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.
A new Ulta sprouted up near our community and though I had heard of them I had never been in one of their stores, I had to check it out immediately! The store is huge, clean and organized, the SA are very nice and don't hover. I like that Ulta also carries the cheaper brands, being the bargain hunter I am, sometimes I just don't want to pay $20.00 for a mascara! I do feel the staff at Sephora is more in the know when it comes to the lines they carry though. I don't like that they don't do perfume samples, I love that Sephora gives out perfume samples, but some of the Sephoras do not carry some of the scents I want to try out and Ulta does (I decide on perfumes over a 2-3 day span). All in all, I do like the store but I like Sephora best.
I went to the Ulta in Las Vegas when I was going through town a couple of weeks ago. It was a nice clean store, and they really tried to be helpful.
I thought they were lovely people but they really didn't seem to know much about any of the smaller brands they carry, and they also don't have a lot of stock in - the shelves are full on the big names and practically empty on any smaller brands. Since I like to try to support newcomers to the market, and I rely on the store people to help me with what's good and what they love, I was disappointed.
That said, the customer service was excellent - not their fault they have not been properly trained on the products, for sure! I wonder who is in charge of that?
I generally end up going to Ulta looking for their promos - BOGO 50%, get this when you buy X dollars from this brand, etc - but never end up actually buying anything because the promo doesn't cover a specific thing that I wanted, such as the Revlon Lip Butters or the Maybelline Colour Tattoos. I've had two memorable customer service situations there, one good, and one bad:
I went in to look for the Summer Limited Edition Colour Tattoos in lavender and seashore and the display was empty of them, so I asked the guy at the counter. He immediately went to see if there were any left and found a single lavender one in a storage drawer! It was a bit of a dig so I believe that one of the employees was trying to save it for themselves, but it was mine now.
On another day I went in to check out the new UD eyeliner colours and wandered toward where the store keeps box sets that have been either bashed in too much to put on full price or that have hung around too long. It's also near a bunch of skin care products. A seller for one of the skin care products pounced on me like a spider on a fly caught in the web and I was stuck there for 10 minutes trying to be polite as she tested some of her line on me! It was very creepy because she kept stroking my hand and arm and made me really uncomfortable. I almost decided right then never to go into Ulta again!
Given the choice I would much rather go into Sephora because they don't mind talking about their products, giving samples, or testing ANYTHING on you when you ask. (But not when you don't.) I wish my Sephora wasn't 45 minutes away!
If Ulta weren't the only place around that carried LORAC and Mario Badescu, I would never go in this store.
It's bright and clean and nicely organized but most of the stuff is a pile of junk. And don't get me started on SAs who don't understand the meaning of the word "sensitive skin." Maybe I'm being sensitive but when I say I have rosacea, any SA working in a skincare store should know that they shouldn't push glycolic acid products on me.
The prospect of salon hair car products was intriguing until I discovered that they don't sell the two brands I use -- L'Oreal Professionel and Kerastase.
I was so excited when I heard Ulta was opening 5 minutes from my house. However....that didn't last long! Ulta never has anything I need since they are always "waiting for a delivery". The coupons are ridiculous since they are not for any of the desired brands but can be used only on drugstore things. They use them to entice you to come into the store. Their brands are low end and drugstore brands. I will not go back since the salespeople are rude and not versed on any of the products that they have. I totally prefer Sephora's! As far as samples go, I also was told they don't have any only to see them put some in the bag of the person after me. I have never used their salon services since I always hear the "salon staff" talking about other customers and I don't need them talking about me! Ulta needs to train their help both in the products and the way they treat people. I was going to apply for a job there and SO GLAD I didn't. Sephora is much more professional, will always give samples and, for the most part, have what I need. In my opinion...ULTA sucks!
I can definitely understand where some of the negative reviews are coming from. Yes, sometimes the displays can get totally messed up/disorganized and oftentimes there are products that have already been tampered with. This can be frustrating. Yes, some of the Sales Associates have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and are probably going to be clueless about the product you are looking for. You might even end up educating them on something. I know I have.
But I look past these factors because I personally think Ulta has a great selection, good prices, good promotions (there is always some kind of coupon floating around), and they have the best return policy. I can shop with confidence at Ulta, knowing that I can try out a product and take it back if I am not pleased. The Sales Associates have always been pleasant with me and are never bothersome if I tell them I am just browsing. It really is one of my favorite places to shop and it's almost embarrassing how often I am there.
