Ulta vs. Sally Beauty Supply

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Ulta is compared and contrasted with rival Sally Beauty Supply in this product review.  Each business is described with positive and negative points given for each (where available).

Two of the premiere cosmetics and beauty products suppliers are Ulta and Sally Beauty Supply.  Here, the two are compared and contrasted to provide an overview for the consumer as to which to select.  Each is well-known among shoppers of beauty products and each has a long-running, well-established customer base.  This review, however, will direct shoppers as to which of the businesses may be best tailored to suit their needs.  On the one hand is the stylish Ulta with their makeup artists and salons; on the other sits the more stripped-down Sally Beauty Supply, which is set up more like a miniature warehouse for cosmetologists.


Ulta is a premiere supplier of beauty supplies, hair care, and personal care items. The first notable thing about Ulta is the fact that they carry such a wide variety of products. Whether one is looking for a particular line of salon-style hair conditioner, the newest lipstick shade, or a special body soap, Ulta can fit the bill. The website is easy to use and simply laid out; the actual stores are no different. Stylishly arrayed with every category easy to find, the Ulta stores are clean and classy. It is as easy to find a product on the shelf as it is to find on the website - something not to often seen with suppliers of any product, much less the daunting world of beauty supplies with the myriad types of product available.

Ulta offers many coupon codes online to save shoppers money, as well as bundle deals. For instance, any order on the Ulta website gives a shopper three free samples, all the time!  Not just a supplier of makeup and shampoo, hardware items like the Revlon Ion Pro Stylist Dryer ($22.99), the Hot Tools Gold Tapered Iron ($74.99), and the Neuro 1"unclipped styling rod ($99.95) can be found, as well.  In-store, makeup and nail artists give advice, display samples, and educate shoppers on how to choose the products that best suit their needs. 

Ulta generally carries better-quality items than other stores; name-brands and well-known designers are the norm, here.  Brands like Maybelline and Revlon find themselves seated alongside Ulta's own line of product.  Notable are the hair-care products that are offered as kits; Ulta refers to these as "value kits" on the website.  Kits like the Bright Beginning 30 Day Discovery Kit ($48.00) and the Ever Straight - Brazilian Keratin Therapy Conditioner ($7.99) offer buyers the chance to buy in bundles and save over the price of purchasing each individual product. 

 Sally Beauty Supply

Sally Beauty Supply is another well-known supplier of beauty items.  Sally Beauty Supply is a great place to buy in large quantity or to get a great deal - if the shopper is already educated on what items they need.  Unlike ULTA, with stylists standing by in-store to teach about the products, Sally Beauty Supply is more warehouse-like and caters to those who are already well-acquainted with the items for which they shop. 

I personally asked the owner of a salon who is a cosmetologist and stylist about Sally Beauty Supply and what the benefits of shopping there are for her.  She stated that for buying items in bulk and getting salon equipment, Sally is much better for shopping than ULTA, as ULTA has higher prices and tends to cater to the mass population rather than those "in-the-know."  The weakness of Sally Beauty Supply, however, is that off-the-street shoppers may not recognize the brands carried and might not be as apt to find what they're looking for.  It may also intimidate shoppers that they are left on their own to know how each product is best used.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that those who are looking for extensive input on what products to purchase or how to apply a certain type of cosmetic product will be best served by shopping at Ulta.  Likewise for those who favor popular brands that they will easily recognize.  If a shopper is looking to actually have makeup applied for them by a trained professional, the easy choice is Ulta, as this is not an available option for shoppers of Sally Beauty Supply. 

If, however, one is well-versed in how to use various cosmetic products and hair care items and does not need extra assistance in finding what they are looking for, Sally Beauty Supply can be a real money-saver.  This is not to say that the staff at Sally Beauty Supply are not knowledgeable nor that they will not give customer assistance, it is simply to say that they are set up for a different type of customer base and do not offer stylist kiosks for the application of product.  For those who own salons or cosmetology studios, Sally Beauty Supply is an easier option both for price and bulk purchase.


Leila Finesse
Posted on Apr 1, 2019
Sydney Alicea-Crespo
Posted on May 17, 2015