Sephora vs. Ulta

Sephora vs. Ulta

  • By - The Modern Day Wife
  • 02 April, 2021

To many an untrained eye, Sephora and Ulta might appear to be different sides to the same coin. They serve similar demographics, they both carry an array of products, and they both are very popular among everyone, especially with celebrities — Kylie Jenner once spent over $15,000 on a trip to Sephora, which is basically her living the (my) dream. Both stores employ the strategically-placed   “last minute” purchases, and both stores have a well-informed army of beauty associates, and both stores are expanding their reach as the British Empire did in the nineteenth century. Their key differences lie primarily in how they immerse us in their stores. 


Founded in 1970 in Limoges, France, Sephora was named for the wife of Moses, Zipporah. Sephora was also the first store to successfully implement the idea of open testers for their customers, also known as "assisted self-service," allowing products to be sampled before being purchased. They’re a multinational company, with over 2,600 stores around the globe; many of their stores are in high-traffic locations. They sell over 3,000 different brands, available online, in their retail stores, and in JCPenney stores. In 2023, Sephora will have expanded to 850 Kohl’s stores. Luxurious and long standing, Sephora's approach to beauty has been an inspiration for many. 

Ulta Beauty

Headquartered in Bolingbrook, Illinois, Ulta has been carrying make up and skin care since 1990. They are considerably smaller than Sephora, with approximately half of the amount of stores and 500 brands, and are primarily geared toward North American consumers. The services they offer have become integral to the communities in which they are situated, as most Ulta stores tend to be located in suburban places. Salon services such as hair coloring and styling are offered in every Ulta; manicurists who are OPI trained are also in many salons. The Benefit Brow Bar, which allows customers to discover the arts of brow arching and brow tinting, along with waxing and eyelash application, is unique to Ulta’s nationwide. 

Discovering the differences between these two beauty giants was fascinating. We at The Modern Day Wife love how their unique amenities meet our skin care, make up, and hair care needs on multiple levels. 

(Image © Dominika Roseclay from Pexels)