Two months ago, I shopped for the first time at Ulta Beauty. Ulta Beauty is a department store that sells only beauty products. They don’t just sell high end beauty products like Smashbox and Boscia, which I personally love. Ulta Beauty also showcases all the drugstore brands like Neutrogena, Jergen’s and St. Ives. In short, it’s a little bit like heaven.
Ulta is located all around the country, and I recently visited their South San Francisco location at the newly renovated Tandoran Shopping District. The beauty store is about the size of a department store and stocks nothing but cosmetics and salon goods.
Ulta also has their own in house certified professional salon, another plus in my book. I haven’t used its services but after checking their menu of services, their prices look decent and worth a try. I’ve secretly wanted to get a perm. Yes I know “gasp, a 1980’s-looking perm.” Ulta’s stylists charge only 80 bucks for medium length hair, so I’m seriously contemplating making my 1980’s fantasy hair become a reality.
My favorite feature is their one-stop drugstore/salon shop advantage, so I signed up for the Ulta Club Card. It’s free and after each 50 bucks is spent, members can redeem free gifts. So far, I’ve received free mascara and a cool luggage tote bag. Think about all of the q-tips, shampoo and conditioner that you purchase at drugstores that never come with gifts.
Their employees are all “cosmetology trained or actual estheticians” according to their website. I like to get free advice, so I’ve been chopping up their time for new tips.
Their Yelp reviews don’t do the store justice. The ratings are low on customer service. “How can you complain when the store offers such great free gifts,” I thought to myself.
Comments such as, “the sales girls are total snobs” and “the cashier gave me attitude,” shouts horrible customer service. They have been nothing but helpful to me, but I can see how some might think their sales facade is less than bubbly.
Some would compare Ulta to Sephora, but the most distinguishable difference between the two stores is their sales. Ulta’s website has a plethora of online discounts and part of Ulta’s philosophy is to “offer value through constant money saving promotions, free shipping and samples with each purchase.”
Another plus is the product line selection. Sephora houses so many great brands, but I don’t like to gamble with skincare products and they carry several new product lines that I’ve never heard of that are almost always over priced in over the top packaging. Ulta Beauty carries familiar salon shampoos and conditioners, drugstore brands and tried and true fragrance lines.
Ulta Beauty’s superstores have been around for less than a decade but have transformed the cosmetic and salon buying experience. Their innovations in reinventing cosmetics retail have even garnered them with the “Hot Retailer Award” from the International Council of Shopping Centers and their CEO the “Achiever Award” by Cosmetics Executive Women.