cash off and continue to build up how many dollars you get off as you earn points. Plus they very often have double points or triple points earning opportunities, sometimes for a whole month. And you don't have to earn some ridiculous amount before you start using your points, either.
-They always have a coupon going; you can pretty much always find a $3.50 off $10 purchase one but they also do 20% off whole purchase and $5 off $15 from time to time. And sometimes you can stack coupons.
-They have sales running all the time: usually buy one get one 50% off on these brands, or buy two get one free on such-and-such brands. And coupons and points can still be applied against sale items.
-They have everything. The store is divided up between the DS priced stuff and the high end stuff. I rarely go to the high end side but I can find everything I need in store, from toothpaste to mascara to blowdryers.
-Their return policy is ridiculously good. You can return any product, used or not, with a receipt within 60 days and they are not judgmental about it either. I don't buy new beauty products that I'm trying for the first time (or really, any beauty products) anywhere else because I know if I buy them at Ulta and don't end up liking them, I can take them back, no money lost.
-They have a varied selection of brands you've always known, new stuff, and little indie brands you've never heard of.
-The SA's are generally helpful and friendly. Some can be snobby but this doesn't happen nearly as frequently as it does as Sephora.
-They always have stuff marked for clearance. Not always great stuff but sometimes I can find an Essie or OPI polish at half price in clearance.
-The brow bar. I've only done it once but I liked the results. And you can get your brows done for free in your birthday month.
-Speaking of the birthday month, if you do the rewards program they send you birthday bucks - $10 off any purchase!
-The two (we recently got another) stores in my city are always clean and well organized. Sometimes what I'm looking for is out of stock; Ulta doesn't seem to carry a lot of reserve for some of the DS stuff. But I know what day they get their restock in so I know when to come back. That is the one not great thing about my Ulta store experiences but I go so often that having to go back is not usually a big deal.
I absolutely love Ulta and will always shop there for all my beauty needs. Once our city got one and I found out how great it was, I never went back to Sephora.
Online can be a different story - their regular shipping is pretty slow and sometimes the site has functionality problems - but the store is the best!
This review is for the online service. I am disappointed in Ulta. I made two makeup orders last week, one from Ulta & one from Sephora. I felt that everything about my Sephora order was superior. The products from Ulta were all put into the same little plastic bag that was tied on top and placed in the shipping box. There was no protective wrapping, like bubble wrap. In the past I have ordered shampoo & conditioner that had broken caps because all they did was tape the caps down instead of protecting them. Then for the free samples, I hate the way they don't give you much choice, and send you things you don't want. It isn't an exciting bonus to get three free samples that go straight into the trash. You get to choose from categories like skincare, cosmetics, or perfume, and then they select the samples in that category. I chose perfume, because I buy a lot of perfume & it's great to find what's new out there. I received the new Lady Gaga perfume, which isn't a bad thing to receive, just not anything I'm interested in; something awful that smelled like rubbing alcohol and urine from Jessica McClintock, which I would never consider selecting; and a men's cologne.... why? Just a terrible selection on their part. From Sephora I got to choose my own 3 free perfumes samples and I love all of them, plus they threw in a bonus hair product sample, plus I got to include a free sample of a Murad retinol product from their bonus page, and I could have used my beauty points to get one or two other products, but I decided to let them accumulate for a bigger prize since they never expire, unlike Ulta which expires in a year, so you have to pick whatever they have available even if you aren't excited about it. Lastly, I ordered from both stores on the same day and got my Sephora package 3 days sooner. I like that Ulta has sales like buy one get one 50% off of NYX, but I'll never order another full priced product from them again. I will always go to Sephora first.
At the Ulta in my location, I have been lucky enough not to encounter too many rude or unpleasant sales associates like many others seem to... For the most part, they seem to not know much about their products, but they are always pleasant enough. My only complaint would be the fact that they claim there is no waiting list for products and they have never once offered to order what I have been looking for (I have been looking for the Mario Badescu Ceramide Herbal Eye Cream for at least the last month and a half and each time had the associate go look in the drawers and the back for me, and always made other purchases while I am in the store so the trip was not a complete waste of time). So, if the shalves were stocked more, I may not have an issue shopping here. Also, my Ulta is not very generous with the samples they have behind the counter, even when making a large purchase. I was also informed during my last visit that the samples shown in the magazine only apply to online orders and not purchases made in store.
I do appreciate the fact that I can get all my drugstore and a number of high end products in one location, which is nice. But if the nearest Sephora wasn't an hour and a half away, I definitely would shop there for these products instead.
