The truth is, both of these stores are great additions to the Birmingham shopping scene. Your preference will depend on what you need in a beauty product shopping experience; chances are, you will enjoy both.
How do these stores compare? Ulta has a salon with a full range of services, including massages, and carries specialty brands as well as drug store standards like Maybelline and Revlon. It also has hair appliances (dryers are displayed with power so you can actually check their heat output and velocity before you buy) as well as all sorts of brushes, displayed by feature and size for easy comparison.
Sephora does not have a salon in-store but carries more upscale cosmetic brands along with every kind of grooming implement. Both stores have specially packaged kits by certain manufacturers, so if you’re moving to a mineral make-up formula, for example, it would be worth your time to check out the kits that include bronzers and blush at a reduced price. Both have skin care, fragrance, and hair care products. Also, both stores have customer loyalty card programs that provide special offers and incentives as purchase levels increase.
Not all cosmetics lines play with these retailers, preferring instead to have their own consultants demonstrate the product (MAC, Bobbi Brown and Trish McEvoy, for example, are not represented). However, Nars, Paula Dorf, and Smashbox are but a few of the available brands, and consultants can offer makeovers and recommend products from more than one cosmetic line, unlike most department store counter reps.
Beauty junkies can now enjoy the hundreds of dizzying choices in one store. Make that two stores.