Nashville recently welcomed in the newest and long-awaited addition to its thriving beauty community, giving the stereotype of being a mecca for food and music a run for its money.
The opening of Ulta Beauty in the One Hundred Oaks Shopping Center on Thompson Lane generated a wave of full bags, empty wallets and high spirits among the aesthetically savvy and cosmetic retail rookies alike.
The Illinois-based company is appreciated for its commitment to delivering a variety of cosmetic products and salon services to budgets of all sizes and people of all shades and textures.
“I love shopping at Ulta because of all the wide range of beauty products that you can choose from,” said shopper Maranda Jeffers. “I like the fact that there’s definitely something for every price range.”
With everything from Maybelline to Urban Decay, Pantene to Pureology and Olay to Avaha, the store is sprinkled with a taste of every grade and quality of popular mainstream products on the market and, to tie it all together, samples to play around with.
The full range of salon services, brow bar and gel nail manicure options acts as the bow on top and makes stepping into the peach-trimmed layout like sauntering into a page of Allure and Glamour’s annual Best of Beauty edition.
All of this said, it’s no secret that Ulta’s cosmetic clout contributes to the popularity of Nashville’s thriving beauty scene. But how does this beauty queen rank in the realm of other beauty retail royalty, such as Sephora and The Cosmetic Shop?
Avid beauty retail veterans find the contrast to be a little more foundational than the difference between the inclusion of a brow bar and salon.
“I definitely prefer Sephora,” said Belmont University sophomore Courtney Freeman. “They have more of a selection of designer makeup brands and an exciting atmosphere. From my experience, I’ve gone to Ulta looking for certain brands and they didn’t carry them.”
It’s Covergirl and Smashbox versus Dior and Yves Saint Laurent—it all comes down to whom you wear best—and what you’re willing to pay for the name.
“While Ulta supplies drugstore to moderately priced makeup, Sephora has higher end brands, as well as them being all in one place, which makes it more convenient if you’re looking for popular items from certain retailers,” said avid beauty shopper Morgan Dorris. “It saves you from having to go to multiple makeup counters/pro stores.”
Sephora, with its electric atmosphere, makeup savvy estheticians and ritzy, designer brands, succeeds royally in making customers feel like royalty themselves.
“Sales associates tend to be a lot more helpful in terms finding the right color shades for you and know detailed descriptions of the product,” said Dorris.
“Lastly, it’s just prettier,” added Dorris. “Each Sephora store is more aesthetically pleasing in their setup, much like a makeup studio, and sets a more feminine and elegant mood. It can easily give that ‘kid in a candy store’ sensation to any cosmetic fanatic, including myself.”
Loyal Ulta customers have a different opinion.
“You can tell the workers love what they do, and they’re so helpful whenever I have questions about makeup and hair products,” said Jeffers, who is a regular customer to Ulta’s Dermalogica skin-care esthetician.
“Also, the atmosphere…amazing,” added Jeffers.
To some, even the bright, clinical atmosphere is enough to make them feel beautiful.
“I like how bright and open Ulta stores are,” said shopper Heather Dickson. “The atmosphere and products are equally geared toward making clients feel beautiful.
Ulta is a store that offers each customer a unique, diverse experience of great beauty finds, not simply a small fraction of high-budget beauty buys.
“I love making the statement, ‘I work at Ulta Beauty’ to anyone that asks what I do for a living,” said Brett Hunter, an Ulta employee. “It’s a store not only full of the newest cosmetic trends, but diversity and acceptance of everyone that walks trough the doors in every aspect. Not only do we care about our customers and clients, we care about each other. We work as a family, therefore, we treat guests like family.”
Suffice it to say, Ulta and Sephora are just as different as they are similar.
So, where’s the happy medium?
In Nashville’s Hill Center, of course.
Lesser known but all-inclusive, Nashville’s The Cosmetic Shop stands glowing as if it were the cherubim lovechild of Ulta and Sephora.
With an esthetician studio, salon, full selection of designer brands, the latest and greatest products in bath and hair care, the modern, industrial atmosphere of the shop even has a sitting area with refreshments and a T.V. to keep the idle boyfriend entertained.
The Cosmetic Shop blends the makeup studio atmosphere and quality of Sephora with the diversity and range of Ulta like the perfectly contoured cheekbone—it highlights all the right qualities and invites a smiling face.
With the best of Nashville’s beauty scene combined into a one-stop shop, it’s a smile that’ll be sure to stick around.
While outer beauty might not be everything, everything outer beauty is a trend Nashville won’t be losing anytime soon.