20+ Differences Between Sephora And Ulta (Explained)

Both Sephora and Ulta are beauty shops. They both provide popular cosmetics and world-class services. From return policies to dedicated workers, both of these beauty stores differ in every context.

To know more about Sephora and Ulta and to find out which store will be your solution to every cosmetic-related problem, continue reading. 


The key points of Sephora:

  • Sephora was launched in 1969.
  • Sephora has made its name worldwide. It has its presence in 33 countries. 
  • Sephora only offers luxury brands. 
  • You cannot find drugstore brands or low-tier brands in Sephora. 
  • Sephora has its headquarters in Paris, France. 
  • It offers at least 300 brands and 17,000 products.
  • The prices of luxury products are generally high. 

The key points of Ulta:

  • Ulta was launched in 1990.
  • Ulta offers stores that are limited exclusively to the US. 
  • Ulta does not offer luxury brands. 
  • You can easily find drugstore brands or low-tier brands in Ulta. 
  • Ulta has its headquarters in Bolingbrook, US. 
  • It offers at least 500 brands and 20,000 products.
  • The prices of offered products are generally affordable. 

Comparison Between Sephora And Ulta

Origin1969 in New York City1990 in the U.S.
BrandsHigh-end brands like Chanel, Dior, and La Mer. NYX, e.l.f. Cosmetics, and L’Oréal. 
Advantages Product Expertise 
Focus on inclusivity 
High-end products
Salon service 
Virtual experience 
Return policy 
Target customersMostly womenBoth men and women
Affordability Mostly comprises of high-quality products with higher prices.It offers products from both mid-tier brands to higher brands. 
Selection of brandsExclusively luxury brandsBoth luxury and drugstore brands 

Major Difference Between Sephora And Ulta

What Is Sephora?

Sephora offers you luxury brands. The first store of Sephora was launched in 1998 in New York. Now, America possesses more than 500 Sephora stores. The average number of products that Sephora sells is over $20,000.

They include around 340 brands. Even when it primarily focuses on selling products from other brands, they have also started selling products under its own label. 

What Is Ulta?

It is a store that retails all the drugstore brands exclusively. Originally known as Ulta Salon, Cosmetic and Fragrance Inc., this retail store was discovered in 1990.

It offers around 1300 stores in almost 50 states. The 100 Target locations all over the States have launched Ulta Beauty shops. 

On average, Ulta beauty shops sell 25,000 products from 600 brands. 

Be it about affordability or catering to the demand of both genders, Ulta beats Sephora in these terms. Ulta has both affordable and expensive products.


Rewards and benefits of Sephora:

  • Insider- One point for every dollar you spend

                2 free birthday gifts

               10% off on seasonal events

  • VIB- 2 free birthday gifts

         15% off on seasonal events

       Exclusive events with the monthly purchase 

  • VIB Rogue- 2 free birthday gifts

                     20% off on seasonal events

                    Free standard shipping 

                    First in line for product launching

Rewards and benefits of Ulta:

  • Platinum- 1.25 points for every dollar

                  Double points on birthday month

                   Points do not expire 

  • Member- Free birthday gift 

                  Double points during birthday months 

                  1 point for every dollar

  • Diamond- 1.5 points for every dollar

                  Free birthday gift

                  Free shipping on a $20 order

                   Annual beauty service card 

Contrast Between Sephora And Ulta

Year Of Establishment

  • Sephora- Sephora was established in 1998. The first store was launched in New York.  
  • Ulta- This beauty store was discovered in 1989. However, the first official store was opened in 1990. It was launched by Richard E. George. 


Sephora – The headquarters is settled in Paris, France. 

Ulta – The headquarters is set up in Bolingbrook, Illinois, United States. 

Types of Brands

  • Sephora – This beauty shop sells products exclusively from luxury brands. 
  • Ulta – Since these products focus on high-value and affordable products, they offer luxury and drugstore brands that are quite affordable. 


