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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

I said what I said. Ulta is better than Sephora, and for a lot of reasons. Before you go block me on social media, hear me out. Both stores are great, but if you’re looking to save money, Ulta is the clear winner. Read on for why I adore Ulta.

Ulta’s rewards system is the best, period.

What I love the most about Ulta is its rewards program. The bottom line is that when you buy things from Ulta, your points turn into dollars, meaning that you get to spend the points you earn any way you’d like — ahem, not by converting the points into a random sample Sephora is offering that you didn’t really want in the first place. On top of that, Ulta will double, triple, quadruple, etc. the amount of points you can earn on certain days, or on certain products. For example, one day they might be doing 3X the points on every Tarte product. You just so happen to need to restock on your Tarte foundation, so now you’ve racked up a ton of points for something you were going to buy anyway.

Usually, Ulta gives more multiplying-points offers to Platinum and Diamond members, but if you notice you only need to spend $500 a year to be a Platinum member — while the second-tier option at Sephora is lower at $350, I argue that Sephora does not offer as much bang for your points. Ulta also offers many free goodies when you spend a certain amount or buy from a certain brand on a certain day — since you can combine offers, you can save money by using one of the coupons they usually have available, use a points multiplier if they’re offering, and get a goody bag for free. Although it’s not much, Ulta usually does have a $3.50 off of $15 available and free shipping over $50 — just go to retailmenot.com or Google for the code. And, just like Sephora, Ulta gives birthday gifts and sample products for free.

I am a Platinum member (yes I spend a lot on skincare and makeup, sorry Mom), and so I have the luxury of getting 20% offers consistently. Often, these even apply to “luxury” brands, which include many of your favs like Tarte, Urban Decay, and Too Faced. Speaking of brands, that leads me into my next point.

Ulta has all your favorite brands, and more.

If you also have some drugstore favorites, then you’re in luck. Not only does Ulta carry cult-favorites like Benefit, Clinique, Tarte, Urban Decay, Too Faced, Nars, Kylie Cosmetics, KKW Cosmetics, Colourpop, and more, they also carry drugstore fav brands like Maybelline, Covergirl, Revlon, and Neutrogena. Even better, they often do a buy-one-get-one 50% off with these brands (so, you save even more). 

So, since I’ve made it clear that both Ulta and Sephora have your favorite brands but you can save more at Ulta, why not shop there instead?

Ulta has amazing fragrance options and goodies.

Ulta has all the ~bougie~ fragrance brands that Sephora has, except with the added benefit that you can earn a lot of points for purchasing. Can you imagine how many points you’d earn (and how much money that would translate into) buying your mom’s favorite perfume for Mother’s Day from Ulta? In addition, they often give out gifts with fragrance purchases such as robes and wine glasses. Around the holidays, you can find gift sets of your loved ones’ favorite scents for amazing prices. I remember I got my dad a Gucci cologne set with a full size cologne, travel size cologne, and scented lotion originally valued at $110 for $40. Not to mention, I was able to earn points for that purchase that went towards a later purchase.

No hate against Sephora! But if you’re looking for the best deal, I would try Ulta first. The only things Ulta lacks that Sephora has are the pricier makeup products like Dior as well as the really fancy products or trips you can sometimes get with your points. Since the best way to earn things is to be loyal to one company, I suggest doing your research before — for the average makeup-user, Ulta is probably the better choice. Unless you’re a makeup artist who really makes use of the special things Sephora offers, you can probably go without it. Here is Sephora’s rewards program so that you can compare yourself. If you still disagree with me, that’s fine; I’ll be over here scrolling through Ulta online racking up my points and making bank. I’ll leave you with this tasteful TikTok about Sephora’s “luxury” samples.

Arianna Antigone

Columbia Barnard '22

Arianna is a senior at Barnard College majoring in English and looking toward a career in law. She loves exploring New York City and finding new pasta places. If you need her, you can find her sipping her third iced coffee of the day or defending her love of pasta.