I used to be an avid fan of Ulta. Until one day I stopped by the York PA location...
I was looking for Ojon oil. A SA at another Ulta had recommended it for her 100% beautiful Hispanic/Puerto Rican ringlets. So I decided to head to York and ask the manager where to find. She was small talking and I told her about the SA who had GREAT results. This manager wrinkled her semi middle aged face as if I said something so beneath her and that she was disgusted.
Maybe she dislikes or knows the SA but I think something more sinister was the root cause.
I do not want the manager of a store I spend over 2 grand at a year to be a nasty racist. Or smug.
I am white but I have noticed Ulta does NOT cater to other ethnicities. I will not support this behavior. Sephora was the FIRST to carry ethnic products before some of them are now "mainstream".
Ulta's overall attitude is turning into a Wal-Mart of beauty. Trashy. I cut back ALOT simply because this encounter stuck with me so much I refuse to shop at Ulta.
Oh-reading the reviews by MUA'ers are so funny, I just had to add my own! I thought it was just my own Ulta that was bad. When it first opened, the service was good (of course), the ladies were helpful, not too pushy, and samples were offered to customers. They even had SA's that knew the product lines. That was years ago it seems. How times have changed.
It seems we all have horror stories and I'll tell you my own. I wanted a haircut one day. I went in around dinnertime and was told they "don't take walk-ins". Ok. This was about 6 p.m. mind you, early enough in the day, since they don't close till 9 p.m., so the SA suggested I make an appointment. No one was sitting in a chair, there wasn't anyone waiting, and no one else had their hair done while I was in the store. I said I'd check my calendar and call back. When I called back from home, I was told they don't take anyone after 7 p.m., even though they don't close until 9 p.m. "well, because we don't. We have other things we have to do in the salon." I asked what about people that work during the day? They said "those people would have to take time off to come in because we're that good and people do come in early anyway". Oh really? I never did get my hair done at an Ulta. I guess my hair wasn't good enough for their scissors.
Next story. It was my birthday and Benefit advertises a free brow wax for your birthday at Ulta. Just come in on your birthday. So I did. Guess what? No Benefit SA available. So another SA tells me to come back another day and tell them that the Benefit girl wasn't there that day. So a few days later I come back again (I live 20 miles away, mind you), and again, the Benefit SA went home early (at 7 p.m.). So I inquire, so when exactly is this brow thing available for the working class? Am I supposed to run here right after work? The girl says "Well, IDK, she's never here at night." By the time I was able to reach the Benefit SA, I was told too much time had passed after my birthday and the offer wasn't available, but I could pay for one if I wanted. I never did get it done.
Next story. I was shopping foundations. No testers. I'm looking at PTR's foundations and would like to match a color. I'm standing there looking for a SA. Finally, one comes around and I ask if I can get a match. She walks away and comes back with fragrance paper swatch. She sticks it in one bottle and then hands it to me and walks away. There's my match. Like it or leave it, I guess. On a piece of paper, no less. Here's your color. I felt like it had been torn out of a magazine.
I had made a purchase of close to 200 dollars and asked for some samples to be put in the bag. The cashier told me they didn't have any. After I just dumped 200 bucks and they don't have one sample? The manager overheard the cashier and runs over and tells her she's wrong, they most certainly do. She tells me to wait, she will make a special sample package for me after the cashier just treated me so rudely. And she goes into the drawers behind the register where there are piles of samples. Obviously samples that they don't give out to the customers.
In all the time I've been shopping there, there has only been one nice SA who knew the products, gave out samples (knowing customers that tried and liked would come back and purchase), and was genuinely friendly. Lately, anyone that works there is rushed and isn't interested in helping anyone out. Perhaps Ulta needs to re-think their sales model.
Last story: I was looking around the store (always on my own, they no longer have any help) when I finally found an SA to inquire about a product in a particular line. I asked questions about a moisturizer in Philosophy. She really didn't have any answers for me, was hemming and hawing and looking every way but at me. Finally, she said, "Well, you could buy it and that would tell you your answers." Yep, it would. I could also drive across the street to Sephora where they could tell me about the product, sample it on me, give me a sample to go home with it if I so desired, too.
Ulta still sends me coupons sometimes and if I'm so inclined I'll go there just to find something cheap enough that I might need to use that coupon on. Otherwise, I won't go out of my way to step foot in that store anymore. It's just not a friendly feeling anymore. And it's becoming more of a Bargain Basement atmosphere, too.