The advantages of Sephora:

  • The staff has immense knowledge about every product that they sell. So, if you get confused next time you walk into the store, you can easily get your answers from the staff. 
  • As mentioned before, Sephora has a great collection of every high-end or prestigious brand. Be it Rare Beauty by Selena Gomez or JLO Beauty- you can find everything here. 
  • You can return the products that you don’t like with its easy and quick return policy. 
  • For finding the correct shade of makeup, Sephora offers Color IQ. It is an AI tool that helps in identifying your undertones. 
  • You can clear your doubts through virtual experts as well. 
  • It also includes Black-owned products. 
  • Sephora offers a wide variety of product lines. 

The advantages of Ulta:

  • The laid-back atmosphere makes Ulta approachable. 
  • Ulta’s GLAMlab offers you the experience to try on the products virtually. 
  • Ulta also launched numerous purpose-driven initiatives. 
  • It has recognized many black makeup artists. 
  • The products are eco-friendly. 
  • Ulta also offers a return policy. 
  • Th Ulta stores can accept the products back only if it has been less than 60 days and you do not break the product. 

Targeted Customer

  • Sephora- Sephora store mainly focuses on the needs of women with its high-end beauty products.
  • Ulta- Ulta store looks after the need of both men and women. For instance, it offers perfumes for men as well. 


  • Sephora – Sephora offers 2300 stores in 33 stores. 
  • Ulta – Ulta offers 1107 retailer stores in 49 states of America and Columbia. 

Shipping Costs

  • Sephora- The shipping cost of Sephora products is quite high. However, you can make the products affordable if you go for memberships.

    You have to pay $15 per year for a free shipment. If you don’t want to spend on membership, you can still get free shipping for three days if you spend more than $50. 
  • Ulta- The shipping price that Ulta offers is pretty affordable. If you live near an Ulta store, you can avoid the shipping cost easily. You have to choose the option of “Buy online and pick u up from the store”. The shipping cost ranges from $5.95 to $16.95. 


Sephora – The membership program of Sephora is called ‘Beauty Insider’. The membership includes three levels- VIB, VIB Rogue, and Beauty Insider. The minimum spend is not compulsory to become a member of Beauty Insider. 

Ulta – The membership program of Ultimate Reward. The three levels of membership are member, Platinum member, and diamond member. 


Brands that are offered by Sephora: 

Sephora offers products from both other brands and its own label. The luxury brands that are available in Sephora are as follows:

  • Dior
  • Chanel
  • La Mer
  • Fenty Beauty
  • Huda Beauty
  • Charlote 
  • Tilbury 

Brands that are offered by Ulta:

Ulta shops offer products from other brands. Some of the common brands are as follows:

  • NYX
  • e.l.f. cosmetic
  • L’Oréal
  • Urban Decay
  • Almay
  • Bondi boost
  • Beauty Bakerie
  • Belli

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. So, which one is better- Sephora or Ulta?

It is up to you whether you want to step into Sephora or Ulta. If you are in search of high-end brands, Sephora is the one-stop for you. For affordable but quality products, you can shop in Ulta.

However, you can also decide where you want to shop on the basis of memberships and rewards. 

Q2. Which one is more expensive among Sephora and Ulta?

Sephora is comparatively more expensive than Ulta. However, Ulta offers high-end brands that are equally pricey as the products offered by Sephora.

You can buy the cheaper deal in Ulta with the help of coupons and rewards that they offer. 

Q3. Are Ulta and Sephora the same?

Sephora and Ulta are basically similar. The major difference that they both share is the brands that they offer. Ulta has drugstore brands. While Sephora only has luxury brands. 

Q4. Are Ulta products legitimate?

Yes, the makeup products offered by Ulta are authentic. This is because they also include one certified cosmetologist. Ulta products are safe and effective. 

Q5. Does Sephora offer you makeup services?

Yes, Sephora has makeover services as well. You can take advantage of the service without making any advance appointment or payment. The makeover services take around 15-20 minutes at most. 

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