I love that Ulta carries an array of both drugstore and Salon/High end products so I can easily pick up some Banana Boat sunscreen and a bottle of Redken Cleansing Cream for example. My lcoal Ulta stores are actually pretty clean, well-stocked, and if they don't have what I came in for, the SAs usually tell me when they are expecting new orders or if I need to go on a waiting list to ensure I get the product.Yes, I have had a couple of bad experiences with some rude SAs and I either ignore them (Most of time I know what I am coming in for so don't need their help or attitudes anyway) or report them to the manager if they are being too overt with their rudeness. Another thing I enjoy is being able to use the coupon in their sales catalog. It helps when I am buying multiple things. The liter sales are wonderful if you know what you like in your haircare and want to save some money. I have never ordered anything from their website, but will have to try it out one day.
My local Ulta is great. The store is clean and organized well. I like that it carries a mix of HE products and drugstore. I also love the gift with purchase specials they have with the HE brands.
The Ulta SA are so rude to me. I asked one of the girls if I could try a sample of a primer that I clearly saw a box of small samples of behind the counter and she said no we don't have any. Always rude service. Never anyone to help.
My local Ulta is awesome! The SAs are surprisingly kind and helpful (I've been to some with some pretty god awful SAs) and the store is very organized. I go here for mostly DS items that I can never seem to find anywhere else, such as NYX and Essence. I wish they stocked the DS side more often because usually the NYX lipsticks are all gone. But, they always have great sales! So I will continue buying from this location until I move. I prefer Sephora for HE sales, though.
I have been trying to make an order on ULTA.com for days and continue to encounter problems resulting in the message, "We are experiencing difficulty processing your order. Please try again later or use another payment method". Despite trying three different internet browsers, using a payment method that is successful on several other major websites, attempting at different times of the day, etc. there has been no resolution. The response I get from their customer service team? A standard response that is copied and pasted, saying to check that my details are correct. It seems to me that they don't care if they have customers or not. Lastly, I just discovered that with each attempt I made there is now a pending charge on my account! It is not worth all the time and hassle, I would highly recommend going with Sephora or Walgreen's for your beauty and cosmetic products as they make shopping a pleasant experience and manage their businesses professionally. Do an internet search for 'problems with ULTA website' and apparently this is a recurring issue.
I use a mix of DS and HE brands, so Ulta suits my needs better than Sephora does. I save a lot of money with their DS brand sales, not just with makeup, but with skincare as well. Im a platinum member, which means my points never expire and I can cash them in at any time to save money on my purchases. Personally, I feel like their points system is MUCH better than Sephoras. You need as little as 100 points to save 3.50 on a purchase, which can also be coupled with the 3.50 off 10$ coupons they have all the time. I know some people are annoyed that you cant use those coupons on some prestige brands, but it really just comes down to reading the fine print. Ulta DOES send out 20% off prestige coupons from time to time.
The staff can be hit or miss, anyone who reads this website regularly usually knows more about makeup than most Ulta staff members. It just comes down to knowing what you want and seeking it out, MUA is better for reviews on products than someone who only works at Ulta part time. I will always go there for makeup and skin care purchases.
While many reviewers on this site tell true horror stories of mean and nasty SA's whose looks could kill, I've had a rather different experience with my Ulta.
To begin, the SA's there are fantastic! There are some truly spectacular ones who go out of their way for customers. I was once on a desperate hunt for a specific NYX product, so the manager called another Ulta farther away, found out they had one left, and drove over to get it for me. That is service. The worst SA experience so far has been ones that are only average. I haven't the slightest idea what their training program is like, but they rock it.
But this is where my love for Ulta ends. I shop there for two main reasons; sales, and because they are the ONLY store within a 15 minutes distance that sells NYX and Essence. NYX happens to be one of my all-time favorite makeup brands, and Essence has some old standbys of mine. I love browsing around, but those two displays frequently look like a tornado passed through them. Customers test whatever whenever, despite signs asking them not to, and more than once I've had to exchange these products when I brought them home and discovered they had been tested. The displays are also frequently messy and not too well cared for. To solve this, I'll call ahead of time to see when the next shipment is due, so I can get my hands on my favorite products, and hopefully it'll be stocked to the point where if an item has been tested, it wont be the only one in stock.
I really wish Ulta would take care of this testing issue. While they have marked a few items as testers (like foundation and primers) other items like eye shadow are pretty much anybody's game.
Overall, I do love my Ulta. Where else can you get drugstore and department in the same location? I'm not sure, but I'll continue to shop there...just using more caution than should be necessary.